These Dreamy Scenes are the Handcraft of your Imagination

Milk white moons against pale blue skies, water trickling across seashore pebbles and molten rock flowing in lava. This is the visual world of Austrian filmmaker and motion designer Clemens Wirth in his latest project Mini Landscapes. Except, Clemens didn’t shoot his film on location; he carefully constructed each landscape by hand and filmed his video in his studio.

Clemens has cultivated a following of appreciative admirers with his work – and for good reason. He’s consistently been sharing his mesmerising creations on Vimeo channel for almost ten years.

Mini Landscapes strikes a balance between the awe we feel before nature and the admiration we feel seeing delicately crafted miniatures. The video’s music and sound designer, Zenthing, casts a plane of emotional intimacy on the miniatures, ensuring we render the balance of contradicting scales not only seamless, but also beautifully poetic.

Curious about his creations, we grabbed coffee with the director to find out how he approached the video.

THE PLUS: What was the concept behind this video?
Clemens Wirth:
Over the years I had done some travel videos and I did some miniature videos, but I never combined these two categories. So I thought myself, why not make a miniature travel video? The idea was born and so I started to build some landscapes in very small scale. I came up with more ideas, locations and settings and it evolved over time. I also had some new camera gear and a special macro lens which was great to experiment with. This was very motivating and extended my creative possibilities.


TP: Is this based on any real place, or is it imaginary?
They are all imaginary, but I used some references and looked at real world landscape photography, especially to see natural lighting, the right proportions and sometimes just for inspiration.

TP: What was the creation process like? How did you approach it? For example, did you designs all the scenes first?
That varies from project to project. Sometimes pre-production is the key to everything; sometimes I just start experimenting without any sort of concept. On bigger projects, you need of course a nailed down concept with a detailed storyboard. But sometimes the spontaneity and creativity is lost when you just stick to that. I’m always a fan of some open space in the concept to see what happens during the whole process. This project was a free one, so I had no time pressure and I started to experiment and let it grow.


TP: You’ve been creating short films like this for a while now. How did you get into it? What fascinates you about it?
In 2006, I experimented with a mini dv camera and made one of my first short films. It was a short stop-motion film which I made to impress a girl – it worked. I think this was really the time when I started to fell in love with filmmaking. Then in 2008, I started my studies in Arts and Design at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg with a focus on film and motion graphics. During that time I saved my money to buy the legendary Canon 5D Mark II. For me, and I think many other people as well, this camera was a game-changer. Since 2011, I’ve been working as a director and visual artist and specialising in macro photography, miniatures and title design.


TP: When you initially spoke to Zenthing about the music and sound design, what did you tell them you wanted?
I reached out to Jochen Mader, aka Zenthing, and asked him if he would be interested in doing a little collaboration and sent him some work-in-progress stills. Fortunately, he said yes. I was very happy, because he is an amazing music creator and sound designer with a lot of experience, and I had wanted to work with him for some time. So this was a great opportunity.

I just told him some simple moods and feelings I had in mind and he came up with the great idea to put some microphones inside the piano so that you can not only hear the chords, but also the key action mechanism if you listen very carefully. This gives the whole score a gentle intimate touch and fits perfect to the handcrafted imagery.


TP: Do you do much mountain and landscape exploring in the real world?
Yes – at least I try to. I live in a small town in Austria called Innsbruck, which is surrounded by beautiful mountains and in the heart of the Alps; it’s a great place for snowboarding, skiing and hiking. It’s really great. But sometimes a couch is, also.


TP: What are you working on next? What should we look out for?
At the moment I’m working on a commercial spot for a museum in my town. After that, I hope I can do another free project. I always try to have a good balance between free projects and commercial projects.