Monday, July 16th, 2018 by Julian Karsunky
In space, no one can hear you sing. Although extraterrestrial in nature, the tunes of Roman Fischer are perfectly audible on planet earth. After an extended hiatus from the music industry, the singer-songwriter returns to the public eye with HYPERKID, an ambitious audio-visual experience consisting of an EP and an ongoing series of 3D animated music videos.
Set in a not-so-distant future, HYPERKID tells the story of a young space nomad searching far and wide for survivors of a disastrous event of cosmic proportions. Like his main character, Roman Fischer seemingly went to infinity and beyond, producing the project entirely by himself. With the arrival of ‘Zero Gravity’, the first video release in the HYPERKID series, the multimedia artist sat down with us for an exclusive and down-to-earth interview.
Hi Roman, nice to have you! To start things off, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi everyone, thanks for having me! My name is Roman Fischer, I am 33 years old and I’ve been living in Berlin, Germany for the past ten years. I grew up in the Bavarian countryside, graduated in graphic and design in Augsburg and have been living in Berlin and partly in Vancouver, Canada since then.
For those not in the know, you are an accomplished musician, having released three full-length albums to critical acclaim between 2004 and 2010. Eventually you decided to take an extended break from the music industry and change careers.
Can you briefly tell us more about your experience as a young and upcoming artist and what lead to this decision?
Sure! So, I recorded my first songs very early on, back when MP3s had just started to emerge.It was a good time to be a musician and I would say it was relatively easy to be heard. Eventually I was noticed and offered a record deal by a small independent label from Munich called Blickpunkt Pop. Label owner Marc Liebscher also became my manager and booker at that time. He pushed my career and I had the chance to play my own shows on top of opening for international bands such as The Arctic Monkeys and Hurts, which was great.
My second record got signed at Universal Germany after it received more attention than they initially expected. During the third album, which was managed by Universal, things went out of hand a bit. It was the kind of cliché experience that has been told many times before by other musicians. But to be fair, I also was quite young and felt I couldn’t maintain artistic control. I tried to get out of there as quickly as I could. When the album didn’t meet expectations, I realized I had to make a living another way. There wasn’t much support from anywhere else either. It was a difficult situation. It was tough.
Whether on earth or in space: When the going gets tough, oftentimes there’s not much to hold on to.
Nowadays you are working as a web- and software developer, a rather drastic change to your previous career. Have you always been interested in the tech industry?
My father has always been a bit of a tech-nerd, so I think the fascination jumped on to me very early on. Still, I was more inclined to using the computer for artistic things, like animating videos, playing around in Photoshop and web development. My fascination for programming and 3D came later, in my early twenties.
Are you currently employed or exclusively working freelance?
I am a freelancer, but I’ve been working for a company on a freelance basis for quite a while too.
Currently I mainly do customized web applications from scratch. I also create layouts and I’ve developed an iPhone and Android App for a big company. My clients are mainly galleries, photographers, architects, interior designers and other agencies.
At the same time, I find it hard to imagine that you completely abandoned your creative and musical talents. What have you been up to in the years leading up to the launch of the HYPERKID project?
While I never stopped writing and recording songs, I never released anything out of fear it wouldn’t be good enough. I still felt I needed a break from the music industry. I was trying out different things for myself instead while writing for other people.
The so-called overview effect that inspired HYPERKID found its way into the music video as well.
Let us talk about HYPERKID in more detail, your return to the public eye as the creator of an ambitious multimedia project! How did you come up with the initial concept?
The idea of HYPERKID came to me while working on the song ‘Zero Gravity’. I was watching science documentaries and came across the term overview effect, which refers to the sublime feeling of viewing planet earth from outer space. That’s how the initial idea came about. As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I’ve always dreamed of going to space myself and I was wondering, why there hasn’t been some sort of protagonist in a spacesuit yet, being the spaceship itself.
Story wise, I was heavily inspired by Elon Musk and his plans of colonizing space, as well as other great thinkers in the field such as Stephen Hawking and Nick Bostrom. I read a lot about artificial intelligence and spent many nights with friends discussing these concepts.
Did you originally plan it out as an ongoing story told through songs and 3D animation?
Yeah, I think having a series of videos was definitely part of the initial idea.
How did the narrative evolve? In what order did you write the lyrics, music and produce the visuals?
I always write the music first, then the lyrics. The visuals come last. Having a character upfront was not only essential to the narrative, it also helped me to establish more distance towards my alter ego.
Cruising through orbit in an advanced space suit of his own invention, HYPERKID is a curious young spacefarer and the hero of the story.
What is the overarching creative vision for the project?
Well, there are several more songs, which are planned to be released by the end of this year. In the long-term, there might be the possibility of HYPERKID going VR, which actually isn’t all that difficult to accomplish, once the content is there.
‘Zero Gravity’, the recently released first music video in the HYPERKID series, tells the story of a young space traveler who witnesses earth being hit by a massive asteroid from orbit and subsequently finds himself the possibly only human survivor.
At first glance, there seems to be a stark contrast between the cataclysmic event and the solitude of space as depicted in the video and the hopeful and calming nature of the accompanying music. How do you personally reconcile these conflicting feelings? Is it necessary to radically wipe the slate clean in order to “turn everything around”?
No, I don’t necessarily think so but I liked the contrast between the lyrics („life is everywhere around you“) and the vastness of space around us. Space doesn’t cooperate, there really isn’t that much to hold on to.
In regards to the music, I wanted to create an atmospheric, minimalistic, yet emotional soundscape throughout all the songs on the HYPERKID EP. That's why I restricted myself to just a small amount of sounds and samples. I tried to create a compact feeling by quantizing all the sounds, leaving no room for velocity.
The sterile environment and equally opressive and liberating vastness of space mirrors the overlaying music.
Knowing about your personal background, it is tempting to assign autobiographical qualities to the lyrics. How much does the song reflect your own journey as an artist?
Well, I too had to come to terms with unpredictable events, hopes and dreams don’t always work out as planned. This realization naturally means dealing with disappointment at first, but then it also comes with some freedom and new perspectives.
On your blog, you wrote about the importance of maintaining full creative control over the project. Can you tell us about your experience in managing a demanding and time-consuming project such as “Zero Gravity” all by yourself?
Rebounding from my experience in the music industry, I wanted to make sure that I was in control at all times. I spent an insane amount of my spare time on the production, all in all the video took me around three years to complete. At times, it was quite a painful process and I underestimated the magnitude of the entire project. I don’t know if I would recommend it to anyone. Though overall, I can’t say that it would’ve been easier to give up at any point and I’m happy that I learned so much about Cinema4D.
Did you have any previous skills in using 3D software? If not, how did you go about learning?
Yeah, I knew some of the basics before and I played around with earlier demos of Cinema4D and Blender in the past. YouTube has been an invaluable resource in regards to learning; GreyscaleGorilla’s channel in particular provides amazing tutorials.
The effect of the integrated HUD within the helmet proved difficult to accomplish.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome during development and production?
The biggest challenge was definitely the required render time. It was terrible. I worked on an iMac 5K, a good machine but it’s just ridiculous when you try to create preview scenes without a GPU accelerated renderer or such. At times, it was the opposite of a workflow, requiring a lot of scene optimization and even more patience. I very much look forward to use a GPU renderer in the future. I’m also entertaining the idea of using a realtime 3D game-engine like Unity.
Another problem that I had was the animated HUD inside the helmet. While it could’ve been done in After Effects, I ultimately opted for Corona SDK, which I had used back in the day to program an app. This actually turned out to be a good decision, as it was much quicker and more flexible.
What software did you use to create ‘Zero Gravity’? Any plug-ins you found particularly helpful?
Have you used RebusFarm before? If yes, please tell us more about your overall experience. Is there anything you especially like about our service?
The ‘Zero Gravity’ video was the first time that I used RebusFarm and I’ve used it for other projects since then too. I love it; it’s not expensive at all and just so convenient. Especially the way it goes through your project first and guides you so that it gets as compliant as possible.
I also reached out to your customer service once or twice, which has been very efficient. Kudos to you guys for having established such a fantastic service. HYPERKID wouldn’t have been possible without you.
At the tail end of ‘Zero Gravity, HYPERKID drifts towards Mars, easily recognizable by Valles Marineris, the large rift on the red planet’s surface.
So what is next for HYPERKID and his creator? With his home planet destroyed, where does the journey take our hero next?
HYPERKID will try to find shelter on the established colonies on ‘MARS’ and search for other possible survivors. Being the only human in space sucks for sure. But wait! Is HYPERKID even human?
How can people support HYPERKID and further upcoming projects of yours?
You can follow me on my Facebook and Instagram profile and if you want, you can donate on hyperkid.com with the option for your name to be shown in the credit-screen of ‘MARS’.
Thank you so much for taking the time and all the best in the future!
Keep up with Roman Fischer and HYPERKID through these channels:
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