'Deep' Undersea Adventure with 'Portal' Tech for Director Shane Acker

June 11, 2012

Nuclear Submarine

Last year, filmmaker Dan Trachtenberg took the internet by storm with his short film Portal: No Escape. It turned Valve's popular video game into live action, and the results were fantastic. Now the company is teaming with 9 director Shane Acker to help develop new technology for an animated film this time, an apocalyptic undersea adventure called Deep that uses their video game engine to render environments and characters to ultimately save a ton of time and money while making a full-length feature. Plus, since it's being developed through a game engine, it's easier to adapt into a playable game once the film is completed.

Evoking the feel of an underwater western, Deep takes place after humanity has moved below the water to escape nuclear fallout. The crew of the Norwood, a nuclear submarine, must find out the truth about the Wayfarers, a splinter group with the potential to entirely wipe out humanity. The technology sounds similar to the way Steven Spielberg shot The Adventures of Tintin, with the camera being easily manipulated in a digital world instead of having real-life physical limitations on where you can put it.

And while most video games based on movies are almost universally terrible, since this one is actually being developed using the same exact technology as the film itself, it should be a treat for gamers once it hits shelves. I never saw Acker's 9, but the filmmaker has worked in the animation department for films like The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and the upcoming 47 Ronin, so he obviously has a tremendous amount of skill in the visual arena. Hopefully Deep can successfully blend video game technology with feature film storytelling. Thoughts?

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  • jacobcrim
  • geoffcbassett
    I'm excited to see what they do with the Source engine and how they create the film off of that. I also really love this plot synopsis and will see it because it's an original story.  Shane Acker though i'm iffy on. 9 had great art direction and some scene's had great creative flare, but also horrid characters and a garbage nonsensical plot/ending.
  • Splinteredvision
    Am I the only one who thought that Portal short only gained traction cause it was Portal? It wasn't as amazing as everyone was screaming it to be, I felt at least. I mean kudos to them for putting that together, there were some really great elements, but it wasnt something to go nuts over.
  • peloquin
    Ben, you need to see 9.  Though I was initially let down due to hyping it up so much in my mind, it has aged well and I've watched it several times since.  I think it's a beautifully animated film that has elements that you would see in an R rated live action movie, but it's still accessible to children.  It combines horror, action, comedy, sci-fi, and adventure in a post apocalyptic tale like you've never seen before.  The ensemble cast is excellent as well featuring John C. Reilly, Elijah Wood, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer.  Character rigging and modeling in Maya are hobbies of mine and I'd place 9 in my top 10 animated films of all time.
    • son_et_lumiere
      agreed, it's an fine film. seek out 9, Ben. Acker absolutely does have 'a tremendous amount of skill in the visual arena' - some of the shots and ideas in 9 are stupendously realised. i'll admit the film has some flaws, but only grudgingly, because i really love what he did with it, for all of the reasons peloquin mentions above. i'll be happy to check out whatever Acker does next.
  • Imagine it will look something like this




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