A student short film about an archivist who enters his storage to visit his preserved memories only to discover that the trauma he tried to lock away long ago has mutated in form of a sinister creature. Now he must face his mutated memory.

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"Mutation" is a student short film created during the summer semester of 2022 as part of the CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE 2 course at the Filmakademie Baden Württemberg. Produced within a tight 5-month timeframe, the film explores the complexities of navigating innermost feelings and letting go of guilt in a thrilling, dark atmosphere.


Key Images were done by Leo Neumann under the supervision of our team heads.


Storyboards were drafted together with our director of photography Lina Marzin by our storyboard artist Melanie Schnaidt


After the first draft of the story was set into stone, Eileen Kammer started the design process of the creature Cole. In very fast iterations the team decided on a certain silhouette. The idea was to create a beast that was made out of decaying materials, embodying the main character's biggest regrets. The doability aspect was always kept in mind. After an initial concept sculpt was done, it was given to Matthias Strasser, Mutation’s character artist, who refined the sculpt, added details and created the intricate texture maps for Cole. 


The texturing was done by Matthias Strasser using an UDIM workflow in Mari. After that he configured the shading in Houdini using Redshift together with Philipp Dörrer & Eileen Kammer


The rig was created by Fynn Aurich using a rigging script he created and was iterated during the modeling phase as well as the animation phase of the project to fit the desired needs of the artists.


Our VFX supervisor Philipp Dörrer made sure to capture reference plates, HRDIs and photoscans, provide standins for the creature and apply tracking markers where needed, using LED trackers for our darkest low key shots.

By shooting light plates we were also able to relight the environment in compositing without having to rely solely on photoscans of the set.

Using Adobe Aero on an iPad we were able to import a lifesize version of our creature and previsualize on set what the final shot could look like. This enabled our director of photography to adjust her framing accordingly if needed and gave her a better understanding and reference for what to expect when shooting a digital character aside from standins.


Due to the work our VFX supervisor, animation could commence efficiently and quickly. The animation was done in Maya and was aided by Ragdoll Dynamics for some of the tail movement simulations. Thanks to Matthias Strasser and Leo Neumann, under the lead of Eileen Kammer the team finished five creature shots in 2,5 weeks. 


We had 3 FX artists working on a variety of effects that all had to be integrated into a plate, each interacting with their environment.

Benjamin Gätzschmann was responsible for the magical stream effect, which was a setup that he had to reuse throughout multiple shots.

David Achleitner was responsible for the cube infection effect, which was first prototyped on a non animated cube, before re-applying the same setup onto the tracked cube geometry.

Philipp Dörrer was responsible for the wall crack & creature dissolve effects, which both relied on the animation of the creature.


For the magical stream we wanted to build a ghostly effect that represents the power of Arthur's memories. It was important for us to make it feel light and elegant but powerful at the same time. The effect consists of four different FX setups done in Houdini, composited together in Nuke.


The coal growth effect went through prototyping on a static cube before beeing applied to the final tracked geometry of the glowing cube in the actor's hand. It was especially challenging to drive the effect through noise maps that had to immitate the coal look without straying from the coal look we tried to achieve on the creatures body.


Using photoscans and reference from the shoot we were able to reconstruct the room to allow for a accurate simulation environment. A key element for the RBD simulation was to make the creatures impact feel very heavy, breaking out chunks of the wall, scattering debris and dust throughout the room. 


For the creature dissolve effect we broke up the simulation in different parts, including the main fractures, debris and smoke to immitate big pieces of coal cracking and falling apart.


We did all of our compositing in Nuke - removing unwanted artifacts, tracking markers or lensflares as well as integrating 3D elements and 2D footage. We were also able to relight one of our shots by using light plates we shot onset to further integrate digital light sources.


A film by Philipp Dörrer, Benjamin Gätzschmann and Eileen Kammer

Arthur Franz Rügamer

Mother and Daughter Stephanie Hunger

Director Benjamin Gätzschmann

Producer Svenja Weber

Director of Photography Lina Marzin

VFX Supervisor Philipp Dörrer

Editor Bastian Faralisch

Sound Designer Manik Möllers & Bjarne Taurnier

Composer Clemens Gutjahr

Rigging TD Fynn Aurich

Art Director Eileen Kammer

Concept Artists Eileen Kammer & Leo Neumann

Storyboard Artist Melanie Schnaidt

Previs & Layout Artist Philipp Dörrer

Modeling Artists Eileen Kammer & Matthias Strasser

Texturing Artist Matthias Strasser

Unit Production Manager Yelyzaveta Davydenko & Erik Weber

1st Camera Assistant Leon Golz

2nd Camera Assistant Lukas Hofmann

Steadicam Operator Devin Wahls

Grip Nils Ecke & Vladyslava Kolesnyk

Gaffer Terry Kraatz & Chris Gruber

Lighting Technician Vladyslava Kolesnyk & Maxine Louise

Boom Operator Matthias Strasser

DIT Nils Heubach

Script/Continuity Leo Neumann

Production Designer Eileen Kammer & Svenja Weber

Make-Up Artist Jessica Nathalie Ballhaus

Craft Service Nicolas Sperling

Casting Consultation Jessica Layher

Animation Lead Eileen Kammer

Animation Artists Leo Neumann & Matthias Strasser

Shading Artists Philipp Dörrer & Eileen Kammer

FX Artists David Achleitner, Philipp Dörrer & Benjamin Gätzschmann

Lighting Artists Philipp Dörrer, Benjamin Gätzschmann & Eileen Kammer

Compositing Artists Philipp Dörrer, Benjamin Gätzschmann, Joshua Grill, Eileen Kammer, Lukas Löffler

Color Grader Jakob Sinsel

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