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9 (2005 short)

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9 is a 2005 computer animated short film by Shane Acker. It was made as a student project while Shane Acker was in college.
9 poster

The 2005 short poster

It was directed, written, and produced by Shane Acker; it is about 11 minutes long and was released on April 21, 2005. The short film was distributed by Sundance Film Festival and UCLA's School of Art and Architecture and was released through a company founded by Shane Acker himself called 9LLC.

Plot Edit

The film opens to show 9 making simple constructs out of scrap metal, an upright book with string tied to it, and a makeshift dummy full of tar. He uses a lightbulb staff to help him see in the dark. As the opening scene progresses, we see that 9 appears to be the last of his kind, living in the ruins of a post-apoclayptic Earth. What was hunting 9 relentlessly was the Cat Beast, who appears to be guided by the talisman, which is tied around its neck and being held by the Beast's claws. Its motives are unknown. As the title screen fades away, 9 is outside, sitting on a doll's leg and the lightbulb staff proped against the foot of the doll. As he wipes the mirrored talisman, which he has in possession, he takes a brief look at it. As he notices his reflection on the mirrored side, he begins to get a flashback.

Before the film, 9 was once with 5 - an older, grumpy and one-eyed mentor. As they struggle to hide from the Cat Beast, they gathered useful bits and pieces and stored them in the cloth linings of their own skin. From what we see from the flashback, 5 comes across a dusty lamp, the lightbulb still in there. 5 notices 9 playing around with a magnifying glass and immediately whacks a rock with his cane, motioning 9 to come over. As 5 inspects the lightbulb, he motions 9 to grab the lamp joint and yank it on his command, which 9 obeys. Together, after yanking and pulling with 9's help, 5 manages to yank the lightbulb out although he and 9 fell onto the ground. When 9 came over to 5, 5 gave 9 the lightbulb and rummaged around inside his skin for a piece of wire and a small battery. As 9 held the lightbulb, 5 connects the lightbulb to the battery using the wire, causing the lightbulb to activate. Surprised and amazed by the results, 5 gave the wire, the battery, and the lightbulb to 9 for safe-keeping.

Unfortunately, the Cat Beast is nearby, using the Talisman to guide it to the stitchpunks. 5's right eye glows light green and as it fades, 5 immediately yanks out the mirrored talisman out from his skin, which immediately glows, alerting 5 and 9 over the Cat Beast's presence. 5 immediately urged 9 to flee, giving him the mirrored talisman for safe-keeping also. As 9 gazed at it, 5 had already took out his homemade folding spear and pushed 9, motioning 9 to hide. 9 immediately hid inside a broken can and as 5 extends his homemade spear, he steps out to confront the Beast. Unfortunately, the Cat Beast circled around 5 and as 5 realizes the Beast is behind him, he turns around and the Cat Beast snatches 5 off the ground, disarming 5 and shearing his right arm off as 9 watches. Satisfied that it caught its prey, it opens the Talisman and as 9 notices it, he notices the mirrored Talisman glowing much brighter than due to the Talisman's presence too. Right before 9's horrified eyes, 5's soul was sucked out from his mouth into the Talisman, leaving 5 as a lifeless rag doll.

Shocked over his mentor's death, 9 quickly slip down to hide but accidentally scraped the lightbulb against the interior wall of the can. Hearing the scraping, the Cat Beast turns around and right before the Cat Beast can notice a shaking 9 inside, 5's cane fell off from its foundation (which is against a rocky brick) and causes a banging noise on the ground. The Cat Beast turns around but doesn't notice anyone. It then turns to investigate whatever was in the can but when the Cat Beast was distracted by the cane's noise, 9 fled, carrying the lightbulb, wire, and battery.

We noticed that 9 is also in the same area where he fled from the Cat Beast as the flashback fades. As he stares at the area, the mirrored talisman glows once again, snapping 9 out from trance. As he looks at the mirrored talisman, it glows again, alerting 9 over the Cat Beast's presence once again. Immediately, 9 grabbed his lightbulb staff, which was actually the lightbulb, wire and battery being attached to a staff, and flees to a ruined building. As the camera pulls back, we see the Cat Beast coming but when the camera looks up onto the Cat Beast's back, we see that the Cat Beast also tears the numbered skins of his victims and used them as clothing for its bare back. 5's numbered skin can be seen very clear.

As 9 enters and flees into the building, the Cat Beast steps into the opening. Unable to see in the dark well, it activates its flashlight, which was its right eye, and investigates the inside of the building. The Cat Beast then notices what appears to be 9 and heads towards it. The lightbulb staff was left on the ground to make the dummy visible enough for the Cat Beast to pounce it, only to realize that it's just a dummy. As the Cat Beast struggled to free itself from the dummy, due to the sticky tar inside the dummy, 9 jumps from above and cuts the Talisman off the Cat Beast's neck. As 9 jumps off from the Cat Beast, the Beast manages to free itself and 9 leads the Cat Beast on a panicked chase through the building but it ends as 9 nearly fell off a plank, which is about several-floors above a hole below. As 9 prepares to go back, the Cat Beast appears. Thinking it got 9 at bay, it walks towards to 9 and was about to grab 9 steathily with its claws, only to have the plank nearly off its foundation.

9 had lead the Cat Beast to his trap, which was what 9 was making from the beginning of the film.

Nearby was another plank, with the armature on it and the book also. 9 jumps onto the armature's arm and manages to have it swing perfectly enough for 9 to kick the book off. The string that was tied on the book was also tied to the plank that the Cat Beast's on now. Realizing that it's a trap, the Cat Beast attempted to get off but it was too late, for the plank collapses from the book's weight. As it roared in defeat, it fell into the hole's ground and the fallen plank impales the Beast, killing it and freeing 9 from fear of danger.

9 manages to salvage the numbered skins of his fallen kind off the Cat Beast's back and prepares them to be ceremonially burned. As 9 looked at 5's numbered skin sadly, he hears both the Talisman and the mirrored talismn glowing. Placing the numbered skin on its place, 9 walks over to the two talismans and as he inspects the bottom of the Talisman, it opens its extra connecting arms. Noticing the mirrored talisman still glowing, he combines the two talismans together and the connecting arms strap onto the mirrored talisman. It immediately shakes off 9's hands and opens up, freeing the souls of the fallen stitchpunks as 9 watches. As the souls return back to their numbered skins in order, 9 notices 5's soul heading to 5's numbered skin. Before disappearing into the skin, 5 turns around and nods to 9 of approval to move on.

In the morning, as the ashes of the numbered skins and wood cooled, 9 - bearing the lightbulb staff, which now stands as a symbol of the persistent light of knowledge and learning - walks off into unknown parts of the wastelands, leaving the combined Talisman behind in the sands.

Main cast Edit

Stitchpunks Edit

Machines/Beasts Edit

Music Edit

The music for the film was composed by Eric Olsen.

Production Edit

It took Shane Acker about four and a half years, on and off, to create the short film. Shane Acker originally planned to have the film in stop-motion, but realizes how costly stop-motion would be. He then turns to CGI for his film medium. The credits show that beyond Acker, there were five other animators and three other lighters that worked on the film.

Awards Edit

Awarded Edit

  • Student Academy Award - Gold Award for Animation
  • SIGGRAPH - Best in Show
  • Animex - First prize, 3D Character Animation
  • Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation College Awards - First prize, Non-Traditional Animation
  • Florida Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival — Best Animated Short

Nominated Edit

  • Academy Award for Animated Short Film, lost to The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation

External Link Edit

  • 9 at the Internet Movie Database
  • 9 watch the full version of the 2005 short film on YouTube.

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