Mamoon is the brainchild of Blue Zoo’s animation director, Ben Steer, whose response to the company’s shorts programme won the hearts of fellow Blue Zooers, who then voted his idea into production. The brief was to tell an emotional, human story, whilst experimenting with light and projections.
The film follows the story of a mother and her child as their lives descend into darkness. After the moon mysteriously loses its light, the mother must work out how to save her child using a mysterious red glow.
Ben took a truly unique approach to producing the film, projecting animated characters onto 3D sets crafted from polystyrene blocks. Normal post-production was completely bypassed; with no rendering, no CG precision, and imperfections within the lighting that give the characters a ghostly quality, reminiscent of shadow puppets.
Now in its 7th year, the Blue Zoo shorts programme allows for experimentation and creative diversity, without the usual commercial expectations of a live project. Since its inception, Mamoon has gone on to receive multiple awards and was nominated for the 2018 BAFTA for Best Short Animation.
“I found the brief really intriguing and felt strongly that light should represent life, just as lack of light should represent death. If a character is dependent on the light then shadows, objects and glass could hinder and distort them. Projectors also only project from one angle, what if multiple projectors were used for multiple characters? This presented a fascinating if challenging set of parameters in which to devise a story,’’ says Ben Steer.
Co-producer Tom Box adds: “The idea behind this was to benefit from the beautiful optical properties created in the process, elements we usually spend a lot of time and money trying to recreate – refractions, reflections, light bounce and depth of field. The only thing that would be done in post-production would be grading, everything else would be captured in camera.”