Most people have what they would consider to be their lucky or
favorite number. For Shane Acker, that number undoubtedly would be
nine. On September 9, 2009, Acker’s animated movie 9 was released to
theaters nationwide, marking his debut as a feature-film director. This
after spending nearly nine years working on the project, from its
inception, to the release of a nine-minute animated short film, to the
feature he directed and Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov produced.
The characters, settings, and plot of the computer-animated feature film 9 are atypical of what we are used to seeing in all-CG films such as Up, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Monsters vs. Aliens. In fact, the film diverges from the usual computer-generated film genre in a number of ways, with the director extending the breadth of the medium to digitally achieve his storytelling vision, which he does with great success. In 9, the protagonists are little burlap-covered dolls, fused with artificial intelligence, whose chief occupation is scavenging as they struggle to stay alive in a dingy, dark post-apocalyptic world. The antagonists are frightening predator-machines that roam the junkyard world with the intention of annihilating the ragdoll beings. The setting in which the movie takes place is dark, dingy, grimy—a world away from the bright, colorful backdrops in most CG films.
For the September issue of CGW, chief editor Karen Moltenbrey takes readers behind the scenes of this unique film with a look at how the movie was created and with a Q&A with Acker, who describes the magical journey of his story, from concept, to short animation, to feature film.