February 2024 ––
What happens when you invite five of the most innovative international digital artists and designers equipped with powerful Z by HP workstations to collaborate around an energized dance anthem from Alt-Pop German rock duo Milky Chance? You get “Synchronize,” a fantastical, otherworldly journey into the colorful minds of Z by HP global ambassadors Orlando Arocena, GMUNK, Nidia Dias, Jody MacDonald, and Rik Oostenbroek, inspired by the sounds of guitarist/singer Clemens Rehbein and bassist/percussionist Phillipp Dausch, aka Milky Chance.

“Synchronize” is a synth-filled track, described by Clemens Rehbein in American Songwriter Magazine as, “when you’re in love and feel that perfect synchronization with someone, it’s almost as if nothing else matters…your worries, your anxieties, they just disappear, and all that’s left is love.” The ambassadors, provided with product and payment from HP, are a team of creative professionals who push the boundaries of their craft. They took that cue and came together across the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Columbia, and Portugal to contribute inspiration from their respective fields and corners of the planet to produce a new music video for the song.

The Film

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The Concept

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The video takes the viewer on a ride through hyper-real landscapes and lushly layered syncopated visuals timed to highlight the rhythm of the track. The stunning imagery was created using 3D simulations and custom assets, created using real-time 3D and AI-powered tools. The data demands of these advanced workflows required rigorous performance and robust capabilities supported in Z workstations.

“We’ve collaborated with visual artists before, but never so many all at once. We wanted to let the ambassadors do their thing, so we tried to stay out of their way as much as possible, and trusted them to make something great once they shared the initial treatment. Synchronize has been a fan favorite since it came out, so we think our fans will be very excited to see a new visual interpretation of this song. It was very cool to see how the different artists interpreted the song and how it all came together at the end. We think it looks very cool and we hope that you all like it as much as we do,” added Clemens.

The video, developed in partnership with integrated agency Giant Spoon, takes the viewer on a ride through syncopated visuals timed to highlight the rhythm of the track. Scenes meld and morph into one another, featuring lush landscapes captured in India by Jody, real-time sequences from Nidia, GMUNK’s colorful rotating cloud simulations, Rik’s vibrant floating orbs, and a vector art poster from Orlando that draws inspiration from each of the ambassador’s contributions. The stunning imagery was created using 3D simulations and custom assets, built using real-time 3D and AI-powered tools.
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Embergen Jedi

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Since becoming a ZbyHP Global Brand Ambassador, and as a result given some uber-powerful workstations to play on, Munky has become quite fond of simulation art. First it started with the rather cumbersome Maya BiFrost to make fluid simulations with particles and meshes, but the painstakingly slow process of caching, meshing and rendering proved to be an exhaustive deal-breaker. He then quickly gravitated towards JangaFX Embergen once we saw that it ran in real-time and how much control it granted the user. Add in his love of clouds and smoke, and the various ways they be Manipulated Optically and Lit From The Interior, Munkowitz was hooked and it is fast becoming one of his favorite tools to use. 

For the Synchronize video, Munky was inspired by some of Nidia and Ostenbrook’s expressive palettes, so he used emissive flames with oscillating gradients to color the thick smoke, creating a dynamic internal lighting state that is surely going to be a technique to be researched in future sessions with the software. A big special thanks goes out to Jason Key of JangaFX for taking the time to train the Munk like a Jedi underling; he really appreciates all the time Jason offers up to answer the burning questions and illuminating the path towards the Jedi bible. 
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The Output

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Inspired by the song’s repeating lyric, “smoke in the sky,” globally renowned Berkeley, CA-based director and digital artist GMUNK gravitated toward creating visuals of rotating clouds enhanced with AI-augmented natural elements. He used EmberGen, a real-time fluid simulation software from JangaFX, together with AI-powered tools including Topaz Labs, and experimented with Stable Diffusion to morph cloud simulations in various iterations of his work.

“EmberGen is based on real-world physics with controls to manage combustion, emission of fuel, temperature, flames, and smoke, and it’s up to the artist to combine these ingredients to determine how they react in the final simulation. It runs 100% on the GPU. Using EmberGen on the Z8 Fury is just bliss. It’s like being a conductor in an orchestra in Vienna. It’s fantastic, and it’s so much fun,” said GMUNK. “I also use the GPU-accelerated AI tool Topaz Labs to interpolate slowdowns of smoke simulation flythroughs. I slow down the footage two-to-four times and it almost looks better than the original, the software is legit voodoo magic.”
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The Process

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Z by HP first challenged its global ambassadors to bridge geographic divides in 2021, during the height of the pandemic lockdown, in the production of a short film called “The Living System” using the previous generation desktop workstations to evolve their creative skillset. In this second effort, with access to the latest generation workstations, these incredible artists were challenged to reimagine global collaboration, creating a computer-generated music video with multiple voices and a singular vision.

Tools used by the artists on this creative journey include JangaFX’s EmberGen, Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, Autodesk’s Maya, Maxon’s Cinema 4D, SideFX Houdini, Adobe Creative Cloud, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, and Topaz Labs’ VideoAI. The data demands of bringing this project together and enabling high levels of creative collaboration and iteration required the rigorous performance and robust capabilities supported by Z workstations.
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