Samantha Moore January 24 2017

Out of Sight


Samantha Moore is an award winning animated documentary maker who primarily works with science collaborators, from archaeologists to neuroscientists and microbiologists.

Topics of her films range from competitive sweetpea growing in Shropshire through audio-visual synaesthesia to her experience of having had twins. Sam is interested in collaborative methodology projects, particularly in science and about subjects that traditionally defy easy visualization.

An eyeful of sound:

Sam developed an interest in audio-visual synaesthesia and in 2006 began a four-year project (funded by two different Wellcome Trust grants) collaborating with Dr Jamie Ward (reader in psychology at the University of Sussex), a group of people who have synaesthesia and musicians from the New London Orchestra and Toronto-based composer Adam Goddard. An Eyeful of Sound (2010) was the culmination of that project, describing the experience of having audio-visual synaesthesia using the ‘real’ imagery of that experience as described and drawn by the people with synaesthesia collaborating with the project.

What is it like to have synaesthesia?

This selection of clips shows the ‘raw’ animated imagery of the described audio-visual synaesthetic reactions. It was interesting to non-synaesthetes that as well as the strong imagery of shapes and colors the synaesthetes experienced there were also very specific textures and backgrounds to the synaesthetic experiences too.

These clips were made through a process of intensive interviews, drawings, audio descriptions and colour specifications from a Munsell colour chart (the colour ordering system, first developed by Albert H. Munsell in the early twentieth century, that specifies colours based on three distinct dimensions: hue, value [that is, lightness] and chroma [colour purity]).  

Spurred on by her interest in what animation can be used to document, in 2015 she completed a PhD at Loughborough University’s Animation Academy, supervised by Professor Paul Wells. Entitled Out of Sight: Using animation to document perceptual brain states, her PhD by practice explored how animation could be used to document phantom limb syndrome and prosopagnosia (face blindness).


Sam has most recently made a film collaboratively with the lab of Dr Serge Mostowy (Wellcome fellow, Lister fellow) at Imperial College. Loop (2016) is based on the work done in Serge’s lab on septin assembly in cells, using a zebrafish model. Lab members describe the intricate sub-cellular septin dynamics and structure. Their explanatory drawings, and discussion between scientists and filmmaker about how they see the research, are incorporated and folded into the animation.

Each person’s unique and idiosyncratic vision of the process brings a different facet to the complex and secret world of septin cytoskeleton dynamics. The scientists’ different theories of assembly reveal the creative and discursive nature of science. Facts are revealed as mutable and capricious. The project was commissioned by Animate Projects and funded by The Wellcome Trust and Garfield Weston.

Samantha Moore and Serge Mostowy (Wellcome and Lister fellow, Imperial College London) talking about Loop (2016)

Tilley Bancroft (Red Door Studio) doing test shots for Loop. Proteins crocheted out of plarn (plastic bags turned into yarn)

doubled up:

In 2004 Sam made doubled up for Animate Projects, about her experience of having had a multiple pregnancy and birth. Inspired by Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document (1973-6) the film uses multiple layers from the perspectives of mother, artist, children (then aged two) and medical professionals. The auto-biographical piece presents the fractured experience of dealing with her changing perception of herself and her role; along with an acknowledgment of the pandemonium, pleasure and undeniable drudgery of mothering multiples.

Link to all her films:

Sam ran an animation workshop for scientists at Imperial College London for Loop, using pre-cinematic toys like praxinoscopes and zoetropes

About Author

Samantha Moore in her studio

Samantha Moore is an international award-winning animated documentary maker. Amongst her awards is one ‘for Scientific Merit’ from the journal Nature (Imagine Science Film Festival, New York, 2010). Her most recent film Loop (an Animate Projects commission funded by the Wellcome Trust, 2016) has screened internationally at festivals and venues and most recently won a prize at RawScience festival, LA.

Sam is passionate about the ability of animation to convey reality in new and surprising ways and has a Ph.D. (2015), about the way animation can be used to document perceptual brain states, such as phantom limb syndrome and prosopagnosia.

She has made several international award winning short animated documentaries animated, including; Success with Sweet Peas (2003), doubled up (2004), The Beloved Ones (2007), An Eyeful of Sound (2010), Shadow Stories (2013), and Loop (2016).

Samantha is a senior lecturer in animation at the University of Wolverhampton and the co-author of Fundamentals of Animation (2nded) with Paul Wells (Bloomsbury, 2016).

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