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Sci-fi action-thriller “Hard Reset” boasts impressive special effects, but it’s not a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s UT’s (University of Texas, Austin) first 3-D student film.

The short film, titled “Hard Reset,” will feature a young detective who is at the crossroads of an impending artificial intelligence revolution and is forced to choose between two sides.

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“Hard Reset,” which premiered Sunday at the Galaxy Highland theater, takes place in the future on the eve of a robot revolution. The main character, detective Miles Archer (Oryan Landa), falls in love with a droid named Jane PS626 (Josephine McAdam), who is infected by a virus that grants her self-awareness. 

UT Austin Radio-Television-Film graduate student Deepak Chetty directed “Hard Reset” and collaborated with a cast and crew of UT students and graduates as well as film professionals.  

Chetty and Radio-Television-Film senior David Bukstein, who co-wrote the film with Chetty, said the two have been drawn to sci-fi entertainment since they were young. They met  in 2012 through UT’s Radio-Television-Film program and discovered they were already working on similar scripts individually. The two of them decided to combine their efforts and write “Hard Reset.”  

“I didn’t want to create something flashy,” Chetty said. “I wanted to tell a story that people would enjoy.”

How was the filming experience?

Chetty and Bukstein said they formed a strong bond while writing “Hard Reset” as a team throughout 2013. They spent weeks communicating back and forth about the script and compromising when they had different ideas. 

“If we had an issue, we discussed it together,” Bukstein said. “We both came to the table with the same mutual respect. [Chetty] directed ‘Hard Reset,’ but it is our movie.” 

Chetty said shooting in 3-D was a different experience compared to shooting in 2-D. In the past, Chetty could shoot 2-D films using a handheld method, but the weight of the 3-D cameras forced the cinematographer, UT alumnus Patrick Smith, to shoot with the cameras mounted on rigs to keep them steady. 

Smith said he and Chetty filmed “Hard Reset” with 3-D in mind. The two said they didn’t want “Hard Reset” to be like other films they thought only added the 3-D effect as an afterthought. 

Characters pop out of the screen at intense moments and, in more somber scenes, they appear subdued in the background, amplifying the distance by the increased depth from the 3-D effect to isolate them from the audience. 

Chetty said the crew finished shooting “Hard Reset” last May and spent nearly the entire year finishing up special effects. Chetty, who created visual effects for short films such as “The Ascendant,” developed most of the effects on his own. He said one challenge associated with producing a 3-D film with the computers was the time it took for the computer to process the special effects. Some computer-generated shots that only lasted three to four seconds in the movie took twelve hours to complete.

Producer and co-editor Taylor Michelle Thompson, a UT alumna, said the crew members’ ability to trust one another was also integral to the success of the crew’s endeavor.

“If you don’t trust your comrades in filmmaking, you’re constantly going to worry about they’re doing,” Thompson said. “I think that us being able to trust each other created a strong backbone for the film.”

Chetty said there was pressure to deliver with “Hard Reset,” but he feels grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of exceptional filmmakers. 

“Regardless of the stress, at the end of the day, I am very lucky to be able to work with so many awesome people,” Chetty said. “Absolutely no regrets. I am so happy with how [‘Hard Reset’] turned out.”

What did you study?

After completing his undergraduate degree in Film & Video production at Pratt Institute in New York City, Chetty remained there until coming to UT (University of Texas, Austin) in 2010 for a masters in film production. During his time in New York, he worked in the film and television industry doing mainly freelance work and specializing in special effects tests. Directors of the UT3D program allowed for Chetty to take part in the new development because of his extensive background in the industry.

“So much more than any other student here, Deepak [Chetty] was prepared to do this,” said Don Howard, radio-television-film associate professor and director of the UT3D program. “So, we were like, ‘Yeah let’s do it.’ It’s the kind of film you expect to see in 3-D.”

UT3D is not restricted to students who wish to work in only action and science fiction. The program is meant to broaden the range of genres created using 3-D technology.

“Most people have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear the term ‘3-D,’ thinking that it’s just explosions and that sort of thing,” Howard said. “It’s useful in those environments but it’s not just that.”

As the first graduate student working with the program, Chetty has found UT3D to be a great opportunity and believes it is a good addition to the University.

“It’s a good way for the school to test out advanced work flows and advanced production situations,” Chetty said. “I just think it’s a really cool thing to happen at UT right now just because we’re basically pioneers in this field.”

Tell us about the UT Austin 3D program

In fall 2013, UT’s radio-television-film department began UT3D, a program for students interested in learning about 3-D production techniques. Funded by the Moody Foundation to run for at least five years, it is the only 3-D program in the country offered to students.

The program is not meant to take attention away from the curriculum students already have planned. It is a sequence of two courses — one introductory and one advanced — and a required internship or special project that can be integrated into a student’s degree plan. With around 40 undergraduate students currently in the program, UT3D is not only available to radio-televsion-film majors. Applying to the program is possible for those with an interest and background in film