About the winner...

Meet the team behind the winning film Quantum Daughter

What kind of brilliant, crazy people would come up with a film like Quantum Daughter? The plot features banana-shaped quantum computers and the daughter of Ernest Rutherford, one of the grandfathers of modern physics, hopping between parallel universes. The three-minute film is stop-motion animation and the sound-track is a perfect fit. We asked the team behind the film Quantum Daughter to tell us about themselves and how they made the movie.

Q&A

How did you come up with your creative scientific storyline?

Chris: I had a bad experience with my internet provider when I was trying to bundle my mobile phone account together with my internet account. It was a nightmare because, even though I'd been in the shop several times and they had photocopies of my ID, on that particular morning I didn't have quite enough ID points.

So when I was thinking of an idea for the competition I thought I'd try to show some of my interest in how amazing a quantum computer might be, and this interest, coupled with my experience of not having enough ID points to bundle my phone together with my internet account, sort of suggested a quantum computer mobile phone account with someone trying to get enough ID points from parallel versions of themselves by using a parallel universe app.

That's quite a leap. Do you have any scientific background?

Chris: I did OK in physics at high school but I did writing and literature at university. I've always had an interest in science and I love popular science books by authors such as Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, and many others including the amazing Lisa Randall, so to have a positive comment from her is really hard to believe. If she ever reads this, I'd like her to know I'm one of her many fans and her writing has really inspired me. I don't think there's a prize that would mean as much to me. I've read new Scientist for 20 years.

How did you make the film?

Chris: The filming was done over about a four week period. It took a while to sculpt the characters. I sculpted and cast the alien in polyester resin, and I lit it with reading lamps. Actually, I sculpted two versions of the alien. I casted one in glow-in-the-dark resin. It was going to be in the film, but didn't make it. Now it's on my bookshelf, glowing away. I mostly bought supplies from my local newsagent, and some colour pencils from a $2 shop nextdoor.

I had a camera that kept breaking down. You can actually see when the camera died on the film: that jerky animation in the cut away to the creatures holding up signs. So I had to buy another camera. Once I had a camera that worked it was like turbo boost in the old TV show Night Rider. The preproduction probably went for a month and a half or longer.

Phil: Quantum Daughter's original sound track comprises sound made with an old early-Eighties MG-1 Moog, orchestral string instruments, and a few virtual synth instruments. I have been working a lot lately with a professional string instrument library, writing original music for a feature film. I wanted to merge a “classical” music style with analogue synth sounds into the film to emphasize and exaggerate the drama and also to express the mathematics equations that run through the film. Scientists and mathematicians frequently reflect upon various equations and theorems as elegant. The analogue synthy stuff is for the crazy sci-fi aspect.

For animation buffs, can you give us some technical details?

Chris: My starting camera was a Canon EOS 1100D and I replaced it with a Canon EOS 600D. My frame rate changed, it was sometimes 15 frames per second, 24 or 29 depending on the shot. I used Stop Motion Pro software.

Are you professional film-makers?

Chris: A little bit, I've done some practical Special FX work in some low budget films and on plays. But I've always been interested in animation and I want to go into it more and more. At the moment I'm supporting myself working in hospitality. I've written several novels that I'm trying to get published, and I'm trying to develop animated books.

Phil: Over the last 18 to 20 years, I have done a lot of collaborative work on sound and music for films, TV series, installations, band projects, theatre, etc. The sound and music for Quantum Daughter was done over the space of a month off and on in my spare time. It's great working with like-minded individuals like Chris - it keeps things fun and interesting.

Megan: When Chris asked me to do the Voice of Elaine Rutherford, I was rather chuffed. I had never acted or done a voice-over before. I really love the script and found it difficult at times to not crack up laughing. Jokingly, I'd be like: “so what's my motivation?” to which Chris would reply to the effect of: “you're traveling through the multi-verse with an advanced quantum banana phone, you meet your father in another universe but who's not your father in the one you are currently in…” Ha ha, need I say more? I read lots of stories to kids so I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the project and telling a good story, however surreal!

Chris: Maybe I should add that it's my voice doing the alien's voice. That's with a lot of FX on it. We were laughing a lot doing that. It was a fun film to make and I don't think we ever dreamed that it was likely that other people would like it and that it would get anywhere in this competition.

Editor's note: One of the other two voice artists has a performance background. Tim Denton, based in Melbourne, is the co-director of AboutFace Productions and is well known as a designer, performer, teacher and director in the arts on projects as diverse as community events, schools programs, TV, Film, theatre, parades and street performance. With 30 years of professional experience, he has been highly acclaimed as an image-maker, puppeteer, mask, and physical theatre performer and has toured nationally and internationally to major festivals and theatre venues. Steve Fresser, or Dr Stephen Fleischfresser, is a casual academic in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne. He also describes himself as an avid science-fiction reader, wannabe sci-fi writer and horror-film addict.

Is there a story behind your team name?

Chris: The name Glenk comes from a scientist character who appears in my books.

What next?

Chris: I gave Phil some of the prize money and he bought a great microphone to record voices on our next project. A new film I'm making has much more elaborate animatronic puppets, and I put the rest of the prize money towards buying the computer animation program Maya. I really want to combine animatronics, animation, literature and film.

Thanks for sharing your story with us! We loved the outcome.