The Elevator Game
Visual development artist, illustrator, compositor, narrative, motion & sound designer
1 3D Artist (also collaborated with narrative writing, concept development)
12 weeks (ongoing)
The Elevator Game is a narrative-driven interactive short film set in modern day East Asia, loosely based on Hong Kong. The film's premise is The Elevator Game, an urban legend popular in East Asia for being a gateway to the spirit world or, conversely, a method to summon spirits to the human world.
Adobe Audition, FL Studio, After Effects, Photoshop, Procreate, Figma, Celtx, Unreal Engine
The story revolves around A, an occult-loving teen girl who wakes up in the middle of a dreamscape with no memory of why and how she got there. Throughout the film, we follow A as she discovers how she got there, and her involvement with the death of a close friend.
This film is a mystery-thriller with horror undertones in a visual exploration of A’s grief as she walks the thin line between memories and reality trying to find her friend in the spirit world. Continue reading to learn more about the process in the making of the project, including narrative, visual, and technical development.
The Elevator Game is an interactive film with a focus on narrative-driven choices through the eyes of two characters, A and B. Throughout the film, the viewer pieces together clues from each character’s point of view as they navigate the spirit world, the elevator game, and B’s cause of death. The film starts off as A wakes up alone in the middle of a desert-like dreamscape with no recollection of how or why she got there. There is nothing for miles, save for a red cross in the far distance. A sees a vision of a girl nearby, accompanied by the sound of an elevator bell. This triggers a short flashback to a brief interaction with her friend, B. When A awakens from the flashback, she accidentally cuts herself on a shard of glass buried in the sand, and blood rains from the sky. She hears the sound of an elevator bell, and sees the vision of the girl again, next to a shelter. In the shelter, A has a flashback of her and B playing the elevator game together. She realises that it was her that encouraged B to play alone first, leading to B’s death. But just how did B die? In this arc, the experience is shown from B’s point of view as she begins the ritual game and encounters a malicious entity disguised as A. After the flashback ends, A is back in the spirit world and the rain has stopped. She comes across items from her past - chrysanthemums, a card, and a stuffed toy, each one triggering different flashbacks that provide her more background on her and B’s pasts, their friendship, and their experience while playing the elevator game. In the final flashback of those items, A remembers playing the game again by herself shortly after B’s death, trying to find her again. She is brought back to the present time at the sound of the elevator bell. After the last flashback, A wakes up on her bedroom floor, leading her to believe it was all a bad dream. However, upon discovering she has no reflection in the mirror, her shock brings her back to the spirit world, where everything has turned to water. As the water rises, she tries to escape to higher ground, but is swallowed by waves. At the last second, she hears the sound of an elevator bell and is pulled to safety by the girl she saw from afar, who is revealed to be B. As A and B reunite, A expresses her regret for causing B’s death and is faced with possible outcomes - staying trapped in the spirit world, leaving unscathed, or lastly, not knowing if she was ever able to leave or not.
My team member and I were experimenting with a cinematic look and feel in UE5, and so we skewed towards conventional film aesthetics instead of a game, through DSLR camera in UE5, convolutional bloom FX, lens flare, chromatic aberration, depth of field, 21:9 cinemascope aspect ratio, film grain, hand held camera shake, and scanned textures.
In order to incorporate polished artwork and easily give the illusion of movement without drawing frame by frame animation, we decided to use puppeting in After Effects, and simulated rain with Cinema 4D. Finally, I composited everything in After Effects, adding VFX and tracking the artwork onto raw footage created in Unreal Engine.