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Palace of the Ancients

Client: Self-Initiated

Year: 2023

This is an experimental short film that celebrates the beauty, patterns and intricacy of Islamic architecture. Inspired by the stunning kaleidoscopic architecture effects in the first Doctor Strange film, I wanted to recreate that effect using a style of architecture that already has complex mathematical patterns. Drawing inspiration from architecture found in Morocco, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regions in the middle east, I aimed to design something that showcases the patterns and details on every surface. I animated as many elements as possible in each shot to create a sense of constant motion and fluidity. I wanted to create a space that felt mystical. Where ancient magic and complex mathematics coexist. The end result is a mesmerizing and surreal visual experience that invites the viewer to discover the beauty and intricacy of Islamic art and culture.

The Process

 I used Houdini to model and animate every single mathematical structure from scratch (except the plants). This was a very demanding and time-consuming process, but also very rewarding. I wanted to create a prismatic psychedelic effect with continuous motion that evokes a feeling of running water, and so I animated everything that could be animated. In addition to all of the geometry being animated, I also designed and animated kaleidoscopic patterns in After Effects that I then used as displacement maps on all of my textures to add an extra layer of animation. The result is a hypnotic short film that showcases the beauty and diversity of islamic architecture.

I began by designing and modeling each individual element based on references of islamic architecture that I found. Once I had the basic shape, I would then animate it to continually rotate. After the rotation, I would slice it in half and mirror it or clone it and mirror it. This provided the basis for the kaleidoscopic architecture effect.

For the textures, I used Midjourney to generate black and white tiled islamic-inspired patterns. I would then bring those into after effects to animate them with a kaleidoscopic effect and export them as an image sequence so that I could use them as animated displacement maps in 3D. Additionally, I brought other texture maps like bricks or stone into after effects and used a plug in called 'Loop Flow' to animate them so that they continuously loop. Then I would export them as image sequences and use them as animated 3D textures. The effect of this is super trippy!

Production Stills

Design & Animation: Ian Frederick

Music & Sound Design: Abel Okugawa

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