The spectacular video to Wanderlust took nine months to finish and can be seen in stereoscopic 3D, making it a labour of love for directors Encyclopedia Pictura and animation house UVPhactory.
Whether in her music, her dress-sense or her political views, Björk is an unorthodox figure, with a well-earned reputation for artistry and brave, unconventional choices.
Her music videos are equally renowned for being avant-garde: in the course of her career, she’s worked with an honour-roll of out-there creatives, including Alexander McQueen, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry (who she has collaborated with on seven videos).
Her latest video, Wanderlust, is no exception to her cutting-edge track record: it’s a spectacular seven-and-a-half minute epic that was filmed in stereoscopic 3D.
Blending puppetry, live action and CG, it proved a colossal undertaking for producers Ghost Robot, directors Encyclopedia Pictura (Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfrich) and New York-based animation house UVPhactory.
In the video, Björk, dressed in a pixie-like outfit, encounters a herd of yaks and travels along a river on the back of one. As the journey along the river progresses, her negative self, the Pain-Body (played by a live actor) emerges and they struggle for supremacy; after tumbling over a waterfall, she finally finds peace in the whirlpool embrace of a river-god.
The plot is vague, but the aesthetic is stunning. The mountains are flat and distant, as in a children’s book, while the puppet yaks and Björk’s costume are richly coloured and recall Maurice Sendak’s cult children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.
The river is a key part the video: a vivid, ever-changing stream of blue and white strands, it churns and tumbles through almost every scene. The task of creating the river – and all other CG elements – fell to UVPhactory.
The team also had the job of ensuring that all strands of the action – CG, puppetry and live action shot against a greenscreen – knit together seamlessly. “Encyclopedia Pictura gave us a great treatment that had a good idea of the story they wanted to tell,” says Damijan Saccio, UVPhactory’s co-founder and CG supervisor on the project.
“They had an idea of the direction they were interested in for the CG portions... They referenced stylized Japanese prints of water, along with a Van Gogh image. We loved the treatment and were very excited to work with them on creating an interesting and other-worldly looking river.”
Encyclopedia Pictura was determined to avoid an overly VFX-heavy feel for the project. “Part of the aesthetic for the video was this very hand-made look,” says Saccio, explaining that this is part of the reason the yaks were puppets rather than animations.
“It was difficult to integrate the CG with the full-size live-action models. It would have been vastly easier to have them both be CG, but I think this would have sacrificed the look that was being striven for,”