VFX duo’s kickstarted film about the quest to discover a mythical creature catches Hollywood’s attention, with a little help from V-Ray.
After four years in production, Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma’s short film The Ningyo (Episode One) is finally available on the internet. The passion project has been a labor of love for Ortega and Ma, who used ingenious methods to make a Hollywood-quality film in their own home.
We would render it and it would be like ‘yeah, that looks good, now we need to do 80 digital doubles for the lecture hall. Can V-Ray handle that?’ Bam, it handled it. We kept throwing more and more at V-Ray, and it was great.”
Miguel Ortega, The Ningyo
“What’s funny about it is we didn’t win one single visual effects award until we won at FilmQuest, because a lot of people thought that most of the stuff in the film wasn’t digital, or they thought we spent millions of dollars,” said Ortega. “The irony is that we didn’t have anything. There’s one shot where the actor shuts the camera off himself, because we didn’t have a cinematographer that day. We’re making this at home — you can’t get more indie than that. We just happen to know visual effects.”
The Ningyo has since gone on to earn over 30 festival nominations, including winning Best Fantastic Short at FilmQuest US, Best Sci-Fi Fantasy Short Film and Best Fantasy Film at the GenreBlast Film Festival, Best Cinematography at the HollyShorts Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Something Wicked Film Festival and more.
Following the success of The Ningyo on the festival circuit, Ortega and Ma signed a deal with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the largest entertainment agencies in the world. Soon after, the team confirmed that they had struck a deal with an as yet unnamed studio to adapt the short into a major motion picture. Details on The Ningyo’s next act will be announced in the near future.
Miguel was recently interviewed on the CG Garage podcast. Tune in for an uncensored chat about the making of The Ningyo.