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The Dust

Adrianna Polcyn,
United Kingdom,  Aberdeen Robert Gordon University,  BSc Computing for Graphics and Animation,  July 17, 2015
My project titled ‘The Dust’ is a short movie which main purpose is to show how different modern technologies are used nowadays in film productions to recreate the old times. By old times I mean not only the old movie style (washed out colours, grainy video, etc.) but also the recreation of the atmosphere of the past. I am Computing student however I am really interested in filmmaking as well, so I decided to combine my hobbies and create something hopefully interesting and with a deeper meaning. The main inspiration were Baz Luhrmann’s movies (The Great Gatsby, Australia, Moulin Rouge!) as well as the Aerial album by Kate Bush. My dissertation investigates the methods used in actual modern movies which talk about the past and my movie implements most of these techniques.

The movie itself may be quite difficult to understand while watching it for the first time. It tells a story of an unknown woman who seems to be looking for something she has lost. The nostalgic feeling that she has takes her back to the past. She is watching her past from her own today’s perspective. The beach is the symbol of her memories – all the scenes at the beach are taking place in the past. The woman is sad, lost in thought, she has lost something but she struggles to find it. The time seems to be following weird patterns – after the morning comes the night time, it goes backwards. The woman is trying to reach towards something that she really craves for but she cannot have it. The green light (inspiration from The Great Gatsby) is a symbol of the loss.

The woman, back in her room, is taking off the black headscarf and wondering. The camera zooms out and the movie suddenly finishes. But if you watch closely, you might notice that just before the end, the lady appears in one of the paintings. It’s a symbol that the woman was not looking for a thing she has lost or somebody else, but she was actually searching for herself. She lost herself but she found herself eventually.
There are many more symbols in the video like blowing wind, dried flower petals, the sand etc. – the main purpose of all these elements is to make the audience feel the atmosphere of yesteryear and to create the nostalgic ambience.
  • Animation
  • Compositing
  • Concept Art
  • Design
  • Editing
  • Lighting
  • Matchmove
  • Modeling
  • Story Development
  • 3ds Max
  • After Effects
  • Matchmover
  • V-Ray
3D Total
  • VFX/ANIMATION
  • Film of the Year
  • 1042 Page Views
  • 8 Images
  • April 19, 2015
0:11-0:48 - models, texturing and lighting done in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray

0:59 - 1:05 - 3d lighthouse model (modelled in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray), sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects

1:05- 1:23 - motion tracking with Matchmover, 3d lighthouse model (modelled in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray), sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects

1:24 - 1:39 - motion tracking with Matchmover, 3d lighthouse model (modelled in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray), sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects, starry sky done with Trapcode Particular, volumetric light with Trapcode Lux plugin

1:40 - 1:50 - colpour grading done in After Effects, starry sky done with Trapcode Particular

1:50 - 2:00 - 3d lighthouse model (modelled in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray), sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects, starry sky done with Trapcode Particular, volumetric light with Trapcode Lux plugin

2:00 - 2:09 - 3d lighthouse model (modelled in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray), sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects

2:10 - 2:30 - sky replacement, colour grading done in After Effects

2:30 - 2:45 - models, texturing and lighting done in 3ds Max, rendered with V-Ray, compositing done in After Effects

Overall post-production done in After Effects with many different techniques including the use of Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks plugin.


The movie implements a lot of various techniques – mainly 3d animation and digital compositing. The first few scenes were created in Autodesk 3ds Max – a lot of focus was put on the small details like textures and lighting in order to make the scene look as realistic as possible. The second part of the movie is the actual video footage combined with some 3d elements. The main software used to edit this part was Adobe After Effects. There is a 3d lighthouse model which replaced the real lighthouse – I needed an older lighthouse type than the one existing, so I decided to use 3d compositing techniques. What is more, in few scenes some creative techniques to create a night time look were used – for example advanced colour grading, sky replacement, particle effects (stars) as well as pulling mattes. The whole production was edited in After Effects too – final colour correction was applied and some aging effects like real film grain overlay, transitions, light leaks were added to give the video the desired look. Sound design was also very important part of the project.

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