Showcase: Optics by Maxim Zhestkov

In this Motionographer Showcase, we wanted to shine some light on Maxim Zhestkov’s terrific new film, Optics.

In true Maxim fashion, he has built yet another stunning 3D world that pulls your right in. Centered around light, refraction, and the visual spectrum Optics is a beautiful example of abstraction and animation’s innate ability to create an experience that can feel so foreign yet familiar at the same time.

From Maxim:

Optics is an experimental art film by Maxim Zhestkov exploring the behavior of artificial light and color in digital environments. Blending architectural gallery space with computer-generated digital glass sculptures, we encounter animated refractions, chromatic aberrations, colourful reflection and other conditions which are impossible in reality. A series of tests and explorations guides us through different optical conditions of the bright and colorful digital universe. The film was initiated as an experimental series of tests in Zhestkov – Studio. After some research, we realized that the beauty and visual power of these explorations could be transformed into an art film rather than be a series of tests. For a couple of months, programmers and artists at Zhestkov.Studio developed different approaches and played with the infinite possibilities of refractions and reflections. We developed over 1000 tools and principles of working with light and refractive/reflective surfaces. Coders wrote dozens of lines in Python to achieve some of the effects and behaviors of light. In the end, we produced some truly amazing results. Light and refraction in reality can behave only in one way in one condition, but in the digital world, where we don’t have real-world restrictions, we can animate every condition and step further into the understanding of light and color.

If you’d like to find out more you can check out an interview with Maxim here.

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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.