Arts & Design

HP’s Antarctic Dome returns to Coachella with an Earth Day twist

We spoke to one of the project's nine digital artists about the collaboration and creativity involved in making a one-of-a-kind audio/visual experience for the music and art fest in the California desert.

By Harrison Cook — April 14, 2022

As the most famous six-day music fest-in-a-desert returns from its pandemic hiatus, so, too will HP’s one-of-a-kind activation at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this month.

Inside HP’s giant Antarctic Dome, festival-goers can escape the desert heat — and perhaps reality for a moment — as they go on a 360-degree audio/visual sensory journey of “regeneration.” HP tapped nine digital artists to create a new short VR film, REGEN, written and directed by Tristan Ferreira

 

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The global team of digital artists, who collaborated across time zones to make the five-minute film, includes: Los Angeles-based Ferreira and Blake Kathryn; Sweden’s Jon Noorlander, San Francisco’s Kyle Gordon, South Korea’s Taehoon Park, Paris-based Florian DKS, the UK’s Stefan Mathez (aka toomuchlag) and Luke Penry; and Lithuania’s Karolina Sereikaite (aka Catalysee).

REGEN - Short VR Film Teaser

It’s a visual adventure that’s open to interpretation, says Sereikaite, assistant director of the film who also created its opening and closing scenes. 

Sereikaite, a 3D motion graphics artist who specializes in fluid dynamics and animation, was inspired by the stunning landscapes of the desert. “We want people to have their own experience and their own idea of what [REGEN] is about,” she explains. “The general sense is this journey from the desert to a lush environment and from dead places to renewal, which we all have been waiting for, I think, for a couple of years now.”  

The Antarctic, a geodesic projection dome where REGEN will screen at Coachella.

The Antarctic, a geodesic projection dome where REGEN will screen at Coachella.

The film, fabricated in 3D creation software including Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine on HP workstations for VR viewing, offers an emotional experience synched to music from international electronic duo ODESZA’s new album, “The Last Goodbye,” inside the world’s largest temporary geodesic projection dome. 

The opening of REGEN starts ominously with a scene of absolute desolation. Wind whips sand through crashed air ships from different eras of time. ODESZA’s score stretches and contorts voices, which invites the listener to lean in closer. A sudden swelling kaleidoscope of sound kick starts a trip through space, planting cosmic seeds that morph into jellyfish in deep ocean waters, and rising up to an eclipse in the sky. Finally the viewer sees the pulsing neurons of a human iris, a regeneration of sorts that culminates in a rendered form of human consciousness.

As part of HP’s Coachella visual activation, the company is holding an original NFT auction that captures the 3D immersive experience. HP will be donating the proceeds of the auction to the Arbor Day Foundation, as part of its work supporting reforestation and sustainability projects around the world. 

The Garage caught up with Sereikaite from her home country of Lithuania to talk about the collaborative engine behind REGEN; and how technology, science, and art intersect to create this once-in-a-life-time concert experience.

“With REGEN, I got the chance to create a whole world.”

— Karolina Sereikaite, 3D motion graphics artist who specializes in fluid dynamics

Karolina Sereikaite (Catalysee) is a 3D motion graphics artist and assistant director of REGEN, says she was inspired by the stunning landscapes of the desert.

Karolina Sereikaite (Catalysee) is a 3D motion graphics artist and assistant director of REGEN, says she was inspired by the stunning landscapes of the desert.

What was it like working with all these other artists on this ambitious piece?

I tried my best to be as hands-on as possible. It’s great to work with such great artists and we constantly inspire each other. We even gave input into one another’s scenes so REGEN felt like a complete piece with transitions. One scene would just melt into the other, seamlessly, which captures the true consciousness of the film. It’s both a challenge and a huge opportunity to make everything harmonious. 

What was the inspiration for the scenes you created for the project?

I remembered traveling in Sedona [Arizona], those red rocks and the desert and [California’s] Joshua Tree National Park, which brought me back to the last time I was at Coachella. Those memories, that travel, those experiences, everything just connected. For my scenes, I revisited the photos I took, and also watched Mad Max to get a sense of the desert. I challenged myself by taking the beginning scene and the final scene because I wanted to showcase that transformation: The beauty of nature that comes with an environment that changes. In the case of the film, the viewer starts in a barren desert and by the end of the journey, they are surrounded in a lush paradise. 

Did you have to learn any new technology for this project? 

It wasn’t that I had to, I took the opportunity! I usually take projects where I can create what I want, but I also want to challenge myself to test different mediums. There’s a difference between creating ad work and work that’ll be projected in the Dome. I was like, okay, let’s do this. I have no idea how to do it, but with collaboration, we can create bigger things.

Taehoon Park

An underwater scene from a new short film, REGEN, commissioned by HP and written and directed by Tristan Ferreira.

You’ve done some interesting commercial work with brands like Hershey and [watchmaker] Tissot. Could you talk about your approach to 3D animation?

I think we all crave a little bit of magic now, crave new things, crave new inspiration. The fluid dynamics in my animations have the potential to bring the sense of magic and surrealism to whatever is being showcased. With REGEN, I got the chance to create a whole world.

How did the music influence your work?

When I heard the mix of the songs for the first time, I felt shivers, in the best way possible, all over my body and under my skin. ODESZA’s music is so cinematic to begin with, but it certainly sets us up for our own journey through the piece. When I heard the score for REGEN, I instantly saw the wide angles and slow motion we could embed in the film. 

What do you want viewers to take away from watching REGEN?

Personally, I want them to breathe. I want them to take a really deep breath and feel hope, and maybe a bit of magic to take into their lives beyond Coachella. 

 

Coachella continues through April 24.