Figure 1. Lynn Tomlinson dedicated her presentation on Fulldome Animation at the 2023 SAT Fest in Montreal to Millie Young. Photo credit Craig Saper.

Every few days for the past several weeks, when checking my email, an uncanny reading suggestion from appears in my inbox. Based on my “Reading History,” I might be interested in an article titled “Drawing a Motion on Death” by Millie Young. Or perhaps I would like to read a pdf titled “An experiment in putting an ardent hand-crafted 2D animator into the heady dimension of the non-linear world of 360° and seeing what floats”.

And my memorial essay’s title borrows the style of Millicent Margaret Amanda Jane Young’s PhD dissertation “IMMERSIVE STORIES: HOW CAN AN “INDEPENDENT AVANT-GARDE,EXPERIMENTAL FILM-MAKER WITH A SELF-CONSCIOUS AUTEUR’S PERSPECTIVE” CREATE EFFECTIVE NARRATIVES IN THE 360º PARADIGM”. Not only are Millie’s texts living on in these online repositories, but they are nudging me to take a peek at her writings. It is like a mischievous wink – Dr. Millie Young beckoning me to play, to find fun and make mischief in the midst of loss and serious discourse.

Clicking on her paper “Drawing a Motion on Death”, I find a description of an exhibition titled “Dialogic’ at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre in 2011, where Millie explores the relationship between the Latin roots of the term animation as breathing life into things and animating representations of death – a juxtaposition which she calls oxymoronic. Eerily prescient, her essay explains that “the initial concept was set to convey the theme that humans and other living things all eventually have to die. The idea was that the audience’s experience of the installation would open a dialogical discussion that may urge them to create and make the best of today, for tomorrow is not certain” (p. 130).

Millie and I both animated elephants and shared a passion for these beings. A beautiful poster of her artwork from Elephant Elephant Elephant (2023), which she generously brought from Thailand as a gift for me last summer, hangs in my studio next to some of my own images from my film The Elephant’s Song (2018).

We were also both inspired by the shared immersive experience of fulldome, planetarium, and hemispheric projection. We both had turned our partially completed fulldome films into 360° Virtual Reality when faced with a pandemic that made shared spaces impossible for a time, and we both were welcoming the potential of these re-opened venues for our creative work. In our most recent chat, Millie had written to ask about citing my research in an entry on 360° animation for an entry she was writing for an Encyclopedia of Animation. I was looking forward to continuing to share ideas and research projects.

Millie and I were conference friends who were on the cusp of further collaboration. Looking back through our “Facebook Friendship”, I see we were together in Canterbury in 2015, Singapore in 2016, Lisbon in 2019, and, of course, in Glassboro, NJ, in 2023, when we had such a memorable experience screening fulldome animation in Rowan University’s Edelman Planetarium. See figure 2. Something I will always remember is experiencing Millie’s excitement when she saw her “elephunks” playing in the Big Top, followed by her sensitively, realistically rendered, rocking and pacing pachyderms in the forest, and her happiness when what she imagined would work actually worked.

Figure 2. From left to right; Larry Cuba, Millie Young, and Lynn Tomlinson in the Edelman Planetarium, Photo credit Craig Saper.

In March 2024, in Montreal for the SAT Fest, a festival of fulldome films, I learned that Millie’s Elephant Elephant Elephant would have been an official selection in that festival, but the organizers were unable to reach her, and had recently learned why she had not responded. At the conference I met fulldome animation artist Maarten Isaäk de Heer, whose work was included in the SAS fulldome screening. After learning about Millie’s work from the SAS program, Maarten had included Elephant Elephant Elephant in a screening he had curated last summer in Berlin. Millie had shared with me a photo of the venue and wrote “this photo shows the lofty dome setting in Berlin. The illusion of being in the tent must have felt like we are deep beneath the floor looking up”.

As I write this reflection, I have been thinking about the digital and creative footprints we leave behind. Millie leaves a legacy – a profusion of creative marks, images, photos, sounds, and writing, all spinning out there in our animated digital community, popping up in our memories – both real and digitally-aided. Her essays, animated films, campaigns, conversations, and messages all vibrate with her amazing inventiveness and creative energy. I cannot quite wrap my head around how to appropriately theorize or memorialize Dr. Millie Young and her impact. I think Millie herself might be the only inventive spirit who could take on such a task.

This memorial to her work and life was a response to the CFP on the sad loss of our wonderful friend and colleague. The full call can be found here.


Young, Millie. “Drawing a Motion on Death.” Veridian E-Journal, Vol. 7 No. 4, Silpakorn University. 2014.

Young, Millie. “An Experiment in Putting an Ardent Hand-Crafted 2D Animator into the Heady Dimension of the Non-Linear World of 360 O and Seeing What Floats”. In Confia 2020 Proceedings, 2021.

Young, Millie. “Drawn to 360°: How can the aesthetics and qualities of traditional 2D animation storytelling add to the immersive VR projection paradigm?” Animation Practice, Process & Production, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 11–40, 2018.

Lynn Tomlinson is an award-winning director and animator, and Associate Professor at Towson University in Maryland, USA. Her research interests include tactility and expanded animation, including fulldome immersive media, and performance and animation. Known for her unique clay on glass technique, she animates moving clay paintings full of fluid transformations, exploring environmental themes, and often imagining how non-humans might view humanity’s social and environmental impact. Her short films have screened at MoMA, The National Gallery, The Pompidou Center, and at international film and animation festivals including Annecy, Ann Arbor, and Ottawa. Recently he received the 2022 Baker Art Award for Film/Video and the 2021 Edison Innovation Award from the Thomas Edison (Black Maria) Film Festival.