Still from the music video for Schwer by Paul Kalkbrenner showing visualisations of people walking around a car park at dusk appearing to hold metal detectors

Life is a twisted simulation in Paul Kalkbrenner video

Director Jovan Todorović and Mother Berlin joined forces on Paul Kalkbrenner’s absurd music video, which uses software usually reserved for architectural planning

Directed by Serbian-American filmmaker Jovan Todorović, the music video for Schwer by techno producer and DJ Paul Kalkbrenner shows an off-kilter view of reality.

The sequencing of the video mirrors Kalkbrenner’s music production techniques, where tracks are different each time they’re played. Likewise, the video for Schwer presents everyday scenes which are subtly altered each time they’re shown. It builds “an arc from normal life to complete absurdity”, according to creative agency Mother Berlin, which also worked on the video.

“The video is arranged like a series of paintings, fluctuating between the ordinary and the absurd. It prompts viewers to question the reality of what they see, distinguishing between the genuinely human and the deliberately human-like,” said Todorović, who describes the Schwer as “less of a story-based film and more of a commentary on society”.

The scenes in the video were shot in Berlin, but the human figures were added separately using 4D volumetric technology, often used in video games and VFX, while the software – Anima – is typically reserved for architectural visualisations. The methods and technology chosen for the project gives it an eerie, simulated feel – particularly as the human figures seem to render in the wrong environment or appear to be cloned, and elements start to go missing. The volucap technology was also used for the track’s cover art featuring Kalkbrenner himself.

The concept was rooted in the relationship between humanity and imagery today. “Our lives are being dominated by algorithms, and AI-generated images become more and more indistinguishable from reality,” said Stefan Wittemann, creative director at Mother Berlin. “Our concept is rooted in a societal observation. We wanted to create an altered version of reality – an obvious digitally mirrored everyday life that showcases the mundane and absurd patterns of our social behaviours.”;