On Monday evening I had the pleasure of attending the Fantastic Fest filmmakers spotlight.  For those of you who don’t know what Fantastic Fest is, let me offer a quick description.  Fantastic Fest is the largest “genre film” festival in the United States and it’s the creation of Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.  Dell and our graphics partner AMD sponsored the “Next Wave” competition for budding new directors in genre filmmaking.  Eight directors from around the globe participated in the competition.  Matt Johnson from Toronto, Canada and director of the film “The Dirties,” won the award for best picture.  As part of the award, he will be given a Dell Precision M6800 Covet mobile workstation with AMD’s FirePro™ M6100 graphics, designed and certified for professional high-end film production and editing, so Matt can use a filmmaking tool that is as cutting edge as the films he brings to life.


Dell, AMD and Arts+Labor also powered a short film project called the “Fantastic Corpse.”  Based on the exquisite corpse concept, five of the Next Wave film directors jointly prepared a short film where each director was given 4 hours to create a 1-2 minute portion of an 8 minute short film.  But here is the catch.  Each director was only permitted to see the 1-2 minute portion of the film that was created by the preceding director, before he wrote the script and shot his contribution.  All through the process, Arts+Labor used Dell Precision workstations to meld the individual pieces into a highly polished and very professional final version of the short film.  The film was produced and edited on Dell Precision T5610 and T7610 tower workstations powered by AMD FirePro™ W5000 and W8000 professional graphics cards running Adobe® Premiere® Pro CC and After Effects CC and was premiered at the awards ceremony.

 

One of my favorite stories came from Arts+Labor director and principal, Erik Horn.  Since there was often less than an hour to jumpstart each director with the material they would base their contributions upon, there was not a lot of time to spare on niceties.  In one case, Erik had to drive one of the directors in his car from the Fantastic Fest to the filming location while one of the video editors on Erik’s staff was prepping the director (in the back seat) using one of our Dell Precision mobile workstations playing the rough cut.  The fast performance of the Dell Precision workstations with AMD FirePro graphics was crucial to ingest and render the footage quickly as well as to edit footage and build motion graphics smoothly and efficiently.

 

I also learned that everyone involved in the production of the short film – from directors, to actors, to other staff – completely loved the process.  One of the directors, shouted after his contribution was completed, “I love my life!”  And finally, the film left post-production with just over an hour before it was to be presented in a packed auditorium at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline.  Given the short deadline, there was no time for final conversion to a traditional cinema format. So the short was projected onto the massive screens at the Alamo Drafthouse theater directly from a Dell Precision workstation.

All in all, it was an amazing night and an amazing experience.  The performance that Dell Precision workstations enables completely took the concept of exquisite corpse to the next level.