Postmortem – Death of a Project

Truth be told, I’ve had a few posts waiting in the wings, completely done, to be released (along with all the maps/models/textures and some dmx files) with a short film that was slated to be done about now.

It did not pan out.

Projects die, it happens all the time. I know more then a few people that were planning on making and submitting a short for the 2014 Saxxy awards cancelled due to an early deadline. As a matter of fact, this is the second project this year I was asked to make content for that was scrapped, both generating a great deal of content on my end before cancellation. The first was a request for me to make a large space hangar scene, here are some shots from a few months back when it was going strong:



The second was much further along and hit much closer to home. Ideally, the following posts would have been prefaced with a link to the film. In its stead, I’m writing this to give them some context.

It was to be a short film titled Synthesis, with an approximate 5 minute run time. It focused on a female pilot wain from cryo-sleep that was tasked with the repair of a downed satellite, only to be attacked and killed by space pirates or rebels. The twist was that the character in space was a mere body double for a VR-like remote pilot program, where operators safely control synthetic versions of themselves – the end would have been a cold and detached debriefing about the worthlessness of the synthetic and a clear lack of appreciation for the fact that the remote operator just experienced the trauma of death. It would of mostly focused on UAVs/RPAs/Drone warfare and PTSD through a sci-fi lens. (This ends my cold butchering of the plot, sorry, I’m a texture guy, not a writer)


It was clearly very ambitions for a small competition for an obscure machinima tool, but my partner on the project, Adam Plamer, was very ready to give it a shot as director/animatior/sound mixer/post editor. I would cover the other half of the spectrum with character and environment design as well as a cooperative effort on lighting and shot framing, as well as providing the outline of the story. I was deeply connected to the project, and we were both very excited for the possibility to push the medium. Sadly, it simply didn’t pan out.

It’s not an uncommon story. When you have side project, regardless of how big or small it is, when something more important comes up, that project falls by the wayside. Even with nothing else to do, we were seriously pushing the realm of possibility with a 5 minute short with almost all custom content and a timeline of one month. When it came down to the deadline, I barely met my end of it after kicking it into turbo mode. Adam wasn’t so lucky, he got lumped with a real commission to do with the possibility to lead to more work. As much as I wasn’t happy to hear that the project essentially died a week before the deadline and with my content finished, I can understand the need to put food on the table. This is a hobby, and bottom line is that is simply comes second to real life. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the source mod-scene and I have been on both ends of it, it simply happens.

On the plus side, Adam was okay with us releasing everything from the get-go, so that doesn’t mean that perfectly usable and completed assets have to get locked into a vault or relegated to a few beauty shots and a footnote on my portfolio. At the very least, if we couldn’t make a thought provoking film, we’ll at least be able to provide the means for others to do so.

The following posts will be a breakdown of my workflow in making them. I’ve had to change the wording a bit to reflect the project cancellation, but it’s still well worth a read (in my opinion). I’ll be putting them up them once I release the content. Until then, stay tuned and watch for releases on my profile!


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