Flash on the Beach

September 2011 –– 
Every year a group of the world's elite designers and technologists take to the shores of Brighton Beach to meld their minds into one creative energy – known as Flash on the Beach. Each year one fortunate artist is commissioned to create the title sequence for the conference – and Munkowitz humbly accepted the invitation to create something spectacular for the 2011 event.

The Film

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The Inspiration

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The initial inspiration was to take graphic pixelated light sequencing and integrate it into a live-action modern dance piece. This ultimately translated into building a unique LED light grid that would serve as the primary light source for the talent below.

Immediately, A narrative evolved: a creative soul searches for inspiration as he faces manifestations of his inner ghosts. The LED grid provided a captivating device to parallel the emotion while the dancers ultimately lead the viewer through this unforgettable journey.
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The Treatment

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Our hero is going through an inner turmoil that manifests in a dramatic interaction with his demons and muses.  This is ultimately a personification of the creative process –– the dire search for inspiration and the clarity to propel. The three seductresses that descend upon him represent the various stages of his awakening. The first is doubt and indecision - represented by the REAPER. She challenges him and he is eventually is forced into submission as she envelopes him, enabling his insecurity. The second set of seductresses are twin GAZELLES who play a back and forth.

They are the conflicting ideas that float in a the head of an artist as he tries to manifest his turmoil into inspired focus. The last seductress is the FIREBALL. She is the spark that lights the fire in the artist to create something beautiful. It is pure passion, a coming together of the artist and his muse. Throughout this awakening process his clouded vision is purified by the lights above to usher in the physical and mental clarity of his inspired self.
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The Process Video

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The LED Grid

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Faced with the daunting task of building a unique LED light grid, the Black Swan team, along with lighting design team Embrace the Void, took to the skies in lifts to rig 169 LED lights to a grid. Every four to six bulbs were linked to a distro and decoder box that transmitted data to the LEDS corresponding the the lights.

Each Decoder needed to be properly linked, then run through a master box that was wired to an MBOX interface to run original LED sequences created by Munkowitz. The arduous process took two full days to wire properly and set up, but in the end was worth the effort.
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LED Grid Illumination

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The story, though abstract, is still an emotional one for our hero.  In order to translate the movements of the dancers with the lights of the LED grid, original patterns were created by munko to parallel the movements. Over the course of weeks each individual light bulb was programmed, from color to luminosity, to create a visual tapestry that matched both the ebb and flow of the music.  

Additionally, it added to the tension and release of the dancers and they explored the space and each other. Essentially LIGHT was the production design for our characters to explore, and their landscape was meticulously created to enhance our lead character's journey.
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The Styling

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The styling of the characters became the cornerstone that would link the characters in this fabricated world. Our hero begins with dark black contacts that envelope his eyesight. As he progresses, the light coming in, he begins to lose the darkness. This was represented by a bleeding of the black along his face. Special contacts were created and fit - one for his start, and a second pair that were more cloudy to represent the later stages.

The female dancers were outfitted with clothing that best mimicked the color pallettes from the LED grid, but also allowed for a great freedom of movement to get the most dynamic performances. Appearances were also enhanced by striking make-up and paint that punctuated the look of each muse.
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The Dance

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Hysterica Dance Company founder Kitty McNamee came on to breathe an amazing life into the concept. Instantly seeing the dramatic prose behind an abstract idea, she put together a cast of passionate dancers that took to their roles perfectly.

Utilizing the pre-vis GMUNK created, she was able to coach her dancers to hit the specific moments that would visually tell the story. Between those moments, however, she was able to create a performance that not only captivates but manages to maintain character.
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The Shoot

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In collaboration with talented Cinematographer Kevin Gosselin, director Munkowitz managed to utilize all the advantages of the Arri Alexa system. Shooting for the proper stop to maintain a cinematic level of depth-of-field, they kept camera movements natural - a fair balance of handheld and smooth steadicam, helped by the use of an Easy-Rig system.

In the preparation it was very important for both to utilize as many in-camera properties to get the most dynamic film. As such, a Fish-Eye lens was used to mimic the POV of the hero. Low-Frame rate was utilized to mimic the photographers slow-shutter, creating a frenetic streaking during chaotic moments. High-Frame rates were used to create striking slow-motion moments that added that extra exclamation on poignant story arcs.
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The Memories

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Ultimately this piece was about the collaboration of the supremely talented individuals who collectively poured in their best for this passion project. Everyone involved had a positive and pro-active attitude from start to finish, and that certainly represented well in the final piece. Thank you for an unforgettable ride.
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Camera Techniques

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Extensive camera tests were required to dial in the various techniques used in the production. So naturally, Ultralloyd and munkowitz were the guinea pigs for all of their informative experiments. Fast forward and mix in the discovery of an incredible track and an edit was bound to happen.

Director, Editor

for Flash on the Beach via John Davey
FOTB Titles Credit list

Director: GMUNK
Executive Producer: Matt Winkel
Director of Photography: Kevin Gosselin
Assistant Director: Lloyd DeSouza
Assistant Creative Director: Nick Losq
Choreographer: Kitty McNamee
Assistant Choreographer: Hunter Hamilton
Dance Principal Male: Zak Ryan Schlegel
Dance Reaper: Mecca Vazie Andrews
Dance Gazelle 1: Reshma Gajjar
Dance Gazelle 2: Tara Avise
Dance Fireball: Denna Thomsen
Wardrobe/Costume: Mindy Le Brock
Wardrobe/Costume: Diana Contreras
Makeup: Heiddis Ros Reynisdotti
Makeup: Janna Velasquez
Hair: Sean James

Visual Production: BLACK SWAN
Executive Producer: Matt Winkel
Producer: Lloyd DeSouza
Creative Director: Nick Losq
Design Director: Bradley G Munkowitz
VFX Supervisor: Chris Clyne
Typography Designer: Brian Gossett
Editor: Bradley G Munkowitz
Music / Sound Design: Keith Ruggiero
Lead Animation: Bradley G Munkowitz
Colorist / Finishing: Bradley G Munkowitz
Process Photography: Nick Losq, Brandon Guthrie

Live Action Production: Rabbit Content
CEO/Executive Producer: Douglas Howell
Executive Producer: Joby Barnhart
Chief Financial Officer: Eric Filler

Lighting Production: Embrace The Void
Lighting Lead: Kyle Ruebsmaen
Lighting Lead: Michael Fullman
Master Stripper: Chris Clyne
Lead Ball Assembler: Nick Losq
MC Butt Clamper: Matt Winkel
Master Scissor Lift Operator: Lloyd DeSouza
Lead Balls Leveler: Bradley G Munkowitz
King Crimp: Kevin Gosselin

Camera: Kevin Gosselin Camera
Stage: Ben Kitay Studios
Lenses / Easy Rig: Indie Rentals
Camera Account: Sammy's Camera