Cinematographers in the midst of a shoot in Marseille, France, chanced upon this beautiful natural phenomenon known as a murmuration. Luckily for us, they paused to film the spectacle. "We were shooting for a commercial with my D.O.P, waiting for an helicopter flying into the sunset," director Neels Castillon says, "when thousands and thousands of birds came and made this incredible dance in the sky. It was amazing, we just forgot our job and started this little piece of poetry." To really appreciate the moment, watch the video full screen with the music, "Hand-Made," by Alt-J.
Alexis Madrigal, writing about another murmuration captured on video, notes that the math behind the birds' fluid formation is incredibly complex:
Scientists have been similarly fascinated by starling movement. Those synchronized dips and waves seem to hold secrets about perception and group dynamics. Last year, Italian theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi took on the challenge of explaining the murmuration. What he found, as ably explained by my old Wired colleague Brandon Keim, is that the math equations that best describe starling movement are borrowed "from the literature of 'criticality,' of crystal formation and avalanches -- systems poised on the brink, capable of near-instantaneous transformation." They call it "scale-free correlation," and it means that no matter how big the flock, "If any one bird turned and changed speed, so would all the others."
For more work by Neels Castillon, visit http://www.neelscastillon.com/.