Chris Milk

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Chris Milk
Chris Milk - Headshot.jpg
Born Glen Cove, New York, U.S.[1]
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.[1]
Occupation Entrepreneur, Artist, Director, Music video director
Employer Vrse
Known for Virtual Reality, Immersive Art, Music Videos
Website Milk.co

Chris Milk is an American entrepreneur, innovator, director, photographer, and immersive artist. He is Founder and CEO of Vrse.inc, a virtual reality technology company, and Founder and Creative Director of Vrse.works, a virtual reality production company. Milk began his career directing music videos and commercials for top artists and brands, and in subsequent years became best known for bridging the gap between emerging technologies and new mediums for storytelling. Milk's work has been exhibited in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Barbican Centre in London, CENTQUATRE in Paris, and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Milk has been honored with the Grand Prix Cannes Lions, the D&AD Black Pencil, the Grand Clio, and SXSW's 'Best of Show' alongside multiple Grammy nominations, MTV Moon Men, and the UK MVA Innovation Award. Milk was named one of the 50 Most Creative People by Advertising Age in 2011 and 2015,[2][3] and one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company in 2012.[4] Milk presented at TED in 2015 on the power of virtual reality as a medium to advance humanity.

Early life[edit]

Millk was born in Glen Cove, New York. After attending Friends Academy High School, Milk studied Music and Film at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and then earned a B.F.A. in Film, Photography and Computer Graphics at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.[5]

Career[edit]

Music Videos, Commercials, Short Films and Interactive[edit]

Milk began his career directing music videos and commercials for artists and brands such as Arcade Fire, U2, Kanye West, Green Day, Johnny Cash, Gnarls Barkley, The Chemical Brothers, John Mellencamp, Courtney Love, Modest Mouse, Nike, O2, Chevy and Nintendo, among others.[6]

Milk's collaboration with Kanye West on the single "All Falls Down" was shot entirely in first person perspective, a technique he utilized again in a commercial for O2's "Can Do" campaign and his short film "The Last Day Dream,"[7] signaling his future affinity for virtual reality and subjective storytelling. Milk collaborated again with Kanye West on the video for "Touch The Sky," which was in part an homage to Evel Knievel, a childhood hero of Milk's.[8]

Milk's collaboration with Arcade Fire, Aaron Koblin and Google Creative Lab on "The Wilderness Downtown" in 2010 was one of his first interactive videos that utilized emerging technologies to create new, more personal ways for viewers to connect with digital experiences.[9][10] The browser based video uses HTML5, satellite imagery and Google Street View to incorporate images from a viewer's childhood home mixed with digital footage and CGI elements.[11] At the end of the video, viewers are encouraged to write a postcard to their younger selves.[12] "The Wilderness Downtown" was named as one of TIME Magazine's 30 Best Music Videos of all time,[13] and was exhibited at MoMA in NY in 2011[14]

Screen capture from "The Johnny Cash Project"

Also in 2010, Milk created "The Johnny Cash Project", a collaboration with Aaron Koblin set to the Johnny Cash song "Ain't No Grave."[15] In the interactive music video, users can submit drawn frames to be curated into an animated short film built upon a myriad of frames submitted by different users.[16] As a result, the video constantly evolves and can be arranged by a set of various criteria.[17][18] Users can elect to view the highest rated frames, or all frames that are done in a pointillist or abstract style, for example.[15] NPR claimed that the digital experience allowed fans to connect with Cash posthumously.[19]

Still Image from 3 Dreams of Black

In 2011, Milk collaborated again with Aaron Koblin and Google Creative Lab on the interactive short film "3 Dreams of Black" based on the track of the same name from the Danger Mouse album Rome, which features Daniele Luppi, Jack White and Norah Jones.[20] Here, Milk used WebGL to turn a user's web browser into a canvas for creating 3D objects within an interactive, CGI setting.[21] When viewing the film, which is also told from first person perspective, users can control the vantage point with the use of their mouse. As the user's mouse hovers over the browser window playing the film, 3D objects appear and prliferate within the world of the film. Users can create additional 3D objects to add to the film within the film's website.[21]

In 2008, Milk directed Second Unit for "A Mother's Promise," the film that introduced President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.[22]

Immersive Installations[edit]

Summer Into Dust at Coachella 2011

Milk collaborated with Arcade Fire, ESKI and Moment Factory in 2011 to create an interactive experience called "Summer Into Dust" for concert goers tat the closing of the 2011 Coachella Music Festival. During Arcade Fire's final song, "Wake Up," cascades of beach balls were released into the crowd. Milk and his team fit LEDs and IR transmitters into each ball to light paint kaleidoscopic patterns across the audience.[23] The balls physically connected the audience with the band and their performance, and has been widely credited as the highlight moment of the festival.[24][25][26]

The Treachery of Sanctuary

In 2012, Milk created "The Treachery of Sanctuary", an interactive immersive art installation currently touring the world with The Creators Project.[27] It is a large-scale interactive installation that utilizes the Microsoft Kinect to project and manipulate a participant's shadow onto a triptych. In the first panel, shadows of birds congregate to form the participant's shadow. In the second panel, the participant's shadow is torn apart by the birds. In the third, the participant's shadow sprouts wings, allowing the shadow to fly out of the frame as the participant flaps their arms. The triptych created a cycle that according to Milk interprets the universal human experience of birth, death and transfiguration.[28] "The Treachery of Sanctuary" is currently exhibited at the Onassis Cultural center in Greece,[29] and has been selected to be a part of the Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier exhibition in January 2016.[30]

Also in 2012, Milk collaborated with Aaron Koblin to create The Exquisite Forest, a collaborative online experience that allows participants to create branching animated narratives.[31] In the piece, a series of trees represent a series of narratives, each beginning with the seed of an initial animation. As participants create new animations to add to the narrative, the animated trees branch out, creating a representation of the multiple narratives spawned by user input.[32] The piece was exhibited at the Tate Modern in London between 2012 and 2013.[33]

Virtual Reality[edit]

Milk's binaural audio recording instrument
Beck in "Sound and Vision"

Milk's first virtual reality production was a collaboration with renowned musical artist Beck titled "Sound and Vision."[34] The project was initially released online, giving viewers the choice to watch beck perform from the vantage point of different 360 degree cameras, and further allowed viewers to use their computer's mouse to change their viewing perspective.[35] Milk invented a binaural audio recording instrument[34] in order to capture sound in a 3D environment to mimic real life human experience. The result allows the audio to shift perspective in accordance with what the viewer is seeing, creating a natural virtual experience for the audience member. In the tradition of his work on The Wilderness Downtown and Rome, Milk utilized modern technologies to further expand the viewing experience: viewers could enable their computer's webcam to shift the perspective of the 360 video up, down, left and right with the tilt of their head.[36]

In 2014, Milk and Aaron Koblin founded Vrse, a virtual reality technology company and sister company Vrse.works.[37] Vrse is a leading virtual reality company that builds the technology to create and distribute the most innovative human stories in virtual reality.[38] Sister company Vrse.works has partnered with top talent in film and television and represents a world class roster of directors for virtual reality content creation.[39] The company has already produced award winning immersive content such as "Clouds Over Sidra" with The United Nations, and work with The New York Times, Vice, NBC, and Nike.[40] Vrse.farm is working in partnership with Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures to develop original cinematic work in virtual reality.[41] The Vrse app is currently available on iOS and Android, works with Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, and will be available on the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive when they are released to the public in 2016.[42]

Virtual Reality Projects[edit]

Through Vrse.inc and Vrse.works, Milk has explored Virtual Reality as a means to tell documentaries, narratives, and share live experiences.[43][44]

Still Image from "Evolution of Verse"
Still Image from "Waves of Grace"

In December 2014, Chris Milk and Spike Jonze captured the Millions March in New York, which protested police brutality for Vice News.[45] Milk launched the Vrse app platform at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in addition to "Evolution of Verse", a photo-realistic CGI-rendered 3-D virtual reality film, and "Clouds Over Sidra", a virtual reality documentary made in partnership with the United Nations which follows a 12-year-old girl's life in a Syrian refugee camp.[46] After the Sundance launch, Vrse.works captured Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary special in VR.[47] Milk created "Walking New York" with Zach Richter, a VR experience made in partnership with the New York Times which follows French artist JR and his making of a 150-foot-tall portrait of a recent immigrant to NYC that was wheat pasted across the Flatiron Building Pedestrian Plaza for less than 24 hours. Vrse.works recently partnered again with the United Nations to create the VR experience Waves of Grace. The film transports viewers to West Point, the most populous slum in the capital of Liberia, and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.[48] Most recently, Milk and his team have released music videos for U2 and Muse in partnership with Apple Music. In the video for U2’s "Song for Someone," singers from around the world sing alongside U2 within the virtual environment.[49] In Muse’s "Revolt," viewers watch from the point of view of multiple drones as the music spawns a revolution.[50]

Bono in a still image from "Song For Someone"

Videography[edit]

Music videos[edit]

2015

  • U2 - "Song For Someone"

2013

  • Beck - "Sound and Vision"

2011

2010

2008

2006

2005

2004

2003

Television commercials[edit]

2007

  • Nike "Monument", "Practice", "Grundy", "Leaving", "Passion", "Nicknames"

2006

  • L.L.Bean "Testing for Life", "Mt. Washington", "The Search"

2001

1999

year unknown

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bio - Chris Milk". Milk.co (official website. Milk was born and raised in Glen Cove NY, and lives in Los Angeles) 
  2. ^ "Creativity 50 2011: Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin". adage.com. https://plus.google.com/101792368055128831913/. Retrieved 2015-12-12.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Creativity 50 2015 All Stars: Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin". adage.com. https://plus.google.com/101792368055128831913/. Retrieved 2015-12-21.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "83. Chris Milk". Fast Company. Retrieved 2015-12-12. 
  5. ^ "Chris Milk on LinkedIn". 
  6. ^ "Chris Milk Filmography". Radical Media. 
  7. ^ "Last Day Dream". Vimeo. 
  8. ^ ""How Virtual Reality Can Created The Ultimate Empathy Machine" - Chris Milk at TED". 
  9. ^ "The Wilderness Downtown - Official Website". 
  10. ^ Ehrlich, Brenna (August 30, 2010). "Arcade Fire's Experimental New Video Shows What's Possible with HTML5". Mashable. 
  11. ^ "Chrome Experiments - Arcade Fire". Chrome Experiments. Google. 
  12. ^ "Wilderness Machine". Twitter. 
  13. ^ Sanburn, Josh (July 26, 2011). "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos". TIME Magazine. 
  14. ^ "MoMA - Talk to Me - Wilderness Downtown". MoMA. 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "The Johnny Cash Project". Official Website. 
  16. ^ "The Johnny Cash Project". MIT Open Documentary Lab. MIT. 
  17. ^ Ehrlich, Brenna (October 27, 2010). "Crowd-Sourced Johnny Cash Music Video Is a Work of Digital Art". Mashable. 
  18. ^ Kuang, Cliff (April 14, 2010). "The Johnny Cash Project: A 'Living Portrait'". Fast Company. 
  19. ^ NPR Staff (February 5, 2011). "A Chance to Work With Johnny Cash Beyond The 'Grave'". NPR. 
  20. ^ "3 Dreams of Black". Official Website. 
  21. ^ a b "3 Dreams of Black". Chrome Experiments. Google Data Arts Team. 
  22. ^ "Chris Milk". IMDB. 
  23. ^ "Arcade Fire and Chris Milk". The Creators Project. 
  24. ^ Gensler, Andy (April 14, 2011). "Coachella to Feature 'Mind-Blowing' Visuals by Arcade Fire...". Billboard. 
  25. ^ "Chris Milk Bio". Vrse.works. 
  26. ^ Ajith, Sanjana (December 2, 2015). "Throwback: When Arcade Fire Stunned The Crowd With Massive Balls That Lit Up". Festival Sherpa. Many have described it as the best festival moment of their lives. 
  27. ^ "The Treachery of Sanctuary". Official Website. 
  28. ^ "The Treachery of Sanctuary". The Creators Project. 
  29. ^ "Digital Revolution". Onassis Cultural Center. 
  30. ^ "Sundance Institute Celebrates New Frontier 10th Anniversary at 2016 Festival". Sundance Institute. December 3, 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Exquisite Forest". Official Website. 
  32. ^ "The Exquisite Forest". Chrome Experiements. Google Data Arts Lab. July 19, 2012. 
  33. ^ Burton, Jane (July 20, 2012). "Explore 'This Exquisite Forest' with Google and Tate". The Tate Modern. 
  34. ^ a b Fera, Rae Ann (February 22, 2013). "A New Vision For Sound: Chris Milk Breaks Down How 'Beck: Hello, Again' Was Made". Fast Company. 
  35. ^ Watercutter, Angela (February 19, 2013). "Navigate Beck's Performance of 'Sound and Vision' as a 360-Degree Interactive Video". WIRED. 
  36. ^ Robertson, Adi (February 19, 2013). "Watch Beck's lush cover of David Bowie's 'Sound and Vision' with 360-degree interactive cameras". The Verge. 
  37. ^ "Vrse". Official Website. 
  38. ^ Johnson, Eric. "Virtual Reality is 'The Last Medium,' Says Filmmaker and Vrse CEO Chris Milk (Q&A)". Re/Code. 
  39. ^ "The Creators". Vrse.works. 
  40. ^ "List of Projects". Vrse. 
  41. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 22, 2015). "Annapurna Launching Virtual Reality Division". Deadline Hollywood. 
  42. ^ "Compatible Platforms". Vrse. 
  43. ^ Watercutter, Angela (October 27, 2015). "Apple Showcases Its VR Dreams - With a U2 Video". WIRED. 
  44. ^ Moynihan, Tim (October 21, 2015). "The NYT Is About to Launch VR's Big Mainstream Moment". WIRED. 
  45. ^ "Chris Milk, Spike Jonze, and VICE News Bring the First-Ever Virtual Reality Newscast to Sundance". VICE News. 
  46. ^ Watercutter, Angela (October 26, 2015). "At Sundance, The VR Filmmaking Revolution Is Officially Underway". WIRED. 
  47. ^ Joyce, Kevin (March 15, 2015). "Vrse Record Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary For VR". VR Focus. 
  48. ^ Watercutter, Angela (December 3, 2015). "Watercutter, Angela "Big Hollywood Is Getting Into The VR Game At Sundance". WIRED. 
  49. ^ Matney, Lucas (October 28, 2015). "Apple Shows Off First-Ever Piece of Virtual Reality Content with U2 Music Video". TechCrunch. 
  50. ^ Trendell, Andrew (November 4, 2015). "Have You Seen Muse's Insane New Video Yet". Gigwise. 

External links[edit]