Project Title: Giant Rat vs Robot
People: John Choi, Paul Calhoun, Toya Rosuello, Justin Abel, Samuel Day
Submission Date: May 4, 2017
Our final project takes the form of a short film that reveals a shocking yet comedic potential past where large scale food corporations and government military involvement have gone too far. In a remote government research laboratory in the Appalachian Mountains, a pair of mysterious hands are shown attempting to create a hamburger to completely sustain a human lifespan. Instead, their culinary work produces a highly radioactive burger that will shake society to its core. A loose rat discovers the contaminated specimen and the transformation begins. What once was a small innocent test rat in the government facility is now a colossal, confused monster that wreaks havoc on the nearby city. Government officials act quickly and unleash an equally sized robot to take down the giant rat. What follows is a humorous and destructive battle sequence that ends in an unexpected twist that leaves the audience thinking even after the credits roll.
- Provide a brief paragraph summarizing the overall goals and results.
- Goal: Production of a B-movie style monster movie in the approximate type of Star Warp’d (heavily reference laden homage with personal touches based on the medium – Claymation for Star Warp’d, and Small Studio live filming for us)
- Result: Somewhat mixed, as the tone became unclear. We unfortunately may have been more influenced by outside factors than was optimal and so the tone shifted depending on where in the process those influences occurred. Our references are also obscure due to none of team being conversant both in comedic writing and contemporary references.
- Discuss what specific features are within scope for the project.
Our team’s goal was to produce a cheesy giant monster fight film reminiscent of the Japanese and American giant monster movie genre of the 1950s-1960s. We accomplished our objectives with the following features:
- Lab Scene introduces the origin of the Giant Rat Monster, where a lab rat eats an experimental hamburger containing lots of unknown chemicals designed by secretive food scientists, subsequently transforming into a giant monster rat.
- Fight Scene introduces the transformed giant monster rat attacking the city, destroying buildings and cars. Also introduces a giant robot commissioned by the military to destroy the giant rat. The giant rat and giant robot engage in a duel of epic proportions.
- The boardroom scenes shows council of powerful government officials decrying the outright silliness of it all, arguing about where everything is going, before subsequently being destroyed by the giant rat.
In order to create the illusion of a laboratory for the opening scene, the actors wore blue rubber gloves as they “assembled” the burger on top of an aluminium foil sheet. A toy rat was used as a puppet to represent the original rat before it became giant. For the city set, we built a foreground made of laser-cut cardboard buildings and cars. These were made in a scale relative to the rat and robot costumes we used. The buildings created a forced perspective that made the characters seem larger than they are. Most filming was done against a green screen (or blue wall) to facilitate keying in post-production. The boardroom scene was filmed in a meeting room on campus with each of the actors wearing business attire.
- Discuss your design choices.
An overall vintage style was used as a baseline for design decisions. This was not necessarily a singular vision but an intended plethora of film references and genres merged to create a film of its own. Accepting the look of cheap materials like cardboard and campy costumes generated the style, merging 3D and 2D styles as well (costume characters vs cardboard cutouts). The design choices overall were inconsistent, but the urge to pay homage to “the campy classics” through pure absurdity by design, such Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla or Mothra, remained intact.
The outcome of this project resulted in a visual experiment of film references more than clearly structured narrative. The story itself became a nonsensical attribute to the overall campiness of the project, with a variety of influences and ideas clashing together. Most importantly, more humor should have been added to help detract from the narrative itself, helping the viewer simply enjoy the ride rather than over analyze intent.
- Discuss the successes and failures of your choices.
- Successes: Our choice to film using a rubber rat and a hamburger in the lab scenes was quite effective in any of our progressive tones (going from B-movie homage to tongue-in-cheek to outright comedy). The dialogue works on some levels, as do the edits to the footage of the costumed character fight. The boardroom scene is similarly flexible and so worked no matter what our tone by the expedient of redubbing (since it was too dark to see any lips). In the end the cardboard city was a success though difficult to key.
- Failures: The fight scene was made specifically for a serious B-movie type tone, and so when we were pushed towards a less serious tone we had to do a lot of work which may not have been overly effective in shifting the tone. In addition, the tone changed after a lot of scripting had been done, so there were only so many jokes that could be added. Our scriptwriter is strongest in surreal, slapstick, and Mark Twain style monologues, so snappy reference-based humor with enough low tones to keep a casual audience engaged was a challenge given that the monster scenes could not be re-filmed to heighten the parody (ex. slapfights, strange objects entering and leaving, monsters going off for a break on camera, and other amusing asides, including a scene in which we tell the editor to ‘watch the lip sync’ followed by a pair of oversized rubber lips slowly sinking into a pool of water in both a reference to Freakazoid and visual humor).
- City – John Choi
- Lab – Paul Calhoun, John Choi
- Boardroom – Justin Abel, Sam Day
Post-Production – Toya Rosuello, Paul Calhoun, Justin Abel
- Procurement: John Choi, Paul Calhoun
- Mixing – Justin Abel, Paul Calhoun
- John Choi
- Fight Scene
- Toya Rosuello, John Choi, Paul Calhoun
- Hamburger Scene
- Justin Abel, Paul Calhoun
- Paul Calhoun
Animation – Sam Day
Script – Paul Calhoun
- General – John Choi
- Advisor – Paul Calhoun
- Councillors – John Choi, Paul Calhoun, Toya Rosuello, Justin Abel
- Radio Announcer – John Choi
- Narrator – Paul Calhoun
- Fight commentators – Paul Calhoun, John Choi
- Robot – John Choi
- Giant Rat – Paul Calhoun
- US Office of War Information Music (Public Domain)
- Freesound.org: http://freesound.org/
- Mecha from user Syna-Max http://freesound.org/people/Syna-Max/sounds/54984/
- Monster from user Sea Fury http://freesound.org/people/Sea%20Fury/sounds/48674/
- Robot destruction from user nsstudios https://www.freesound.org/people/nsstudios/sounds/321107/download/321107__nsstudios__robot-or-machine-destroy.wav
- Shockwave explosion from user benjaminharveydesign https://www.freesound.org/people/benjaminharveydesign/sounds/366091/download/366091__benjaminharveydesign__huge-explosion-part-1-shockwave.aiff
- Pixabay Backgrounds (Licensed CC0): https://pixabay.com/
- Cityscape from user muellers https://pixabay.com/en/pittsburgh-bridge-cityscape-yellow-477768/
- Cityscape from user muellers https://pixabay.com/en/pittsburgh-cityscape-bridge-477769/
- Cityscape from user Roselie https://pixabay.com/en/america-pittsburgh-bridge-holiday-2053302/
- Detonation Films (Royalty free):
- Free explosion effects: https://www.detonationfilms.com/
- Incompetech.com (purchased rights)
- YouTube (royalty free and creative commons)
- Boxing bell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI1sE70qrKU
- Crashes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qms2piYk5uQ
- Explosions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yh-f_i9BTo
- City Ambience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYDz1-CXhFc
- Footsteps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5lUCUwPmaQ
- Missile Launch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGgvuDyIm6g
- Fireworks 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF8G1VdKCCg
- Fireworks 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB0bDgCirnY
- Blasters and Lasers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve3onyNifVw
- Laser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuOc3wQB4Aw
- Sci Fi Ray Gun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9DnXEGDGj4
- Geiger Counter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BVckjdZlK4
- Neon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H47JD476sY
- Hum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpa4KKQddWw
- Piper: Augustin von Moersperg
- Please provide references or links to related work.