Animatic – Noah’s Ark

https://youtu.be/6YZBIZubUNs

The story of Noah’s Ark with a twist.

Noah decides to build a boat out of nowhere. Not understanding the source of his inspiration, the villagers tease him about him. Despite feeling discouraged, he continues on until completion. He falls asleep on the boat, only to wake up in the middle of a flood. One would think that he’d be relieved, but he goes on to show how unprepared for the flood he actually was.

The story is supposed to be a quick entertainment bite, hence the duration of the film. I wanted to make it straight to the point, because I feel based on my past projects, I tend to be very draggy.

Process

Initially I wanted to just do a basic rendition of Noah’s ark. Halfway into Assignment 3, I felt that the story could be given a little twist – I mean, everyone knows the original story of Noah’s ark, so it’ll be a little tough to make my animatic stand out from the rest if my storyline itself is already unappealing. Hence, the twist.

Some of the sound effects were placed such that it started before the visuals appeared, this is just to set the scene. The drawings were purposely made ’not very clean’, simply for style. I also chose to use fade as a transition from frame to frame/to black, because of the change of scene and to show the passing of time.

I converted the panels from my previous assignment into frames with proper sizing (1920 x 1080), and drew additional scenes, cuts, expressions and backgrounds in order to piece the different shots together. This was done with digital painting with Alena’s wacom (<3).

From there, I brought everything over from illustrator to after effects and did the animation there. I included sound effects to enhance the storytelling, since there was no dialogue at all.

Improvements

I feel that by adding music, it might better portray the tone of the animatic. Also, some of the sound effects sounded a little too cheesy to me, the animatic might come out a little better if more realistic sound effects were used.

 

2,000 – BTS

What is a home to you? Many might interpret it as a physical house, a place that gives you shelter, some might find the people around them that gives them the ‘homely’ feeling.

For Serene, home to her is the feeling of being accepted, the sense of belonging. Born and raised in Taiwan, but with a huge interest towards Western pop culture, she felt that she didn’t fit in with anyone in her hometown.

Ironically, Serene feels like she found her sense of home, away from her physcial house. Through an online chat platform, she meets Wayne, a Singaporean-caucasian teen that she soon forms an online relationship with. In a desperate attempt to meet him, she sacrifices familiarity and flies over to Singapore with the excuse of pursuing an international degree. To her disappointment, she realises that Wayne isn’t really who she thought he is, and that the sense of home that she was looking forward to attaining, was ultimately a facade.

The sense of home in this short film is depicted through emotions, rather than a physical place. In an ironic way, the ‘home’ that she pursues is actually 2,000 miles away form her physical home in Taiwan, hence the title. Through the narration and visuals, the audience will follow her through her emotional rollercoaster, until she meets Wayne.

 

Assignment 4:

LOGLINE:

A Taiwanese girl travels to Singapore in pursuit of belonging.

SYNOPSIS:

Born and raised in Taiwan all her life, Serene couldn’t find a sense of belonging. Through an online chat platform, she meets Wayne, a Singaporean teen that she instantly connected with. She flies over in an attempt to meet him, but to her dismay, she slowly realises that the connection that she thought she felt turned out to be a facade.

 

PRE-PRODUCTION

Thanks to the help of my groupmates, I was able to finalise most of my pre-production fairly quickly. I tried to be as comprehensive as possible at this stage, in order to minimise any confusion or problems that might come about during production.

Since the scriptwriting process, I already had a song in mind to feature in the short film (The Moon Song, originally by Karen O). I decided to use a cover for this short film, as I have so happened to have gotton permission from the cover artists The Hound and The Fox for a previous assignment from back in my polytechnic days, for which we ultimately did not use in the assignment. The choice of song is deliberate, as the lyrics is able to narrate the literal and the underlying story.

Lyrics

Many of my shots were able to match up with the lyrics of the song. For example, while the highlighted lying was being played, the protagonist laid down on her bed. Another example is when the higlighted dark and shiny place was playing, Serene’s silhouette is seen as she opens the door of her dorm room. The first stanza of the song goes on about how though they were ‘a million miles away’, ‘I’ll be there soon’, perfectly encapsulating how Serene felt at that point of time. The second and third stanza slowly becomes more and more of a juxtaposition of her thoughts and feelings against the truth that was slowly unravelling in front of her, as seen in ‘there’s no things I’d keep from you’ in the second stanza, and ‘it’s a perfect afternoon’ and ‘your shadow follows me all day, making sure that i’m okay’ in the third stanza.

After finalising the script, I went ahead to look for inspiration on vimeo to create my shotlist. As this was my first solo short film, I wanted to properly plan each shot such that it encompass meaning and emotions that can further elevate the viewing experience. Here are some screengrabs of other short films that I took inspiration from.

Location scouting (my favourite thing to do!!) took me some time, as I had to find places that could separately depict Taiwan and Singapore. I shortlisted a few places in Singapore, but only chose a few of them that were close in proximity to NTU, due to shortage of time and manpower to travel to multiple places.

One of the many unused locations that I have shortlisted is this particular HDB rooftop at Bishan. I wanted to film here as I feel it perfectly represents Singapore (without using the already overused drone shot of MBS, The Esplanade and Singapore Flyer).
Fig A.
This image (along with Fig A), is taken from the Chinese/Japanese garden. I feel that these 2 specific areas of the garden is able to perfectly portray the loneliness that the protagonist feels, even after moving to Singapore.
SPRUCE @ NTU was the cafe that we shot at. This location was chosen mainly for convenience, and how we were easily able to get permission to film there.
This long walkway at Marina has been part of many of my productions due to the tension it can bring out in the scene.

I didn’t have much of a problem in casting, as I had my friend, Jocelyn, in mind ever since the scriptwriting process. I felt that she had the 台湾小妹 vibes which was perfect for the short film. For the voiceover artist, I have Ms Teo Ying to thank, as she did a perfect reading of the script, and was able to perfectly portray the emotions of the protagonist at every stage of her journey towards meeting Wayne.

PRODUCTION

I sent constant reminders to my actress, as well as crew members in order to prevent some human error from happening (eg. forgetting to bring certain equipments, arriving late/at the wrong location, etc).

Example of a text to my actress, sent two days before and one day before the shoot. Similar messages were sent to my crew members.

Leading up to the production of 2,000, I was becoming more and more jittery as it was my first time leading the production of a short film by myself (realistically speaking, as my other team mates had their own short films to worry about). However, all 3 days of shoot went rather smoothly – even the sudden rain on day 2 worked with the shots that we took. I really have to thank my crew members for being super cooperative and helpful throughout the entire process!!! (shoutout to Hannah and Chloe for their suggestions, Celine for being extra resourceful, Zhong Wei for her attention to detail, and Kris for just being an awesome DOP!!)

D1/3

D2/3

D3/3

POST-PRODUCTION

One major problem that I faced was being unable to help viewers differentiate the shots that were supposedly taken in Taiwan and those that were taken in Singapore (thanks Nicole for bringing this really good point up!) To tackle this problem, I sourced for old footage of Taiwan and inserted some cuts into the start of the short film as establishment shots, and tried my best to edit the different shots with different colour grading styles. As I am close to clueless in regards to colour grading, I feel like I wasn’t able to use the colour of the shots to differentiate both locations. The colour schemes and tones seem to be very similar, if not, the same. With more practise in this aspect, I am confident that I will be able to do better in future short films!

REFLECTIONS

In general, I am really grateful for this opportunity to direct my own short film and be able to work together with so many awesome people. Though it could definitely use a lot of improvement, I feel that this process has slowly built my confidence in filmmaking.

One way that I thought I could improve on is followup. Due to certain corrections that I have made during the production stage, I wasn’t able to make the proper changes in the scripts that I have handed out to the crew, thus there were times where I had to clarify some confusion among the crew.

A piece of feedback that I have for the course in general is that, maybe for future batches of DN1015 students, their final project could be a group assignment, as for students that are just starting out in filmmaking, the whole process of creating a film by him/herself could be too overwhelming.

Title Sequence

The first few seconds of a movie is crucial as it can determine whether your audience is going to stay and watch on, or skip to another film. The use of an engaging title sequence is one great way of hooking them.

One example of a brilliant title sequence in my opinion, is one from the TV Series “Power”, with executive producer 50 Cent.

The use of mostly items and object to hint at what the TV show is about is brilliant at using semiotics to set the tone and mood for both first-time viewers of the show and avid watchers. Its simple nature and high contrast further helps this title sequence pack a punch.

In regards to the made-up movie, I have decided to have it in the mystery/thriller genre, targeted towards adults between ages 16-45. The following is a short write-up on the content of the movie.

Being the youngest daughter of the wealthiest family in the city, Pamela tries to move away from the lavish yet overprotected life and make a name for herself. With the help of her trusted friends, she has to learn how to differentiate between her loyal business partners and scheming snakes.

Having being inspired from the above title sequence, the title sequence for this movie will also be black and white, however one main difference is the incorporation of cinemagraphy into the title sequence. The contrast of movement and lack thereof in one single frame will be able to further emphasise to the viewers the kind of life that Pamela has been living; all eyes are always on her, and she constantly feels as if the world is revolving around her.

 

Below is a moodboard for the movie.

Story Beats – The Flood

A story in 8 beats.

The Flood.

Process:

From the beginning, I thought of using a bible story and giving it a little twist. This is because there are many bible stories are pretty well known (eg. David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Jonah and the Whale, Adam and Eve, etc.) and I wanted to choose one and tweak some parts of the story to make it a little more straightforward and humorous. The element of familiarity, mixed with a different adaptation will make the comic more attractive for others to want to read it.

I chose the story of Noah and the Ark, as it is well known to be one that promotes perseverance and determination to attain your set goals. I tweaked the story such that it doesn’t end on a high note, and make Noah seem a little more human, so the reader is able to relate to his carelessness.

rough story outline, before and after breaking it down into 8 beats

Initially, I was a little confused at the project requirements and order, thus I was drawing out the frames that were meant to be in the comic.

I’m not the best at drawing, so it took me some time over the Chinese New Year holiday to create draft after draft and draw out the beats :,)
It was at this point when Alena clarified things with me *BLESS U ALENA*

For the final 8-beat piece, I tried experimenting with different framing angles to make the story more vibrant as a whole. I also made use of the technique of drawing darker lines for subjects in the foreground, and lighter lines for those in the background (thanks Don!). I also used a lot of visual cues to accentuate what each frame is trying to depict.

For example, I drew out the laughter in a bold font, to make the teasing by the villagers more impactful. In the 4th frame, I drew a sweat drop on the side of Noah’s head to show his fatigue and accentuate the hard work that he has put in to building the boat. Also, I drew a frame around the boat, to show how accomplished he felt after the completion of the boat.

The use of punctuations also helps to tell the emotion of Noah at that current state. In the 6th frame, the punctuations ?!?! was used to show his confusion and shock to wake up to see nothing but the horizon. In the final frame, the punctuations !!! was used to show a different kind of shock – more anger and frustration in that emotion as compared to the 6th frame.

All in all, this 8-beat assignment taught me how to tell a story with as little words as possible (in frame, that is), and make full use of angles, framing size, subjects in frame, and other additional elements in order to fully depict the story to my readers, including all the different emotions that I want to convey from each frame.