Exhume, the latest short film from Parts and Labor, is a complex blend of the post-apocalyptic and the pre-war, of remembering and forgetting, of the living and the dead. To strike the exact tone and manufacture effects to perfectly complement the live action, director/writer Dan Kern enlisted Nice Shoes to handle all visual effects and color grading for his brief but poignant film.
Set in the austere rooms of a hazy and unsettled world, Exhume roams back and forth between a psychiatrist's office and the desperate past of a man torn from his lover. As the distraught patient tries to extricate his painful memories, he occasionally encounters his beloved's apparition, flashing seismically before him.
"Because Exhume is about memory and loss, I wanted to push the limits of a handheld long-lens Super 16 aesthetic to create an intimate, almost claustrophobic feel to the story," Director Dan Kern noted. "Nice Shoes built on that intensity with an approach to the effects that felt handmade and blended in perfectly with the dreamy texture of the film's psychology."
"The world of exhume is very post apocalyptic," added Nice Shoes CD Aron Baxter. "The machinery has a very handmade, pre-second-World War feel. We intentionally created the effects to inhabit this world, so we went for a very low-fi, very anti-modern-technology look, which served to unify Dan's vision."
Nice Shoes took an active role from the project's outset, discussing ideas as soon as the script was written and ramping up their efforts at the pre-production stage. As is their custom in projects of this nature, the Nice Shoes team attended the shoot and made recommendations throughout. They began the process of designing some of the VFX - for example, ghost effects and oscilloscope looks - prior to starting on post. With these tasks out of the way, Nice Shoes only had to break down the definitive tasks and refine the VFX to mesh with the actual footage once the film was shot.
Given the memory-erasing subject matter, Nice Shoes sought to tap into the dark side of life. "With a goal to hit exactly the right look and to stay consistent throughout the project, we referenced lots of movies and clips, throwing ideas back and forth to each other," Baxter added. "We went through clips with scan lines, contorted images, and lo-fi recordings, everything, we wanted to capture the perfect analogue feeling."