Robots, sci-fi, and CGI

Robots, sci-fi, and CGI

Alpha5 Students and Tutor News Image 1200x600px
NMIT students’ short film selected for Gold Reel screening

A short film produced by NMIT Computer Generated Imagery and Animation students has received local and international acclaim.

The three-minute sci-fi thriller, Alpha 5, was selected for both the Top of the South Film Festival and the world’s largest short film competition, My Rode Reel.

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) tutor Neil Benson says the students wanted to create their own short film after working on the feature film Northspur earlier in the year.

“We wanted to create something special with the skills the students have acquired during the year.”

It’s a great example of how NMIT incorporates real-world experiences into our programmes, setting students up with the skills they need to launch their careers.

The students only had a short window of time to create the film, including filming, editing, post-production, CGI animation, and sound design.

The film includes a CGI robot chasing the lead actress through a forest, as well as other impressive computer-generated and animated elements.

“I was very impressed by everyone's work ethic,” Neil says. “The students spent their mid-term break at the film location and in the CGI lab working on the film to make sure it would be ready in time.”

There were a record number of entries in the Top of the South Film Festival this year so the team was thrilled to make the cut.

Neil says selected films could be showcased in either the Gold Reel or Silver Reel screenings.

“To our delight our film was selected for the Gold Reel screening, which is the most prestigious of the two.”

Screengrab of Alpha 5 short film
Screen shot during Alpha 5 short film showing animation combined with real footage

Getting selected for the My Rode Reel competition, which features many veterans of the film industry, was also “quite the accomplishment”, Neil says.

NMIT student Jono Schruer, one of the CGI animators and compositors for the film, says the project was a lot of fun.

“It's so cool knowing that we could come up with an idea and execute it with the skills we have learnt. NMIT provides us with so many great opportunities like this one.”

Sarah Wallace, who helped to bring the CGI robot character to life through a process known as rigging and textures, says the experience has been “super rewarding”.

“I'm so grateful for the opportunity and have had so much fun in the process. I'm really looking forward to the next one.”

The film was written and directed by Neil and Billy Benson and the production team was made up of Tim Evans, Jono Schruer, Sarah Wallace, Billy Benson, Jaxon Wallace, Abby Riordan, Dhaval Dave, and Luke Amohanga. Neil’s daughter Maria Benson was the lead actress.

Neil says the positive experience has provided motivation to enter into future film competitions and festivals.

NMIT’s CGI programmes help prepare students for a rewarding career in the film, TV, gaming, augmented reality, and research and development industries in New Zealand or internationally.

Watch Alpha 5 short film now on Vimeo.(external link)

Photograph by Mia Crockett

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