We here at Chaos Group love student shorts for their inventiveness, and their ability to show us a new take on familiar worlds, or build new ones. A big part of the fun is seeing future directors and artists explore filmmaking and effects, and V-Ray, our rendering software, has been behind a number of impressive student shorts. Here we’d like to share a few of our favorites.

Roommate Wanted, from The Animation Workshop in Denmark, tells a story every student can relate to: the roommate from hell. What makes this worse is that the cohabitee in question is a zombie – another element most students can relate to.

While the off-kilter story combines black humour and slapstick, it’s Roommate Wanted’s claymation aesthetic which makes it stand out. It feels like something its creators would have poured hours into, thanks to the notoriously painstaking nature of stop-motion animation.

“V-Ray allowed us to have flexibility between a raytraced, globally illuminated environment, and easy to create but effective shading networks for stylized look dev.”

So viewers will be surprised to learn that it was made almost entirely on a computer, with V-Ray rendered CG characters over a hand-crafted backdrop. The team even created a script which added random fingerprints on the pseudo-clay character models, to make it convincingly real.

Another odd couple features in Supinfocom ArlesAscension, which features two climbers attempting to take a statue of the Virgin Mary to the summit of a mountain in the French Alps. It doesn’t quite go according to plan as one of the climbers keeps losing his prosthetic appendages, and a pesky vulture tries its best to stop them reaching the top.

Ascension’s depiction of the French Alps is so inviting you can practically feel the crunch of the snow under your feet and see your breath hanging in the air. V-Ray was crucial in creating this blinding vision of the mountain tops. “We wanted a very stylized but realistic look,” says Thomas Bourdis, the film’s co-director. “V-Ray allowed us to have flexibility between a raytraced, globally illuminated environment, and easy to create but effective shading networks for stylized look dev.”

Also from Supinfocom Arles comes A la Française. This short depicts the life of the bourgeoisie – with the big difference that the inhabitants of the extravagant manor house are chickens rather than posh people. What begins as a sophisticated party quickly descends into chaos.

We’re not the only ones who liked it – the Academy were fans, and it received an Oscar nod for best short film in 2014. It’s easy to see why it was picked up: it’s an easily recognisable, but it taps into a rich vein of anarchic humour. It helps that it looks beautiful, too, with just the right mix of cartoony proportions and colours, and more realistic design and lighting.

This is just the tip of the sub-surface-scattered iceberg in terms of the short films Chaos Group has been involved with since V-Ray version 1.0. We’re excited, too, to see what entrants of The Rookies submit, and how they make use of cutting-edge technology like V-Ray. Short films are brilliant – and long may they continue to be so.

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