SHADOWS is a tale of magical realism that addresses the destruction of the world’s rain forests and some of the dynamics behind it. It also highlights the positive role that traditional legends and active communities can have in preserving the world’s natural resources.
The short story was inspired by the decimation of the rain forests that takes place across the world. This shortsighted destruction is often driven by greed, short term profits, and also by ignorance and individuals with contempt for social well-being and sustainable economies.
I was interested in presenting this story with some of the storytelling techniques that are native to some of the regions where deforestation takes place. I have always admired the traditional Indonesian silhouette shadow puppet performances known as wayang kulit. This beautiful and complex art form has been used throughout the centuries for telling stories inspired by the Ramayana, a masterpiece of Hindu literature. Wayang kulit is traditionally performed by a master puppeteer who simultaneously manipulates multiple rigid puppets and also provides the voice-over narration. A gamelan orchestra typically performs a musical accompaniment. Different variations of the Wayang kulit art form are performed in different regions of Indonesia, primarily throughout Java and Bali.
The artistic goal was to tell a contemporary tale of human greed and hope. I was also interested in the idea of adapting some of wayang kulit’s essential stylistic characteristics to today’s digital animation techniques. I believe that this animation and artistic adaptation results in a new hybrid approach that can make the storytelling more engaging and relevant for today’s audiences who are used to cinematic and interactive entertainment. The SHADOWS style places both 2D and 3D silhouette characters in 3D environments rendered to look like a live silhouette world. The new hybrid SHADOWS style also provides a higher degree of flexibility and expression while retaining some of the distinctive characteristics of old-fashioned shadow puppets.