Abiogenesis Animated short

In this breathtaking science fiction spectacle, a strange mechanical device lands on a desolate world and uses the planet to undergo a startling transformation, that has profound implications for an entire galaxy.

( ButterflyNetRender was used in the production of this animated short! )




Format:            35mm Colour
Sound    :            Dolby Digital
Running Time:        4 min 21 sec
Aspect:            2:35:1 (Scope)
Year of Production:        2011
Country of origin:        New Zealand


In this breathtaking science fiction spectacle, a strange mechanical device lands on a desolate world and uses the planet to undergo a startling transformation, that has profound implications for an entire galaxy.


I started working on the robot that is the main character in this film, when I first started teaching myself 3D animation in 1998. I then developed it further as part of my first 3D animation job, making it into a showpiece for a technology company.

A few years later, while I was working on an animation contract for NASA, I was inspired by animations for their Mars Rover missions. I thought it would be fun and original to make my own robot into something like NASA’s Mars Rover probe, but let my imagination run wild as to what the robot would do once it lands on the planet.


In 2007 I started full time work on my film, supporting myself using funds I had saved from my freelance animation work. I knew the film could take me years to finish, so I switched to using Lightwave 3D® by NewTek as my main 3D animation software. Lightwave was the most affordable software for me at the time, that could do everything I needed to make the film. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be the most stable and user friendly 3D animation package I had ever used.

I re-modelled my robot to accommodate for some major new features it would need to accomplish its mission, then spent over a year on the animatic stage. This was the stage were I created the entire film using only very low resolution models and quick preview renders. I made the film many times over in this rough animatic form, trying to work out exactly how the action should unfold, and finding the best edit and camera points for this action.

The animatic gave me my shot list that I then spent about another two and a half years working up into the final shots. I used Pixologic’s Zbrush® to help model and texture some of the details along with some third party plugins for Lightwave. Adobe After Effects® was used extensively for colour correction and compositing effects in the final stages of production.


Justin Doyle, Michelle Child, and Dave Whitehead (who’s previous work includes sound design for the films District 9, King Kong, etc), took on the Sound Design for the film. It was an incredible experience to discover how much their sound design contributes to film, and to have such amazing talent work on my film. It completely enhanced everything and brought the film to life.

At about the same time that these people were creating the Sound Design, Rhian Sheehan started work on the Music. Shortly after seeing the unfinished film, Rhian had composed musical sketches that were bringing real power and emotion to the film. As part of a final composition Rhian recorded members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. His final score added so much depth and really made the ending of the film work.


To finish with, Weta Digital transferred the film to 35mm film and we did the final sound mix at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

Thanks to this dream team that worked on the sound and music, plus re-recording mixer Gilbert Lake, the final Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix is awesome. The people and facilities at Park Road Post were a privilege to work with, I could not have finished the film on a higher note.


Richard Mans: I freelanced in animation for several years until I had saved enough money from the business to work full time on this short film Abiogenesis. These funds also covered all my post production costs. Abiogenesis is my first short film.

While making this short film I have discovered a real desire to continue
making films. I hope to explore this further in the future.


Design, Funding, and Animation:        Richard Mans

Sound Design:                     Justin Doyle, Michelle Child, Dave Whitehead

Music:                        Rhian Sheehan

Re-recording Mix Facility:            Park Road Post Production


Maui Film Festival 2012 : Audience choice Award for Best Animated Short Film

PREMIERE STATUS (This film has screened at the following events)

19th Raindance International Film Festival: London, UK
56th Valladolid International Film Festival: Valladolid, Spain
VFX Minds: Los Angeles
SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Computer Animation Festival: Hong Kong
Cinequest 22: San Jose, U S A
36th Cleveland International Film Festival: Cleveland, U S A
Florida Film Festival: Florida, U S A
Be Film: New York, U S A
38th Seattle International Film Festival: Seattle, U S A