The Christmas message from Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

On Christmas Eve 1945, a single bell rang out across the atomic wasteland of Nagasaki. For all who heard it, it was an incredible message of hope that resurrection was indeed possible.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly important scene in our film.

From the director’s blog:

The sequence required two actors to unearth a cathedral bell that has been buried beneath a pile of rubble (from the atomic blast) and to then raise it on a make-shift stand, with the scene ending on the bell ringing out once more across the wastelands of Nagasaki on Christmas Eve night.

It’s a very important scene in the film (and a very symbolic one) so we spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas for how we were going to pull this off. After rendering some test footage with a computer generated 3D version of the bell, we decided to opt for a far more traditional technique.

Model miniatures have been used in the field of film special effects since the very beginning; in fact, one of the iconic images from the early film period is a still from George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – which shows the man in the moon with the rocket stuck in his eye. The effect was achieved with the use of miniatures.

Concept art for George Melies' A Trip to the Moon - 1901

Concept art for George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – 1901

Maybe the most magical aspect of miniatures is that, even today, with the stunning photo-realism that can be achieved with CGI, miniatures are still very much part of the special effects tool box, and indeed, in many cases, the best tool for the job.

In our case, the miniature was shot against a greenscreen and was then composited into a CGI rendered backdrop with the two actors (also shot against greenscreen) – so it was very much a case of traditional and modern FX techniques working together to achieve our effect.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

As it appears in the scene

As it appears in the scene

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

Below are more stills from the scene when the bell rings out for the first time since the bombing.

A Christmas message rings out

A Christmas message rings out

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve released the new trailer on our Facebook Page too.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from team ATR!


The aftermath sequence takes shape…

As we prepare to film more scenes next week, the footage from the previous shoots is taking form in the edit suite…

Takashi (Leo Ashizawa) confronts the destruction, aided by Nurse Hashimoto (Leila Wong)

Takashi (Leo Ashizawa) confronts the destruction, aided by Nurse Hashimoto (Leila Wong)


Vera Fenlon’s special make-up FX helps bring the horrors of the atom bomb to life.

Actress Michelle Yim portrays a victim of the bombing.

Actress Michelle Yim portrays a victim of the bombing.

Nicholas Lue-Fong plays Makoto

Nicolas Lue-Fong plays Makoto

Matron Hasimoto (Kaya Yuzuki) and Nurse Hashimoto (Leila Wong) coming to terms with the horrors of the A-bomb

Matron Hisamatsu (Kaya Yuzuki) and Nurse Hashimoto (Leila Wong) coming to terms with the horrors of the A-bomb

Nicholas Lue-Fong plays Makoto

Nicolas Lue-Fong as Makoto Nagai

Fat Man is conceived – video clip

Below is the scene where Prof. Peierls writes up the memorandum which lays out the details necessary to construct a super bomb. This information would lead to the building of Fat Man, the atom bomb which destroyed Nagasaki.

The clip is pre-sound mixed

Our Indiegogo campaign is going great, thanks to everyone who has so generously contributed! Check it out by clicking the link below!


From design to final shot – a look at the special effects.

FX shot
Dream sequence in ‘All That Remains’ where Takashi Nagai comes face to face with the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

These last couple of weeks, our main focus in the edit room has been FX work – turning concept art into convincing special effect shots and recreating iconic scenes from archive photos.

Most of the “digital set pieces” are a mix of photographic, live action and computer generated 3D elements.

For the dream sequence pictured at the top of this post, a 3D model of “Fat Man” – the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was rendered to match the exact angle and lighting of the shot. Below, the Fat Man model is prepared for a final render.

A 3D model of "Fat Man"

All the elements for each shot were composited in PhotoShop, the shots were then completed in Adobe After Effects (an industry standard visual effects software) for coloring and final blending of all the elements.

For the shot illustrated above, we worked from an archive photo and built up the atom bombed landscape using a mixture of photographic material and 3D renders. Actor Leo Ashizawa was filmed in the greenscreen studio and superimposed into the scene to recreate an iconic photo of Dr. Nagai.

The above post was originally published on Life Through a Digital Lens .

 As we push on with the final leg of the filming, we’ve decided to launch another crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, to help cover the costs of getting the last few scenes in the bag.

As we always say, every dollar/pound really goes a long way, so if you can spare a few bob and fancy seeing your name included in the final credits, why not head over to Indiegogo now?


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.

We’re packing…

We’re currently packing our bags and making last minute preparations for our trip to Japan. It’s going to be a very busy 10 days but we’re very excited at the thought of all the great footage we’ll come back with.

Alongside prepping for the Japan trip, we’ve started work on filming some of the extra scenes, focusing mainly on one of the most demanding and technically difficult sequences – the war scenes in China, where Dr. Nagai witnessed the horrors of war first hand and found himself turning to God for the comfort and strength he needed to survive.

Below are a few stills from the China war sequence we’ve just finished work on.

Stills from battle sequence

The horrors of war had a profound effect on Dr. Nagai, so we feel it important to depict these scenes as authentically as we can.