Short Film Find: Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

  • Animator: Anders Ramsell
  • Published: Nov 8, 2013
  • Source: http://www.andersramsell.com
  • Note: Music and dialogue from original Blade Runner film

Synopsis: “This animation consists of 12 597 handmade aquarelle paintings, each painting is approximately 1,5*3cm in size. Together they form my 35-minute long paraphrase on the motion picture Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott.”

Personal Thoughts:

Today, Blade Runner reaches its 35th anniversary of it original première date in 1982. The film may seem a bit lengthy and dry to some, with themes that go beyond your typical science fiction films of its time, including religious and philosophical symbolism, overreaching globalization, environmentalism. Such is much to take in, for those looking for more meaning in their imaginative storytelling. But I think the real cultural impact of this film, stays with the amazing visual direction, cinematography, set designs, and soundtrack. Such would influence and inspire countless persons towards creating their own dystopian visions and building upon the cyberpunk movement for decades after.

Meanwhile, this Aquarelle Edition is a beautiful and moving tribute to the original visuals of the film, breaking down the shapes and colors into stunning paintings. After 35 years, the original Blade Runner film will continue to inspire new generations to build upon it, and find their own artistic interpretations.

With that inspiration in mind, check out this trailer by the same animator Anders Ramsell, Genderness; done in the same style and narrated by Rutger Hauer….

Stranger Look at Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood, Ep. 3 – Sword and Shield

Final Fantasy XV, Episode 3

  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
  • Producer: Square Enix, RightTracks
  • Director: Soichi Masui
  • Time: 13:41
  • Notes: This is episode 3 of 5, Based on the upcoming video game Final Fantasy XV.

Synopsis :

“This 3rd episode of BROTHERHOOD FINAL FANTASY XV focuses on Gladiolus and Noctis and the childhood event that strengthens their friendship. BROTHERHOOD FINAL FANTASY XV delves into the extraordinary friendships between Crown Prince Noctis and his three comrades, setting the stage for the adventure players will set out upon in the action RPG. Subsequent episodes will be released before the game’s launch on September 30, 2016.

Episodes 1 and 2 are viewable on the official FFXV YouTube channel. Details on the game can be found at finalfantasyxv.com.

Personal Thoughts:

I wasn’t as hyped up for Final Fantasy XV as a game, until I started seeing the thought put into its characters through the game trailers and the animated FF XV: Kingsglaive movie special. FF XV: Brotherhood takes the latest installment a step further in short strides; with extra background details to its protagonists, can be engaging enough for those with no interest in the game. The game and anime shorts are complements of the other.

Episode 3 is a story itself with no needed continuity from episode 1 or 2. It stands alone. Here, focuses on the characters of Gladiolus and Noctus, two characters playable on the game it’s base on. Here, both have rich histories in royalty and high privilege, yet not caught up with advantages of each. Noctis comes off as a caring and loving soul, with much depth one would want in a prince of some magnificent kingdom. While we have the usual anime tropes of isolation and boyhood struggle, there is an old-fashioned feel about him with his humbleness and heroism. He protects those he cares about, while taking responsibility for his actions. It’s a of that heroism through will that makes him strong, as we see his fighting skills are a bit lacking early on.

Gladiolus meanwhile is the brother, a sort of protector type we find. Also a good man, but a necessary addition to the crew as someone whose extra strength and brotherly friendship is necessary to a “brotherhood.” I love how this ends, coming back full circle to the training as Gladiolus sees the greatness but in the heart of Noctis, not his sword skills.

The anime is fair and typical of modern anime shows, with no innovation in visual or storytelling styles. However, the backgrounds and details of the FFXV world adds a unique ambiance to the setting and style. The comforts of royalty and enclosed city life in the flashbacks are an interesting contrast to the current settings filled with the consistent dangers of the open world.  The inside city life has rain and enclosed suggest coming restraint and struggle, while the blue skies and freedom suggest an optimistic outlook. FFXV is an interesting choice for the series direction, with mystery on where that goes. At least, the ongoing theme of companionship shall see things through, as long as someone picks up the controller.

Overall, this is the best of the three episodes so far, as I look forward to the remaining two.

– Orion T

 

– Orion T

SW Fan Film Review – Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

 

Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

  • Writer, Director, Executive Producer: Vic Mignogna (also stars as James T. Kirk) 
  • Time: 42.12
  • Release: Released on Youtube May 28, 2016
  • Notes: Purely a fan-made work, and the 6th episode in a series so far.

Synopsis :

“A troubled creature pierces the Enterprise hull, pitting the crew against a pursuer that threatens to tear them apart.”

Personal Thoughts:

Star Trek Continues, is a fan-made film based on the original TV series of work of Gene Roddenberry. It’s on-canonical and not affiliated with the CBS or Paramount copyright holders. Yet, it feels far closer to the feeling of the original premise than the movies and other popular fan films out there (including the highly controversial Axaner fan-film).

What sets this series on its high pedestal goes beyond its truer to original set-design, effects and costumes. The premise is kept alive, to see out new life and new civilizations and boldly go.. Here we get just that, though the new life finds them. It’s the high question of just how far we as humans can fit into the universe, when the variables of life are so much greater than our comprehension.

For this episode, our somewhat familiar crew encounters a creature (Usdi) who can fly through space, affect emotions, has a very unearthly appearance that at times seem closer to the Horta than human. Much of the episode is a desperate need to understand this, while dealing with the changing of their own emotions. Neither side seems to fully understand how one affects the other. It’s a story they may not need a Star Trek to tell it, but such the setting and vessel called Enterprise fits perfect.

That’s due to the maze of conflicted negative emotions leading to mutiny and discord, to add drama I suppose to this bottleneck episode.  Somehow, Eliza surpasses where even Spock fails in her emotions, to better understand the creature. In establishing successful first contact, the sides must find some connection and mutual understanding. Here, there is a parental bond that is eventual understood by the humans, which brings about a positive end for both.

Overall, a good story that reminds us that Star Trek is not about galactic warfare and eminent warp core breaches. I feel it’s about finding our tiny place in a vast universe, as explorers and knowledge gathers. Such is more exciting, to deal with unforeseen dilemmas and complex situations; than to learn and grow from it all.

The crew once again does well to emulate not imitate the original cast. I see at this point, the cast are looking to match the mannerisms and characteristics of the crew members, not the actors who originally portrayed them. The acting is good enough, and acceptable for a fan broadcast. Vic Mignogna does Captain Kirk best, though I feel it’s his involvement in the overall production that leads the presentation to its success. He is a captain on and off the set. The characters of Spock, McCoy, and Scotty are also taking on a life of their own, as the Abrams movie versions by other different actors have also done.

But the only problem I see in this, is the lack of possible development the show can do for such characters. I doubt there will be any drastic changes for the main crew, as such would remind the un-canonicity of the science fiction copy. Yet, we have some original cast members, mostly of the female crew members. Perhaps in future episodes, they could develop and capture the hearts of the fans in the changes they go through.

Overall, a great episode for being fan-work. I would enjoy more, but also hoping for more original crew members and stories of such that revolve around them. I hope for the show to stay to its roots, and stay away from other overall complex canon on Romulan-Klingon-Vulcan-whatever other established aliens overdone by the other canonical series and expanded lore. Keep it real, and I will boldly watch.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – C (299,792 km/s) by Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier

C (299,792 km/s) from Seaquark Films on Vimeo.

Temple

  • Studio: Seaquark Films
  • Director: Derek Van Gorder
  • Producer: Otto. Stockmeier
  • Musical Score: SelloRekT/LA Dreams
  • Time: 14:45 Release: Released on Vimeo 2013
  • Notes: For more info, visit c-themovie.com

Synopsis :

“C is the story of Lieutenant Commander Malleck, and her radical act of mutiny aboard the 
KESTROS IV. With the help of her co-conspirators, she attempts to harness this weapon of mass destruction for a grand new purpose. But when a contingent of ground crew led by Second Lieutenant Kai threatens her master plan, Malleck must use the ship against them in order to succeed.

To build the future, we looked to the past. No CGI or greenscreen was used in the making of the film; all our sets and props were built by hand and filmed in-camera. Combining new advances in digital camera technology with traditional special effects, we sought to create a unique look through lighting design, camera tricks, miniature photography, split-screen, and stop-animation. We believe that this approach allowed us greater creative possibilities on a low-budget science-fiction film”

Personal Thoughts:

C (299,792 km/s), is a modern example to what I feel science fiction should reach towards..

I think upon watching this, to expect the random unpredictable outliers in our future civilizations. We set our rules, only to have the eventual revolutionaries break them; otherwise, we face destruction either from boredom or the caveman natures of conflict on who has the bigger stick. We meet the hero or anti-hero (depends on POV) in Malleck as a maverick more than a mutineer. We know little of her background and purpose, other than odd hints to her plan. The result, is interesting for what or may not benefit our hopes for space travel.

The best answers in consideration and reflection is the old-school cool video snippets between. We have explanations on the past and future of the overall manifest destiny, and how the need for advancement has always intertwined with human conflict. Was it such relics of science truth in found footage the inspiration for Malleck? We don’t know. What is important, is the old message lives on and a new story is told.

For the 15 minutes present, there is enough memorable style and brilliance. The cinematography and designs mixed best of the early 80s, late 70s of hard science fiction putting space travel on its true visionary track, almost derailed from the Star Wars and Galacticas. But, we get some sweet action scenes and interpersonal drama to keep the pace going.

A short note on the action I found interesting, is the ineptness of Kai and his soldiers. From the start, we can mistake them as the protagonists. And, perhaps they were; but they fail terribly. It seemed the intelligence and cleverness of Malleck were enough to keep control of the story towards her own end. Such is a constant in storytelling, as the better vision is often guided by the more intelligent.

Also, a huge shout-out to the music produced with the awesome early synth track pumping, with feels on rewind back to early days of electro-pop. Such music, combined with the practical effects, lighting styles, and feelings of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I feel a nostalgic vision of the future kept alive. We need this, as new distractions may lead us astray in looking down, into those little black mirrors.

Still, the overall triumph of good science fiction whispers to those who dream, and eventually push us a little more towards making a new realty.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – Temple (by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen)

Temple

  • Director: Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
  • Actors: Osric Chau & Yue Qi
  • Sound design, Musical Score: Cult Nation & Kannibalen Records
  • Time: 9:14 Release: Released on Vimeo February 29, 2015, premiered in 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit thefilmeffect.com/temple

Synopsis :

“2045 A.D. A new genetic disease is causing humans to reject their own organs. Cybernetic enhancements are the only means to survive. One desperate man is forced to steal cybernetic implants to save an innocent life.

Personal Thoughts:

A beautiful combination of great VFX, sound, scripting, and editing.

The story content itself is a reinvention of several dystopian concepts left from the past 80s/90s era of sci-fi urban cyberpunk fiction. One being the idea of the failures of genetic enhancement, though in this setting the enhancements are necessary for survival. I can only wonder what kind of genetic diseases could lead to this sort of necessity. Another being the idea where technology wins and surpasses humanity, as we see not only the boost of tech in humans but in vehicles and city development as well. The “filthy air” and “flood” are hints and perhaps warnings towards continued harm to our global environments.

Then we have a major theme and moral dilemma for the sake of drama. Our main character and narrator cares little for the opponent, as we have little back story from him other than his want to survive and fight back. He takes no joy in the fight, as he must save another he cares for from dying. In this cruel world, we ponder his moral judgement in the choice of who lives and who dies, based on his martial arts skills. Yet here we are, and can hope for a happy end beyond the nine minutes shown.

The martial arts action is great though not as necessary I think to the overall story. We have a feeling we know who the winner will be and that may deescalate where the overall tension goes. Yet, the brutality and gore result does heighten the gritty mood and shock of the violence this world brings. There is a high degree of nihilism we get from the feeling where “we all have to become monsters.”

The music is very captivating, with elevated electronica mixed with ambiance and tension. The audio set mood feels established for the grit and futuristic noir. The visuals of deep colors and grainy filters used with timed depth of field techniques feel suitable, feels modern to this era of indie filmmaking. These are good things. Together with the great editing and cinematography present, I can envision a full movie worthwhile for independent audiences looking for hard-sci combined with meaningful action sequences.

Overall, a great watch that serves enough as a standalone tale leaving much open. This would be a great prologue to a large story where perhaps the woman is the main protagonist, and perhaps a more cheerful ending. I can hope someday for that bigger story.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Animated Film – Sputnik (by Maxim Zhestkov)

Sputnik

  • Director / Designer / Producer: Maxim Zhestkov
  • Compositing, Sound Design, Music: Alexander Kulikov
  • Animation: Dmitrii Kolpakov
  • Character design: Ben Mauro
  • Time: 4:56
  • Release: December 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit www.zhestkov.com

Synopsis :

“Sputnik” is a Maxim Zhestkov short film about the evolution of an extraterrestrial mind, and its journey to the light. The project was created with the help of industry leading artists from all over the world, including: United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Russia. Production of the full CG animated short film took a year and a half. All crew members worked on the project remotely. Maxim directed it and produced from his HQ in Ulyanovsk, Russia..”

Personal Thoughts:

A visually stunning film, of which I briefly enjoyed.

Much is on the stunning visuals, yet not too heavy. There is a message, though I feel it’s somewhat lost to me. The happenings I feel are interpretive to those enjoy the fiction in their speculative thinking. We have a lone alien, that perhaps represents the truly intelligent life among others, guided by curiosity and a reaching out for history and links to the unknown. To carry it within oneself, not as leader but as a keeper of things come and gone.

The twist I suppose, is how the alien species didn’t seem to care about the greater civilization above, almost dominating yet ignorant of their existence (or perhaps intelligent enough to leave them alone). It’s their junk that now lies in this backyard..an important treasure I suppose to at least one. I wonder how many in our world considered life on our Moon before humanity set foot? Does that light and operations of the unknown represent evolution to our drive for growth? There is much thought provocation within the short time, though I wonder how much intended by the filmmakers.

The alien design is beautiful, in showing a strong frame yet gentle presentation in characteristics. The movement displays fluidity and sense, for living upon a primitive isolation environment. In defense, I could see them as deadly and brutal, with their muscular features and long arms. The closest I can thing of in reality, would be that of the gorilla.

The sound noise is magnificent for its monotone brilliance and setting mood. The reminds me a bit of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Overall, a nice little short that goes beyond to the ideas of anything but short.

– Orion T

Stop-Motion Animated Film: The Misadventures Of Rick And Morty

The Misadventures Of Rick And Morty

Synopsis :

A short fan-made film based on the hit Adult Swim TV show, Ric and Morty.

Voices are done by Justin Roland..the original voice actor, co-creator, and writer of Ric and Morty.

Personal Thoughts:

First off, I love Ric and Morty. I love Claymation style stop-motion here.

But, this is something more than the sum of the two. This work is a clear case of why fan-made films are important to the overall independent shorts scene on the streaming webs. To love a fantastic, well-regarded series work and then absorb a different creative take of the same is a wonderful addition to our current pop-culture.

Furthermore, I would love for Dieter Wagner (video creator)  to do an entire canon episode of Ric and Morty, perhaps presenting this 3-D take as a parallel universe. With this collaboration done with the original voice talent and co-creator (Justin Roland), perhaps something is already in the works. Or, maybe this is canon of some parallel universe. With Ric and Morty, anything is possible.

For this short time presented, the video is fantastic work and feels like part of the show for its comedy style. Having the original voice actor and musical score helped too. I want more.

– Orion T

Short Animated Film: Wire Cutters

Wire Cutters

  • Director: Jack Anderson
  • Musical Score: Cody Bursch
  • Time: 8:42
  • Published: Aug 31 2015 (on Youtube), August 27, 2015 (Youtube)
  • Notes: For more, visit jackanders.com.

Synopsis : “A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

Personal Thoughts:

I love this humorous robot tale, for what it means to be human..or at least have human-like characteristics.

That is the beauty of this short, more so than the fantastic animation at play. I felt taken in by the initially simple, content purpose of this little robot. I felt, as I do for many simple humans leading their boring little lives. Also, we as viewers can reflect on what we leave behind and pass on to our machines; our creativity, innovation, and motivation. There is self-sustainment and preservation. Much thought went into collecting those rocks.

But eventually, we meet the bigger machine. A partnership is formed, leading to a friendship. But all does not go well, as we find an error in the little bot’s programming. There is a bit of greed and violent tendency, enough for the cooperation to fail and lead to the doom of both. It’s not so much depressing, but some thoughts on what we as humans can do to damage our own generational programming of self-preservation and purpose.

The animation tells this story beautifully. There is simplicity in this otherworldly environment devoid of humans, perhaps long gone. We understand the technology involved, atmospheric conditions, and importance of the rocks given value through purpose. The excellent cinematography takes advantage of that well, with matched pacing and editing. The short time tells as much of a good story as necessary, without overwhelming the viewer. And, the looney tuned style end is a perfect curtain call, as we can smile and take in this cautionary tale.

With that in mind, I would love to see more from the storyteller (Jack Anderson) and his team. I will keep a look out, and report back.

– Orion T

Short Animated Film: Venner / Two Friends

To Venner / Two Friends

  • Director: Paw Charlie Ravn
  • Producer: Jacob Jerek
  • Time: 8 min.
  • Published: Sept 10 2010 (Denmark) by Profile Pictures
  • Notes: In association with the National Film School of Denmark. See the official web page, tovenner.blogspot.com for more info.

Synopsis : “Albert and his best friend Jonas are orphans. They live in the future in a harsh dystopia where the women and children are all dead. The men have begun to change in their yearning for a woman..”

Personal Thoughts:

Captivating story, that centers not on horror but a thought-provoking coming of age tale for two children as they survive through a troubled world.

The animation is fluid and atmospheric. The uses of shadows and light are very masterful, fantastic in establishing setting and mood. I would otherwise find the entire premise a bit absurd and unbelievable as I have many questions to exactly how we accept this disturbing vision. Yet, the awesome backdrops in the aged architecture mixed with abandonment established mystery and fantasy; setting us apart from what we would consider is normally considered a dystopia in other post apocalyptic dramas. This world, no matter its creepiness and dangers, feels oddly captivating.

The use of some very adult visual elements, furthers this story’s dark narrative. The disturbing smelling of the rag, the group longing for female flesh; very creepy and sick to some point..as I ponder if man’s devolving is something broken in our design, or something primal in those present and collective testosterone levels. Would this situation be the same if it were the men who vanished, and the women stayed? Are there women perhaps out there, hidden in secret? The children had to have been born from a mother. In the short time they grew up, there couldn’t be that much of a change in these menkind.

The ending is perhaps the quite puzzling. A demand perhaps for a full film comes to mind. However, I also like the novelty of this short film that keeps me guessing. Either way, the storytelling and visual presentation is awesome. I would look forward to any projects with the creators involved here, whether or not a return to this interesting narrative follows.

– Orion T

Short Film Find: State Zero by Andrée Wallin

State Zero – post apocalyptic short by Andrée Wallin from Andree Wallin on Vimeo.

State Zero – post apocalyptic short by Andrée Wallin

  • Director, Writer: Andrée Wallin
  • Producer: Claire Fleming
  • Published: May 4, 2015
  • Source: www.statezeromovie.com

Synopsis (from the Youtube site): “In the near future, the capital of Sweden has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We join four soldiers on a routine mission in ‘Zone 3’, with the assignment to investigate an old surveillance tower that just went offline. That’s the setting in first-time director Andrée Wallin’s short film. With Andrées direction, renowned visual concepts and designs, this short film is something extraordinary. Produced by Claire Fleming, the film was shot in London with an international cast, while all exteriors were shot in Stockholm. With incredible CGI and VFX by Bläck, this looks like an excerpt from a big budget blockbuster.”

Personal Thoughts:

State Zero is fantastic and professional work, and enough to keep this science fiction fan in suspense.

The visuals are near perfection, as almost no shot goes unwasted in presenting the mood and sequence of events. The special effects seem practical, to not so much wow the viewer, but keep up a believable setting and situation. We have this outside world of “present day” Stockholm, Sweden; a mesh of a familiar world gone astray, still for reasons unclear. The effects of decay, and nature reclamation show through great scans and beautiful filmography; especially from above and afar. The interiors show enough curiosity for us to explore with the cast; where if not for duty, this would be fun with all the mystery of the creepiness that happened before. I feel every light source, every space of abandoned equipment, the use of darkness are examples of great cinematography.

The military tech seems practical, and well prepared before any players to begin their slow descent into some survival horror 1st person mode. However, I am glad the movie did not go wasted into some long stereotypical gaming cut scene type. We do not know much on the persons involved in this mission, other than their purpose and drive to see matters done to their completion. This is enough, as I look on with personal interest. We finally meet the humanoid creatures, perhaps responsible for civilization’s decline, or taking advantage of it. Either way, they look awesome in their creepiness and digital-aided effects.

The story setting itself, not so much original. It sticks to a premise that usually works well. A post-apocalyptic world, now slowly regressing back. Leftover humans must organize and fight back together, probably. All the thrills are here with a civilization slowly taken back by nature, where our first world problems are finally put to rest. The clues to what may have happened are there, though not explained. What may have happened, could be explained by the inhumane human engineering done in the beginning, brought up later in the end. It’s creepy stuff, and believable as scientific experimentation and augmentations are being done today. This leads upon the science fictions to give us subtle warnings on the dangerous unknowns we face, should we continue.

Now, the better part of this story I enjoy is near its ending, as we slowly understand there may be more to some monsters than meets the eye. Sure, we have some sort of military strategy, and some tech to handle it all. But what about these creatures? They seem to show more humanity to the regular humans than what was initially planned for them. Do this new world belong to them, or will be forgiveness and understanding to perhaps correct the mistakes that brought them there? Hard to say in such a short film, but the changing point in this does leave room for questions.

State Zero is brilliant, and thoughtful. I would love another short film set in this world, perhaps giving a different view expanding upon the themes of this video. If not, then at least more excellent work from Andrée Wallin as director and writer.

– Orion T