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Samuel Elphick
by elphicksamuel on 25 Apr 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

"Don't forget your change..." There's an unexpected item in the bagging area. One man must beat the clock to save the shop when a rogue self-checkout machine threatens everything.

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"Don't forget your change..."

There's an unexpected item in the bagging area. One man must beat the clock to save the shop when a rogue self-checkout machine threatens everything.


Original plot sentence: When a man is scanning his shopping items the machine reveals to him that there is a bomb in his bag, and he has one minute to defuse it.

The idea behind the short was to create a teaser for a longer film, sort of like a pitch or a proof of concept.

The bomb moved from being inside the bag to being inside the machine to give the ending a bigger and more dramatic reveal.


I think the speech by Anne Reid's character in "years and years" (2019) regarding issues of automation and inequality best describes the meaning behind this film:

"And I think we do like them, those checkouts, we want them.

Because it means we can stroll through, pick up our shopping, and we don't have to look that woman in the eye, the woman who's paid less than us, She's gone, we got rid of her. Sacked.

Well done. So yes, it's our fault, This is the world we built. Congratulations cheers all,"

I began to think about how much of a risk automation will be on our lives and I imagined a scenario where a machine is literally trying to destroy you.

I was also watching a lot of 90s action movies at the time which I used as a base for creative decisions. 


Named after a popular action movie actor (and maybe the design as well... the hairstyle at least!) I wanted to experiment with the look of simple shapes combined with realistic textures that I created using substance painter. 

His face is made up of different pieces of geometry that work together with constraint nodes, I modelled and rigged him using Autodesk Maya. 

I decided to keep Bruce's character design simple and functional by only giving him a top half and huge expressive eyes, I also gave him big old hands to make sure he could hold the can of stuff just fine. 


The machine modelling process described by Harry,

"I had a good idea in my head of what the checkout should look like from working in co-op and I had some ideas about what a fun type of bomb would be. I took my ideas and started gathering some reference images of a few different real world checkouts and a lot of different bomb types. In the end, I decided to go with a bomb that would consist of a pipe bomb attached to a sea mine with some added pipes for some cool factor. 

I did some sketches to find a design and layout that I was happy to stick with. Once I settled on a design it was time to start modelling. Generally, I start with the big shapes or items and then work my way to the smaller more detailed areas. For this project I completed the checkout and then went on to work on the bomb. 

I used box modelling as everything was hard surface and that was going to be the most efficient method. Once I was happy with the form and shape of the checkout I created some simple materials and textures".



The steam was created using a Maya fluid simulation. I had a bit of a learning curve here, having some issues with motion blur settings and cache files. My main reference for the steam was the steam that comes from a freezer when you open the door as I figured that a bomb that big would require some sort of cooling system.


The screen was designed in illustrator and then suing a displacement effect in after effects the glitch was animated. I was then given a "computer screen" look by using the cc ball action effect and a mask that was feathered to darken the edges.

Shopping bag:

I simulated the bag using ncloth. I set the bag the retain its shape so that it stood upright but allowed it to stretch when interacted with by the characters hand which I set as a collidable object.

It was a lot of fun making this film and working with very talented artists. I hope you like it and good luck to everyone submitting to The Rookies 2021!


Created by Samuel Elphick



Checkout machine by Harry Randall


Sound design by Kipras Varaneckas


Making of video music by Ethan Edwards

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