This Sci-Fi Short Is So Beautiful You’ll Forget It Was Created to Promote a Video Game Company

A humanoid robot—or something that looks very much like one—awakes in an unfamiliar prison. The screen built into its chest gives its name as Adam Thorpe. Below that, in much larger font, a block of text reads “Felony Code 227900.” Adam, if that is the robot’s name, seems baffled by its mechanical body. Still, the eyes that peer out from beneath its face are strangely human.

These are the opening moments of the gorgeously animated short science fiction film “Adam.” Like so many other contributions to the genre, what follows is more the promise of a story than a fully fleshed-out narrative. Many of the themes on display—body swaps, future criminality—will be familiar to those who’ve watched other recent sci-fi shorts such as “Trial” and “Uncanny Valley.” At just under six minutes, there’s little room to elaborate on the many questions it poses, but the enigmas are deeply engaging, at times approaching almost Miyazakian levels of surrealist beauty.

What’s all the more impressive about “Adam,” though, is that it was created in Unity, a cross-platform game engine. Unity has been widely used by independent game developers to design projects such as the acclaimed Firewatch and That Dragon, Cancer. The system has also been deployed in mobile game development, contributing to popular titles such as Fallout Shelter and Angry Birds 2. Though Unity’s strength has always been its flexibility, little in these games would have led one to expect the elegantly rendered visuals that “Adam” shows off.

Unity itself created “Adam” as a preview of its own upcoming products, meaning that what we’re looking at here is very much a tech demo, albeit an impressive one. The company explains that its team “developed custom tools and features on top of Unity including volumetric fog, a transparency shader and motion blur to cover specific production needs.” The work clearly paid off, leaving us with a world so richly textured that it’s easy to forget the film’s technical underpinnings while you’re watching.

(via Boing Boing)