The making of Steven Wilson’s The Harmony Codex video

Learn how we brought the surreal, dream like world of The Harmony Codex to life
Written by Miles Skarin
Published on November 23, 2023

The video for the title track of Steven Wilson’s album ‘The Harmony Codex’ was a project we worked on over a period of 6 months in 2023. Drawing inspiration for the concept from Steven’s short story, we started the project by building a 3D model of London, that included hundreds of buildings and landmarks.

We wanted to create an alternate reality version of London, so we added a unique under/overground train system and stations that wrap around the skyscraper, which acts as the centrepiece of the video. We aimed for the video to evoke the same dream-like paranoia and feelings of the characters from Steven’s short story, so many of the visual designs in the video reflect this, as they sport a realistic yet otherworldly aesthetic. You will notice that many of the London landmarks in particular look familiar on first glance but they are not the same – this was completely intentional!

The video notably features an extended 4 minute “one shot” sequence with the camera pulling back from outside the skyscraper through the building, with gravity depicted as being manipulated and twisted as the shot progresses. We animated a virtual camera to rotate 360 degrees whilst travelling backwards through the scene. We also made use of ray-traced reflection rendering, which allowed us to create the shot of the twisting office corridor, seemingly depicted in an infinite void.

The climactic final sequence with mercury like substance pouring out and running down the building’s stairwells was created using dynamic fluid simulations. We wanted each sequence to place the viewer inside Harmony and Jamie’s lucid dream like experience inside the skyscraper, a physically impossible and infeasible space of reality. We are very proud of the end result, which we believe works as an effective visual companion to Steven’s immersive kaleidoscopic track.