August 18th, 2014

London synthpop trio Vaults' recently released their first music video for the single ‘Lifespan’ by director Nick Rutter, cinematographer Tim Sidell and colourist Luke Morrison of The Mill in Chicago. The promo is a beautiful and eerie reflection on mortality, a concept inspired by medieval Dance of Death allegories

The film takes the viewer on a dark, dreamlike journey down the banks of Death's river. As the film floats downstream, the camera rolls over motionless figures along the shore, while in contrast, their reflections ripple with the water’s continuous flow. Inspired by the universality of death, the primary theme of the medieval paintings, the film recreates the procession of Death, leading everyone, regardless of hierarchy or class, into its inevitable 'dance.'

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The film's structure is similar in many subtle ways to the composition of Dance of Death – or Death Macabre – artwork. The consistent camera angle and tracking gives the viewer the feeling that they are on their own journey on the water and also recreates the lateral arrangement used in many Dance of Death pieces.

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Low key-lighting creates a stark contrast of deep darkness and selective light throughout the film, intensifying the somber mood and tapping into the dramatic illumination style of 17th century Baroque painting by artists like Italian painter Caravaggio.

The Calling Of Saint Matthew Caravaggio 3

A similar 'spotlight effect' is evident across the film's shots, creating an almost 3D effect through deep shadows, and putting the focus on the bleak, still figures.

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Mill colourist Luke Morrison worked closely with Nick to set the final look for the film. Luke explains, “The whole film takes its inspiration from painting and in particular, the beautiful way light is used. When deciding how to approach the grade with Nick, we wanted to further echo this painting technique. With this in mind, I played with the use of shadow in different densities of black to give it depth and added a slight inky blue. I also used contrasting tones in the key light again, adding to the shape of the image and echoing back, in some ways, to the Baroque style.”

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See the credits here and watch the film below.