Sure, it’s seven minutes long. Sure, you might furrow your brow and be a bit confused by the content. But it’s not the content we’re after with this video, it’s the effect, which if you watch the film all the way through you’ll truly appreciate.
So as not to give away the catch, watch the video first and we’ll explain what’s going on after (but seriously, you have to watch the whole thing):
You might have noticed that right at the halfway mark (about 3:45), the film reversed, it was played backward — images, sound and all.
“Symmetry: The Palindromic Film” was a master’s project by the graphic designer Yann Pineill, who lives in Paris.
“This film has been written symmetrically: the second half is strictly like the first, but played backwards and mirrored,” Pineill wrote. “The second part doesn’t act like a simple rewinding, but as the following of the first. It explores all sorts of symmetry: compositions, shapes, sounds and music, scenario, colors, actions, time…”
The video was officially uploaded for a public audience to ponder in December 2013, but Pineill explained the technicalities of making such a film further to Wired more recently.
Things like music, sound and movement all had to be considered in both directions in order to make sense forward and backward. Such a technique also works because it relies on a person’s perception of the situation in the film, not a dialogue driving the scene and dictating what is going on.
“I found various techniques to make the story and the acting to be perceived differently backwards,” Pineill told Wired. “Editing was very tricky as well, because it had to work forwards as well as backwards, so it makes you think about storytelling and rhythm in a very different way as regular editing.”
When it came to the sound, Pineill added that he wanted to find one forward and backward that wouldn’t be too obvious.
“I think it’s more interesting to let the viewers notice all the symmetries by themselves,” the designer told Wired.