Wormholes (found Stephen Hillenburg animated short film; 1992)

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Wormholes title screen.png

Title card

Status: Found

Date found: 08 Feb 2019

Found by: Nick Smith

Wormholes is an animated short made by Stephen Hillenburg, best known for creating SpongeBob SquarePants. The short was made in 1992 while he was in the California Institute of the Arts (A.K.A CalArts) as a student for his thesis piece, and was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation.


There is not much of a concrete story in Wormholes. Hillenburg describes the short as a short about the theory of relativity and "relativistic phenomena". The short starts off with shots of molecules running through a fly's body when it pans away to someone driving down a street with abstract buildings, structures, and moving parts. The person later stops at a gas station, near a diner with people eating. There is a sign with multiple equations flashing, and it cuts back to the same shot of the car driving mentioned earlier, but progressively going faster and faster. The car then becomes thinner and thinner, and multiple equations can be seen in the sky until the car can be seen in its normal state driving down a road past multiple thin structures with faces. It then turns into a jackpot of strange lines and doodles, until it suddenly cuts back into the car with the fly, where it flies to the driver's watch. The fly is then seen in multiple equations around it until panning from the car. The short then ends with the footage flashing back between the world and one of the fly's eyes. The equations were real physics formulas used in the theory of relativity.[1]


The film was shown at various film festivals, to critical acclaim, and even won an award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for "Best Concept".[2] It even received attention from sources like the LA Times and New York Times. Despite this, the film ended up lost, most likely because it wasn't intended to be viewed outside of CalArts and film festivals.

A student at CalArts that worked with Steven Hillenburg did have a copy, however, and gave it to one of his art students, Nick Smith. Smith then uploaded the video to his youtube channel, where he said in the description of the video that he thought it was a "necessary duty to the animation/Spongebob enthusiast communities, especially for the purposes of education and closure". Smith also announced that he uploaded the video on the subreddit r/obscuremedia.[3]


The full short.

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