Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Diamonds in the sky
I don't normally enthuse about adverts, but this current Sony 4K "Ice Bubbles" one, showing soap bubbles freezing in cold air, is very pretty, though I'm not sure quite what to make of it.
The making-of video - Behind the scenes of 'Ice Bubbles': The technology - is rather disappointing, being extremely coy about showing the process. There's a lot of hand-waving about the filming, and warmly-dressed people wandering around in cold rooms full of screens, but little in the way of close-ups of actual bubbles being photographed; a proper behind-the-scenes video would explain what the thing at 0:26-0:30 is (it looks like a glass bulb on a stalk), and what's happening at 0:32-0:34.
There are other YouTube videos of bubbles freezing done with far less technology. Two particularly nice ones are Frozen Bubbles Freeze at -40c and Freezing Soap Bubbles, Joplin MO, Jan 6, 2014, and there are plenty more. The thing that also interests me is that the style of crystal nucleation in the Sony ad - radiating colonies starting from neat hexagonal 'seeds' - is unlike that in other online examples, which all freeze as dendrites ('frost fern' structures). This suggests that the Sony crystals were grown under distinctly different conditions.
The music for the ad is Diamonds, the Australian singer Josef Salvat's cover of the Rihanna classic, an extremely nice version with minimalist piano backing. It's a song I like a lot, in part for its versatility; the pitch puts it in the range of male singers such as Salvat who can manage the octave jump (I've already mentioned the rather brilliant Steam-Powered Giraffe cover). YouTube has a lot of other good versions, such as this Travis Garland Diamonds/Adorn mashup with its edgy acoustic guitar accompaniment. But I'm particularly blown away by this version by Sia (Sia Furler) who's the writer of the song. Despite very strange vowels in places, she brings real power and emotion to it.