Ballad of a Dead Pixel

Short Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse story in a voxel world.

Long Synopsis:

The idea for the music track Ballad of a Dead Pixel emerged from an interest in the nostalgic evocations of chiptune synthesis — the use of emulated low bit depth audio for timbre generation — reminiscent of a bygone era of video gaming. The music video can just as well be called Ballad of an Undead Pixel, but I had already released the track long before developing the video premise.

The audiovisual composition draws parallels between the sonic palette and the visual realm of retro video games. The idea of a ‘dead pixel’ (also an undead pixel!) serves as a guiding metaphor, reflecting both the imperfections of digital displays and the transient, glitch-like nature of life itself.

In the music video, produced through generative AI, I expanded upon these themes by developing a world of voxels — three-dimensional pixels that pay homage to the nostalgic aesthetics of early video games. In a manner inspired by the iconic film Tron (1982), I imagined the microscopic pixel/voxel world of a video screen as a populated and personified environment, complete with cities, economies and politics.

A ‘dead pixel’ refers to the malfunctioning subunit of a display screen — a solitary blemish that disrupts the visual field. Within the context of the music video’s narrative, this concept manifests metaphorically as a society plagued by a cataclysmic viral outbreak and its abruptly violent solution. Imagining a voxel universe akin to a digital ecosystem, I envisioned a world teeming with both minimalist architectural beauty and visceral danger. This visual landscape served as the backdrop for the unfolding tale.

As the melody progresses, the narrative takes an unexpected turn — a sect of bioterrorists harnesses the potency of jungle viruses, initiating a wave of affliction that morphs unsuspecting urban dwellers into the undead. While the conventional depiction of zombie film action proved challenging within the confines of generative AI text-to-video technology, I found a suitable alternative approach. The video assumes a more atmospheric and abstract quality, focusing on the interplay of light and shadow, the rhythm of voxel shapes and colors, and nuanced shifts in mood.

Ballad of a Dead Pixel explores the fascination with technology’s past and its potential for shaping our future. By reimagining the video screen’s dense pixel grid as a voxel world, I sought to create a more immersive experience, inviting audiences to journey through abstract 3D spaces that mirror our own in both its rationalized orders and its discord. The result is a fusion of nostalgia, clash of political ideologies and aesthetic experimentation.

  • Myk Eff
  • Myk Eff
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Music Video
  • Genres:
    Horror, Sci-Fi
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 3, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Shooting Format:
    4K, generative AI
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Myk Eff

Dr. Michael Filimowicz (artist name: Myk Eff) has exhibited in many new media art shows, and currently streams his digital images on the Loupe Art platform. In recent years, he has been exhibiting music videos in film festivals worldwide. He is Senior Lecturer in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University.

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