Sunday, December 30, 2012

Science fiction on the internet: The year in short films

About two years back, a friend recommended a four minute film set in near future Russia about a mysterious gift, a sleek-looking robot, a violent theft, and the subsequent pursuit through Moscow. The film had polished, kinetic execution, and an apparent high production value. In other words, it looked good and played out well.

The Gift from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.

Browsing around, I started coming across other, similarly impressive pieces, like the heavily stylized Codehunters.

There were also a number of interesting concept trailers for films that have been written, but not made.

Keloid Trailer - A Short Film by BLR from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.

While 2012 ended up being a terrible year as far as political partisanship and infighting here in the US, it was a good year online for short clips in science fiction.

Tempo is a fun, thirteen minute piece, with striking similarities to the iconic puzzle game, Portal. Only in this setting, the high-tech device central to the plot manipulates kinetic energy, rather than space. And as with Portal, the device is put to creative and clever improvised uses.

Archetype is a solid piece about the internal virtual realities that advanced software entities exist in, and a combat platform with memories and a personality that it shouldn't possess. The film does have several cliched moments, but there's also a nice twist, and I thought it was worth the seven minutes.

Payload is an eighteen minute Australian short that plays out in a corrupt future of grinding poverty at the foot of a beanstalk-style space elevator. While the film drags in the middle, it features some great acting and a good finish. It's also definitely on the grim side of the genre.

Payload from Stu Willis on Vimeo.

Luke and Ridley Scott's Loom was originally shot as a technology demonstrator project for a 3D laser projection system. The 20 minute short is deliberately evocative of Ridley's 1982 masterpiece, Blade Runner. It drops viewers into a particularly bad day for a gene engineer technician working in a synthetic flesh factory, and who has secretly grown a woman in his apartment. A melancholy film with art house sensibilities, it's probably not for everyone, but at the same time it delivers a nice emotional punch if you like cinema with a measured and unhurried pace.

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