The Greek mountain of Parnassos is said to be home to the Muses, goddesses of the arts. Poets have long paid homage to its name, going as far as calling themselves “parnassians” in 19th century France. Parnassos wishes in turn to pay homage to the poets and artists who have contributed to the foundations of French culture through a series of short films, each illustrating a poem as well as an artistic movement.

Introducing Parnassos

Parnassos is a series of 10 short films, each an adaptation of a French poem, and each following the artistic style of a corresponding art movement. Each association is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a major moment of art history, from 17th century baroque to early 20th century surrealism.

Parnassos will be created in the Unreal Engine, with new tools that are on the verge of revolutionizing the future of filmmaking. Using recent innovations and exploring the power of shading and GAN style transfers, we intend to demonstrate the power of real-time technology by creating a series of original shorts. Our work will combine the latest advances in technology all the while going back to major landmarks of art history, to reach a broader audience, beyond the world of entertainment.

Parnassos: Pilot Episode

This pilot episode represents the concept behind Parnassos, a combination of poetry and visual arts told through a simple short story. Le Dormeur du val received a finalist award at the Real-Time Shorts Challenge and was created entirely within the Unreal Engine by Alvaro Lamarche-Toloza, working alone during the parisian quarantine.

Le Dormeur du val, poem by Arthur Rimbaud, 1870.

Project Goals

Our first goal is to reach an original combination of art, tech, and culture.

We’re looking for references and inspirations that are rarely seen in the world of real-time, heavily dominated by video game tropes, hoping to differentiate ourselves and to prove that virtual production fits any kind of world or story.

We expect this production to reach a different audience, and thus to shine a new light into the world of virtual production.

The mainstream and artistic angle should help us achieve a different coverage, and hopefully to spark the interest of productions yet unaware of this new technology.

The boom of real-time is fairly new and there is still a lot to figure out in order to flesh out cost-effective pipelines that can be used commercially.

Being a small team, we intend to explore our different options to find what works best, and share this knowledge with the community as we make progress.

parnassos-pilot-episode-still
Still from le Dormeur du val

Key Features

Animation

The project will use new performance capture techniques; as the format relies on mostly static scenes, animation work will be kept to a minimum to stay within budget.

Sound

Sound design is an important aspect of the project, and in particular the interpretation of each poem. Every episode will host a different voice to fit the overall tone of the scene.

Shading

We intend to experiment with the shading possibilities of the engine to achieve results that are either as photorealistic as possible or that give each episode a unique look.

Style transfer

One of our goals is to use GANs (see “Artistic style transfer for videos” by Ruder, Dosovitskiy, Brox) to apply artistic styles such as fauvism or pointillism to corresponding episodes.

parnassos-pilot-episode-still-dormeur-du-val
Still from le Dormeur du val

Parnassos: Sample Episodes

The series is a homage to French poetry as well as an invitation to remember both the verses and the names of the movements and artists that have shaped French culture.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog,
Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

Demain, dès l’aube… Victor Hugo, 1947

An old man in a suit walks next to a young woman wearing a bright, white dress, slowly, like a father taking his daughter down the aisle. Their silent promenade takes them through hills and forest, until they reach the gates of a quiet cemetery. As they stand in front of a grave, the man lays down a white bouquet of flowers and steps back, now alone.

Demain, dès l’aube was written by Hugo in memory of his daughter who had drowned with her husband four year earlier, at the age of 19.

The visual inspiration comes from another Romanticist artist, Caspar David Friedrich, who paints onirical landscapes as introspective metaphors, using nature to express emotions and inner thoughts.

Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Victor Hugo
Mystery and Melancholy of a Street, Giorgio de Chirico, 1914

Zone, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1913

Taking a stroll through an empty city devoid of any life or sense, we contemplate the fragments of reality that make up memories. Bright white walls and sharp, unmovable shadows wait silently under the overwhelming summer sun. The sounds of the city start to resonate all around though the streets remain desperately empty, aside from a few elusive silhouettes.

Zone is a short poem about the wanderings of the author in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. It is one of the most well-known works of the poet, considered to be a precursor of surrealism after the war.

The aesthetic is inspired by De Chirico and his improbable urban landscapes which, though empty, are far from lifeless.

A la fin tu es las de ce monde ancien
Bergère ô tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bêle ce matin
Tu en as assez de vivre dans l’antiquité grecque et romaine

Guillaume Apollinaire

Interested in Parnassos? Contact us to learn more.