October 11, 2012

Sci-Fi Shorts 'True Skin' and 'Plurality' Make the Case for a Disturbing Technological Future

The indie science fiction film has come a long way in the last 5-10 years. Technology has reached a point where money is no longer a barrier to getting fantastic effects and large scale ideas on a minuscule budget. You can watch two short films below that fit that mold perfectly: True Skin, which deals with body modifications, and Plurality, a film that takes place in a New York City dominated by a universal identification system that follows every person's slightest move.

True Skin:

Plurality:

Both films do a great job at what anyone who is making a "calling card" film should be thinking about: big ideas and fast execution. The first film, True Skin, written and directed by Stephan Zlotescu (who also did many of the effects), is interesting in that it uses a lot of real-world settings and people in the film, but augments them with 3D special effects. It's certainly one way to achieve a grander scale on a smaller budget, and it reminded me a lot of the film Monsters, which utilized real-life road signs and objects and modified them to suit the story.

Plurality, directed by Dennis Liu, did much of the same, shooting in public spaces on a Canon 5D and 7D, and creating the special effects on a small budget over a 2 year period. What's interesting about the two films is their extensive use of narration. For science fiction worlds which are different from our own, there definitely has to be some sort of setup for the audience to understand the world that the film takes place in. There is a lot of narration and inner dialogue in both films, and maybe it's a personal preference, but in my opinion, narration is hard to get right 100% of the time without a perfect voice and perfect dialogue, because you aren't able to look at a face and find the true meaning behind the words.

Either way, both films show that special effects on a limited budget are getting better and better, and we're going to see some very impressive low-budget features in the near future with mind-blowing effects.

Links:

Your Comment

28 Comments

Wow. the Plurality is the best short film I've seen to date. I mean that.

October 11, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

Have you seen 'The Man Who Never Cried"?

It's quite good too. 20-ish minutes long, but really, really good.

http://vimeo.com/31043983

October 12, 2012

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Tyler

My comment below on the prize winner is for ‘The Man Who Never Cried” and should have been a reply to your post. Thanks again.

October 12, 2012

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Agni Ortiz

Yeah I did, great stuff. What ever happened to the door post?

October 12, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

thanks for sharing! lovely movie!

October 12, 2012

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guto novo

Ok I really don't get it! This is about the 10th time I see Plurality posted on a blog/FB etc....
and I don't see how this is outstanding. the SFX are decent but the street advertisements are oddly placed
and beside that everything else is mediocre acting, cinematography and story!

I watch true skin now and that's hopefully better

October 12, 2012

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Tony

I'm coming from a VFX background and they did a good job with the visual effects for a short film, that's one reason why I can respect it so much.

October 12, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

Naration is tricky....but you forgot its biggest benefit. And why books are generally preferred over movies given the same story structure.

Naration lets the viewer know what character Thinks!

Both films were great. Thanks for sharing.

October 12, 2012

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True, but carefully crafted visual story telling lets the viewer surmise what the character is thinking, and sometimes that opens up a whole new world of options!

I thought these shorts were great and I agree with Joe that both of these films make great "calling cards", I'll be watching out for more from these two in the future!

October 12, 2012

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Jules

Well, watch Vertigo and tell me it needs narration.

BTW Movies are the preferred medium for story telling now days. It's rare that a great novel can be a great movie (or a better movie) since the story is usually tailored to the medium. But Kubrick has managed this many times, sometimes improving on great novels. Now let's talk about mediocre novels...

October 12, 2012

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brett

true skin looked much more professional than the other movie, but regarding narration - constant narration like this not only makes me feel the director was heavily insecure about his storytelling skills but it also is a distraction. Additionally I, for example, first watched both without sound and then with, both movies suddenly felt way less cinematic than silent...

October 12, 2012

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Mariano

"constant narration like this not only makes me feel the director was heavily insecure about his storytelling skills "

I'm a doubter too when it comes to constant VO, but I don't know if it's insecurity so much as using a crutch. Giving an uncharitable opinion to those works use VO, I'd say it's mainly laziness... giving the benefit of the doubt, I'd guess it's a requirement of the specific world they are exploring, unwelcome (to me!) but necessary for the film to work.

October 12, 2012

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jank

It's the "Blade Runner with or without narration" argument.

October 12, 2012

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Ian

Thank you for linking the shorts. Plurality was uploaded only 3 days ago, and I think it deserves to be shared profusely. The effects and direction deliver the plot in a compelling way. It is a vessel of information with a plausible outcome, particularly for those spousing the idea of Space-time continuum and those who foresee an obvious Orwellian future.
I agree 100% with your analysis, and in retrospect, I cannot even imagine the effects Plurality dumped to a film recorder for compositing, as I have done 22 years ago, just for a short !!

October 12, 2012

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Agni Ortiz

Wow. I just watched it. Thank you Tyler ... indeed. That is an astounding piece. A totally deserving prize winner. Hopefully those involved are working on another great project.

October 12, 2012

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Agni Ortiz

True Skin's narration is unbearable. Almost laughable. Clearly an amateur trying to imitate a pro.

October 12, 2012

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FabDex

Try better

October 12, 2012

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Natt

@Natt: No. I'm smart enough to know that it's a job for a pro.

October 12, 2012

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FabDex

then dont critize those for trying.

October 15, 2012

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Derek Garlington

Only had a chance to watch True Skin so far, because it was shorter. Agreed with the others... the effects were pretty good for the most part, but the writing/acting/directing were really average.

October 12, 2012

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Shenan

I watched True Skin and was amazed by the high quality of the effects. But there were too many, no room for a breather. I didn't get the story. Narration can be good, there are plenty of examples where it works really well. This narration lacked inspiration though. And I agree with FabDex, although I wouldn't say it so harschly, he sounded like an amateur. Thanks for posting, these guys for fx teamed up with someone could make a cool film.

George - tshit.de/freshdailies

October 12, 2012

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The Plurality story was interesting, but the color was pretty bad... bleach blue with increased gamma.... terrible.

October 13, 2012

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Razor

I wonder the budget for these two, I'm sure they were extremely low considering what it would have taken to produce these just a few years ago, but I'd imagine still pretty high for a lot of the readers on here. Still have to spend decent cash to get a good project

October 13, 2012

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carlos

Hey Joe(pun DEFINITELY intended), look who got picked up!
http://collider.com/true-skin-short-warner-bros-david-heyman/204145/

October 18, 2012

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Wow that's pretty incredible, it didn't take long for that.

October 18, 2012

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avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Story wise - what a world to aspire to. Can't wait. What a minute, I'll be Dead.....Thank God!

October 19, 2012

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DAP

To all the critics - these two films are better than every movie you've never made! Get out there and do it. Then, maybe, you'll learn enough to criticize.

Conveying complex ideas visually in films is difficult, but generally (and that's GENERALLY) films are better if they avoid the use of voiceover.

May the artistic struggles continue ever onward,
- Rob.

October 19, 2012

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Anyone know what SFX software was used in True Skin? After Effects?

October 19, 2012

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Bill Stevens