Sehsucht inject music into the blood

Hamburg based motion house Sehsucht have created the mesmerising spot ‘Symphony in Red’ for Konzerthaus Dortmund through the agency Jung von Matt. There isn’t a direct link to a QT, but click here to go through to their site and a link to the flash movie appears on the front page. Or you can download a rather large zip file they’ve supplied here.

Jung von Matt approached Sehsucht with the brief, ‘Liquid Blood’ and as luck would have it their director Niko Tziopanos had just spent a semester with his design students experimenting with ‘Ink as medium and form for animation’. From the outset the decision was made to film liquid in water as opposed to using Realflow or similar software, as the team felt most inspiration from working with the natural medium.

The shoot took place in the less than opulent surroundings of the vestibule in the WC at the Sehsucht studio. A small aquarium was set up and the team spent a good deal of R&D team testing oils, inks and playing with the water consistency by introducing washing-up liquid.

Now, I know the approach is not a new one and many film students / motion houses have created some work using similar techniques. But the results Sehsucht have come up with are in an altogether different class to anything I’ve seen created in this way before. What struck me first was the bind between the music by Fazil Say and the pace and movement Sehsucht achieve. There is a definite evolution to the piece that is based upon the three acts of ‘exposition, confrontation and epilogue’ that Sehsucht drew from Fazil’s music. I find the in-camera results, particularly the lighting in the liquid to be absolutely exquisite. The liquid formation and dissolution of the typography is again, straight out of the top drawer. As you’ll see, the team do introduce CG elements into the piece such as the human form appearing near the end, but they fit so seemlessly into the spot that it’s almost impossible to tell them apart from the in-camera work.

Director: Niko Tziopanos
Art Direction: Alexander Heyer and Martin Hess
Camera: Bea Wellenbrock , Alex Heyer and Valentin Heun
2D Compositing (AE): Niko Tziopanos , Alex Heyer and Martin Hess
3D: Niko Tziopanos
Rotoscoping: Bea Wellenbrock
Producer: Andereas Coutsoumbelis
Executive Producer: Martin Woelke

About the author

Simon Robson

Live in London with my girlfriend Emma. Animation director with Nexus Productions. Moving to Sydney for a while in October. Likes: anything that dings my creative dong, sushi, spongebob, crap Saturday evening TV, White chocolate, Muai Thai. Dislikes: Plagirism, PNAC, cleaning up my cats' sick.



thanks niko,
fantastic work!


Ah love the smooth transitions/over all flow. Music fits perfectly!


Beuatiful,Beautiful piece. :)
Reminiscent for me of this one:
Great work…


Absolutely beautiful!
Now I wanna a see a “how they did it” post!


amazing. i’d also love to see a breakdown of some of the more complex shots..


I agree, this seems to be just a notch higher than the other ink work out there. The shapes created are wonderful and it seems like they were designing more with the ink rather than just letting it float around and look pretty.

I’d love to know about how it was done also!


thank you all! that project was fun. but there’s nothing really magical about the making of at all.
we shot it all on HD DV in a very small fish tank on an old light box – so there nothing spectacular about the lighting, too.
after that, we uses that footage as 3D-layers in AE. some 2D-tracking is done to conect some of the blood-branches – thats all.
mainly we used just 2-3 tweaked takes to generate the more comlex shots.

so, in fact it was some kind student-style piece of work.



/\ regardless it is a fantastic piece. It just works beautifully with the music.

Suzan Martino


AUTO Renegade

Beautiful work.


lovely and amazing.
as a music producer, it is a joy to see music featured so well, and given shape – in visual design – in such a delightful manner. I often get asked to do it the other way around…fit the music to the picture. It is refreshing to see the opposite being done, especially in great style and taste.

MassiveMusic Amsterdam


The” ink in the tank ” idea always seems to stick around….This is one of the tricks that have been around the longest…

Check out the earliest NOVA TV intros from the 70s-80’s Thats milk…making the nebulas..

I am sure some early sci fi films have used it before too..

Actually there could be a book about WATER TANK FX….


hey diederik,
thank you! we did DSF together, some years ago. with mr. zentner. do you remember?!


wow… beautiful work! freezing the ink drop to create trees, human form, and that base clef mark… was just amazing!


Great work!
but what I’m curious much about the fluids transitions on the text, rather then on the other fluids comp.
I’m just wondering how did you achieve that great transitions… it seems a sort of displacement map and compound blurs, but there should be something more here.

keep up the great work!


hey niko, as i already told ya….
it knocked me off my chair late at night when i first watched it!!
bloody good work ;)


the text transitions are 90% in camera! we took foils to print on with an ink jet printer. than we used dishwashing liquid to blow the text away… some timeremapping effects…thats all.


beaaaautiful!! :)



great movie…just wondering, coz your “self
made” footage looks 1:1 like this Organic stock footage-dvd stuff.

…anyway, creative use of it.



:) … if we have known that we would have used it….maybe…
no, all footage is 100% self made. it just looks ever the same when you work with ink in water.


Im always amazed and blow away by the things you guys do! :P Its lovely and seamlessly produced.

Nisha Josson

the simplicity of music, minimal colors, an absolute absence of clutter and purity of movement all blend in beautifully; a perfectly delectable feast for the senses!!


minhang, great work. We were looking at something with a similar liquid feel on a film project we did. Pretty neat that most of the type was in the tank! Strange question! but what was the colour of the foil you inkjet printed onto, was there a lot of frame by frame clean up neaded you had to do with the footage afterwards.


very seamless… beautiful.

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