'ADAM' Episode 3 Is Neill Blomkamp's Oats Studios on Top Form

Friday, 01 December 2017 - 6:08PM
Friday, 01 December 2017 - 6:08PM
'ADAM' Episode 3 Is Neill Blomkamp's Oats Studios on Top Form
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Oats Studios
The ADAM series of shorts exists mostly as a way for the creators of the Unity game engine to show off. For a long time, we only had a single animation, with very minimal story, which made a big deal out of just how realistic the engine's real-time rendering could be when put to good use.

Just imagine, audiences were meant to think, what could happen if they had access to this powerful video game making tool. The whole piece was designed to encourage gaming fans, both amateur and professional alike, to download the conveniently free-to-use game engine, and start fiddling around to make their own ADAM style stories.

One person who was clearly inspired by ADAM is Neill Blomkamp, who loved the initial short so much that he's since begun working with Unity to expand the story into a series of mini movies, each of which are just as vague and ambiguous as the original installment. All of which was done through his experimental Oats Studios project, which loves strange science fiction projects like this.

The third chapter, which (spoiler alert) doesn't actually feature the titular character at all, introduces something that we haven't seen yet from the series - photo-realistic humans, shown off in bright, unambiguous lighting. You can see it below, and you can also see the first two episodes here if you need to catch up.

Animating robots is one thing - ADAM's design was very deliberately created so that he'd look artificial enough to avoid the dreaded Uncanny Valley. Metal is easier to fake in a game engine than human flesh, and it's very easy for this kind of animation to go horribly wrong and ending up looking like a mid-Nineties movie monster.

It's an achievement in and of itself that the movie looks as good as it does, considering it was rendered in real time within the game engine. The marketing team at Unity are probably having a field day. Part of the reason why this looks as good as it does is because of the work that went on behind the scenes, utilizing motion capture performances alongside real world locations that have been rebuilt in Unity to provide a believable backdrop for the movie's events.

Sure, some of the textures don't quite look believable, and the human faces aren't quite there, but then, pulling a Tarkin like Rogue One attempted is hard even for big budget movie studios who aren't arbitrarily limiting themselves to only using in-game cutscene technology.

The thing that really makes this animated short special, though, is how well the technology is paired with Neill Blomkamp's own sensitivities as a storyteller. It turns out that if you take the movie industry executives out of the equation, there's a lot of room for creativity and experimentation - even if the financing for these movies is proving a little difficult.

We've been seeing a lot of Blomkamp's particular oeuvre in recent months thanks to his newfound passtime as a YouTuber - Blomkamp's Oats Studios has been churning out low budget, short independent sci-fi movies for several months now, and they're some of the most fresh, original work that we've seen from such a talented creator in a long time.

Blomkamp has said that he loves the freedom afforded to him by the ADAM series, thanks to Unity's ability to dramatically speed up his workflow. Here we see what may be the closest thing we've had to pure, distilled Blomkamp: social commentary, questions about the place of technology in our lives, and a clear message that charismatic leaders who promise Utopia rarely practice the ideals that they preach.

There's no way of knowing how many more of these shorts we'll get before Blomkamp gets bored and wants to work on something else, so at present it's unlikely that we'll ever get full closure on the story that's being built with ADAM. In the meantime, there's nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the ride.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies