VFX’s Waltz Into The Singularity


Looped animations and drawings were projected onto a wall and a sheet, the latter allowing the reverse image to be viewed on the other side. Photo by Bob Toy.

Suite 301 at the Cannery was transformed into a thumping visual effects-
themed club on Thursday, Nov. 13, when Academy of Art University’s School of Animation and Visual Effects took over for an end-of-the-year event titled Waltz Into The Singularity.

Five projectors rotated various looped animations, showing disjointed prisms of static and simple, yet intricate drawings pulsating side-by-side. They almost looked like GIFs, images born digitally that live through short bursts of repeated motion. The music drowned out everything in the dark space, all eyes on the shining screens before us.

But Waltz Into The Singularity’s main attraction was happening in the space’s far corner, where students were coordinating the visuals of a live simulcast paint camera. A high-definition camera surrounded by cords and equipment was secured facing up, directly beneath a clear dish filled with interacting colors of paint.



The evening, consisting of collaborating music and visuals, was facilitated by the VFX Club, a new student group founded this fall. Photo by Bob Toy.

The evening, consisting of collaborating music and visuals, was facilitated by the VFX Club, a new student group founded this fall, led by graduate student Candace Harvey. The visuals were all created by animation students and the music was done by students from the School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media. Academy students Duy Nguyen, Kirill Kovalewskiy, Ethan Zhao, Karl Eirik, Cynthia Chen, Rachel Bailey and Meagan Green were vital in making the evening a success.

“The VFX students at the Academy do about 99 percent of their artwork on the computers, crunching algorithms to make movie magic,” Animation and Visual Effects Supervising Producer Sasha Korellis said. “Waltz Into The Singularity was a feast of sight and sound. You could either be an observer of the art on the walls or you could be a participant.”

The results of the paint dish were broadcast across the wall as students took turns brushing in new colors and chemicals, letting the paint bubble and come to life. Two copies of the dish were projected at right angles to each other, doubling the effect of these live tactile visuals. While one of the surfaces being projected onto was a wall, the other was a sheet that allowed the reverse image to be viewed on the other side.

A whole station of music and visual-editing software was set up behind the camera and paint, as some students manipulated the way the visuals within the paint dish were projected and others worked on the music and the coordination between sight and sound. The surrounding speakers and hammering bass forced the liquid colors within the dish to bounce and vibrate along to the beat.  

Projected flat, the paint’s image was mirrored to look like a new-age iTunes visualizer, controlled by the hand of someone in the room. But the paint’s colors could also be twisted into images of winding vortexes that plunged viewers headfirst into the music, or sweeping landscapes passed over aerially. The paint was even molded into spheres of melting color, positioned as imagined pulsating planets in the center against black.

“This event was for like-minded artists to collaborate in creating something new and fresh,” Korellis said, “It was like visual effects performance art.”



Students took turns brushing new colors and chemicals onto a clear dish, letting the paint bubble and come to life. Photo by Bob Toy.


A high-definition camera was secured facing up, directly beneath the dish, which projected two images at right angles to each other. Photo by Bob Toy.