Sitting atop a mountain of creativity and character is Mummu, the trendy East-London based animation company whose work aims to transform informative and educational stories into magnificent moving masterpieces. Inspired by the Babylonian God of craftsmanship and technical skill, Mummu is the creative studio founded by university friends Sam Atkins and Karl Hammond with the goal of motivating and inspiring people through moving images. With clients from the likes of Mosaic Films and Barclays, Mummu’s success is measured by its quality and style, which transpire naturally through their carefully designed characters and narratives. Rooms Magazine spoke to the founders and creative directors, Sam and Karl, about new technologies and the importance of sound, colours and textures.
Hello Sam and Karl! Could you tell us how did everything start for you?
Hello, we started Mummu 4 years ago as friends who wanted to share a studio and collaborate; we didn’t set out to create a company but over the first year it evolved and then Mummu was born.
I know you both studied Animation and Illustration at Kingston University, how did that shape the idea of Mummu?
The Kingston course has a great focus on traditional drawing skills and has some really great tutors; we joined the course as Illustrators and learnt about the magic and possibilities of animation when we were there. I think a lot of people join the course now specifically for the animation side. I think the illustration background has helped us mould a distinctive body of work.
Tell me more about Mummu, what is the general ethos of your company?
We are a company, but on the inside we are a creative studio that enjoys working hard, collaborating with lots of talented people and working together as a team where everyone’s opinion counts. We enjoy giving meaning to stories that have the opportunity to change people, their feelings, thoughts, ideas and actions.
How did you come up with the logo and the name Mummu? It sounds and looks like an adorable monster, which I guess completely fits an animation company!
Mummu is the Babylonian god of craftsmanship and technical skill, so we thought it was an interesting name. But we liked the sound of it and the look of it as a word more than anything else. Since we formed, we’ve discovered that Mummu means a few different things around the world, like Granny in Finnish. We wanted a logo that retained a bit of mysticism: it reads Mummu at the top, but it also looks like a footprint or a bit like Bart Simpson!
Growing up, what were your favourite cartoons and animation films?
Banana Man, Pingu, Fraggle Rock, Danger Mouse, Turtles & Transformers!!!
What have been your favourite projects so far? You have had an impressive list of clients, featuring Barclay’s and Facebook….
‘Seeking Refuge’ is a great project we made with Mosaic Films in aid of National Refugee week. It was one of five animations aired on the BBC and the series went on to win a Children’s BAFTA. We’ve just finished two of our most favourite projects in a while, but we can’t talk about them yet!
What is your creative process when briefed with a project?
The most important thing for us is to sit down together and discuss the brief as a team, make sure we understand what the client wants and then work out the best way for us to approach the treatment or pitch.
The animation film genre is starting to gain recognition in the art world, especially amongst adults. What do you think of recent successes like ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (dir. Wes Anderson) and/or ‘Panique au village’ (dir. Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier)?
We thought ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ was amazing because it was beautifully made, extremely funny and made in Britain! No one in the studio has watched ‘Panique au village’ yet but it’s on our list!
Is there a definite quality to have in order to be a good animator and/or creative director?
You need to be curious, to find out how things are made and what new skills you need to learn to keep developing your work. To be interested you need to be passionate, that’s what drives you.
How do traditional skills underpin and help hone new digital technologies in the animation world?
Although the technologies keep evolving the main principles of animation don’t. You can study some of the best animation by watching old Disney movies and by reading the ‘Animators Survival Guide’ written by Richard Williams, who directed the animation in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.
What is a day in your life?
Start early, use our new coffee machine, browse our favourite blogs for inspiration, design/animate/create some cool stuff, get some lunch from Hoxton Street (usually jerk chicken) reload on the coffee, continue making cool stuff and aim to leave on time.
How important is the relationship between sound, colours and texture in the animation world?
Very important! When they all work together well it can be the key to wonderful work, but used without proper consideration they can all be the downfall of work with great potential.
What makes a new talent stand out?
Confidence in their work and the way they talk about it -be bold enough to stand out.
You work a lot for advertising agencies; do you wish to give a chance to film and TV one day? Also, how do you choose projects?
We love short form and the time scales involved on production, it gives you the opportunity to work on more projects and we love the pace of working on short content. I think it takes a lot more time to develop ideas for film and TV, but if we have a great idea that translates into a film or TV series then we would try and pursue it.
How do you remain inspired?
Inspiration is life outside work, bikes, kids or just having fun during weekends. We all feel that working in a small studio means you need to be inspired by the people around you and feed off each other’s ideas.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve drawn?
Recently… Vikings, bikers, anamorphic animals and football gifs!
What are your future plans for the company?
We are in the process of growing our team, new people bring new skills and means we can keep our studio output fresh and exciting!