Hamid Ebrahimnia covers iconic structures as an action for COVID-19 prevention

The artist uses VFX and simulation to encourage people to visualise Milad Tower, Eiffel Tower and the Tower of Pisa as equal bearers of the coronavirus pandemic burden as humans.

by Dilpreet Bhullar Published on : Apr 28, 2020

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 due to the accessibility of global travel, the tourist hotspots saw a major fall in the number of its visitors. Iran, Italy and France are a few of the countries that continue to bore the repercussion of the pandemic crisis. The shortage of masks and ventilators with non-equipped hospitals has heightened the chaos on ground in an unprecedented manner. Bringing these two forces together - curtailment of tourism and fragility of the healthcare system – the visual effects and motion graphics designer Hamid Ebrahimnia has lent a new meaning to the leading towers of the aforementioned nations: Milad Tower (Tehran), Eiffel Tower (Paris), and Leaning Tower of Pisa (Pisa).

01 min watch Two helicopters covering the Eiffel Tower with a curtain in the artist’s artwork | VFX installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia | STIRworld
Two helicopters covering the Eiffel Tower with a curtain in the artist’s artwork Video Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Carlos G. Tinoco

The scenes of the Milad Tower standing with a facemask, Eiffel Tower covered under a curtain, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa seemingly surviving with the support of the ventilator are instrumental to exponentially increase the severe nature of the current-day reality. Ebrahimnia, in an interview with STIR, walks us through the ideation and execution process of his creations before they are shared with the audience. “Everything starts with an idea. This idea is the key solution for making art. It can emerge from the news, or based on what I have seen during the day, or heard in conversations, read on the websites or watched in movies. The idea is the most important part of my work. The next step is my creativity and the experience of transforming the idea to a creative outcome: a short powerful visual concept. For example, during the recent events related to coronavirus in my hometown Tehran, the facemask was a big concern for all people in my country and eventually the masks became rare. I thought about warning the world to take this virus seriously, and so I thought what would happen if a huge mask will be over the famous tower of Tehran - Milad Tower - and I decided to do this with two helicopters,” says Ebrahimnia.

Artist Hamid Ebrahimnia covers the Milad Tower with a mask to spread awareness on novel coronavirus | VFX Installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz | STIRworld
Artist Hamid Ebrahimnia covers the Milad Tower with a mask to spread awareness on novel coronavirus Image Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz

“I was looking for good aerial footage to implement this idea until one friend provided the tower aerial video. The continuation of work is done by computers and specialised software such as Cinema 4D, after effects and Boujou. This step is not difficult for me, the main difficulty is the idea generation and turning it into a creative implementation. Sometimes I implement an idea several times and because I am dissatisfied with the output, I delete them,” adds Ebrahimnia.

Final computer graphics versus wireframe render of the Milad Tower with a face mask | VFX installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz | STIRworld
Final computer graphics versus wireframe render of the Milad Tower with a face mask Image Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz

Also a VFX composer, Ebrahimnia gives a sneak-peek into the audience’s reaction to his works, “I recently tried talking to my audience about the current issues and concerns. My audience is divided into two groups: those who work in this industry (VFX) and the general public. The general audience likes this creative video-graphic language. My messages are short, I do not try to confuse them with the complexity of the art and the various points and concepts. My effort is to convey a concept to them in the shortest possible time. The other major group that comprises my audiences is of experts who are talented in what I am doing, they follow my work due to the type of technique and software skills used in my works, and usually, after the release of each work, they asked many questions about the technical aspects which I answer patiently.”

01 min watch Two helicopter putting a mask on Milad Tower as part of artist’s work | VFX installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz | STIRworld
Two helicopter putting a mask on Milad Tower as part of artist’s workVideo Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz

The COVID-19 crisis is a reminder that artistic creativity excels under the extremities and opens a pandora of unknown possibilities. Coupled with the onset of technology, this widened the scope of imagination. Echoing the same thoughts, Ebrahimnia says, “The role of technology in all aspects of life is undeniable. Whether you like it or not, art is influenced by technology and the future of art is tied to technology. The level of literacy and the expectation of the audience has increased, and with the use of modern technologies, new levels of art can be created….The creation of visual animated artworks based on visual effects is also part of the new approaches that I have tried to focus on”. 

  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa visual artwork representing the critical state of Italy | VFX installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Studio 3City | STIRworld
    The Leaning Tower of Pisa visual artwork representing the critical state of Italy Image Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Studio 3City
  • Chief technical involved making of the matte shadow and wire simulating to be positioned correctly in the scene via cinema 4D and after effects software | VFX installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz | STIRworld
    Chief technical involved making of the matte shadow and wire simulating to be positioned correctly in the scene via cinema 4D and after effects software Image Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Hadi Behrouz

These iconic monuments built at different intervals of the centuries have stood tall to glorify the history of nations’ success and even the turmoil they have undergone in dire times like today. The VFX creations by Ebrahimnia leave the viewers with a sense of awe and responsibility towards our history and environment and reassure that the garbs and healthcare support system are just another troupes extended by technology and not the sole survival modes of existence.  

01 min watch The video artwork for Leaning Tower of Pisa | VFX Installation on COVID-19 | Hamid Ebrahimnia and Studio 3City | STIRworld
The video artwork for Leaning Tower of Pisa Video Credit: Courtesy of Hamid Ebrahimnia and Studio 3City

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About Author

Dilpreet Bhullar

Dilpreet Bhullar

Bhullar is a writer-researcher based in New Delhi. She has been co-editor of the books Third Eye: Photography and Ways of Seeing and Voices and Images. Her essays on visual sociology and identity politics are frequently published in leading books, journals and magazines. She is the associate editor of a theme-based journal dedicated to visual arts, published by India Habitat Centre.

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