A Desert Shaman's Mystical Trip, Activated via Floppy Disk

The boundary between natural and digital worlds gets murky in this music video for Little People's single "Aldgate Patterns." With minimal special effects and a lot of projection mapping, the volcanic landscape of the Mojave Desert sets the scene for a super-colorful, psychedelic journey through memory and technology. While I tend to write off music videos that involve masks and gorgeous natural settings as a kind of "magical hipsterism" or Burning Man redux, "Aldgate Patterns" is a finely crafted, beautiful video that's worth repeat viewings. 

Little People's album, We Are But Hunks of Wood, comes out on October 9, and you can check out part of it here already. Made in collaboration with production studio We Work and animator Chris Martz, the video was directed by Adam Amaral, who describes the production process in a brief interview below. The full credits are available here

The Atlantic: How did the concept for the video come together?

Adam Amaral: When I first heard “Aldgate Patterns,” the initial concept was of a mystical shaman on an “epic” journey. While scanning my own memories searching for a concept for the journey I started to think about memories themselves. Which got me thinking, what if memories were never stored in the brain at all but instead on hard drives just like we store everything else nowadays. If you were storing memories in the early 90’s then you’d only have 1.44 megabytes of floppy disk to back up those good thoughts. Everyone knows the best memories are at least one megabyte in size, so you’d have to be pretty selective when backing up to floppy disk. In the case of the “Aldgate Patterns” video, a mystical shaman character has been searching for his past memories, which happen to be stored on floppy disks hidden throughout a vast desert. While living in a geometric hut, two patterned twins help him find a disk and thus begins the journey to return it to the sacred rock so he can view his past memories.

As far as the look and direction, it was a combination of my personal aesthetic and inspiration from illustrations by Mobius (R.I.P) and Killian Eng, as well as some recent projection mapping projects I had done. We shot on location in Pisgah Crater and Newberry Mountain Wilderness.

Can you describe the production and postproduction process?

A lot of work went into preparation for the shoot. We had a little under a month of preproduction, most of which was gathering supplies, designing the costumes (thanks to the ladies from THEDOGSHOW) and the geometric hut. We tested a bunch of different variations for the geometric hut, using paper models, before we went ahead and built it full size using foam core and muslin.

We had four days for the actual shoot, which at first seemed like plenty of time, but there was a lot to do, so it turned out being kind of crazy. Building the geometric hut out in the heat of the Mojave probably took the longest. From there it was 20-hour workdays, filled with constant time-lapses and all-night projection-mapping excursions. Huge thanks goes out to Jeffrey Moustache and Cory Brown for shooting nonstop late into the night, trying to capture every last drop of footage.

As far as postproduction, there was actually very minimal post work. A big goal of mine was to keep everything as practical as possible, so pretty much everything you see is in camera. The glitch effects and patterned disk were the only post effects, and they were created in After Effects and Cinema 4D.

What's next for you?

Wolf Goggles and Hover Boards. 

For more work by Adam Amaral, visit http://adamamaral.com/.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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