Amazing sci-fi short film done for $300


This special F/X-laden five-minute robot invasion flick is about giant robots “coming to destroy my small city. I think maybe it’s an attempt to make the city look bigger and more important… :-),” says the director, Fede Alvarez. About the production, Fede says:

It took US$300 to shoot the live action, and then maybe a year to complete the 90 vfx shots (during very interrupted periods…) I used Premiere, After, Photoshop, 3dMax, Boujou, Glu3d, and FumeFx. The modeling, mapping and rigging of the Robots, fighters and planes was made by Mauro Rondan.

[via Kent Barnes’ Twitter feed]

Panic Atack! / Small Movie, Big Robots

18 thoughts on “Amazing sci-fi short film done for $300

  1. Rob says:

    Amazing what he can do with that budget. I’d love to see him team up with a real story teller to create some magic.

  2. Brad says:

    Yeah, $300 to shoot the live action stuff. But how much did all the software cost?

    Still, pretty cool. AND he just signed a production deal with Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures.

  3. $300? says:

    Hmm, more like:
    Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 – $450
    Adobe After Effects CS4 – $250
    Adobe Photoshop CS4 – $150
    Autodesk 3ds Max 2010 – $3500
    Boujou 5 rental (1 month) – $2000
    Glu3d for 3ds Max / Maya – $700
    FumeFX 1.2 for 3ds Max – $845
    Live Action Shots – $300

    Total – $8,195
    … not to mention a few thou on a fast computer to run all this stuff!

    1. PatrickIV says:

      So if you’re driving a car and you need to go somewhere fast, you should get out and run? Is the music from 28 Days Later? Otherwise this is VERY impressive even for eight thousand.

    2. Stephen says:

      It’s misleading to say that the CGI robots attacking a city movie cost $300 to make if that only pays for recording the city and not the CGI robots attacking it. That seems obvious to me, Avatar doesn’t cost nearly as much (though still not exactly pocket change) if you don’t mention the cost of the CGI.

      Obviously it’s hard to assess what the software actually added to the cost of this movie (you can reuse it in previous / future projects, etc) but you can’t just ignore it.

    3. techpops says:

      Maybe using Blender for the 3D and some other open source or just free / cheap apps would bring the costs right down to almost nothing.

      The above list with thousands of dollars worth of software is overkill imo. I can do a lot of the types of shots in this video in Cinema 4D for a fraction of that cost. Well, I could do those shots if I had the talent (which I don’t heh) but technically the features are there.

      Peronally I thought this was nothing more than an interesting showreel that might help get some artist a job. AS a piece of entertainment it has no story, no characters, nothing to involve me. So as a technical exercise, it’s surprisingly good in places, not so good in others. As a video for entertainment its not very interesting.

  4. ROB K636 says:

    Looks a lot better then some of the special effects that I have seen on SifI lately.

  5. PAStonker says:

    If he’s a student it may be a lot cheaper, I know through my school in thunder bay I got a copy of Adobe cs3 photospot, aftereffects, premier pro, onsite ect.. for a total cost of less than $200 and the next year the same deal was given for CS4. Media Students also have access to the computers the software and reduced price versions of other software, so unless you count tuition in a film budget then a low price for software and equipment is also possible.

  6. lohryx5 says:

    I saw this on another forum about a week ago and was blown away. If he truly did it for the amount claimed, or hell, even for the true value of the software involved, then it’s still a truly incredible short film.

    Many responses to have been very positive. However, there have been some negative as well…petty griping about poor character and plot development and things like that. Some even complained about why the robots are walking around shooting things only to converge on the center and blow everything up. Or that the movie didn’t contain enough or anything original that could be expanded into a full-length feature film.

    I’m not sure that his $30,000,000 contract is even centered around expanding on his film…it could be something entirely different. For all any of the naysayers know, this short film could merely be an experiment in CGI and special affects the guy did just to see what he could pull off.

    Anyway, I think he did an incredible job and am glad to see that it has paid off for him. In the true escence of the “Maker” and DIY ideals, this guy is doing for far less money what the big companies are dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into movies that turn out to be crap glazed over with special affects. Hopefully more and more independent filmmakers will come forward with quality films like “The Hunt for Gollum”, “Born of Hope”, and others.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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