The Seamless Art

The painterly look of All That Remains.

As All That Remains will contain lots of archive material spanning from Pre-World War Two Japan to Post atomic bombing of Nagasaki, a lot of effort is going in to cleaning up and restoring these archive shots, and this work has had an impact on the intended visual style of the movie.
Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins are keen to explore ways of seamlessly blending the archive material that we have with any dramatic reconstruction scenes. Ian Explains, “this way, when we cut to the archive shots, during the dramatic reconstructions, the audience isn’t taken out of the drama, and consequently that vital emotional connection isn’t broken”.

“We have lots of amazing archive footage and we want to use as much as possible, but we like the idea that you can’t always tell what is real footage and what are shots that we’ve re-created on computers,” adds Dominic. “Of course, there will still be times when it’s obviously archive material as some of the footage is so badly damaged, but that’s OK, as it’s also part documentary there will still be moments taken from a retrospective point of view anyway– we just don’t want the drama sequences to be punctuated with the sense of distance from an event, that you get when watching old footage.”

“We always like to push the boat out both visually and from a story telling point of view and  I don’t think there’s been a film shot quite like this before, with different elements  blended together and given this pseudo painterly look – the idea of mixing in real people from the time and real recordings of actual events with the reconstructed sequences using actors and CGI this way feels more natural and the scenes will have much more potency,” concludes Ian.

Below are some more stills showcasing the “painterly look” and how it helps blend the different elements together.

Painterly look

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

Painterly style

You may have noticed there is another link on the menu called Production Hub, which is password protected, well, you may remember when we were running our Indiegogo fund raising campaigns, certain perks promised privileged “peeks behind the scenes” on some of the sequences in progress and other areas of production development/design – well this is where we’ll be posting them.

In fact, we’ve just uploaded a video sequence testing out the painterly/graphic style discussed in this blog – as it is also part of a key sequence in the movie (the atomic bombing) we’re keen to keep it under wraps at this stage, hence it not being posted in the public section of this blog, but for those who purchased the relevant perks, if you haven’t already, you can see it now!

Those who purchased the relevant perks on our indiegogo campaign should have received their passwords to unlock the page.  If you haven’t, then email us here.

You can also check out the personal blog of Ian and Dominic Higgins for more on the techniques and ideas behind the movie.

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The grand design of All That Remains

As we work hard on raising the much needed budget for the drama sequences, there’s an awful lot of other work to be done. The main focus right now is on the script, which is currently being re-worked. As anticipated before our trip to Japan, the interviews and personal experiences we encountered has greatly influenced the drama aspects, but this is just one of many jobs that needs to be done…

The other big job that has to be tackled before we can shoot is the production design and pre-visualisation of certain scenes – that is storyboarding, “pre-visual” artwork and test shots of the special effects. All films require an enormous amount of planning, but a film that deals with epic scenes of war and destruction demands so much more.

Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins always like to envisage a scene before they shoot it and often, at the back of their sets, you’ll find a wall covered in storyboard art.

Storyboards on wall

Storyboards on wall

“Storyboards are vital for working out potential problems before you even pick up a camera”, explains Ian. “But, most importantly, they allow us to convey our vision for a particular scene to all the crew and cast, so everyone knows what to do”.

“The other reason they are so important is they act as check list of shots, when you have to have a certain amount of shots in the bag before the end of day, it’s so easy to miss one or two because things can become a mad blur of activity”, adds Dominic.

Storyboard art

Designing a sequence - A storyboard illustrating the directors vision for a scene

Of course a film such as this is going to require big effect shots, and not just the obvious ones of mass destruction and warfare. “We’re going to recreate a Nagasaki that no longer exists, so there has to be no modern looking buildings in sight”, explains Dominic. “We’re bringing the past back to life so our audience can experience the life of Dr. Nagai and feel that all important connection”.

Nagasaki before the bombing.

Nagasaki before the bombing - FX shot.

Nagasaki after the bombing – FX shot

Nagasaki after the bombing – FX shot.

To create the necessary special effects, “All That Remains” will draw on both cutting edge technology such as computer generated imagery and 3D animation and more old fashioned (and time honoured) techniques such as model miniatures and prosthetic make-up.

Computer generated Urakami Cathedral

Computer generated model of Urakami Cathedral.

Computer generated model of Urakami Cathedral

Another view of the computer generated Urakami Cathedral.

“We’re big fans of mixing mediums, besides it makes it a lot harder to tell how a certain effect was created when you draw on a variety of techniques. Special Effects are the magic tricks of film, if it’s too obvious how an effect is achieved, the illusion is blown and the spell is broken”, enthuses Ian. “The more real the re-constructed sequences feel, the easier an audience will become involved,” points out Dominic.

Pre-visual artwork

Dr. Nagai vs the Fat Man - Pre-visual artwork illustrating a dream scene in "All That Remains".

Amongst the ever expanding pile of production art-work, test FX shots and concept sketches, one thing is clear; we have the makings of a very special and unique tribute to an equally unique and special life of a modern day saint, who endured the unthinkable and left behind a legacy of hope.

Please show your support by heading over to Indiegogo and making a pledge. Every dollar/pound goes a very long way!

Indiegogo link - help make it happen!

Pledge your support today!

Don’t forget, we’re also offering the chance for a few people to own a piece of the movie (and a percentage of any profits the film will make.) Email us here for more info on this special and limited offer.

A message from the heart and the Maria Hibakusha

From day one, we intended this film to be shaped by the people that we would interview, that it would be, as much as possible, Nagasaki itself telling us the story of its heritage and the life story of surely its greatest adopted son. We wanted it to be as personal and real as we could possibly make it.

This is why, the scripting of the drama aspects was kept open for change right up until we returned from Japan and had watched through the hours of interviews that we had captured, and why we’re still in the process of shaping the final draft of the script.

“It’s a fascinating and exciting way to work, “ explained Director Dominic Higgins, “because, even when you’re sitting in the edit room, you don’t quite know where things are going to go.”

“It’s a very organic way of working and the story is telling itself, we’re just fusing the elements together, and then adding modern technology to bring it back to life – and that’s the way it should be for this kind of story”, added Director Ian Higgins.

We were very privileged to have been granted an interview with the Archbishop of Nagasaki, the Most Reverend Joseph Mitsuaki Takami. As the head of the Catholic community in Nagasaki, his voice is crucial to the telling of this story.

 Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami interviewed for "All That Remains".

The Archbishop also introduced us to the “Maria Hibakusha” – the burned head of a statue of Mary from the Cathedral at Urakami. Hibakusha is a Japanese word that literally translates to “explosion effected person” and its scars eerily mirror those of the human victims with its once piercing blue eyes burned out of their sockets. The statue head was one of the most haunting sites that we saw while filming in Japan.

Maria Hibakusha

"Maria Hibakusha" - a silent witness.

In the exclusive video “extra” below, Archbishop Takami explains what the message of Nagasaki is for the world and talks about the Maria Hibakusha.

“All That Remains” Promo store now open!

All That Remains Merchandise shop

Another great way to show your support! - Just some of the great promo products we have in store...

Need a new mouse mat? Or how about a new set of mugs? Are you looking to buy someone a gift?

Well, if you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be interested in knowing that we’ve opened our very own shop and stocked it full with all kinds of products that would make ideal gifts. These are products with one purpose in mind, to promote “All That Remains”.

Once again, every single penny of profit will go into the production of the movie, so could we tempt you with a T-shirt or how about a baseball cap?  After all, there’s nothing like wearing something with pride!

Come in and take a look around today!

http://www.cafepress.co.uk/allthatremains

The Japan experience – Part 1

After an epic 22 hour journey from England to Japan, we took a brief walk around Nagasaki to get a feel for the place, and then had an early night, ready for the busy schedule that awaited us over the next 10 days.

Our first interviews were with Tokusaburo Nagai, the grandson of Dr. Nagai and Fr. Jose Aguilar, an expert on early Christianity in Japan as well as the life of Dr. Nagai. After a look around the small museum dedicated to Dr. Nagai, we set up next door in Nyokodo, the little hut where Dr. Nagai spent the last few years of his life.

Nyokodo today– This is the tiny hut where Dr. Nagai and his two children lived after the atomic bombing.

Takashi in Nyokodo

Takashi Nagai at work in Nyokodo. His body is weak, but his mind and spirit are strong. Perhaps his most remarkable achievement is the sheer volume of books, articles and drawings he produced while confined to a bed.

After so many months researching, it was very strange to be actually sitting in his house, but in order for us to be able to faithfully recreate his story on film; the connection we felt walking in his footsteps was vital.

Our next interview was with Sister Kataoka, a historian with a personal connection to Dr. Nagai – her father was one of his doctors. She came to the interview with mountains of research material to show us. It was a fascinating hour or so.

Next on our schedule was an interview with Archbishop Takami. After the interview, the Archbishop gave us a guided tour of the rebuilt Cathedral. In the shadow of the great cathedral stand several atom bombed scarred statues, silent witnesses to an event that today, we can’t really imagine.

Director Dominic Higgins and producer Joel Fletcher talk with Archbishop Takami on their way to visiting the rebuilt cathedral in Urakami.

The rebuilt Urakami cathedral towers majestically above the trees.

We had an earlier than usual start the next day because we had an 8 hour journey from Nagasaki to Nara ahead of us, where we were to meet Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki”.

We discovered just before leaving for Japan that Nara was celebrating its 1300th anniversary – as the number 13 played such an important part in our previous film, Finding Fatima, we took this as a good omen.

It turned out that our brief stay in Nara would be amongst the most treasured highlights of our entire trip to Japan.

We’ve had many wonderful experiences working on our previous films, but nothing compares to the welcome we received in Nara. On our first night we had a welcome dinner of Traditional Japanese food with Fr. Glynn and the men of “The Glynn club” washed down with Japanese beer and Sake. Unfortunately we had to cut the night a little short as we had to conduct one of our main interviews – with Fr. Glynn!

Fr. Paul Glynn.

Fr. Paul Glynn, author of “A Song For Nagasaki”.

The next morning we were up bright and early to film the Sunday mass, where many of the parishioners had agreed to dress in traditional Kimonos, and in the case of the women, wearing white veils also.

I don’t think any of us has ever heard hymns sung in such perfect harmony as we did in that mass in Nara. There is something very special and pure about the faith of the Japanese Christians we’ve come across in our research, a deep sincerity, which is both humbling and inspiring at the same time, and this is what we witnessed during that mass.

Fr. Paul Glynn gives communion. Note the beautiful headdresses worn by the women.

During the service, Mrs Okada, a local soprano sung “The Bells of Nagasaki” – the theme song to the original 1950 movie based on the life of Dr. Nagai. The performance was stunning and this was among the most emotional moments of our trip.

Soprano Yumiko Okada gives a powerful rendition of “The Bells of Nagasaki”.

We definitely wasn’t expecting what came at the end of the service. First Mrs. Yoshida, who, along with her husband Andy and Fr. Glynn, had helped arrange everything for our trip to Nara, performed a special welcome dance for us, and then we were asked to stand in front of the altar where we were presented with so many wonderful gifts, including an old Noh play mask (Noh is an ancient Japanese form of theatre).

One of the many gifts we received from the people of Nara was this beautiful Noh mask.

Speaking on behalf of Major Oak Entertainment, director Ian Higgins addressed the parishioners, “We came to Japan to tell the story of one man, Dr. Nagai, but now, we realise this is the story of everyone in this church, of every Japanese Christian who ever lived. It is a story of a faith that survived against the odds, a faith that stands as an example to the rest of the world.”

Below Mrs Yoshida performs the traditional dance.

At the end of service we made a special recording of Mrs Okada singing “The Bells of Nagasaki”, for use in our film. We had a farewell lunch with Fr. Glynn and several of the parishioners before a quick shopping spree for traditional Kimonos, to be used as costumes in the movie. Mrs Yoshida kindly offered to come with us (we would have been lost without her!)

We were very sad to leave Nara so soon – but we had a very demanding and tight schedule, so we set off on another 8 hour journey back to Nagasaki.

Director Ian Higgins stands before a monument honoring the memory of the “Hidden Christians” of Nagasaki.

Major Oak meets the Mighty Oak: In Nagasaki's Glover garden, we found a special Oak tree that had been planted to commemorate Nagasaki City’s participation in the UK-Japan Green Alliance 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Anglo/Japanese Alliance. Director Dominic Higgins reads the inscription which states that the tree symbolizes strength, loyalty and longevity.

The making of 26 Martyrs.

“26 Martyrs” is a sort of prequel to “All That Remains” in that it illustrates the Christian heritage of Nagasaki and is one of the stories that inspired Dr. Nagai.

As work on the animated short  draws to a close, we’re busy preparing a promotional trailer! In the meantime though, we thought we’d post a link to this behind the scenes glimpse from the blog of directors Ian and Dominic Higgins.

The making of the 26 Martyrs

Life through a digital lens – a personal perspective on the digital revolution: June 2011.