A Syntfarm project.

Project Description

Formations is a short film created with the use of software code. While traveling through real data satellite imagery and traversing constructs of synthetic cloud formations, the audience is invited to play the role of an astronaut, observing slow changing audio and visual textures on various macro and micro scale levels in an alienated but familiar setting. Always, these cloud-like formations look very ungraspable and cosmic and must be observed from a greater distance.

The very slow and subliminal changes of the image allow the observers to pay extra attention to the formal qualities of steadily emerging patterns. This ongoing immersion is only interrupted by sudden change of scale in the ever-moving image.


Video on Vimeo vimeo.com/21577774
High-Res images on flickr syntfarm formations



1080p (1920x1080)
7:50 mins
Apple ProRes (HQ)
Stereo 48.000 kHz


Cloud textures
Custom software

Brian O'Reilly and Syntfarm
Processing, OpenGL


2011, April 7-9

Share Conference 2011, Belgrade. Synthetic Cinema.

Code Process

Satellite imagery was collected from the xplanet.sourceforge.net server over a period of time by a server side cron job and script.
These high resolution satellite images were used for the first five scenes as animated textures using frame buffers and a simple blending shader. Using a textured sphere in OpenGL and variations of blend effects gave us a semi-transparent even x-ray look-a-like look of the projected cloud landscapes.

Zooming very closely onto the sphere resulted in clouds seemingly and very closely passing by the eye or in this case the camera of the viewer.

Zooming into the sphere, reducing the resolution of the sphere to become a low resolution polygonal shape, and moving the camera along a path, gives a very surreal feeling of floating inside an abstract landscape. multiplying an slightly scaling these shapes increases the dimensions of this abstracted space.

By zooming out and reducing the resolution of the sphere even further we can see a crystal look-a-like shape. Instead of rotating the object, a shader was used to move the projected texture of the object instead of rotating the object itself.

Clouds were generateded using [..] perlinclouds sketch as downloadable zip file.


Syntfarm (Germany/Serbia/Singapore) was founded by Andreas Schlegel and Vladimir Todorovic in 2007. This initiative is undertaken as a collaborative effort to investigate the development and evolution of different synthetic forms and spaces. These synthetic forms are created by transcoding various phenomena from natural environments.