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Till Nowak on the making of The Centrifuge Brain Project

How was the experience of working and rehearsing with Leslie Barany?

Backstage photo of DP Ivan Robles Mendoza, director Till Nowak and actor Leslie Barany

Working with Leslie is great fun, because he is the living intersection of a crazy genius and a naughty boy. This combination creates lots of possibilities for creative collaboration. Leslie lives in New York City and I had asked him to shoot this little short film with me when he was in Germany for a week to work with me on another project. I gave him the text only one day before shooting. He sat down and worked through it, changing it into his words and getting used to the ideas, and on the next day he performed as the scientist, although he never had anything to do with a laboratory or science before.

Another important member of our team is Ivan Robles Mendoza, our cinematographer, who came to Hamburg for two days of shooting. Leslie, Ivan and me worked like a guerrilla team, very spontaneous and intuitive, which is a reason for the film’s authenticity and only possible in a very small team of people who know each other well.

You also edited the film. What interesting things did you find during editing?

The editing took me two months, just for this little 6 minute film, because almost every sentence of the scientist is assembled from different takes, or has single words edited out or in. I had to do this to create a seamless flow of words out of many improvised and spontaneous takes.

Spheroton theme park ride

Another challenge was the beginning: How long should it take until you see the first obvious visual effect and how to build the gradual escalation until the end. The final version was edited for cinema screenings at film festivals, because after one minute of seemingly boring introduction the audience is in the perfect condition to get sucked into absurdity, while on the internet the beginning is a little too slow and the youtube audience would need the first spectacular joke within 20 seconds to stay with the film, they don’t watch a full minute until it becomes interesting. Keeping this in mind it’s almost a miracle that it got 2.5 million views on Youtube.

Another editing issue was the ending. There is an alternative version in which the questions of the interview become more and more accusative and Dr. Laslowicz finally walks away and cancel the interview. However, I finally decided to go with the version that concludes in his weird philosophical ideas that reveal his key mistake, which is to reject our natural limits. But I think I will release an alternative version of the film one day, which also includes the alternative ending,

How was the process of creating the CG rides?

Making of image showing Spheroton theme park ride created in 3DS Max software

I created the seven CG rides as an artistic idea before I even knew it would become a short film. Every couple of months, in between other projects, I invested one or two weeks per ride to create each of the short clips, until I had seven of them. I think these sequences took me three months of work, spread between 2008 and 2011.

They were all created in the same steps: first I shot completely unplanned and freehand camera videos of real amusement rides. Then a matchmoving software analyzed the camera motion, so that I was able to integrate my own animations on top of the shaky hand camera footage. Then I modeled, textured and animated the crazy extensions [in 3DS Max]. The main challenge was to attach them seamlessly to the real moving amusement rides. Finally I did the compositing with lots of subtle effects to blend the borders between reality and animations.

Have a look at this:

Which ride turned out to be the most difficult?

“The Expander” was the most difficult one, because I had to draw 30 animated masks to mix the digital elements with the real ride. The problem was that the real amusement ride was rotating in its z-axis in such a way that the cabins were permanently switching between being “in front” and “behind” each other. This means, digital Object A is in front of real Object B, and 10 frames later real Object B is in front of digital Object A. It was just a painful rotoscoping task.


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  • Filmnosis

    On ne connaît pas Filip.

  • Filip

    Filip tu vois mon ommentaire ?