"Esis comes across a motionless robot."
Dead End is a SciFi short film about an experiment gone wrong. It was created by six artists as their graduation project at Parisian school New3dge during their final year in Animation 3D & VFX specialization.
The short features a particular case of changing narrative POVs: it switches the POV of the same character from one body to another one (human and robot). Dead End presents internal and external conflicts and a circular narrative structure that plays with time.
Staged in a city and inside an apartment sometime in the future, a cyberpunk aesthetic is employed. The effort dedicated to aesthetic work is impressive, the film is a pleasure to watch. A lot of effort has been spent on composition of elements, lighting, colors, graphic design, characters and environments. The production method that allowed for six artists to work on the film clearly shows through.
Dead End uses wider shots (extreme long shots and long shots) for establishing the action, then switches to tighter ones, as most of the film is centered on the main character (and its two incarnations). An initial semi-subjective camera strategy is employed to limit the audience’s view to that of the Esis character. After the robot is discovered, a less subjective camera is used.
Visual rhythm is high, created through camera moves (cranes, dollies, pans, etc.), editing, lighting, motion within the frame, VFX, etc. A sequence especially worth noting is the time-lapse contained in three pans as the robot builds the time machine (3m43-3m52).
What makes Dead End work so well? Expressive character and body language that help transmit conflict, remarkable aesthetic work, elements of surprise, unusual changes in narrative POVs (readers of Cortázar’s Axolotl may find here a great example of comparable narrative techniques in the audiovisual medium) and strong conflicts that hook the audience.