Sort (No Man’s Land) — Short Film

Given that today is Armistice Day, this seemed like an appropriate animated short to share. Armistice Day, for those who don’t know, marks the end hostilities on the Western Front in World War I, which took effect “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918.

Sort, also titled No Man’s Land, is an impressively constructed reminder of the living hell that led to the armistice and finally ended the first World War. To be honest, this is a tough one to watch; the filmmakers do not shy away from recreating the gruesome horrors of trench warfare. That is precisely the point, though, as Sort reminds us that Armistice Day isn’t all about the poppies.

In order to create the gritty look of Sort, the filmmakers combined animation (with 3ds Max) and motion capture (edited in Motionbuilder) , and then rendered the film in Iray (Nvidia) from 3ds Max 2014 with a fixed number of iterations to achieve the grainy look of the final product. I was very impressed with that consistent visual graininess, which I haven’t seen in many animated projects, and also with the use of light (or lack of light) throughout the short to really effectively create the panicked atmosphere of the battlefield. This short probably won’t be for everyone, but it’s an impressive memorial of a truly dark period in the history of the world and the sacrifices of the people who were put through those horrors.

“Luckily with animation, fantasy is your friend.  And the more fanciful and the more out of control the story seems to be reaching… I think all of these things go down more easily when the medium is an animated one and not a live action one.”

— Steven Spielberg,

from an interview with Movie Talk about The Adventures of Tintin