LOS ANGELES — Level 256 VFX (www.level256vfx.com) produced The Final Moments of Karl Brant, a new, sci-fi short starring Paul Reubens. The film premiered in San Diego at Comic Con recently and can now be viewed on Nerdist.com or via a direct link (http://youtu.be/jFotiDbj-D4).
The principals of Level 256 VFX produced the project, which takes place in the near future. It depicts experimental technology that allows two detectives to bring a murder victim back to life in a digital state so he may be questioned about his final moments.
Paul Reubens, best known for his Pee Wee Herman character, stars as Dr. Bennett Ferryman, a scientist who dabbles in digital immortality. The film also stars Janina Gavankar (True Blood, The L Word), Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra), Jon Sklaroff (CSI, The Comeback), and Pete Chekvala (The Education of Arthur Banks).
Scott M. Davids, owner of Level 256 VFX, served as the film’s producer. Level 256 provided the editorial and also designed the visual effects, which include 50 shots in the 16- minute piece. The studio’s worked included matte paintings, futuristic interface designs and comps, and miscellaneous split-screens and enhancements. Level 256 also developed a 3D holographic face that depicts the digital character of Karl Brant, which was created with custom software and a Microsoft Xbox Kinect camera.
The technique was developed by head of production Seth Kleinberg and Davids specifically for this short film.
"Our work on Karl Brant represents the first creation of original content for Level 256,” said Davids. “My background in editorial, combined with Seth's expertise in post production, made it possible for our shop to move beyond serving just as a VFX provider. We handled all aspects of this film. It was a great experience to show that a small shop could produce, edit, create VFX, and finish a film with high production value on a virtually non-existent budget. At the script level, the digital character of Karl Brant was cost prohibitive, so we had to get really creative. Once we developed a working live action test integrated with our Kinect Hack, we knew the project was going to be possible.”
"Leveraging the power of open source applications like Processing, Python, and bash scripting, we were able to take the point cloud data from the Kinect, manipulate it, and get it into Nuke for integration with the live action plates for texture re-projection,” explains Kleinberg. “The process evolved and grew over time, and when we finally saw the fruits of our labor on the screen, we were excited to see Karl Brant fully realized, taking on an expressive life of his own."