Breakdown: The Dust of Ormiin

This is the short film that I animated just after publishing the finale of Knightrise then burned out on. I sat on it for some time before coming back to finish post-production. This proved beneficial: I put a lot of time and effort into the editing and it really paid off. In fact, I’d argue this is my best work so far. So where did it come from? (Spoilers coming so watch the film first!)

Near the end of Knightrise’s post-production I took an Energy and Society class whose final project included a creative work, intended to accompany and expand on the research paper. My paper was about the positive and negative impacts of nuclear power plants on local communities. Unsurprisingly, I decided to make my creative work a film. I submitted the first draft of the screenplay to my professor and told her I intended to produce it. “You know the script is more than sufficient, yes?” Indeed I did, but what’s the point if I don’t overdo it? On the due date I presented my paper and “The Tarnished World of Oormine,” an early version of the short with minimal special effects and no music or sound effects, only voice lines.

While the short film originally focused on the same topic as my paper, the theme quickly morphed into something else: mishandling any energy source devastates local communities. Settlement 490 was already exposing the nearby Ormian village to harmful radiation. But by pursing profits over safety, Covup enabled disaster for both the Ormians and Settlement 490. Proper management of the situation would have prevented the disaster, but EnCorp should have been more cognizant of the local Ormian village in the first place.

I gave this film my all, especially in post-production. Color correction and dust clouds transformed Ormiin into an unforgiving world. Light placement granted life to Settlement 490 and the Ormian village, illuminating them in the darkness. Moving Covup’s space shuttle with LEGO rigs wasn’t exactly smooth, but careful masking of the rigs made the shuttle fit seamlessly into its environments. And for the first time I experimented with balancing my audio between stereo speakers.

A clearer look at Covup trying to reach Settlement 490.

Here Covup is standing on the same pair of baseplates as the miniature version of Settlement 490 seen when Covup lands on Ormiin and after the explosion. To make Settlement 490 look large far away, I adjusted the depth of field so the settlement was blurry and placed some big ugly rock pieces between it and Covup. Darkening the set and adding special effects sold the illusion, though in my opinion I overdid the lighting.

Settlement 490 looks convincingly distant, if a bit too dark.

With the time and effort required to produce The Dust of Ormiin, it is unlikely I will produce more than a couple more films of this caliber (or at least, of both this caliber and length) this year. But it is a new standard that I will strive to meet and exceed as often as possible. I love telling impactful stories such as this and I hope you enjoy watching them just as much. Until next time,

-mysteriouspi

Director of Starstreak Media

THAC XVI: The Brickfilming Sprint

The Twenty-Four Hour Animation Contest (THAC) has a long history—so long that this January saw the 16th such event. It’s exactly what it sounds like: participants have the same 24 consecutive hours to write, build for, film, voice, edit, score, and publish their brickfilms.

Despite this history, I had never attempted THAC in previous years. One of my goals this year is to interact more with the brickfilming community, so I preemptively set aside the 24 hours, woke up way too early in the morning, and proceeded to produce the day away.

Wow.

It was a ton of fun. Not just the project itself, but checking in on other participants on the forums and Twitter to see their progress (and their likewise-deteriorating mental states). It was a sprint, but rather than anyone trying to pull ahead of everyone else, we were all merely trying and helping each other reach the finish line.

It was also taxing. Limiting yourself to a 1-2 minute film with only a couple set pieces is the best idea, so naturally I wrote a 3-minute film with 4 different sets. I only started animation over 6 hours in and with only half the sets built and felt like I was falling behind, but pushed through and got everything built and filmed. By 20 hours in the caffeine I consumed to stay awake left me shaky (unfortunate because I was still animating a final scene). By 23 hours in I was rendering the final product but was falling asleep at my desk. With only 16 minutes left I submitted my film, waited until the deadline to make sure everything went smoothly, then jumped into bed to scavenge what sleep I could.

THAC XVI was awesome, and finally interacting with the brickfilm community at large was a great experience. You’ll definitely see me hanging around BricksInMotion more, something I now realize I should have been doing for years.

Next update will be in February. Until then, look out for Filler Street Episodes 3 and 4, and an awesome new short film after…

-mysteriouspi

Owner of Starstreak Media