3D animation is increasingly finding itself being utilised in unusual areas, but rarely is it used to bring to work the life of a composer who died over 200 years ago.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. Bach is one of the most renowned classical composers in human history, and his work has lived on for generations of music lovers to admire and enjoy.

Recently, visual artist Alan Warburton used CGI neon lights to create a haunting animation inspired by Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recording of Bach’s masterpiece. The result is mesmerising. The animation took ten weeks to complete and involved creating 3D light models that responded to every note Aimard played.

 

This is a particularly innovative use of 3D lighting models to create a unique 3D animation. While there is nothing unusual about placing animation as a juxtaposition to music, achieving this absorbing effect in this innovative manner takes a certain amount of imagination and invention.

One should also appreciate the amount of effort that went into this particular production. Each frame took 15 minutes to create because of the thousands of calculations that had to be made to make the setting look life-like. But the final result achieved by this unique 3D animation was such as to make the process entirely worthwhile.

It would be natural to wonder why Warburton went to such lengths to acknowledge the music of Bach. The answer is that the video was commissioned by Sinfini Music to celebrate the launch of Aimard’s new recording of J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier on Deutsche Grammophon. Warburton apparently realised early on in the project that it was essential to keep the 3D animation involved as simple as possible in a physical sense, in order to ensure that viewers can concentrate fully on the musical compositions.

However, just because the final product was relatively simple, it does not mean that the 3D animation techniques involved were the same. This was an incredibly labourious process which could only be completed as a labour of love by someone who is incredibly passionate about 3D animation.

Bach's keyboard masterpiece, also called 'The 48' includes Preludes and Fugues in all 24 of the major and minor keys. Bach published Book I of the work in 1722 and Book II in 1742. The piece is one of the monoliths of the piano repertoire. The work was first recorded in the 1930s by Edwin Fischer and has since been released by composers ranging from Glenn Gould to Angela Hewitt. 

Meanwhile, 3D animation continues to breakthrough new boundaries and achieve exciting, pioneering effects and collaborations.