Alternative Realities Render Challenge – The Specimen

In May this year I undertook the Alternative Realities Render Challenge for visual effects artists by Clinton Jones.

A five second animation was provided. The challenge was to design and produce an individual visual effects shot. There were a two fundamental rules; to keep the visual weight of the sphere shape which dominates the upper right of the frame; and not to change the animation of the humanoid provided.

I’m still relatively fresh to this type of 3D work, so this was a really great exercise to broaden out skills in the areas I already had experience with, and of course to learn some new tricks – which was my sole motivation throughout.

The video in this post shows the work I produced on this challenge, with a brief breakdown showing some of the processes involved.

I’ve been using Blender for just over 18 months and After Effects for years. Having already had some experience using .exr files and cryptomattes for visual effects compositing, during this project I’ve now built upon this workflow further. Absolutely love the power cryptomattes offer when compositing.

I had a few ideas but settled on a sci-fi / space idea. The general idea was to feature an animated alien specimen which an android was carrying from a just landed cargo ship. I don’t game much these days, but all my past Halo antics may have informed some of this :D


There have been some incredible pieces of art created in this challenge, over 2400 artists were involved!

A 3 hour long video of all the Alternative Realities Challenge entries has been created with all the renders seamlessly showcased. This video in itself must have been a challenge to produce and what a piece it is! The video cleverly separates all the entries into categories, chaptered in YouTube to help break up the sheer volume of work, and also making it a nice thing to dip back into from time-to-time. A great source of inspiration. My entry is just around 147 mins in, under the ‘Space’ category.

Thanks to everyone in this community and especially to Clinton Jones for creating this challenge. I’ve witnessed some truly incredible artwork in the mega compilation. Well done to everyone, veteran to beginner.

Massively look forward to the next one, just hope I can squeeze some time in-between the work schedule again!