Amazing student created trailer for Rendezvous with Rama


46 Responses to “Amazing student created trailer for Rendezvous with Rama”

  1. TimInBC says:

    Phil, we may have minor quibbles but these are both excellent works. I should have said so the first time.

    • Phil Mahoney says:

      Tim – I hear what you’re saying, but as a wise man once said, “Sound is 51% of the picture”. Imagine all of the space battles in Star Wars without sound. Would they have the same impact? Maybe I’m biased because I’m a sound designer, but I think filmmakers need some leeway in order to make a more entertaining experience for the viewer. My job, and my passion, is to make people weep, scream & laugh with my sound design and music. Entertainment should never be held back by scientific realities. Sometimes you need to just let go and enjoy…

  2. Sceadugenga says:

    If they make a theatrical release, someone’ll force them to put in a monster who kills off the crew one by one until the hero blows it up in a giant explosion with a ring coming out of it for some reason.

    The absence of anything like that is what makes the story good.

  3. Attila says:

    My biggest problem is with what they actually say in the trailer – namely that the Rama was heading for Earth and that it was sent specifically to us by its creators. I think that’s a huge violation of one of the basic principles of the novel, namely that it was just chance that it was traveling through our solar system and had nothing to do with us, and that we as species got the incredible chance to glimpse into this completely alien artifact. If it were specifically packaged for humanity, that’d be a huge glitch in the logic – it doesn’t show any signs of FTL capabilities, so it would have had to be prepared and sent long before humans even evolved…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Too bad Morgan Freeman has the rights. It’ll never get made.

  5. The Tonic says:

    Love this book …. Last I heard, the film rights were owned by Morgan Freeman. Looks like his plans to write and produce an adaptation have fallen through:

    • jeligula says:

      Yeah, that’s what I heard too, Tonic. Too bad for us, I guess. Thanks for posting, Craig. I hadn’t seen this trailer before and it was great. I still say that it is SciFi and not Syfy, however, but that’s just my pet peeve.

  6. BDiamond says:

    I’d like to see someone throw a bunch of money at Aaron Ross to develop Rama into a full-length project. Provided he can deliver, that is. His trailer is all kinds of awesome.

    Really disliked the voiceover on the “remix.”

  7. snakedart says:

    I want to know why, if something this polished can be created by a few fans for next to nothing, Mr. Engler’s money-flushed network consistently puts out the likes of “Mongolian Death Worm”.

  8. kromelizard says:

    The Rama novels were the books that taught me the valuable lesson that persevering through a terrible novel is worth precisely nothing. As bad as Clarke is at characterization is, at least he isn’t burdened with Gentry Lee’s bizarre aggravating casual conservative misogyny.

    • jeligula says:

      Good observation on Lee’s misogyny, krom. Imagine the hubris it takes to write the poetry of a teenaged Mexican girl as imagined by a middle-aged, white NASA engineer. Based on this, the bad engineering was acceptable. The bad soap opera and even worse poetry were unforgivable. The original novel that Clarke gave us was brilliant, though.

  9. ogvor says:

    If this is the kind of movie general manager and senior vice president of Syfy digital would like to see, then why isn’t SyFy making this kind of movie? I loved Battlestar Galactica, but since that show, I’ve yet to see any serious Science Fiction from your channel (I admit to not having seen Caprica yet).

    With movies like Moon and Cargo being made at super low budgets, why can’t SyFy fund some truly visionary independent Science Fiction directors or writers once or twice a year instead of movies like Mega Piranha?

    • macrumpton says:

      I met someone who had asked a SyFy exec why they were endlessly showing crap like Ghost hunters and wrestling, when good shows like “Dresden Files” are canceled after one season. They said a programming disagreement became a pissing match between two execs and the cancellation was a way of slapping down the loser.

  10. robulus says:

    Ease up on the choir there, sound boys.

  11. Phil Mahoney says:

    Hello Folks,

    This is Phil Mahoney, the sound designer of the piece (the new version, not the original). Thanks to Craig and BoingBoing for posting this, and to everyone for the kind words.

    I studied Sound Design at Vancouver Film School from October 2008 to October 2009. It’s an intense one-year program that teaches you everything you need to know about sound. It was a huge investment in time and money, but I had a great time. I worked hard and got a lot out of it. From day one, the instructors tell you to start looking for a final project. It’s pretty simple: Scour the internet and any other sources you can think of for a 3-4 minute video that you can do the sound for. As in *all* of the sound. You have the chance to breathe life into blank canvas of previously existing video, and tell the story through sound. You do this in the final two months of the program. I looked around and found a few videos that I liked. The only snag is that VFS requires you to get written permission to use the video. I didn’t get my first or second choice. In both cases it was pretty disappointing. But then I found Rendezvous With Rama and Aaron Ross was very generous and forthcoming. He gave me permission, signed the required form and I had the freedom to have a go at it.

    It was an absolute blast recording, editing and mixing all the sound for the film. I also wrote the music – I am primarily a composer and have been scoring for twenty years.

    The truth is, I had never heard of Rendezvous With Rama when I found this film. I knew of Arthur C. Clarke, of course, but 2001 and its sequels were all I was really aware of. When I realized the short film was based on a book, I decided I should probably read it, at least to the point where the film ends. I also tracked down both video games and played them a bit. Armed with all of this knowledge, I was ready to tackle the film.

    It was difficult in some ways though. Aaron intended his piece as a trailer for a film that didn’t exist. I didn’t want my final to be a trailer. By moving the title card from the very end of the film to where it is now, I transformed his trailer into a short film. However – as my instructors informed me, it was still difficult for this piece to stand on its own, especially for people who have never read the book. It ends with everyone wanting to know what happens next. I needed to write a script that would help the story along and complete it as much as I could. I spent a lot of time carefully writing the script. I had to do my best to have a cohesive story, but I also wanted to be faithful to the novel. I kept the names of the characters (in my original credits, which can be seen here: ), but I also changed little things for the sake of the project – keep in mind that this was primarily for school, so I had to cater to my instructors and to the average viewer to some degree. For example, the second door in the film is actually the third in the book – but if I had called it the third, it wouldn’t have made sense. So, I have to apologize if anyone was offended by any of the script changes I made. The changes were by necessity for my purposes, and based on the circumstances, I think the script turned out quite well and I’m proud of it. There’s a good balance of being faithful to the book, and making it a (nearly) complete story for people who haven’t read it.

    I got 91% on my Sound Design final and my instructors at VFS, including award-winning department head Robert Grieve(, deemed my project good enough to feature on the official VFS Youtube and Vimeo channels. It went viral earlier this week when RJ Evans of found it. It has now had more than 41,000 views in the past few days.

    Just another thing about the sound: This is not a “remixed” version. None of the original sound is in there. It’s all my creation. In fact, I didn’t even listen to the original sound until I completed my project.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments – especially the ones that say that Hollywood should hire me. I agree. :) I am actively looking for sound design and composing work. If anyone wants to watch any of my other projects, here is my Youtube channel: . If you like what you hear, please get in touch!

    Phil Mahoney

  12. Anonymous says:

    Nice work Mr. Mahoney.

  13. badvladdy says:

    Here’s the making of video:

  14. davigoli says:

    Wait, isn’t that the start of Star Trek IV? The one with the deep-space cylinder that’s looking for (then-extinct) humpback whales?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The Rama ship is yawing and pitching? WTF?

  16. narrowstreetsLA says:

    OMG get the same people who did Sunshine to do a full version, with Underworld doing the soundtrack, and I’ll be there in a heartbeat!

  17. sloverlord says:

    That is epic. Seriously epic. I actually doubt a Rendezvous With Rama film would perform well at the box office… too much slow-paced investigation, not enough pew pew, but I could see it being a hit as a mini-series on a network with viewers that are into that kind of thing. Hint, hint.

  18. i_prefer_yeti says:

    I refuse to listen to any more mamby-pamby fake spacey-operatic singing until “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is made into a bitchin’ movie.

  19. macrumpton says:

    It makes me mad that there is no movie behind that trailer. Very mad!

  20. xyglyx says:

    The original one was much better than the remix. That voiceover was powerfully lame and made the trailer worse. The only thing I didn’t like about the original was the part where the six astronauts are walking at all different angles through the airlock–that was not in the book, and physically it makes no sense. (If Rama were spinning fast enough to produce one gee at a 5 or 6 meter radius, the coriolis forces would make normal walking impossible.)

    Why hasn’t Rama been made into a movie yet? It would be so much more awesome than the usual “science fiction” crap we are force-fed.

    • NeilFraser says:

      Re #4: Coriolis forces only apply to objects moving up and down, since the astronauts are walking forwards, they would not pose a problem. However you are correct that this makes no sense, since if there’s 1G at a 6 meter raduis, then Rama is spinning at 12 RPM, which would give a nice 1288G at the outer wall (the book indicates an 8km internal radius.

      A more reasonable explanation is that they have magnetic boots.

  21. Anonymous says:

    ya i hate this ya some one tried to make something cool
    ya i hate this ya i could have done so much better
    ya i hate this ya the um sound is not good
    ya i hate this ya um i dont do shit with my life
    ya i hate this there a camera flare i hat those
    ya i hate this bla bla bla bla blas

  22. fnc says:

    That’s nice work but Rama is more fantastic in my mind than CGI could ever make it.

    And I too felt -robbed- after reading Rama II.

  23. Aaron Ross says:

    Hi everyone,

    Aaron Ross here. Since I’m coming to the party late probably only three people will ever end up reading this, but as this film was my baby for two years I feel like I’ve earned the right to say a few words about it.

    I’m sincerely flattered by all the reception my short has received, even more so that Phil and many others over the years have been so inspired by it to give it their own sound and music. It’s also hard for me to know that with all the different versions out there people will experience it for the first time with different sound than I intended. However, when people have asked me to use my film for their own experimentation I’ve always said have at it, because after all this was just my student project and other people should be able to use it for practice themselves. And also because my film doesn’t really belong to me. It belongs to Sir Arthur. Well, technically it belongs to Morgan Freeman. Mr. Freeman, if you’re out there reading this, thanks for not suing!

    With that said, I’d like to clear a few things up.

    I made a definitive choice not to use voice over narration in my version. I felt that much like the majority of 2001: A Space Odyssey, my short should be able to stand on its own without dialogue. It leaves more to the imagination and I believe this to be one of the reasons why people over the years have been so inspired to put their own sound and music to it.

    I intended my film to be a short in its own right and not just a trailer. It can be a trailer if you like it to be, but a title card at the end does not a trailer make.

    With the original sound design we took some artistic liberties over the science, but for all or the most part every sound you hear over a vacuum- engine noise, footsteps, breathing- could be a sound heard over a radio, from inside a ship or a space suit, and many of those sounds were intentionally muffled a bit to give that effect.

    I know I made some scientific goofs. For example, the flare at the end would fly in a straight line at the center axis of Rama and not in an arc. My bad.

    But yes, everyone is most definitely wearing magnetic boots.

    Also since people are wondering, that was Terrence Stamp’s suit from Red Planet. We rented it from the Warner Bros costume department at a special student discount for $200 a week and they shipped it out to my apartment in a giant crate. I wore it around the house a few times, although it was ridiculously hot and uncomfortable. We hooked our own batteries up to it to run the fans inside the helmet, which you can plainly see strapped to the back, but you couldn’t wear the helmet for more than a few minutes or you’d suffocate. I wore it to play a couple extras in the film too, and so did other members of the crew. Yes, there was only one suit. We all took turns wearing it and I multiplied us in post.

    For more you info you can see the making of video here:

    Warm regards,
    Aaron Ross
    Blue Sky Studios, New York

  24. jstueart says:

    I like the original better too. The suspense is undercut by the voiceover. And that choral piece adds the appropriate human voice to the mysterious meeting between the astronauts and the object. The swing of the flare, accompanied by breathing, is all we need before that burst. The voiceover just tells backstory and pre-action giveaways. “Follow me in.” and “I’m going to light it up.” I think the voiceover is nice at the beginning …underplayed…but I still prefer the one without a backstory.

    I know Mahoney is a Sound Design student, but so much of the film’s sounds were there already–the breathing, the sound of the ship, the flare. I feel like he didn’t add that much “sound” to tweak an already great movie that already relies more on sound than Mahoney’s does. Mahoney’s biggest groundbreaking addition to the film is the voiceover.

    And for me, as with Bladerunner, the better film is without the voiceover.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Were those spacesuits left over from Red Planet?

  26. EricT says:

    The Vancouver film industry was subsidised by Canadian Tax dollars and destroyed the Seattle Film industy in the Late 80s
    And they still clear cut whole trees to sell to Japan
    Where was NAFTA in the late 80s
    A pissed off Grip/Electrician whose blood still boils at the 1 way border

  27. EricT says:

    But it is a cool trailer nonetheless

  28. Prairie says:

    I need to go back and read Rama again. Both projects were great IMO. The original film had imagery that brought me right into space and into the story, even though it has been at least 20 years since I read it.

    It is too bad that there isn’t currently a movie in the works. I’d like to see it in 3D.

    I liked the voice over. The only part that seemed off to me was the breathing when the crew is entering the Rama. It sounded like someone doing a Darth Vader impersonation. ;) The last line “Everything” and just ending then were well done.

    Both films left me wanting more. And how cool is it that both men commented here? (Answer: Very Cool)

  29. Marcelo says:

    As a professional sound editor in Hollywood, I should point out that voiceover is not considered good “sound design.” Nor is nearly wall to wall music, no matter how synthy and ethereal. The best sound designs are often the quietest ones where strategic targeting of specific sounds helps tell the story instead of the lengthy synth drones and cliched heartbeat-like effects.

    Sorry, it’s a pet peeve. I acknowledge that the video makers did good work, I just loathe when “music + VO” is called “sound design.” Good sound effects editors are worth their weight in gold. :)

  30. Marcelo says:

    To add: upon reflection, IMO the remix has better sound design than the original, which is almost all music. Even with the VO. If it was for a class it’s possible he was required to have some sort of VO/ADR element in the project. But I much appreciated the judicious use of less wall-to-wall music.

  31. jonathan levy says:

    Rendezvous With Rama, and the subsequent trilogy, are some of my favorite SF books. I loved the details describing the octopod society in the sequels. I like the fan film, but think Arthur C Clarke would spin in his grave at the inaccuracies depicted.

    • jeligula says:

      @ Jonathan. ACC was pretty much divorced from the trilogy. Gentry Lee wrote it all on his own with little direction from Clarke. He just provided him with some basic groundwork and Clarke gave it his stamp of approval because it basically followed the direction he wanted to take and had the added benefit that he did not have to bother with the brain-wracking action of actually writing it. Any engineer would spin in his grave based on what Lee wrote and Clarke should have as well, which makes all the books after Rendezvous With Rama nothing more than space opera. Lee knew better, but just had to write, and for that I do not blame him. Any interest in a movie is a good thing. The suspense of discovery would carry it, in my opinion, even with a lack of Matrix action and gore. This trailer captivated me simply because I read the book in 1982 when I was 13 years old and I have never forgotten it. Although it doesn’t fit my mental image that was developed as a teenager, at least it was done. Now, let’s see the movie and write some critiques. It’s either that or make the movie ourselves. I don’t have that kind of clout or money, so I am willing to accept what others can put forward. I want to see the movie, not spin in my grave.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The film looks a little flat. You need to turn down the contrast a bit to blur the Computer Animation and give the film depth.

  33. Anonymous says:

    In the book the door opens by turning the handle counter-clockwise.

  34. TimInBC says:

    Per Hollywood rules, we have sound travelling in vacuum again. Sigh.

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