The Third and the Seventh

The Third and the Seventh is the most incredible film I have ever seen.  That’s a profound statement, so let me back up a bit and give you some background.  The Third and the Seventh is a 12 minute movie by Alex Roman, a Spanish artist who began doing computer graphics work for a visual effects company in Madrid before getting into the architectural visualization business.  Roman became frustrated with the way that client preferences and demands colored images of completed buildings.  He took a year-long sabbatical to create a more “pure commercial illustration” of his favorite architectural creations from around the world.  The Third and the Seventh is the culmination of this work.

The title of the piece comes from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s “Lectures on the Aesthetics” and the writings of film theorist Ricciotto Canudo.  In 1818, Hegel first identified five forms of art in ascending order: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry.  A century later, Canudo expanded on Hegel’s classification with The Birth of the Sixth Art, in which he argued that cinema constituted a new form of art, “a superb conciliation of the Rhythms of Space (the Plastic Arts) and the Rhythms of Time (Music and Poetry);” an art that incorporated aspects of each of the five “ancient arts.”  He later added dance in the sixth position, making cinema the seventh art.  Although the order is much disputed, the “Seven Arts” are sculpture, painting, architecture, music, poetry, dance, and cinema.  Roman’s film then, is named after architecture and cinema, a union that he wields to produce breathtaking results.

The website devoted to the project is currently unavailable, so there is a frustrating lack of information regarding the film.  Motionographer published a short interview with Alex Roman back in August, which provides some background information, but the most incredible aspect of The Third and the Seventh is that it is entirely CGI.  I don’t pretend to know how that process works (he uses “3DS Max and Vray for rendering, Photoshop for texture work, AfterEffects for compositing and color grading and Adobe Premiere to edit it all”), but it means that Roman created jaw-dropping 3-dimensional simulations of each building, and that despite the mind-turning reality of each image and the painstaking detail present in every shot, none of it has been conventionally “filmed.”

What makes the graphics in The Third and the Seventh stand out from anything you’ve seen before, in addition to their clarity and resolution, is the light that Roman incorporates throughout the film.  He describes architecture as “sculpting with light,” an idea that he envelopes with his chosen medium: cinema.  His intricate shots are laced with light and shadow that are as much a part of the composition as the structure and space of the buildings.  But even more than this, Roman manages to capture the movement of light across these structures, a spectacular achievement with visually stunning results.

I could go on, and I could include more screenshots, but the wonders of this film are better discovered than revealed.  So watch the video for yourself.  Watch it in full screen HD.  This is the kind of film that makes you realize the unbelievable capacity of CGI and the implications it holds for the worlds of art and architecture.

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