Jarring video combines drones, dystopia, kick-butt soundtrack

The creator of a new short on Vimeo says it's about "synesthetic neon-dubstep shapes in a surveillance state." You'll see.

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Does this video have a fiery sky snake? You bet! Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET
Sure, drones can be used to do innocuous things like deliver pizzas or beer. But they can also be put to more sinister purposes like spying on our every move and shooting menacing laser shapes at us if they don't like where we're going.

At least, that's the dystopian vision of drones that's brought to life in the experimental short film "Dysco" by British animation director Simon Russell.

The nearly 3-minute-long video, which was just chosen as a staff pick by Vimeo, takes you into the near future where drones and cameras not only hang in the sky and from elaborate scaffolds attached to futuristic buildings, but get pretty groovy as they move in time to a heavy dubstep electronic soundtrack.

"Initially I aimed to make an abstract animation concerned only with synchronising shapes and sound," Russell writes on his blog. "But the environments kept getting darker, influences from the real world crept in, especially the Snowdon leaks, the Arab Spring, and maybe just the fact of living in London, the most surveilled city in the world."

As the video opened, I had a sense that there was more packed into each frame than I was seeing, so I found myself hitting the pause button every few seconds. That helped me pick out details like the logo for "Freedom Fences" and the sign that reads, "CCTV For Your Protection." I also cranked up the volume, which let me pick out the robotic catch phrase, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." Then, of course, there's the fiery sky snake.

But despite poring over the frames, I clearly missed even more gems that are packed into the video.

"I spent a long time detailing the world of 'Dysco,'" writes Russell. "Everything has a reason for being, for example the lampposts have solar panels and anti-climb spikes to stop interference with the cameras. The graffiti references various hacker groups and movements such as Lulsec and Anonymous. 'Freedom' or 'Resistance' is plastered on the walls in Turkish, Cantonese, and Korean. The drones and security apparatus are branded with parodies of major tech companies; FreeSec is based on the Google Chrome logo whilst Omni is a parody of Facebook."

Keep your eye out for those details and more as you check out the awesomeness of "Dysco" below. If you want to go even deeper into Russell's process, take a look at this clip that details the making of this world.

About the author

Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for Crave and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.

 

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