View all the Finalists for Rookie Awards 2024
Alter Ego

Alter Ego

Fanny Clause
by Mateo Nicolas, Paméla Theil, Terence Farlot, Zoé Saumade, hephce, and may on 31 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

"Alter Ego" is a student short film made during our graduation year at ESMA Toulouse. Directed by Fanny CLAUSE, Terence FARLOT, Mateo NICOLAS, Mahalia RATABOUIL, Zoé SAUMADE and Paméla THEIL.

6 2708 2
Round of applause for our sponsors

Have you ever felt lost, different, unable to find your way?

Sowa, our young Melanesian, in the grip of this same doubt will manage to find her way despite many obstacles.

We present you this short movie's making of, all the visual and technical aspects that allowed us to tell you this story.

Our history is inspired by a traditional rite performed in Melanesia on a Vanuatu’s island : the Pentecost’s island. It is an ancestral rite where men jump from a wooden tower which can be up to thirty meters high, which happens during the spring. This tower represents a woman figure, where only men can jump. The man who succeed jumping it, is considered like the bravest man.                                                                                    By doing this initiating rite, young men become fulfilled adult.                                                     A few say this rite is the ancestor of the bungee jump ! 

We wanted to highlight the weight of social pressure for a girl who seeks her place in the world through a traditional rite.

Here are the first development for the characters of the film.

Sowa our main character is a dreamy, reckless, patient and assertive young woman. She is rather shy, often sitting apart from other young people in the village. She is lost and doesn’t want the destiny her father decided for herShe wants more freedom and has a special relationship with nature. She can communicate with nature but doesn't know it and it seems to be something spiritual and shamanic.

The shaman is a surprising and clear-sighted character. She is the oldest woman in the village, timeless, she could be 300 years old. She has a special relationship with nature and all the elements, a spiritual communication. She can be zany, but also very wise and respected by the whole village.

Her little sister Jawei is a cheerful and energetic little girl, but often impatient. Daring and somewhat immature, she dreams of passing the rite to which her sister can claim. However this rite is inaccessible to her because she is still too young. She admires her sister but doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to follow the tradition. She is very sociable with the other children of the village. Her endangerment in the film will make her understand that everything comes in good time to who knows how to wait. 

Their father is proud, firm and confident. The latter is a little cold and hard at first. He respects the tradition in his village and doesn’t tolerate his daughter departing from it. Tradition is something very important for him and the way other people in the village look at his family worries him. However, despite his firmness he will realize that it is not only the ways of tradition that matter, becoming someone within the village can take different forms.

We chose to make 9 different sets in the film to feed the scenario and create a real universe.

Each background will have a script writing role related to the characters, their stories, the situations in which they will be confronted… and this will offer a variety of color palettes, lighting, singular atmospheres.

That’s why the beginning of the film takes place in the late afternoon and early evening, we wanted to install the warm side of the village.

The following sets take place the next day, it’s the moment of preparation for the rite but there : Sowa's univers is starting to tumble. We find her in the hut at night to accentuate the distress of the main character until she decides to flee! At the time of the flight a glowing atmosphere is created by the shaman to invite fear and that’s why Sowa doesn’t escape too far.

Then she wakes up in a cave above the rite. A more dramatic atmosphere is set up to announce the upcoming event! And the beautiful sunny weather returns at the end of the film to conclude, the future of the young Sowa next shaman of the village.

Now we would like to come back to the technical choices that guided our work throughout the film. 

The modeling of the vegetation was a real challenge to arrive at the result we had imagined , there are 50 species of plants in the short film.

To optimize the rendering time we cleaned each Maya scene before importing the modeling into the final sets so that way the scenes are not too heavy.

For the hair of the characters we proceeded with xgen interactive without simulation because of the frizzy nature of the hair that do not require too much movement.         On some renderings, we encountered cases of flicking with the hair. To overcome this, we had to increase the samples of the lights.

The use of MASH allowed us to make mass of plants in the background without weighing down the scenes.                                                                                                                        Due to the very dense vegetation in our scenes and the number of characters, we had to think about the best parameters to optimize renderman settings.

The issue was an equation between rendering time and quality.

For compositing we really tried to follow the colorscript done during the pre-production.  

 The cryptomatte maps were used to fully control the visual rendering of each object in each plane.

The editing of the film began with the creation of the storyboard, it allowed us to break down all the plans and give us a guide to follow throughout the project.

We were a team of 6 students on this project and this involves 6 different scenarios and representations at the time of the editing.

The whole point was to find common ground without damaging history.

Faced with the challenge of the universe, of the quality of vegetation, of all the characters there arrived a moment where we had to make choices because the date of rendering was approaching.

In order to make a film “finished” we had to cut some scenes, shorten some shots with details about the secondary characters, make some cameras fixed while the shots were initially thought in motion.

We have grown up with this experience, aware of the complexity of managing a scenario and conducting a production in its entirety.

                      THANK YOU!

Comments (2)