I decided to base the piece on three separate parts — the threats themselves, the system that blocks the threats and the creativity that is allowed to blossom because these threats have been blocked. This piece was meant to be celebratory rather than scary, so me it was important to show the reason these threats are being blocked, so we can make the things we want to make or simply do the things we want to do be that a business getting a PowerPoint together or simply being able to send that photo to a loved one.
To put this together I turned to Houdini — a new (to me) piece of software used in the special effects and film industry. I'd seen some of my contemporaries beginning to use Houdini and so over Christmas I began to learn it, spending any spare time to understand how it works and more importantly, how to bring in data and how to write code using Vex — Houdini's scripting language. It was a lot of fun learning this stuff, but now I had to put it to commercial use.
My starting point was the shape of the system itself. I didn't want a traditional network of lines, but rather something more organic and interesting to look at. Looking at the data I could see that various industries were specified such as banking, retail, media etc. Using that I decided to make a shape for each industry, which would represent the system itself. To create these unique shapes I employed the use of an MD5 hash algorithm — something that is in itself used in security systems. Using a little piece of code I wrote, I could use this technique to create shapes from simply the name of industry. I then applied to the shape a mix of mesh styles to make it more interesting, which also suggested a network, or at least some kind of intelligent design.
The threats themselves were shown as simple black obelisk style forms, that would start out black then become nullified as the system dealt with the threats.
The creativity was shown as beautiful coloured stands — the exact opposite of the threats, that flowed through the spaces left by the system, flowing past and around the threats. Both the threats and the strands were all dictated by metrics in the data, and the flow itself was governed by the particle movement through the space.
One of the biggest learnings was the render times when rendering out 4K video at 24 frames per second. To render these in a timely manner I used a cloud rendering service called Gridmarkets, which allowed me to have a 30 machine setup so that I could render out 30 frames at the same time as opposed to the one on my iMac Pro. You do however need to account for the cost of a service like this as it soon racks up.
The final result was a series of five images, rendered as high resolution prints together with a one minute long 4K animation of the whole narrative which was used in various ways at the event in California.