Press release

Students “over-the-moon” as Aurora Borealis animation goes viral

Published on 23 August 2019

A group of University of Dundee students are rising stars in the world of animation after a short film they created went viral online

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Their film Fox Fires has been viewed more than 900,000 times - just seven days after it was uploaded to Youtube.

The six-minute film, which was inspired by Finnish folklore surrounding the Aurora Borealis, has become a shining star on the video-sharing platform and has even moved fans to tears.

With the Aurora season starting in the Finnish Lapland at the end of August, director of the animation, Keilidh Bradley, says the timely release of the film has left her and the team behind it speechless.

“We are completely bowled over by the reaction online,” said the 24-year-old from Wishaw, who graduated with a BDes in Animation in June.

“I remember stumbling across some student shorts on YouTube in 2009 and falling in love with them. Ten years later, I really wanted to create a film that my younger self would be proud of and I'm happy to say we've achieved that.

"Occasionally an animated student film is posted online that people respond to in waves and we still can’t believe that’s happening with Fox Fires. It's gotten more engagement in its first week than some benchmark shorts have accumulated over years. Honestly, we would have been over-the-moon with 20,000 views but we’ve almost hit one million.

“It feels surreal but we have had people from all over the globe getting in touch to tell us how much they love it. I’m just proud that we have been able to take a lesser-known story and share it with the world.”

Inspired by Finnish folklore surrounding the origins of the Northern Lights, which can be seen up to 200 times a year in Finland, the student film follows the story of a young fox and its part in the creation of the stars and the night sky.

Blending 2D and 3D animation together and accompanied by an original score, Keilidh says it is thanks to her team that they were able to create such a stirring short.

"I have so many people to thank," she said. "It was such an honour to direct my team for this film. With a core team of eight 4th years and even more assistants, they each brought endless talent and enthusiasm to the project. Lin Sharkie, in particular, worked tirelessly to ensure that the production targets were all met with room to breathe." 

"In terms of stylistic inspiration, I wanted to capture that sense of wonder you get when you're young and play a video game for the first time and pay homage to ones that influenced me as an artist. It's been really satisfying to see people recognise those in the comments. DJCAD gave us the creative freedom to make Fox Fires look and feel the way I'd dreamed of, while also closely supervising the film to ensure its completion."

Galvanised by the response, Keilidh and the team are planning to release a book of art from Fox Fires soon and have already entered the film for viewing at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival.

Fox Fires was directed and written by Keilidh Bradley and was produced by Lin Sharkie. Those involved in the film include; Michael Birk, Dionne Burgess, Lauren Kirkwood, Lia Onesti, Melissa Stoakes, Tessa Bentley, Sophia Austin, Deborah Barker, Gonzalo Fraguas Bringas, Eamonn Grady, Molly-May Lockhart, Liz Massarou, Aaron Green, Fraser Robertson, Zoe Stewart, Philip Cooper, Dirk Kluesing and the composer Denny Schneidemesser. 

The film was completed for Keilidh's final year project during her BDes (Hons) Animation degree.


Press Office, University of Dundee
Story category Student work/achievement