Austrian born Helmut Breineder a motion designer is a visual super-hero.
Inspired by names like the film god and enigma Stanley Kubrick right through to the 15 century Dutch painter Hieronymos Boschhave, Helmut Breinder’s life consists of two creative egos. By day he applies his mind to corporate projects pushing some of the top brands to an eager audience fed an addictive diet of capitalism: ‘more, more, more.’
By night Helmut Breineder delves into personal creative wanderings satiating ‘his passion for animation’. Psychedelic, occasionally uncomfortable, sometimes funny but always intriguing, his visual creations draw you.
Vibrant colours accost the eyes; tailored sounds stimulate the ears-it’s sensory stimulation that invigorates.
That moment when your visual journey began.
That goes far back to my childhood. I really enjoyed recording funny videos with a HI 8 Camera.
I remember watching Jan Svankmajers’ film for the first time. Following this I started doing stop motion animations. Sometime later I started to manipulate after effects. That’s how I got interested in animation and Vfx.
Motion Design, Art Direction, VFX, Live visuals, projection mapping evidently there are cross overs but how/what came first.
First, I started working as a VJ for clubs and festivals. When I owned my first computer I mainly used it to produce my own music. So, it was kind of natural to become interested in doing visuals for music. That slowly led me into the path of Motion Design. Later, as technologies advanced, the VJ gigs turned into projection mapping jobs. After many years as a Motion Designer for tv commercials, music videos, live visuals, projection mappings, I got my first projects doing art direction in addition to motion design.
Berlin to Sao Paulo-elaborate.
1999 I moved from Vienna to London where I did some short courses and workshops about film directing and screenwriting. One night I was waiting in line for a concert, when a Japanese guy called Aki gave me a flyer inviting me to his party in Brick Lane. We became friends and I started doing live visuals at his parties. At his parties, he would play mainly Brazilian (or Brazil influenced) music. A year later I moved back to Vienna to work as an editor for a tv program. At that time I decided to travel to Sao Paulo and shoot my own independent documentary about Japanese immigration in Brazil. When I finished the documentary and I stayed 10 more years. The experience was amazing. Luckily I found a job in the biggest post-production company in Sao Paulo at that time, there I learned a lot about Vfx and animation.
Your projects evidently point to much pain-staking work. Can you briefly explain the technical challenges in creating the work you do?
Probably the biggest challenges are the media installations for big events because each event has a different setup, with lots of projectors and LED screens. Some projects are projection mappings. Others are 360 degrees. Sometimes the projection is on the floor, sometimes on the ceiling, and so on. Usually it’s always huge resolutions up to 20K.
There are many extra things to consider when you do those animations compared to a normal 16:9 HD or 2K format. It is very important to understand how your animation is going to work in the space. You also need to consider where it will function best and how many meters per second your animation is moving across the space, so people don’t become dis-orientated. At high resolutions, render times can get absolutely long. Often you can’t use the sexiest render settings like you would in a common format. Ultimately however it is all dependent on the project.
Sound appears to play such an important part of your work.
Sound for sure is extremely important. It immediately creates a mood and connects very strongly to the emotional and the subconscious. For some reason, I never spent much time with the sound though. I usually find something that happens to fit. I do think I should spend more time with the sound as there is a huge potential to make the videos much more interesting. Not so sure which I find most satisfying but I really enjoy the funny mood of the Peter Thomas soundtrack to Porter Des Choses. On the other hand, I thought it worked very well just having minimal sound effects to feel the Pheromones in action.
Are there names (from whatever discipline) who inspired you at the time and why?
There are too many people who inspired me to mention all but I can name a few: David Lynch, StanleyKubrick, Alejandro Jodorowski, The Quay Brothers, Jan Svankmajer, Hayao Miyazaki, Werner Herzog, Frederico Fellini, Hieronymos Bosch, Erwin Wurm, James Turell, Nagi Noda.
Your art direction on the Black Installation was inspiring. What was it like working on that project-and what most interested you in this project?
I love working for installations in a more cultural context like museums. It is rare to get that chance as there is much more demand for commercial projects. So, it’s always a highly enjoyable experience being able to create something without selling a brand’s product. Over time I was lucky to get a few of those projects. But in that case, I really liked the design of the space itself and the screen-setup. It was developed by the same company that I worked for: M-box Berlin. The challenge and the most interesting part involved developing an abstract and very graphic way of telling a chronologic historical story. Giving the viewer a very special visual experience, once you walk around inside the black box was important. The focus? Finding the balance between a strong, special visual impact while still making it easy for the spectator to follow the story.
Humour features in your work
Mostly I try to see humour in things or situations to entertain myself and others. To find an idea I usually look at something and start modifying it until it becomes more interesting to me and reveals something else or new. Playing with different interpretations of the same thing helps me see things in different ways. It feeds my curious brain. As a motion designer, you are constantly learning new techniques. Every new program release has new tools to experiment with. The latest tools subsequently become important when creating something new.
Your work has an existential quality which is evident.
I think I spend a lot of time observing my environment, constantly putting it in an existential context and blending it with a sense of humour, as a philosophical practise. It is a never-ending curiosity why things are, the way they are. Basically, everything we consider to be normal is extraordinary; from life to the act that we are sentient beings. Creating surreal scenarios and images is a playful way of seeing reality. It’s the chance to create your own alternatives. It helps to get out of life’s routines, which often makes things look so common and normal. It also presents more of the sub-consciousness with all its emotional power of transforming and blending things.
Pheromone is an amazing visual assault-elaborate on the themes/ideas.
The basic idea comes from observing oneself and asking why you are doing certain things. Once you reflect on your actions in that sense, you recognise that there is less free will. A lot of behaviour is driven by hidden factors-chemicals in this case. It is observing nature in action. That can be extremely joyful and funny or scary and disgusting. It is supposed to make you slightly uncomfortable in a funny way. Pheromone evidently also has a playful sexual drive. It is a drive which is a major motivational force behind ‘our’ behaviours. For the sound, I worked together with Duke Peter and we mainly used materials like latex, rubber and cloth. Just to say my girlfriend Michelle Martins assisted me on Pheromone-I always discuss my ideas with her.
What are the driving forces for your work now?
As I spend most of the time working on commercial projects for a living, my personal side projects are important to me to maintain the passion for animation. If I don’t do my own stuff from time to time I start feeling unsatisfied. The need to be creative to feel good is driving my animation experiments. Currently I am focusing on bringing a sense of humour into a slick style.
How do you make tangible and digital collide?
Throw a stone at your computer screen.