FITC Tokyo 2015

Now in its sixth year, FITC Tokyo 2015 consists of presentations from some of the most interesting and engaging digital creators from all around the world. To commemorate FITC Tokyo’s inaugural title sequence we sought to encapsulate the city itself – distilled to graphic form. Aiming to contrast the harmonies of traditional Japanese culture against the backdrop and sensory overload of present-day Tokyo we meticulously crafted elegant typographic forms to collide with abrasive overstimulating glitch – giving way to a progressive journey where moments of extreme chaos fold into temporary tranquility.


Inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo, I saw these titles as a perfect opportunity to experiment with new techniques, in order to graphically express the feeling and rhythym of the city itself. The direction called for extremely surgical and precise glitch that adhered to the grid; glitch with agency and intelligence; glitch that spoke to the beautiful controlled chaos of this futuristic bustling metropolis.

I called upon Houdini extensively for this project, leveraging the incredible versatility and control that it provides. I started my research out in Houdini's lesser known COP compositing space. I wrote some custom VEX compositing filters that would read in video footage and glitch the footage in extremely precise and controllable ways. This custom glitch COP node proved useful for creating a highly cutomizable and animatable 'broken monitor' effect.

I then moved to DOPs space to craft a dynamic pixel system, where particles were birthed from input video. The particles could then be advected through various dynamic forces. Various vector fields were sculpted in an attempt to get the particles to follow the rules of the grid. While they looked cool, the particles ultimately proved too organic and roughly chaotic for the direction of the piece.

The most complex effect I created for the spot was dubbed the 'Genetic Grid'. I prototyped a genetic algorithm based grid system in Processing, where the video would drive the birth of 'organisms'. The organisms would traverse the grid, spreading their genes, mutating, and evolving. After the algorithm was worked out in Processing the 'Genetic Grid' was rebuilt with Python in Houdini, to provide finer rendering control, and to take advantage of Houdini's ability to cache the simulation data.

This project turned out amazing thanks to the hard work of all the incredibly talented people involved. I'm so honored to have been part of it.




  • Role: Computational Artist
  • Studio: ALT Creative
  • Year: 2015
  • Medium: Film
  • Software: Houdini, Processing, After Effects