Submarine Action Film Sinks Competition

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A tongue-in-cheek student short film that pays homage to submarine action films has been selected as an international finalist at the Aspen Shortsfest in Colorado – considered one of the world’s top 50 film festivals.

The captain looks concerned as the ship enters unchartered territory

“Many don't even ‘see’ some of the VFX work the students did. We shot the actors against green screen and then put in a CGI sub interior. Most people don't even realise the interior of the submarine is not real."

A tongue-in-cheek student short film that pays homage to submarine action films has been selected as an international finalist at the Aspen Shortsfest in Colorado – considered one of the world’s top 50 film festivals.

Das Tub, animated by Advanced 3D students at Auckland’s Media Design School, is written by New Zealand screenwriter Nick Ward (Stick Men, Second Hand Wedding) and directed by the school’s 3D course leader and award-winning short filmmaker James Cunningham (Poppy).

The film’s plot charts a tumultuous series of ‘encounters’ for a submarine captain and his first lieutenant as they navigate a German U-boat into unknown waters.

“Das Tub is a labour of love for my students and we are all immensely proud to see their achievements recognised internationally”, says 3D course leader James Cunningham.

The student team who produced Das Tub – Priyan, Dale, Jonathan, Andrew and Rupert spent long hours planning, crafting and refining all the technical aspects of the film. And I think the result speaks for itself – a great piece of animation that’s funny, a little bit cheeky and a lot of fun.”

Media Design School CEO Frances Valintine says it is an honour for Das Tub to be recognised by one of the world’s premier film arts organisations.

“This is an absolutely wonderful achievement for our Advanced 3D students, who prove time and time again that they sit up there alongside the best in the world. Many of our 3D graduates go on to get jobs at top animation studios such as Weta Digital and Oktobor Animation in New Zealand, Industrial Light Magic in the US, Starz Animation in Canada and London’s Moving Pictures Company,” says Valintine.

Das Tub was completed in eight weeks and features high-end, motion picture quality CGI graphics integrated with live action footage. Media Design School students Priyan Jayamaha, Kirsten Dale Pretorius, Jonathan Hagan, Andrew Junying Xu and Rupert Ashton crafted all CGI graphics and visual effects shot on the film.

Cunningham says he is particularly proud of the fact that most Das Tub viewers does not even realise that what they are seeing is some very polished and seamless special effects work by the students.

“Many don't even ‘see’ some of the VFX work the students did. We shot the actors against green screen and then put in a CGI sub interior. Most people don't even realise the interior of the submarine is not real,” he says.

Das Tub was also nominated for a prestigious VES Award in January this year – considered the Oscars of the visual effects world.

The film is competing as part of the comedy, short short and student categories at Aspen Shortsfest and will be shown on the big screen to the jury and other festival-goers on the night of April 5 at the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Winners will be announced during the awards ceremony on the evening of April 10.

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Karen Tay