Virtual Insanity

I was thinking about doing Jamiroquoi's Virtual Insanity as a postlude on Sunday and dug up the music video from the web. It was a rather good video for its time, and we can assume that there are no fancy computer graphics in it due to its age. We can also assume a nearly infinite budget. So the question arises, how was it done? Before reading down, I suggest you think about how it might be done.

I asked a number of friends this question and all but one came up with the same solution as me: a large treadmill. This was my initial solution, and it wasn't until a day latter that it occurred to me that it was simple, obvious and wrong. An alternative solution is that the walls are on wheels and the floor remains still. So then the question becomes 'how can we distinguish these two?'.

People have suggested walls wobbling and bending, but in the second scene we see the camera 'twisting' with the lyrics. So it is plausible that the walls were made to bend for the disconcerting effect it has. However, there is quite conclusive evidence in the first 3 seconds that the moving walls theory is the best.

A person standing uses their muscles to resist motion by moving their centre of gravity. Think about how you stand on a train or bus. To resist any visible movement you must apply a much higher force to your feet due to leverage. To see that the walls must move try standing on a stationary treadmill on one foot, then turn it on to even the lowest setting.

It is surprising to me that so many people would prefer the floor to move rather than the walls. I have no idea why this is. Perhaps we think of walls as immovable but have experienced treadmills?


MGS: I think human perception automatically uses the horizon as a reference. Well maybe not that specifically but you get the idea.