Refrain/Reflex | Final by Aaron James & Alvin Ling

Refrain/Reflex is the exploration of the inter-connectivity between music and different feelings and emotions. The way we feel is directly affected and co-related by what we hear.

Refrain/Reflex is an audio/visual piece which aims to translate that experience.

Inspired by the use of portals and the way they are a gateway to different bodies of emotion, we have represented the way we feel into various abstract forms, comprising of different shapes and looks.

Final Video (MAN Version):

Final Video (Elphi Version):


Our work on the MAN wall:

Aj & I are very happy with the final outcome & the look of our work. Through the use of editing rhythmically to the music as well as having the elements flow with it, we feel we managed to convey our initial ideas & themes with this piece & it is meant to serve as something cool & fun to look at when you walk past the wall, perhaps even a form of interaction!

While we definitely had our fair share of struggles getting here, we still managed to put out something we were proud of & we are excited to showcase it on the Media Art Nexus wall!

Somewhere to Us – Home

How I approached the theme “Home” was through the way it connected 2 childhood friends and their journey home. In my short film “Somewhere To Us”, we follow Paul & Sam who are stuck waiting at the bus stop after a Halloween Party, this situation gives Paul a chance to tell Sam things he was previously not able to.

After the pitching process, I began working on my screenplay for a short film titled “Somewhere to Us” under the theme of “Home”.


Once that was done, I started the audition process. Firstly by posting an open casting call to invite actors & actresses to audition for the role of Paul & Sam in my short film.

I auditioned about 20 people in total for the roles, it was a long process but I finally managed to lock down on my talents, Shaun & Rebecca.

It was quite an interesting story as I almost didn’t call in Rebecca when she emailed her CV as I felt she didn’t look the part of the role I was going for. But in the end, she blew us away during the audition & was definitely a great choice for the role.

Some screengrabs from their audition clips.

Location recce & test shots

I went out at 2am on a weekday to recce the location. It was just outside of school & would be convenient for us to transport the cast & crew there during the shoot day. Also, it was relatively empty and had a big road in front it with little cars which were ideal for the shoot.

BTS from the location recce.

Test footage stills

We shot some test footage as well so I could try colour grading it after to see what picture profile would be the most ideal to shoot in for the low light conditions we were faced with.

Script read

I got the talents down again once more for a script read as well to let them try out the costumes for the shoot. The panda suit was kindly loaned to me by Kylen & I ordered the space suit online.

Shot list

As it got closer to the shoot date, I started work on the shot list & callsheet.

I had 2 shoot dates. 1 was the main overnight shoot & the other was a short scene that takes place in the early hours of the morning. I sent it to my cast & then came production day!


BTS shots of the production of “Somewhere To Us”

One of the main challenges on set was sound, as the roads had cars occasionally driving by even in the wee hours of the night. We had to pause in between takes to allow cars to pass before continuing.

To make things harder, there were a people doing sticking their heads out of a van that was doing joyrides around the road we were shooting on, also a couple of ah bengs who were fighting on the opposite side because their e-scooters broke down.

Another scene which was a challenge to shoot was the dance scene, as the first shot was a 1 take continous shot, we had to shift all our production stuff into the car which was driven far behind to be hidden from the set. Also, cars were driving by, and safety for my cast & crew was an important thing to be wary of.

All These Sleepness Nights (2016)

The way we shot the dance scene was inspired by this Polish film called “All These Sleepness Nights” recommended to me by a friend just before we began production. I showed it to my DP and it was through that how we planned & choreographed that single take first shot.

But all in all, we got the shots we needed and wrapped on time!


Some stills from the film

Keeping to the duration of the assignment was a challenge as the film had a lot of dialogue and silent moments that I wanted to keep to create the sense of awkwardness between the 2 characters.

But thankfully, with the feedback from friends & Nicole, I trimmed out dialogue that didn’t move the story forward & still allowed some leeway for the awkward silences in between, while still keeping the rhythm & pace I wanted for this film.

Even before the shoot began, I already had a song planned in mind to use for the dance scene, we actually even had the people who came to audition dance to that song. I initially reached out to a composer whom I’ve worked with previously to try to recreate a similar tune of that song. But due to my own budget constraints, I reached out to the band & their manager via email & they were kind enough to allow me permission to use the song in the film! And with that, we shot the scene while playing that song in the background so the actors could feel the mood & tune of that song in the location itself.

I Don’t Know You – The Marias was used for the dance scene

Also for the end-credits music, I reached out to another band who also allowed me the usage of their song. It was quite a fortunate outcome as I couldn’t have imagined using another song for these 2 scenes. And the lyrics of these 2 songs do provide a sense of meaning for the story between the 2 characters as well.

We’re Not Just Friends – Parks, Squares and Alleys for the ending scene.

I was happy with the way the film turned out & in particular the pivotal dance scene between the 2 characters!

Final Thoughts

It was a challenging lead up to the production of this film as I was stuck with coming up with an idea even before the pitch.

Initially, I didn’t want to do a romantic-dramedy type film again as it was something I did enjoy doing but have done before. I was trying to go for something different instead of something so conversation-driven. Personally, I felt the addition of other elements in the film helped to make it more distinct and different from just your usual romantic-comedy & I was happy with the result.

With the support of my friends who provided me with so much feedback & encouragement along the way, it allowed me to push through & create this film that I am happy with.

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 4 – “Trash”

Final Video:

Password: a

Final gif:

Artist Statement/Concept

Being born in the 90s, I fall under the generational demographic otherwise known as the millennial. There are many personality traits of our group of people, ranging from the positive to negative.

When I set out to create this image, I was hoping to explore the negative side of my own experience as a millennial. Negative traits such as self-entitlement, arrogance, thinking we know how to run the world and being sheltered from reality are some of the traits I felt that I embodied in my personality as a millennial. To put it simply, I or we are considered trash, I used trash to represent this as we are useless, just thrown on to the ground as we lay to waste & do nothing with our own lives. At least that’s the negative stereotype that came with the title.

As you can see in my image, I have strewn a trash bag on to myself as I lie down in the vastness of this empty beach lying there asleep or ‘doing nothing’.

That was the concept when creating the original image, as this assignment was to create a moving image, it was a good opportunity to push the concept further and make the image more dynamic. I did this by adding other empty plastic bags floating in the wind. They move slowly as this is representative of this sedentariness I want to capture in my image as I am lying down asleep. The plastic bags are empty, representative of millennial stereotype as just being airheads and seemingly being able to hold a lot of things but are in actual fact just completely empty.

Technical Decisions 

Before I started the animation process, I broke down the image into 2 parts, creating a separate layer of just myself and another of just the background. I had to use the clone stamp tool to paint in the background to recreate it after I removed myself from it.

Background layer

Me layer

Afterward, I added 3 separate layers of empty plastic bags PNG files on top of the image so that I can use this for the animation process during After Effects. Breaking down the plastic bags into separate layers makes it easier during the animation process as they are all in individual layers.

The first thing after dragging the Photoshop file into After Effects was to create a new camera and enabling the depth of field settings to create a sense of perspective in the image.

After enabling 3D on my layers, the next thing I did was to move the position of my plastic bag layers, as I wanted them to be in the foreground of the image and out of focus, I moved them closer to the camera, but locking the camera’s focal point on my image and background plane.

I started by animating the camera to move forward, this helped to create a sense of depth and movement as it moved past my plastic bag layers and closer to me.

Next, to make the plastic bags have the floating effect I wanted, I used the puppet tool to create points on the layer, I then key framed the position of the points as the camera tracks in, I animated it to look like it’s floating in the air. This was done for all 3 plastic bag layers.

The movement was close to what I wanted for this gif, but I realised something was a bit off, and that was the sky was too still as everything else was moving.

What I did was to duplicate my background layer and do a quick rotoscope of the sky, with the sky as a new layer, I moved it behind my background plane and scaled it up to fit the image. I then just did a small position keyframe to move it as the image tracks in.

Just for minor details, I rotoscoped out the plastic on myself and created puppet points and key framed them as well to move back and forth to simulate the wind effect I was creating in my image.

Lastly, I used a curves adjustment as well as a hue/saturation adjustment on my plastic bag layers to blend the lighting of it into the image and change the colour of the plastic bag to a bit more of a dirty green colour.

And with that my final gif was created!

Artist references

1. Ronen Goldman

Ronen Goldman is an Artist and Conceptual Photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.  He specializes in creating “Photo-Dreams” – conceptually constructed photographs illustrating his various dream states. I was inspired by his compositions and framing, employing the use of objects that come into the foreground to create a sense of movement and depth in a still image.

2. Scorpion Dagger (aka James Kerr)

James Kerr, better known as Scorpion Dagger has created hundreds of GIFs that warp Renaissance artwork into a collection of surreal, irreverent animations. I was inspired by the subtleties he employs in his gifs, creating small and simple animations but yet are effective in terms of image-making.

3. Carl Burton

Carl Burton creates soothing and peaceful gifs to look at. The slow subtle movements he creates in his work definitely inspired me to employ this sense of calmness in my own image-making.


Visual Storytelling – Project 2: Self Portrait

Project Title: Self Portrait

Please access this link to view the final work. (opens in new tab)

*Spoilers below* (Please read after trying the website)

I have made changes with regards to the layout and linking of the images following the in-class presentation.

This is a write-up regarding the thought process I had with the concept, image-making, layout and how I’ve linked the images together to tell this story.

When you first enter the site, you will be greeted with a home page welcoming you to begin the story.

Clicking on the begin button takes you to a rule page which explains how the website works and how to interact with it.

This is the first image where you begin the story. There are a total of 4 buttons on this image.

Image 1:

Button 1: The scraps of paper on the right
Button 2: The painting
Button 3: The artist’s back
Button 4: The mirror

Clicking on button 1 takes you to the 2nd image in my sequence which is an empty canvas.

Button 1: The scraps of paper on the right
Image 2 & 3:

Clicking on the button in image 2 takes you to image 3.

The button in image 3 takes you back to image 1.

These 2 images are to first reveal what the scraps of paper are, they are paintings of the many attempts the artist has spent trying to create this perfect painting.

Button 2: The painting
Clicking on button 2 in the 1st image, we know that the artist is still painting, trying to work on this painting.

Button 3: The artist’s back
Images 4 & 5:

Button 3 takes you to image 4 of the artist’s t-shirt, filled with paint, he has already been at it for a long time.

Image 3 takes you to image 4 which is the artist’s hand filled with paint, showing the source of paint in image 3.

These 2 images further show the state of his hands & t-shirt now, filled with paint, this is to push the idea of the state of the artist is in this very moment, already filled with paint.

Image 5 has 2 buttons, one on the paint on his hand which is a back & forth between image 4 & 5 to show the source of paint.

The other button is on the brush, which takes you to image 3, revealing the painting. Establishing the connection and setting up the artist previous failed attempts at painting and showing his state now.

Button 4: The mirror

This button takes you to a close-up image of the mirror.

Image 6:

Clicking on the mirror takes you to image 7:

Image 7 shows you the back view of the artist, which he is using the other to reflect and see for himself. Clicking on the button brings us to image 8.

Image 8:

Image 8 establishes the fact that he is using the 2 mirrors to paint a back view of himself.

There are 4 buttons on this image.

Button 1: The artist’s face
Button 2: The artist’s brush
Button 3: The front mirror
Button 4: The back mirror

Button 3 & 4 brings you to the 2 respective mirrors so that the viewer can understand the significance of how the mirrors work for the artist.

Button 2 brings us back to image 5 which will link to image 4 to show us what the artist was painting.

Button 1:
Clicking on the artist’s face brings you to image 9, which is a close up of the artist looking at something.

Image 9:

Clicking on his eyes, we have a shocking revelation. The artist is bleeding, he is dying.

Image 10:

Clicking on the button which is on the blood. We go to image 11.

Image 11:

Image 11 reveals that the artist is bleeding everywhere, on his head and his hands. When you click on the blood on his hands, we go to image 12.

Image 12:

Image 12 also shows him dying, bleeding all over his body.

We click on the blood, we get another reveal, his final painting. This painting shows us the artist has been using the mirrors to paint a back view of himself.

But with a twist, his soul is leaving his body.

Image 13:

This image shows us the artist painting himself dying, which when you look back at image 3, it was an abstract version of this intended final painting. This connection shows us why the scraps are there and how the artist has already tried multiple times to perfect this painting.

There are 3 buttons on this image.

Button 1: His hand painting the image.
Button 2: The soul part of the painting
Button 3: The artist’s back.

Button 3 brings us back to image 7, which shows us how the back view he sees in the mirror is correlated to this painting he is trying to paint.

Button 1 brings us to image 14, which shows us the artist finishing the final stroke of his painting. The paint falling off his brush to show his final stroke.

Image 14:

Clicking on the paint brings us back to the painting. Relating the fact that the artist has finished the painting he is trying to accomplish.

Finally, button 2, reveals to us that the artist is in fact dead.

Image 15:

Button 1: The artist’s head
Button 2: His hand

Button 2 brings us back to image 14, once again relating his brush in the painting to his action in reality.

Button 1 brings us to the final image.

Image 16:

Image 16 reveals to us he is dead, clicking on his back, brings us back to image 1.

The concept:
This connection shows us that this whole series is capturing the moment in time where the artist finishes a painting of himself dying, completing a self-fulfilling prophecy of his own death through his own painting of himself dying.

Clicking on the “reveal” button on the menu on the left will confirm this story to the viewer once he/she has figured out.

Project afterthoughts:

Starting this project was a bit of a challenge for me as I struggled to find a story that could show a single slice of time but through multiple images. Which was kind of a conflicting thing, but it was definitely interesting exploring this as a medium of storytelling.

My initial arrangement of the website was more sequential, with 1 button per image, hoping that as the viewer plays through, they figure out the story, otherwise they can try again.

But after feedback & seeing someone else try the story during critique. I figured hiding different buttons within 1 image to allow the player to connect the dots to how these images link together through repetition and connection. This way of telling the story I wanted to tell works better and it gives the images new meaning as they are being discovered and clicked along the way.

I’ve arranged it such that as you click, you will see only 1 side of the story, such as revealing the artist’s death before seeing the painting. Or seeing the painting following the reveal of his death. This method of hiding 1 side of the story confuses the viewer and allows them to guess what is going on before the other side of the story is revealed to them.

It was definitely different from the typical way of how a story is approached and looked it, and I feel it being applicable to the way I tell stories in other mediums such as filmmaking, and this was definitely an interesting project!

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 3 – “Mouth”

Artist statement:
The 2 main things I set out to do for this project was to have a slightly quirky approach and telling the story from an unexpected perspective. The editing would also be quick but somewhat off matching with the voiceover is saying. With that in mind, I developed my concept.

The story I developed follows the mouth as it’s way of life is slowly become disrupted as it’s user’s lifestyle changes. The VO in this film is told from the perspective of the main character’s mouth.

As I was telling an entirely new story, finding the footage I needed for this project would be a challenge and I decided to just film everything from scratch.

Here is the link to view the final film!

And here’s the 30 seconds version:

Password: m

Technical decisions:
For the editing of this video, how I approached was this to create a first-person narrative of the mouth that is typically viewed as a non-sentient being. Having that perspective to indirectly match the visuals was to help keep the story light-hearted as well as to keep the quirky vibe I was trying to go for.

One of the main challenges for the editing of this video was the lack of music. As we were not allowed to use a music soundtrack for this project, it was a challenge trying to keep things interesting as well as to keep the pacing of the video.

So when I was conceptualising this project, it was important for me to always have an accompanying audio in the visuals. This was to help me achieve the kind of cuts I was going for as well keep the pace of the video.

Sounds such as the teeth brushing, cereal opening, chewing sounds and the door opening etc.

With these sounds in mind, I then used it to achieve the quick cuts of the visuals with the sounds.

Colour grading:

For the colours of this video, I was going for something that emulated film stocks but something that was more natural and having the colours to pop, the colours were also bright and everything was in bright light, keeping with the light-hearted tone of the film.

I then added some stock film grain by using an overlay over the raw video footage. This was to create that filmic look I wanted for the film.

Lastly, I added 4:3 crop bars, usually, people would use the 2:35:1 crop bars for the cinematic look. But for this video, a 4:3 crop bar was used as the film was focused on the mouth as the character.

Cropping off the excess on the sides helped removed any unwanted information in the frame and bringing the focus to the mouth. It also helped as an aesthetic choice to help the video have this vintage look.

Voiceover script:
This is Jerry.
But, no I’m not Jerry.
I’m Jerry’s mouth.
Jerry and I have been together for about 26 years.
Things used to be simpler.
But since that day things have changed
I’ve been getting quite a workout lately
It’s tiring
Things used to be more efficient
But now things take so much longer
Things used t… Jerry, what
are doing it’s only 6pm
You never gargle this long!
Floss? You never floss….
Jerry what’s happening? Who is this?
Jerry, what are you do… no! Jerry!

Oh. Well, that wasn’t so bad.

Artist references:

Edgar Wright

One of my main references is English filmmaker Edgar Wright, he often uses employs quick cuts with sounds and swells to great comedic effect. Employing this visual style of his, I was able to pace my video to show information but with the shortest amount of time.

Here are some examples of how he employs the use of quick cuts in his editing:

Wes Anderson

Another influence of mine is filmmaker Wes Anderson, he employs the use of central, symmetrical framing which helped guide me visually as I was shooting this film.

This Way Up – a 7 shot narrative

For project 1, we were tasked to create a short film told with only 7 shots under the  theme “the seen & the unseen”.

Due to the limitations of shots, how I approached to best tell this story was to set limitations for myself.

These 2 things were set in mind before I even began pre-production, which was to keep the film within a single location & following only a single character.


I first came across this lift by chance in an industrial area & knew I wanted to use it as the location for this film. I figured having an unsuspecting character trapped within the confinements of this space would be something interesting to explore.

The character I came up with was a deliveryman who unluckily gets stuck in the lift while making a delivery. The genre I was trying to go for was a bit more towards something like a dark-comedy. But those are the hardest things to write.

However coming up with what happens next was the trickiest process, I spent a long stressful time trying to figure this out. But, long story short, I discussed the idea with a group of friends & bouncing ideas off each other definitely helped to come up with the idea you see in the film.

The key point that we made in the discussion was to play on the words ‘this way up’, as that was what is normally printed on the front of parcels as to avoid damaging the contents.

Placing that in the context of the lift, I figured it would parallel how the lift is also going up. Which led me to the final idea of the box being a controller for the lift.


The script for the film was fairly simple, just a 2 page script of what happens in the film.

Location recce & test shots

I headed back down to the location to have a look at the lighting & the space. I also shot some test stills to understand the limitations of the space & to know what lenses to use for certain shots.

Test shots

Backup location

But as with every production, unfortunately after emailing the management of the building, they did not allow me to use this location for the shoot & I sourced for a backup location.

I planned to go forward with the shoot at the 1st location done in secret from the security & only kept this one as the backup location. I tried as much as possible to avoid using the backup location as it didn’t really suit the look I was trying to go for. (More on that during production)

Shot list

This was my shot list consisting of the 7 shots, it was crucial to have each shot progress the story due to it’s limitation.

My main challenge was the opening shot which I wanted it to be a 1 take shot introducing the character as well as setting up his predicament.

From a story point of view, the 1 take also symbolises the smooth-sailing unsuspecting deliveryman as he journeys into this magical lift. The first cut only happens when he trips over the box which sets things in motion.

Other considerations were also having the actor physically mimic the lift stopping shake in camera so that the stopping of the lift could be added later on in post-production.

One exception was my 3rd shot, I did 2 variations of the same shot, one handheld & the other, a still shot. This was in case I needed to add a digital camera shake in post.


I was initially going to do casting for this film, but it was quite fortunate that a classmate of mine worked with my lead actor, Christopher before.

I’ve seen Christopher’s previous work & he has also auditioned for a previous film of mine before. I knew he could convey the mannerisms & expressions of the character with no dialogue & would be a great fit for the role.

Fortunately it all worked out as he was free during the production dates & was interested in the story as well.

We met a couple days before the shoot for a rehearsal & also just getting to know each other better.

Production design

The box was crucial to this story, I had to find the perfect sized box as well as the little details that went on it, especially the ‘UP’ label. I designed a specific label for it to be placed onto the box, having it blend in with the box but at the same time being noticeable enough for the story.

Prepping the stencil to spray paint on to the box

Some fake labels which I created & printed on to sticker paper

Final box


Production day was tricky! My plan was to shoot in secret while not alerting the security, I made sure the crew that came to the location did not sign in with the guards so as to not alert them.

I also specifically told my cast to wait outside the building & I would fetch him to bring him into the building.

But as with Murphy’s law, things that went wrong, went wrong. My cast ended up talking to the guards while waiting & revealed to them that we were shooting today & the guards wanted to confirm with the management whether we were allowed to shoot there.

I spent an hour trying to convince them to allow us to shoot there, but they rejected all our requests.

I initially felt a bit defeated & exhausted from trying to convince them, but my crew & I packed our stuff & headed over to our backup location.

We were supposed to start at 8pm & end around 12am. But we reached our 2nd location at 1030pm, started the setup & began the shoot at 11pm.

Production BTS

But thankfully, we managed to wrap the shoot by 1:30am. Only taking about 2 & a half hours to finish shooting as compared to my planned timing on the callsheet which was about 4 hours.

Extremely grateful to my amazing team which really came through for me & for giving me tons of moral support I needed especially when things went wrong. Also for the quick setup & assisting me wherever needed.

The change in location also ended up being a blessing in disguise as the padding of this lift helped create an environment that looks similar to the inside of a box. Also, since this location had no security, I was free to shoot here as long as I needed & had more time to do more takes & rehearsing with regards to how he plays with the box.

Since I was directing & shooting this film, this allowed me to also have more time to frame better while rehearsing at the same time.

Kiwiduck films!

Shots breakdown

Shot #1:

For the first shot, it was a continuous long tracking shot which I used to establish a couple of things.

One was the character & him entering the lift, secondly was when we show the box which the audience may or may not take notice of, thirdly was when he places the box down & the lift stops, lastly was when he shouts for help & steps back.

Shot #2:

This is when the character tips over the box, I used a single shot for this to place emphasis on the box.

Shot #3:

The 3rd shot was to show the effects of the lift when the box is out of the character’s hand. I ended up using the handheld version of the shot as it felt more natural & the movement matched the character’s.

Shot #4:

The 4th shot was the moment of messing around & discovery of how the box works & relates to the lift. I had to let this shot play out for a bit as I wanted it to have this comedic element to it & also to control the pacing of the film.

Shot #5:

This was an important shot as well as it was the moment of realisation for the character & how he can use the box to control the lift.

Shot #6:

This shot was to show the character’s understanding of the box as he rides it all the way up to his desired level. However after reaching his floor, the lift doors remain closed. He figures maybe cutting open the box to see what is inside will help him understand what’s going on.

Shot #7:

The last shot happens outside the lift, as he opens the box, it correlates with the opening of the lift door, symbolising the box as the lift he is in. He looks inside & smiles, but it is never revealed what is inside the box. This was just to add a fantasy element to it & leaving the audience to wonder what is inside it.

The seen & unseen element of the film was how this unsuspecting label on the box that we usually never see ends up being of crucial importance to the mechanics of the lift. We journey with the character as he begins to see & discover the label as well.


Final timeline

Sound design was crucial to this film as we never get to see the levels of the lift, it was important to convey the movement of the lift through sound.

The pacing of the film was also important as it had to have this gradual sense of discovery as we learn the truth about the box with the character. The climax had to come in in a way that felt just nice & ties the whole film together.

Before & After

With the colour grading, I went for something a little green-ish, this choice was to match the aesthetic of the lift as well as giving it a somewhat dark yet magical look.

Final film

It was definitely a crazy & fun-filled process leading up the final film, but it was all in good fun. Do enjoy the final film!

Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 2 – “Morning Dip”

For our 2nd project we were tasked to create a composited self-portrait of a hyperreal fantasy world.

For my project the first thing that came to mind was to create something surreal & in line with what I have done for my first project.

After brainstorming & playing around with the other self-portrait images I shot previously, I couldn’t think of a concept that fit what I was trying to go for.

However, one of the images that I found & experimented on ended up something that I used to develop further into my final composite.


Final Image

Artist Statement

The concept for this image was my heavy reliance of drinking iced tea or ‘teh bing’ every morning before I started my day. While most people rely on coffee to get their daily caffeine fix, I relied on good ol’ coffee shop teh bing to kickstart my day.

I can literally feel the rush of sugar & caffeine every morning once I take my first sip of this beloved drink of mine. So for my image I pushed this idea of drinking teh bing in the morning into a more surreal one.

Showing myself dressed up in standard 9-5 office attire, I am swirling around in a whirlpool of a cup full of teh bing. This represents the overwhelming feeling I get when drinking it every morning.

The title of my image is ‘morning dip’, representing the idea of instead of getting my morning fix, I am now literally swimming in this cup full of teh.

Leaving on the Ya Kun toast logo on the cup was to add this local context to my image. Leaving it on a blank cup would have made it look like normal British tea, thus the decision to leave on the branding so people would immediately identify the colours & relate it to the classic teh bing drink.

Technical Decisions

While the image may look simple in it’s final form, there were quite a lot of challenges I faced while in my process of creating this image.

Firstly, the masking of the whirlpool to fit into the cup of teh had to be blended so that it looks seamless & not stick out like 2 different images pasted on top of each other.

The adding of myself into the whirlpool was also hard as I had to match the lighting of the teh image with the lighting of myself in the original image. Also I had to create a subtle reflection of myself in the teh such that it creates the idea that it is a liquid & not just a cut & paste of myself into a cup. Lastly, I had to remove certain parts of my arms so that it looks like I am sunken into the liquid.

Using the clone stamp tool to duplicate the swirls of the whirlpool underneath my hands such that it looks like I am being pulled along with the currents of the whirlpool.

Finally applying an overall colour balance to give it this vibrant low-contrast milky look I was trying to go for.

Artist References

Aleksandra Kingo

I was inspired by Aleksandra Kingo’s photography & her use of objects on bright coloured backgrounds. The way she places them in such a way that plays with the subjects was a source of inspiration to how I wanted to place myself in the cup.


Concepts of Digital Imaging Project 1 – “Trasher”

For our first project we were tasked to create a self-portrait that was a reflection of an exploration of oneself.


Artist statement & concept:
The concept that I had in mind when creating this image goes back to my own personal history as a skateboarder. I have been skateboarding for almost 7-8 years now.

I first started skating at the age of 14, this was when I was first exposed to the whole skateboarding scene in Singapore & also how I first started discovering about the town area, mainly the Somerset & Orchard areas.

I was skating mainly at the famous Somerset skatepark where I was exposed to a lot of these so-called rebels or rejects of society in Singapore. Skateboarding as a sport in Singapore is already quite uncommon & it comprises of a very small community of people. The general public tends to label us skateboarders as people who smoke, we are rowdy, always skating at street spots and causing damage to public property. There were times where I was even chased away by security & even got screened by the police. It was almost like we branded as criminals.

But as a skateboarder myself, I was exposed & was experiencing a completely different perspective of the skateboarding scene. While society tends to shun us & brand us as these so-called criminals or rejects, what I saw in this beloved sport of mine was passion.

People are using skateboarding as a way to escape their own troubles or worries of life. As cliche as it sounds, the moment I stepped on to my board, everything is gone in this temporary moment. Skateboarding to me is freedom, not just giving me the literal freedom while riding. But also in it’s freedom of expression, I was able to dress & do whatever I want & not care what people think.

It was in fact through skateboarding that I discovered my own path as a creative. Skateboarding is deeply rooted with art, design & films. It meant a lot to me & probably many other people as well. It was freeing for us & it is quite sad to me that people judge us & give us certain looks as we ride our boards minding our own business.

I’ve personally gotten these looks of disappointment myself. I felt defeated. Defeated from the love of own sport from other people who had no idea of how much it meant to me & the influence it had on my life.

With that experience in mind, this was what I chose to portray in my image. I am wrapped up in a trash bag, symbolic of myself being regarded as trash. I am lying motionless on the floor, almost like in a body bag as part of this crime scene.

Around me are my board, and other parts like trucks, wheels & my shoes have flung out of my feet. I lay defeated within this wide space to show how small & irrelevant I am in this stigma society puts us in.

The environment I am in is in a giant bowl of a skatepark, it’s marks on the corners resemble that of a large trash chute & the space creates this idea of the space of a huge dumping ground.

I put myself in this environment as I felt it was ironic that even though I am this literal piece of trash lying defeated in this massive dumping ground. But yet I am still lying in the comfort of my own ground within my territory which is that of a skatepark.

Hence the title of my self-portrait is “trasher”, this was intended as wordplay on the iconic skateboarding magazine otherwise known as Thrasher Magazine along with the word trash.

Technical decisions:
For the edit, I was trying to create this slightly desaturated with neutral colour tones, but yet also leaning towards a colder look for the photo. I have added these blue-green tone in my highlights to help push this visually.

I wanted this low contrast & flat look for the overall image, but yet at the same time, not losing this contrast on myself & the items that lay around me.

I did this by masking myself & lifting up the shadows, to allow my highlights on the trash bag to really pop out from the background. I also did masking to the skateboard & the parts, lifted up the saturation slightly to help bring that focus to it in the composition as these were the only elements in my photo that had colours.



After receiving feedback during our critique presentation, I went back to make minor adjustments with the highlights & shadows present in my background to help push this image stronger visually. By pushing down these 2, it helped me as a subject in the frame pop out stronger as well as the colours of my skateboard parts become more prominent.

I made adjustments to the saturation of the background as well, tweaking it slightly to give it a more flat look.

Further edits after feedback

For my lens choices, I shot this image with a Canon 6D & a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens. This image was shot at a focal length of 42mm which I would say is something close to a 35mm focal length. As my image isn’t the usual close-up portrait, I didn’t want to use the usual 50mm focal length that would be used for portraits. Neither did I want the distortion that would come from using a wide angle lens or a 28mm focal length.

This image was shot at f5 to help keep everything sharp & in focus as opposed to using an f2.8 aperture which might have created unwanted softness in certain parts of the image.

Artist references:

1. Kyle Thompson

I love the surreal, naturalistic portraits Kyle Thompson creates. He makes use of everyday objects & common locations but creates something that is not only visually compelling but also feels out of worldly. The surreal feeling he creates was what I wanted to capture as well with my own image.

2. Alex Stoddard

Another photographer whose work inspired me was Alex Stoddard’s self-portraits series. Similar to Kyle, he plays with the use of objects & environment to create that I feel was something visually compelling & conveys a strong narrative behind the image.

Final Image:

And once again, my final image. Really enjoyed exploring different ways of doing self-portrait photography through this assignment. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to create something that was unlike the stuff I would typically shoot.

Onward to project 2!




Project 3: Ego


For this project, the concept I have gone with is the exploration of myself during the production of 4 different short films I did in the past.

The first box being about myself & what or why inspired me to do this film, the situation box represented by that 1 key element of the film & the outcome was what resulted in the making of each of those films.

I first started this project by coming up with an colour plan to represent each row. This colour scheme I came up was determined by the colours that was most prevalent in each one of the films that I made.

1.Getting Back”

2. “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue”

3. “Chasing Tomorrow”

4. “Apology”

My colour plan:


I was inspired by the minimalist poster designs done by artist Peter Majarich. As I was creating designs inspired by my films, it was natural of me to adopt a style that was reminiscent of film poster designs.


For all the 4 rows, I was trying to keep consistent with the elements I chose to use within each box to properly represent what I did.

The 1st box of myself is being represented by an object instead.

The 2nd box is a key scene that takes place within the film with a consistent circle motif that also has meaning within the context of the film.

The 3rd box is what happened to me after the production of that film is represented by different versions of myself.

ROW 1:

For the first row, it was during the production of a sci-fi film titled “Getting Back” I did for a film competition organised by NASA.

For this whole row I adopted a triadic colour theory to create a harmonious and lively colour scheme representative of the light-hearted feeling in that film.


For the first box, the composition represents me finding inspiration for the film. For the colour scheme, I decided on using the colours of the NASA logo, which is red, blue & white. But I changed the moon to a yellow to bring focus to the person looking up at it. It is to show a guy looking at a cinema screen that looks like he’s looking out of a window looking out of space.

This was representative of me watching various sci-fi films to find inspiration for this film.


I started off with a base colour of blue as the background for my 2nd box.

I added a pink circle that was representative of the sunset in the climax of the film & a yellow colour on the helmet to balance out the blue. These 3 colours created a harmonious triadic colour scheme which I adopted for this row.


For the 3rd box, the outcome of me making this film resulted in my crew & I being badly sunburnt after a 7 hour shoot at Tuas. I started by using a red to represent myself being sunburnt, then adding yellows & blues to complement the red, so that it wouldn’t be as striking within the composition.

ROW 2:

For the 2nd row, this was a film titled “Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue” that I made for a 72 hour film competition.


Since I was working with a tight deadline for this film, I used an hour glass to represent the short amount of time I had to represent how I felt during the production of this film.

Using a split-complementary colour theory for this box, I used blue as the base colour of the hourglass with blue-green colours for the sand & the orange in the background to complement the blue so that it isn’t too harsh on the eyes.


As the film that I made for this competition was more experimental & consisted of darker themes, I adopted an analogous colour scheme as I didn’t want the composition to appear too vibrant, but at the same time, keeping it easier on the eyes.

As the film’s central theme was about image & self-beauty, the circle was representative of a mirror or reflection that comprises of the protagonist who in the film was looking at herself throughout a mirror the whole film. This was to keep consistent the circle motif going for the 2nd box of all the rows that I have started for the 1st row.


The outcome of my team & I making the film which was an unexpected one as we won 2nd place for the competition which caught us all by surprise. I used split-complementary colours for this composition to bring attention to the yellow of the trophy which I wanted to be the main focus of the composition. But, at the same not wanting to make it too harsh, I then used red in the background & blue in my pants complement with the yellows.

ROW 3:

For row 3, it was the film I made for my diploma plus’ final year project titled “Chasing Tomorrow”. There was a major unfortunate event that took place just the day before I was scheduled to film due to last minute cancellations for the female cast that happened right after I had just paid $500 for equipment rental.


I used a complementary colour scheme of orange & blue-green in the first box of myself. This was to bring a striking focus to the camera that was representative of me having rented the equipment for the shoot.


As this film takes place entirely at night, I used an analogous colour scheme as I wanted the composition to look as though the 2 characters are sitting in the moonlight. The analogous colours helps it to look calming on the eyes, just like the particular scene that takes place within the film.

The circle motif is used here once again as a visual representation of the moment where the 2 characters share a conversation under the moonlight.


For the 3rd box, me renting equipment plus the production of this film resulted in myself feeling like dying just right before the production of the film. I represented this by showing myself lying in a coffin holding the camera that I had just rented. Going with split-complementary colours, I used orange as the base colour to bring attention to myself and then using blue-green for the coffin & blue-violet for the background to complement with the orange.

ROW 4:

For the final row, this was a film I made for one of the projects for the Foundation 4D module. The film was titled “Apology”, as I made with a double meaning that serves both as a narrative short film as well as an apology to my girlfriend due to my own neglect of her during the busy school period I was going through at the time.

Similarly to the first row,  I adopted a triadic colour scheme for this entire row to harmonise the colours of the row as it was also representative of the melancholic feeling of this film.


In the first box, I used an unanswered phone to represent my own neglect of my girlfriend. The red was to bring focus of the phone, which is then balanced with the use of yellow of the buttons & the light blue in the background.


In the 2nd box, the yellow from the buttons is now used on the protagonist’s clothes to bring focus to her. But at the same time, I used a reddish brown colour for the easel & the blues in the background & circle around her to balance the composition.

The circle motif was used here as a way to show how this film was centred around this 1 character that we follow throughout the film.


And for the last box, the outcome of me making this film resulted in my girlfriend & I making up. I used red on myself which was previously used from the phone I used to represent myself. The yellows used on my girlfriend came from the protagonist’s clothes which the film was centred around & was also how I represented her in the film.

These 2 colours were used to bring attention to both us in the composition. We are sitting together harmoniously as we made up as the result of me making this film, the blue-green in the hair & light blues in the background once again used to balance out all the colours.



Overall it was a very fun project for me as I was able to touch Adobe illustrator again & re-learn creating vector designs that I felt were a major improvement compared to what I was doing back in year 1 of poly when I had a graphic design module.

I was also quite happy with how the designs came out especially for the 2nd box as I feel they can now be used as minimalist interpretations for my short films!

For me, the challenge & major learning point from this whole project was the concept of colour theory. Previously when selecting colours for my designs, I would just go with what I felt looked good & not keeping in mind the rules of complementary colours, analogous colours etc. What I’ve learnt from this is definitely crucial to me, as not just for the use in graphic design, but for other areas of my work (e.g. film), I can now apply these concepts of colour theory to create more visually striking compositions.

Also, a big thanks to Joy for helping me throughout the process of this whole project (and project 2 as well), figuring out the colour schemes with me & always giving me suggestions & ways to improve my work. Even at times when I felt my work looked complete, her suggestions would catch me off guard & was something I would have never noticed. These little suggestions along the way actually helped me refine my work further & made it look more aesthetically pleasing in a way that I didn’t think could have been possible. I really appreciated all the consultations I had with her that helped me really create work that I am rather proud of.

It’s a bittersweet ending to end of the module but I’m glad to have learnt & created so much work that I never thought I could within this short period of time!








Project 2: Forrest Gump

As a huge lover of movies, the idea of this project definitely excited me.

For the final 4 quotes (highlighted below in bold), I have chosen them from different films that have inspired me & also based on how I could visualise them & reinterpret them in different ways.

The final 4 quotes:

“After that breakup, I just want to be a ghost, completely anonymous.” – Before Sunrise (1995)

“Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin’ the cemetery?” – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

“You don’t love me, you just love that I love you.” – mother! (2017)

“Every civilisation was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.” – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The main challenge I faced for this project was to interpret these quotes without applying any context of the films into the designs.

Through various feedback from my friends & Joy during this whole process, this project definitely pushed my conceptualising skills further & taught me how to think beyond & not give surface level interpretations of the quotes.

Here are my final 4 compositions & how I developed them:

1. Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise is one of my favourite & most inspiring films to date, thus it was natural of me to source there first for inspiration.

“After that breakup, I just want to be a ghost, completely anonymous.”

For my first draft, I started with using a prisoner’s ball chain as a visual representation of the breakup. Chaining a literal ghost down to the ball as he stands in front of a mirror to represent the part on being ‘completely anonymous’.

As mentioned before, when I started, I was approaching each quote very literally & just applied visual elements of the quote in to the designs. Through this feedback from Joy, I went back to rethink how I could give more meaning to this quote.

For the 2nd draft, from this quote the main takeaway was the part on being”completely anonymous”, so with that I removed the head of the man & replaced it with floating balloons. However, he is unable to escape as he is burdened both metaphorically by the ‘dead’ weight of the relationship as represented here by a woman as well as still being chained down by the ball.

Through consultations, I was asked to try exploring a different interpretation of the ‘breakup’ part of this quote. Instead of it being a literal breakup between a man & a woman, perhaps it could be a breakup between man & something else.

For the 3rd draft leading up to my final design, I decided to explore the relationship between man & greed. Using a pile of money to represent this physical manifestation of greed, I tried to arrange the elements differently to see which best fitted.

I tried to show a man who was trying to float up but instead was being weighed down by money. After the 4th draft, I decided that using the safe as a physical anchor created a lot of unnecessary distractions in the design.

For the final design, the man being floated up by balloons, is weighed down by the pile of money engulfed in chains. This was to signify that man can only be free when he breaks lose of the chains of greed that hold him down.

Also playing with the scale & size of the man & the huge pile of money. I was using it to show the overwhelming impact of greed & how little we as humans can be.

This was also the design that I chose to silkscreen on my tote bag. I felt that the minimalist design of this composition would fit better on a tote bag.

As I had previously exposed my screen with the first draft during the silkscreen workshop, I had to come back to redo the exposing process. The coating, exposing & washing was pretty straightforward despite it being a very time-consuming process.

Afterwards, I did a couple of test prints on paper to check the results. It smudged quite a little & I lost some details in the chains on the money, but since the texture of the tote bag was different, I decided to go for it anyway to see how it would turn out.

I was quite satisfied with the result! I think I was also quite lucky as due to the minimalist nature of the design, the risk of smudging & losing details on the tote bag wasn’t as high & I managed to get the result I wanted on my 1st try.

I went ahead to print my design on a 2nd tote bag which I have used as my final. The 2nd time turned out better then the 1st as I managed to get back some of the darker values in the balloons & as well as in the money. This also resulted in a better contrast between the money & the chains.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

For the 2nd design, it was relatively easier as I had not seen the film before, thus I was able to approach this quote without thinking of the context of the film.

“Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin’ the cemetery?”

After reading the quote, what I interpreted was a before and after scenario being played out. But, what I have done instead was to combine the visual elements into one design.

I did that by using zombie hands that are coming out of the grave & are literally grabbing & pulling a burger stand into the ground signifying how much they wanted the burgers.

For the 2nd design, the interpretation wasn’t an issue, but rather, the execution.

For the 3rd draft (middle), I decided to rotate the burger stand at a steeper angle, helping it to create the sense of pull as the hands are dragging it into the ground. I replaced the burger of stand to a clearer photo of a burger to create focus in the composition.

For the final design, I shifted the graves around to create more contrast at the bottom & angled the hands such that it engulfed the burger stand, creating leading lines that start from the bottom, follow up the burger stand & lead the eye to the burger.

3. mother! (2017)

Taking this quote from a more recent film that I’ve seen, I liked the lack of visual elements in the quote, thus pushing me to conceptualise deeper for the design.

“You don’t love me, you just love that I love you.”

From reading the quote, my main takeaway was the idea of pride & ego. The part “you just love that I love you” to me plays with the idea of someone who is so in love with themselves, that even the thought of a lover loving him gratifies him more so then the love itself.

For this, I used the animal of a lion who from my research are known to be the proudest of animals to represent the idea of ego & pride. I replaced hunted animal trophy heads with lionesses heads framed up on the wall. The repetition of lioness heads are representative of how many lovers, or lionesses in this case, the main lion has as well as to show how insignificant they are to him. The scale of the main lion was also significantly larger then the rest to represent his big ego & to create focus.

Through feedback from the 1st draft to the 2nd, it felt like the lionesses heads in the background were competing for focus with the main lion in the front. Also the wine glass was not as clearly shown. With that mind, I reduced the size of the lionesses heads as well as replacing the wine glass with a clearer photo of it.

To push this further, I reduced the half-tone intensity for the background such that it’s dark value doesn’t clash with the contrast of the lions as well as painting away some of the white values in the wine glass to create a reflection. I also added a darker arm chair for the lion to sit on, the dark value in the chair was also to draw focus to the main lion in the centre.

4. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Drawing inspiration also from another film that I’ve watched recently, the idea of applying a social context to this quote definitely excited me.

“Every civilisation was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.”

The part of the quote “disposable workforce” made me think of what animal is usually represented as the ‘hardworking’ or known as the ‘worker’ animal, that was of course the ox.

I placed oxen on a conveyor belt to represent how this ‘workforce’ was being constantly churned out at a consistent rate. I intended for this piece be quite meta as well, having the worker who is also an ox, in charge of the conveyor belt & having him literally watching more of himself get produced. Essentially making this whole process an entire loop.

The ox is on a robot body, to signify how this whole process is in fact quite monotonous & robotic as well. The supports that hold up the conveyor belt was actually Roman columns or pillars that I drew inspiration from my art history research paper. These columns are used as representative of a civilisation.

Playing with the alignment of the cows, I used this design element to represent the structure & monotony in the process depicted in the composition.

There weren’t as much changes from the 1st draft leading to the final apart from arranging the gears in the conveyor belt more clearly. I was asked to explore the inclusion of having more robotic parts on the 2nd & 3rd cow as it went down the production line, but I felt that would take out the message of consistency & monotony I was trying to convey with this composition.

Critique day:

It’s a wrap!