The Thomas Beale Cypher

The Thomas Beale Cipher is the true story of an unsolved code, animated in a gorgeous blend of analog textures and digital techniques. The film itself contains 16 hidden messages — and no one has solved all 16 yet. The film’s director Andrew S Allen had an interest in cryptology from a very early age, and created the unique look of the film using rotoscoping, and real textures such as fabric, wood and paper.  He worked purposely with a crew of designers who had little knowledge of animation, and embraced a range of techniques.


“I don’t really understand filmmakers with a “style”, because to me, the look of a film should reflect the mood and atmosphere of the story. I was looking for something that was both suspenseful and playful. We blended aesthetics from different sources — the flat, graphical look of pre-war advertising with the cinematography of classic films. People back then put so much love into crafting things with their hands, and I wanted to make a film that captured that same devotion. I like visuals that you can’t pin down to one method. When you combine a number of techniques it makes a film more interesting and less about the mastery of a craft and more about a beautiful story. We primarily used rotoscoping, but I we did it in a way that no one has really done before. I think we brought it to a more human place. We also used a range of techniques from stop-motion to hand-drawn animation to 3D to round out the film’s atmosphere.”

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