If you're looking for an existing property on which to base a short with the potential to blow up online, then transposing a video game to live action is probably the most potent springboard you can find. We've seen Dan Trachtenberg elevate the fan film genre in Portal: No Escape, Machinima's recent Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn be lauded a success and even SXSW get in on the act with their trippy take on Mario. The latest film to do its gaming roots justice is RISE, Russian born director Gevorg Karensky's take on the rubber burning, dirty dealing franchise Grand Theft Auto:
Karensky shot RISE over 6 days with a mixture of donated and college borrowed equipment which saw the film's acquisition formats span the Canon 5D, Canon 7D and RED One. Once the footage was in the can it was time for the real work to began:
After we shot the project, I called all my post-production friends and told them that we are starting on the project. The problem was that they were spread out around the globe, so I created a pipeline and a system for the workflow that would enable anyone to work from any location on the planet, and so we began. We were mostly working on the film from Russia, Germany, Italy, Thailand and a few other places all living in a hybrid time zone.
I supervised the visual effects during the shoot and managed and path of each shot from start to the final output. To make sure the continuity and the pace of the CG vehicles worked, we created a simple animatic and that was the base of the car chase scene on the bridge. We were mostly using Maya 2010 with the default Mental Ray plugin for the lighting of all the CG elements. Instead of building complex studio rig systems for the physics of the digital cars, we found an easier way to make them work with a simple expression code. All the post production was done on regular laptops in order to move around quicker and be able to work on the shots from any point.
A live action short though RISE may be, Karensky's decision to call back to GTA's gameplay aesthetic -- such as imitating the original's 3rd person camera view style and displaying equipment overlays and character handles -- allows you to be more forgiving of the occasions when the obstacle cars betray their 3D roots. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Matthew Wilcock's blistering sound design kicks any doubt about the veracity of RISE's world straight out of your head.
Here's a making of video, although to be honest it plays more like a teaser spot peperred with BTS shots:
However, this Visual Effects Breakdown is a little more revealing as to how the live action stunt driving and 3D elements were combined to pull off the chase scene:
Grand Theft Auto: RISE has wracked up almost 3.7 million views over on YouTube plus a healthy 83K on Vimeo so if it was Karensky's plan to get people to sit up and notice his work, job done. The question I (and I'm sure he) would like to see answered is how do you convert that much interest into a green light for the next project you want to helm? Feel free to provide that elusive answer in the comments.
Link: Gevorg Karensky