O Black Hole! from Renee Zhan on Vimeo.

O Black Hole! is about a woman who is so worried about time passing that she sucks everything and everyone she loves inside herself to keep them safe and forever. She sucks in the entire universe until eventually she’s just dancing in circles alone. We were struck by the way the film is so adeptly executed in two, very distinctly different media, and spoke with director, Renee Zhan, about it.

“I’ve always been a fan of mixed-media films,” Zhan told us, “and I thought that the story of the black hole really suited using both 2D paper animation and 3D stop-motion animation.

“The outside of the black hole, where time passes normally, is rendered in 2D: in pencil, charcoal, watercolors, and oil paint, because it’s ephemeral and fleeting. The inside of the black hole, everything that the black hole has sucked inside herself and made everlasting, is 3D and solid. As Singularity travels from the bottom of the black hole up to the top, the walls of the black hole start gradually turning more liquid, as if the black hole’s grasp is looser there. I really wanted all the mediums to flow into each other, transitioning smoothly from 2D to 3D and back again.”

At almost 15 minutes long, we wondered how the production went and what challenges Zhan might have encountered with such an undertaking. “We had a tight deadline because it was a film school production,” she said, “so it was a very intense creation process. It was also my first stop-motion film so many unexpected challenges arose along the way. Just like for the spaghettified planets in the film, one of my greatest challenges was gravity!”

In terms of the distinct and separate looks of the film, Zhan told us, “I really wanted to experiment with different materials for stop-motion beyond the traditional plasticine (though we used a lot of that too!). Singularity, the main character, has 12-15 long strands of hair made out of paraffin wax. So in the winter, if the room got too hot, the strands would snap when I tried to move them, and in the summer, if the room got too cold, the strands would droop in between shots.”

With an exciting international festival run, including Locarno, TIFF, and SXSW, O Black Hole! also picked up nominations at the Annie Awards and student BAFTA awards, culminating in an exciting Best Postgraduate Film win at the British Animation Awards.

“We’ve just released it online as a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere and just want as many people to see it as possible!” Zhan told us. Wishing the whole team cheers and congratulations on such an impressive reception to a student film. Keep it up, we’ll be watching!