If no-one ever copied anyone else, fire would have died along with the first humans to create it. Social creatures that we are, human beings copy, modify and improve what has gone before in order to succeed; it’s just a part of life.
But when it comes to artistic creation, borrowing ideas from another person’s work isn’t usually looked on quite so favourably.
In September this year, a group of students from a Tokyo university received the first prize in the Shinjuku Creators Festa 2012 for a short film that shares more than a passing resemblance to Pixels, a video created by French film creator Patrick Jean in 2010.
Whether intentional or not, the similarities between the two creations are startling, land have led to an online debate, with many calling the young team’s work “a simple rip-off”…
The five students from prestigious HAL University in Shinjuku, Tokyo, presented their video, titled The Simple, in the yearly contest along with around 130 other entrants from around the country.
The video was chosen as the best in show and the students crowned grand champions, with their work receiving high praise.
The premise of the video is, well, simple: what if we could really simplify life into something as uniform and rigid as a digital world? Given the choice, would we really be happy to click the “simplify” button?
“Update to Simple Mode? Yes / No”
It’s clear that the five-strong team worked hard on the project, and it does a great job of transforming real-world scenes into something quite bizarre. It was only later, however, that some suggested that the prize-winning creation may not have been entirely original.
Let’s take a look at the students’ video:
There’s definitely some pretty nifty stuff here, and the video makes an interesting commentary on our modern, technology-obsessed world.
But when we take a look at Patrick Jean’s original creation from two years ago…
… something doesn’t seem quite right.
We wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that it’s a “blatant rip-off” as some online commenters have deemed it, but there are a number of scenes that are remarkably similar. Although Jean’s work focuses much more heavily on the theme of iconic videogame characters, with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and even 1980s game Frogger playing a role, the cityscape being transformed into a blocky mass of pixels is almost identical, and several scenes bear more than a passing likeness…
Pixels‘ transforming city:
The Simple‘s transforming city:
In Pixels, everyday objects turn into blocks and explode across the street:
In The Simple, we see similar scenes:
If this were the last of the similarities, we’d probably agree that this is nothing more than a slightly awkward coincidence. After all, Patrick Jean can’t be the first person to have imagined a world in 8-bit form, can he?
But one scene in particular struck us as a little too close for comfort…
In both Pixels and The Simple, the block invasion culminates in the Earth transforming from a perfectly round sphere into a dull, blue/grey cube spinning in space:
When videos appeared online comparing the two creations, netizens were naturally quick to pass comment:
“Oh dear, dear me…”
“Ripping someone off is bad enough, but having it come out like this is pretty awful.”
“The difference in quality is too big to pass comment on…”
“That part where the world becomes a block is identical.”
“I suppose all we can do is laugh about this, really…”
“Blocks, huh? More like block headed!”
Zing! They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but is this going a little too far? Let us know in the comments section below!