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Howard Gardner CG

Nature of Wires / CountessM:

Perfect Menagerie

A music video project which I worked on using After Effects, Mudbox, Maya, Mental Ray and Photoshop. The song in question is a collaboration between Nature of Wires and CountessM, released on the Manchester-based Analogue Trash label and features on the new album Cyber Renedzvous.


I was supplied with some pre-shot video footage of countessM performing the vocals and I worked on this extensively in After Effects, meshing it with various particle and lighting effects as well as old public domain film footage of real ballet dancers. In all there must have been more than twenty different layers built up in the timeline using all manner of different blending modes and plug-in effects. Some of the fluid/smoke effects came from footage of ink in a tank of water, shot in front of a green screen which I downloaded with permission. I then worked with Maya to create 3D animated scenes telling a narrative sympathetic to the lyrics of the song; the basic female characters were created in Daz 3D and then imported into Maya for extensive customisation and texture editing. I mostly used MIA modelling materials with photographed textures from my library.


Some of the re-worked video footage of CountessM with rotoscoped background and layers of animated particle effects.

An early test shot rendered from Maya showing one of the two ballerinas, depicted simultaneously as a child and as an adult. The child model was not yet rigged, the scene lighting was still rather basic and the textures were still a work-in-progress.

The two shots showing the flying dandelion seeds were among the most problematic to get right, as they called for physics simulations of multiple objects being blown by a dynamic field (and for the seeds to move at quite a leisurely, dreamy pace instead of simply flying straight out of the frame). After some trial and error I managed to get the parameters set right for achieving this.

I originally planned for this shot of the pulsing light bulbs to be a lot longer and more complex. However I needed all the glass objects to behave realistically and the multiple refractions pushed up the rendering times severely. The eventual shot produced was only about eight seconds in length and was placed in the middle of the song where the synthesizers go momentarily quiet.

Copyright 2024  Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner CG

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