September 16, 2008

Metamorphosis is programmed entirely in Processing, it’s the follow up to my Music is Math video.    I developed my ‘zeno’ animation system a bit more to allow for nebulous additive blending as well as a few other things.  The music is by Boards of Canada again – the track ‘Corsair’ from the Geogaddi album.

‘Butterfly’, my first film and the inspiration behind my whole direction as an artist (check out previous blog), is again the inspiration here.  When making Butterfly I became obsessed with the wing patterns of the Monarch butterfly and how they looked like imaginary worlds within themselves, where butterflies lived and died according to a holistic, natural mechanism of nature. 

These kind of ambitious concepts where difficult for me to implement back then within the practical limits of traditional 3d/2d software.  So I wanted Metamorphosis be symbolic of my passing over into 100% programmed/generative computer art, where perhaps these kinds of ideas can reach more of their potential.

37 Responses to “Metamorphosis”

  1. logickal said

    Bravo! That’s absolutely lovely….

  2. kongobot said

    Serenely beautiful. Bravo.

  3. nk:e said


    A couple of things:

    This is stunning and it finally tipped me over the edge to buy a book on processing. Don’t quite know where the time will come from, but this — and your comment on CreateDigitalMusic about being a “noob” programmer — gives one hope that it is possible to grok this.

    I hope you don’t mind but I mentioned you and this video (with links) on my blogsite ( Please feel free to stop by sometime and leave a comment.

    Thank you for this wonderful video!

  4. paolo said

    willing to share the code?
    at least a bit of it or giving some hints?
    waiting … 😉

  5. […] zijn mooie natuurlijke manier van animeren. En ook werkt het schitterend in het gebruik van licht. Metamorphosis is programmed entirely in Processing, it’s the follow up to my Music is Math video. I developed […]

  6. jana said

    that is really gorgeous… I enjoyed it at the end of a long day and it made my day.

  7. […] Marshall has released his finished version of Metamorphosis, a beautiful piece of computer generative art programmed in Processing. I wish I knew a bit more […]

  8. […] addthis_url = ‘’; addthis_title = ‘Metamorphosis+video+shows+stunning+visuals’; addthis_pub = ”; […]

  9. Anselmo Rojas said

    Wow… for anybody trying to learn processing, look this video is like a dream if we arrive to do something like that.

    Il could be great if you can show the source code, just as learning propourses.

  10. Glenn this is really fantastic work. One thing I find strange though, and it is kind of ironic in this movie: In an otherwise incredibly natural and organic movie, the one element which is really and truly the natural and organic thing (the butterflies) don’t look it at all. The butterflies are static as an image and jagged in their movement, which is quite strange considering the context in which they find themselves. The rest of it is so organic and smooth. I realise there is meaning behind it for you, but I think they detract from the beauty of the piece.

  11. Thanks everyone. I hadn’t expected the response and popularity of the video at all. Sure there’s a few things that could make it better, but I only meant this as a test and a bit of fun believe it or not. If it was an actual commission for a music video, that would be a different matter, I would make it as ‘perfect’ as possible.

    This is kind of the strategy at the minute, to create these ‘tests’, that will hopeully draw attention, open doors, and bring in work. Which it has been doing 🙂

  12. […] “Metamorphosis” is a beautiful animation created by Glenn Marshall using the visual open source programming language Processing. The song is “Corsair” by Boards of Canada. […]

  13. zoomak said

    Bravo Glenn !! c’est super génial !!
    Et en plus très très beau !!
    I love this way of creating by coding , a pure poestry !
    I’d like also to learn and to go deep in doing/creating/coding something in this direction .
    Hesitating between Max/MSP/jitter , Processing, Quartz Composer … I think this huge demonstration (techy and arty) will help my choice …
    Thank you also for the explanations of the development path.
    In the mean time I put the embedded vimeo viewer in my myspace site (
    Cheers and thanks a lot Glenn for inspiring us.

  14. Processing 1, Rest of the World 0

  15. […] 這個 MIT Media Lab 所開發出來的視覺化語言創作了兩個數位藝術,分別叫做: “Metamorphosis” 以及 “Music is Math” 。颱風天…沒事就多看 Video […]

  16. […] “Metamorphosis” et “Music is Math” sont deux animations magnifiques réalisées par Glenn Marshall en utilisant le language visuel de programmation open source appelé Processing. […]

  17. Monsieur Butterfly said

    Both this and “Music is Math” seem to jerk slightly about once a second, as if a frame was skipped. Were they not originally the Vimeo videos’ ~24 fps? Maybe 25 fps PAL, seeing as you’re in the UK?

    I find that amidst all the gorgeous silky-smooth organic motion, the frame-skipping is rather distracting.

  18. oooo i thought that was just me, i thought it was just the way it buffers/downloads when watching that made it jerk now and again. but thanks, i’ll look into it, it’s originally at 25 fps, i followed the spec guidlines at vimeo which suggested this would be okay, but i’ll double check, thanks again.

  19. silverbyte said

    Glenn, love your work, love processing, love boards of canada. IS there any way I can reproduce what you have made by following some code.

    I’m particularly interested in the algorithm to reproduce the endless tree generation. Any advice, help to lead me in that direction would be appreciated.


  20. […] on the Zeno animation system I’ve been developing for my first two videos Music is Math and Metamorphosis. This time it’s Radiohead with their Bodysnatchers track from In […]

  21. Audrey said

    C’est vraiment un bel hymne aux monarques !

  22. mon papillon préféré!

  23. Rando said

    something about this one reminds me of The Thin Red Line – – all the shots of flora & fauna…or maybe it’s the music…or smoke….i’m gonna have to watch it now

  24. mmmm haven’t seen the film, but interesting reference..

  25. […] “Metamorphosis” and “Music is Math” are two beautiful animations created by Glenn Marshall using the visual open source programming language Processing. […]

  26. […] Metamorphosis (2:49) based on Boards of Canada’s ‘Corsair,’ also from Geogaddi (blog post) Radiohead – ‘Bodysnatchers’ (4:11) song from In Rainbows. Marshall’s first […]

  27. […] his ‘Zeno’ algorithm (metamorphosis), Zeo is Glenn’s journey into C++/Objective C, and getting familiar with the Xcode […]

  28. […] Generativity – A arte generativa é uma prática onde o artista utiliza um sistema, seja um programa de computador ou outra invenção procedimental, que funciona com algum grau de autonomia tendo como resultado (ou contribuindo para) o objecto de arte. O elemento chave é o sistema ao qual é cedido este controle, quer seja parcial ou total. O video da música “Bodysnatchers”, do álbum “In Rainbows” foi criado por Glenn Marshall. Marshall acredita que a arte audio visual, especialmente quando cruzada com animação generativa cria resultados fascinantes através das variáveis infinitas. […]

  29. Kayla said


    I was wondering about using this animation for something…will you email me so I may ask some questions?

    Thank you!

  30. thanks, you can email me through the ‘contact’ page above.

  31. […] app is based on the same algorithm (metamorphosis) as used in Glenn’s collaboration with Peter Gabriel to create The Nest That Sailed The Sky […]

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