Flix for Short: The Thomas Beale Cipher


Flix for Short is Flixist’s way of showing off awesome short films we find around the web. Do you have a favorite short you saw? Why not tell us about it in our Cblogs? We’d love to see what short films you can make and find!

This short has made me a little bit crazy(er). The Thomas Beale Cipher short film claims to be based on a true story, a story of possibly unsolvable riddles, doubt, and millions of dollars in gold. The Tomas Beale ciphers are a real thing, though the validity of the ciphers have been highly debated.

Wait, what’s a cipher? What am I talking about? What does any of this have to do with rotoscoping?? Well, check out after the jump and I’ll give you the run-down on the most mysterious short I’ve seen in a long time.

[via Vimeo]

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The Beale ciphers are a set of three ciphertexts, which are texts that are encrypted using an algorithm called a cipher. The three Beale ciphers are supposedly from 1819, and are supposed to have different encrypted information on them, but they’re all about the same subject: a huge stash of gold, silver and jewels buried somewhere in or near Bedford County, Virginia that is supposedly worth a total of $39 million in 2010 terms. Despite being analyzed by the best and brightest of cryptographers, the Beale ciphers have never been solved.

The Thomas Beale Cipher short, by Andrew S. Allen, is a fictional story of a cryptographer named Professor White who appears to be on the verge of discovering the secrets of the Beale cipher. There also appears to be some shady characters on his tail. The wonderful animation was made using a unique rotoscoping technique that was developed just for this project.

The most interesting thing about the short is the fact that, according to the video’s description and website, there are “16 hidden messages that hold clues to the characters’ secrets. Eight are fairly easy requiring only a close eye. Six are moderately difficult using various encryption methods. Two are extremely difficult requiring a genius mind to decrypt.”

The short has been causing a stir amongst the puzzle-solving community on the Internet. There is a Facebook page dedicated to the short where people have been discussing possible clues, (under the ‘discussions’ tab) and the folks at Wired Decode were intrigued by it. What do you think? Are the Beale ciphers a hoax? Is there even anything worth knowing about the secrets hidden in this short? I don’t even know. But sometimes it’s really fun to look for it anyway.