New York City's alive in Lena Steinkühler's trippy new video

New York bursts into life in this charming new video from German designer Lena Steinkühler. In a hallucinatory mix of live action and CGI, inanimate objects from the city's famous streets morph into strange flora and fauna

When we came across Lena Steinkhler's New York Biotopes, the Dortmund-based graphic design student's graduation project, we had to get in touch with her to find out more. Here's what she had to say ...

Computer Arts [CA]: Where did the idea for New York Biotopes come from?

Lena Steinkhler [LS]: "During my last trip to New York, I got the idea to create a short film which combines real footage with 3D elements – due to the fact that New York City has so many different facets. I love the straight architecture and the cosmopolitan feeling. I thought it would be great to create something that adapts to the city and its structures."

CA: Describe your workflow, programmes used and long each stage took?

LS: "I collected film footage in May 2012. In September, I began to select which footage could be suitable for my film. After that, I began modeling and animating 3D objects for the film. And in January 2013 I composed the film and put sound on it.

"For matchmoving and camera tracking I used the programme Vicon Boujou. To place the 3D elements in the real footage, I used Cinema 4D. And for composing and sound, I used After Effects. Making the 3D plants and creatures fit in the existing world was also a big challenge."

CA: How would you describe your style? Who or what influences and inspires you?

LS: "I think my style is colourful and playful, but also structured. Many artists inspire me. For example, the music video What's In It For? by Avi Buffalo. It shows the development of colorful plants that grow because of the positive influence of music. Or, another example: the commercial Eco Technology from Panasonic. The plants and insects are made of the brand's products, like fridges and washing machines."

CA: How did you get into design?

LS: In 2009 I began to study graphic design at the University of Applied Sciences in Dortmund, and after the first semester I got into motion graphics. I like it because you can see the results very quickly. That's a great motivation. I think I was always interested in creative things.

Check out more work from Lena on Behance and on Vimeo. You can see the full New York Biotopes video below: