Earlier this year, in our monthly stop-motion binge, we discussed the absolutely phenomenal short The Maker; a story of a strange creatures race against draining time fom Zealous Studios. With a film of this calibre you are compelled to go over the studios full body of work for similar gems. On doing so, I found another brilliant short. Made with the same outstanding animation as The Maker and with a great moral centre that asks if our life is predetermined from the moment we are born.
On meeting Zero as a young boy we see he is constantly bullied and rejected by his fellow numbers. In school, the hyriarchy of numbers is reinforced and we learn that zeros are forbidden to multiple their numbers (reproduce). Despite this ill treatment, Zero remains positive and believes that he has something to offer.
When he encounters a group of numbers torturing a fellow zero, he sadly gets beaten up. As he awakens he is befriended by the girl zero, he saved and the two fall in love. Together, the pair finally feel acceptance and compassion despite the reality that their love is forbidden.
Eventually, the authority of his world come to take Zero away. In prison, he thinks of his lost love and begins to carve an image on the wall. As he lays in despair in his cell, a rose comes through the bars. His love waits outside for him and reveals that she is pregnant. As the crowd gather around his love, Zero awaits the fate of his child. The door to his cell opens and in walks, his love holding their newborn. The infant bears the mark of infinity, the highest number possible and the largest anyone had seen. As Zero is reunited with his family, it's stated that for a nothing he really did create something.
The characters look somewhat like claymation men. They have rounded heads with a basic shaped body, yet the outer layer is made up of yarn. One of the most interesting visuals of the piece is how the idea of hyriarchy is conveyed. Not just in the height of the numbers on each characters chest but by the way they are made. The zeros are made of mixed brown yarn that follows no patten and even goes over their mouths and eyes. Where as the rest of the numbers are made of pink yarn with white hair. The higher the number the neater and more patterned the yarn becomes linking your presentation to your number.
Despite the numbers lack of speech the animators have given the characters expression and emotion. Even the zeros, whose faces are somewhat distorted by yarn, are able to convey joy, sadness and vulnerability.
The many different sets of the piece are given the same level of details. From the the school classroom to the park where the zeros fall in love. Built with different layers and textures they add so much to this shorts story.
A beautifully animated short with a strong message and real heart. The studio has a gift for telling brilliant stories with developed characters in their short running times. Boosting animation on the same level as Laika, the studio are a wonder. We can only pray that Zealous Creative make their way to the big screen with a feature length film. Until then, stop-motion lovers can continue to marvel over the companies wonderful shorts