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HENRi May Not be Evil, But He May be the Spiritual Successor of 2001's HAL 9000

By Rob Payne | Trade News | February 13, 2013 | Comments ()


As much as I love sharing microscopically budgeted and totally independent media projects with Pajiba readers, especially those we can help fund right now, it's inevitable that some slip through the cracks. Seriously, try navigating around Kickstarter with no idea what you're looking for - finding something that both sparks your interest and could feasibly be made under the creators' parameters isn't a piece of cake or too terribly fun. So it's nice when the creators come to you directly* in order to get the word out. Such was the case recently with director Eli Sasich's upcoming sci-fi short film, HENRi.

Like C before it, and 2001: A Space Odyssey well before that, HENRi is another modern science fiction project utilizing the techniques of old school special effects wizards like Stan Winston (RIP) and Ray Harryhausen (still very much alive at 92 years young). Naturally there are models and miniatures for spaceship exteriors and interiors, and a few life-sized sets for the minimal amount of scenes involving flesh and blood actors, but quite a bit of the new short seems to utilize stop-motion animation (or, go-motion, I never know which is industry standard) to tell its temporally brief story. That story is about the lost science vessel the Pythagoras, but not its crew; rather the disembodied, still-living human brain that powers all of the ship's functions. Let me repeat that: A human brain, removed from its human body, is the energy source of a space ship.


While the brain's memories are intended to be wiped, it also appears to be the basis for an A.I. interface. HENRi, standing for Hybrid Electronic/Neuron Responsive Intelligence is the name of the overall concept and the device that performs this techno-organic power source. When the crew of the Pythagoras, as embodied by ship's captain Margot Kidder (Superman), dies, HENRi (played by 2001's very own Keir Dullea) begins to become sentient and eventually comes to the existential need for a new body. How this artificial intelligence comes to be its own Dr. Frankenstein and Monster is where all those retro filmmaking techniques come into play, and if that conceit doesn't excite your gray matter then maybe these behind-the-scenes videos will.

The Original Kickstarter Campaign

Behind the Scenes 1

HENRi -- Behind the Scenes Video 1 from Eli Sasich on Vimeo.

Behind the Scenes 2

Behind the Scenes 3

Intrigued, yet? I know I am. The good news is that HENRi is already financed and completed, so you don't need to open your wallets just yet. The short will drop online for free a minimal cost** in a little less than two weeks on February 25th, the same day as the full trailer, but there's already swag available should you end up loving it. As it happens, the Pajiba review of the film should go up that day, as well. What a coincidence!

* Or come to Dustin, who then comes to you.

** Update: Mea culpa. HENRi will be available for download and Blu-Ray/DVD when it's released at, according to Sasich, "a very low price." Sorry for any confusion!

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He's pretty sure Keir Dullea as a non-murderous A.I. will be one of the most inspired casting decisions ever.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Daisy

    Sounds pretty cool. I'll have a look.

  • Basement Boy

    Hooray for Harryhausen!

  • pissant

    (or, go-motion, I never know which is industry standard)

    I didn't look this up, so I may be a little rusty, but...

    Stop-motion animation is often referred to as "claymation". Go-motion is a stop-motion technique pioneered by some people & ILM, and a famous example is the AT-ATs in the Hoth battle in The Empire Strikes Back. Regular films (at least 24 fps films, anyway) have slight blur in frames where something is moving. Stop-motion doesn't have this because the figures aren't actually moving, just being posed. That is why stop-motion looks strange to us (that, and you're witnessing a snowman with Burl Ives voice move on its own). Go-motion introduces the blur in stop-motion by moving a figure from position-A to position-B while the frame is exposed (using computers to move an armature). That is why the AT-AT's movement appears much smoother than regular stop-motion animation.

  • pissant

    Oh, wow...OK, I reread what you wrote. It occurs to me that you might already know everything I just wrote.

    Sorry, I used to go pretty nuts on stop-motion stuff when I was a kid.

  • Ah ha. I had a feeling they weren't interchangeable. Thanks!

  • John G.

    The brain in my machine is glowing with excitement about this. The digital revolution was supposed to bring me more never-before-seen sci-fi. How strange that the first one in a long time that I'm actually excited about it would use miniatures and stop-motion, strange and awesome!

  • Mrs. Julien

    A spasm of despair shook the robot's body as he turned.

    Come on," he droned, "I've been ordered to take you down to the bridge. Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge.
    Call that
    job satisfaction? 'Cos I don't."

  • John G.

    <--------speakin my language

  • lowercase_ryan

    ooooo very cool

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