Short of the Week

The Thomas Beale Cipher

Professor White is close to cracking the notorious, unsolved Thomas Beale Cipher, purported to hide the location of a fortune in gold in this animation by site founder Andrew S Allen.

Permit, if you will, an indulgence with this week’s featured short film pick.

We take seriously the reputation this site has garnered for featuring the highest quality artistic and cinematic short films and animations—it’s the foundation of our audience. Short of the Week was created 4 years ago to fill a niche that at the time was more or less ignored online, however since then the idea of a curatorial culture has emerged to become one of the defining aspects of Web 2.0; so be it through Twitter, Tumblr, or Vimeo Channels, you now have a lot more avenues in which to be exposed to short films online.

Quality must be our ethos therefore, the guiding theme for how we differentiate ourselves and keep you guys as fans. Recognizing that, we’re pretty serious about our selection process; exercising caution when it comes to the requests we get from filmmakers, agents, publicists and marketers.  Sorry for this bout of solemnity, but because we take this—and you—seriously I feel the need to make that request for indulgence today. No objectivity will be found with this week’s pick. This time the film we want to share with you is our own.

***

Site co-founder Andrew—startup guru by day, blogger by night—somehow fits filmmaking in sometime in the late-afternoon. The Thomas Beale Cipher is the highlighted film of the week, and it is his latest and most ambitious animation to date—one that I had the privilege of helping make a reality via a producer role.

The film uses a unique style of rotoscoping to build a flat, graphic, world that that I have yet to see elsewhere. Based on a true legend of the most difficult cipher ever created, the 10 minute film centers on Professor White, cryptographer extraordinaire, who is on the trail of the notoriously uncrackable Thomas Beale cipher—a century-old riddle hiding the location of a fortune in gold that has tormented its pursuers since inception. But White is not alone—shadowy forces are tight on his tail.

After a debut at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival the film spent 8 months touring festivals all around the world. We have had fun seeing it with very enthusiastic audiences in Seattle, New York, Austin and Toronto, but now, rather than drag things out, we felt the hypocrisy had to stop. We are pretty big advocates of putting short films online after all, so the time has come to make it available for web audiences.

This therefore is the online debut of The Thomas Beale Cipher, and the debut of a new series for the site, “Short of the Week Presents” where we feature films that have never been online before and help to coordinate their digital launch. If you have a film that’s looking for a large online audience, check out our submission process.

Short of the Week has never been conceived as a vehicle to promote our own projects, however we are proud of this effort and think it holds up reasonably well with the standards we’ve set. What say you? Is it worthy of our lovingly built web collection? Be the judge, we’d love to hear from you either here or on the film’s Vimeo Page. Andrew and I will of course try to be prompt with questions you might have regarding the film, be it the story, process, or design.

Thank you. Your regularly scheduled short film content will start again Wednesday with a pretty great Short of the Moment.

~
Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • Andy from Beaverton

    Does Professor White and the smoking (hot) woman meet up in a second film at platform seven?

  • http://www.thomasbealecipher.com Andrew S Allen

    You might be on to something, Andy.

  • FilmmakerFred

    Phenomenal guys! Congratulations

  • Tanya Tate

    I’ve never seen anything that looks like that before, the textures were amazing!

  • Vrogels

    You shouldn’t be so apologetic. Its good

  • http://www.thomasbealecipher.com Andrew S Allen

    Thanks for the amazing response.

  • http://francoismathey.be/blog/2011/01/the-thomas-beale-cipher/ Inspirational » Blog Archive » The Thomas Beale Cipher

    [...] on Short of the Week [...]

  • http://www.candlelightstories.com/2011/01/25/6101/ - Candlelight Stories

    [...] director is also a founding member of the Short of the Week web site which has more information about the [...]

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    [...] end tonight’s (unexpectedly brief) column with a short that was sent over by the guys at Short of the Week, a site I visit quite often (at least once a week, get it?) It’s a rotoscope animated short [...]

  • http://www.bluray.reviewtimes.net/blu-ray-reviews/movie-news-after-dark-con-air-2-battlestar-galactica-and-an-amazing-short-of-the-week/ Movie News After Dark: Con Air 2, Battlestar Galactica and an Amazing Short of the Week | Blu Ray Reviews

    [...] end tonight’s (unexpectedly brief) column with a short that was sent over by the guys at Short of the Week, a site I visit quite often (at least once a week, get it?) It’s a rotoscope animated short [...]

  • http://www.ikono.tv/blog/?p=5786 The Thomas Beale Cipher | Ikono Blog

    [...] Short of the Week: “The film uses a unique style of rotoscoping to build a flat, graphic, world that that I have yet see elsewhere. Based on a true legend of the most difficult cipher ever created, the 10 minute film centers on Professor White, cryptographer extraordinaire, who is on the trail of the notoriously uncrackable Thomas Beale cipher—a century-old riddle hiding the location of a fortune in gold that has tormented its pursuers since inception. But White is not alone—shadowy forces are tight on his tail.” [...]

  • http://www.josephpierce.co.uk Joseph

    What a stunning technique, proves that rotoscoping is as legitimate a form of animation as any, with a texture you just want to touch! Rare for a digital animation. Congrats!

  • benjamin

    That was fantastic! I’ve never seen art direction like that before. And the whole short had an air of suspense. Even though everything had a flat look the action was wonderfully articulated. And the use of eyes was great. Only the ending was quick – definitely left me wanting to see an episode 2. Anyway superb stuff – thanks for sharing!

  • http://fessolsnaps.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/the-thomas-beale-cipher-by-andrew-s-allen/ The Thomas Beale Cipher by Andrew S Allen « Fessols&naps

    [...] The Thomas Beale Cipher by Andrew S Allen The Thomas Beale Cipher by Andrew S Allen és un curtmetratge d’estil simple que podria valdre com a exemple de proucció efectiva i eficient. via shortoftheweek [...]

  • http://thatisright.blogspot.com/ H. Michael Karshis

    Top shelf concept and execution! Very nice, thanks for sharing and kooky forward to more.

  • Nick Paley

    This stands tall among the other great shorts on this site. Beautiful work, guys!

  • Elouise

    It was beautiful & engaging piece that continues to be fun. I love how you’re asked to participate in the story, rather than just passively watch. I’ve shared it with everyone I know. Thanks!

  • http://edztra.com/?p=891 The Thomas Beale Cipher – EDZTRA

    [...] Presented by Short of the Week, [...]

  • http://vacuumcleanerthebest.wordpress.com/ mankung

    he looks smart

    your content is very helpful

    thanks guy!

  • http://www.myspace.com/thetinyorchestra John Halfpenny

    Anything that is structured around repeated careful viewing is a terrific use of new media. You’ve created a great model here with lots of good ideas. Congratulations.

  • http://simplemanblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/die-thomas-beale-chiffre/ Die Thomas Beale Chiffre « I'm just a simple man …

    [...] (via Short of the Week) [...]

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2011/03/23/how-we-launched-our-film-online-the-thomas-beale-cipher/ The Thomas Beale Cipher: An Update | Watch the Best Online Short Films

    [...] The Thomas Beale Cipher isn’t my first film, but at 11 minutes, it is by far my most ambitious. The production on the animated action-adventure film ran 18 months, with a crew and cast of about 15. Last Spring, the film premiered in front of a large 300+ hometown crowd at the Seattle International Film Festival. Over the following 8 months, the film continued to screen at a variety of festivals (large and small) picking up a few awards along the way. All the while I felt a twinge of guilt. I praise the courage of online films here on Short of the Week, yet I was reluctant to post my own film online. Honestly, I didn’t know the best way to do it, and deep down I was afraid that a misstep would spell disaster for a project that I, and others, gave so much to. I knew we couldn’t just toss it up on YouTube and say our prayers. We needed a plan. And so, Jason and I knuckled down to plan the launch. [...]

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2011/07/20/featured-in-filmmaker-magazines-25-new-faces/ Featured in Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces | Short of the Week

    [...] browse at your leisure. Where to start? Well as long as we’re self-promoting, our animation The Thomas Beale Cipher is a good start. Also, try taking a dip in the archives sorted by genre, topic and style. Read our [...]

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2011/09/29/update-the-thomas-beale-cipher-solved/ | Short Film

    [...] The Thomas Beale Cipher has been solved! No, not the actual historical cipher—but rather the one hidden in our visually-saturated short film, The Thomas Beale Cipher. [...]

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2011/12/26/2011-year-in-review/ Looking Back on 2011 | Short of the Week

    [...] in January, we started piecing together a plan to launch our own short film, The Thomas Beale Cipher, to online audiences. We knew there was a right way to do it, but even we were surprised by how big [...]

  • Liliemei

    Well I really liked it. Great atmosphere-building soundwork, loved the eyes, genius shot when the hero hides his face behind his wanted poster. Only the voiceover narration brings to light parts that could have been worked out visually at times, but maybe that’s just me being partial against it at the moment. It’s a piece I enjoyed touching with my eyes.

  • Liliemei

    Well I really liked it. Great atmosphere-building soundwork, loved the eyes, genius shot when the hero hides his face behind his wanted poster. Only the voiceover narration brings to light parts that could have been worked out visually at times, but maybe that’s just me being partial against it at the moment. It’s a piece I enjoyed touching with my eyes.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/01/30/best-animation-short-of-the-week-awards-2012/ Best Animation | Short of the Week Awards 2012

    [...] Blatant Self-Promotion—The Thomas Beale Cipher We launched our film a year ago using a our now famous launch plan strategy. And while Jason and I [...]

  • http://www.themovies.co.za/2012/04/03/extras-yoda-gets-speech-lessons-waynes-world-3-the-mall-tour-a-whole-lot-of-f-ck-and-exactly-where-did-all-the-vfx-budget-for-john-carter-go-plus-much-more/ Extras! Yoda gets speech lessons, Wayne’s World 3: The Mall Tour, a whole lot of “F-ck” and exactly where did all the VFX budget for John Carter go?! Plus much more! | Welcome to The Movies

    [...] marries an utterly unique visual aesthetic with some classical conspiracy film stylings. Created by ShortOfTheWeek founder Andrew S. Allen, it tells of Professor White and his attempt to crack the infamous Thomas [...]

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    [...] something remarkable—literally—a story worth talking about with others. With my own film, The Thomas Beale Cipher, we purposefully hid 16 encrypted messages in the visuals of the film. At festival screenings, they [...]

  • bb

    I absolutely loved the animation! I would love to try to do something like this. I’ve seen an old clip from Monty Python creators showing how to do collage animation, but this looks so much more interesting. Is there a how-to anywhere you could point me to that explains how to do modern collage animation? is it made with a program using the individual pieces as layers, or all camera?

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    [...] at a case study, for the short film ‘The Thomas Beale Cipher’ they had some interesting  statistics that show me, getting a Vimeo staff pick is the best [...]