Get ready to sit back and enjoy the mesmerizing sight of wood grain as it glides across your screen. Though that might sound totally banal, it’s anything but. Called WoodSwimmer, the brief stop motion animation follows a piece of raw wood as it travels through a milling machine. In a series of graceful movements, the irregular rings, knots, and shifting colors fill the frame with life-like abstract forms. At times, the hunk of wood resembles grains of fine sand that’s carried away by a gentle breeze.
WoodSwimmer is the work of engineer and stop-motion animator Brett Foxwell with musician and animator bedtimes. On Vimeo, Foxwell explains how the fascinating film was made, and it’s nothing short of meticulous. “The sequences are cross-sectional photographic scans of pieces of hardwood, burls and branches,” he describes. “It is a straightforward technique but one which is brutally tedious to complete.” In doing this, they were able to capture the entire structure in a myriad of eye-catching ways. “Between the twisting growth rings, swirling rays, knot holes, termites and rot,” Foxwell told Colossal, “I found there is a lot going on inside of wood.”