NTU ADM Animation Showcase 2011

Another year, another batch of NTU Art, Design and Media animators are graduating, this time with a screening in a swanky location that is Iluma’s Filmgarde. For the benefit of prospect employers who may take an interest in their works is a beautiful compendium of works by the Class of 2011 given for free at the door. Personally, I find it beyond heartening that Singapore’s young graduating filmmakers are accorded the respect and big screen treatment for their final year projects, a testament of the maturity of their works. The sad reality is that this honour is the best they can get for now until they earn their big break in an industry which works interns, freshies and freelancers very hard for little or unstable money.

Fourteen works were screened in total in this evening of animation works, each of a standard that is worthy of transcending local borders into international film festival showcases--and maybe even notch an award or two.
My top five notable mentions for the evening, in no particular order, go to:

Spycat and the Paper Chase (Derwin Suhali, Fung Chun Hong, Darren Lim, Soh Yu Xian)
Tales of the Chugawagas (Khoo Yi Hui, Goh Huiying, Anne Tan)
Kevin (Ding Xiao (Clio))
Winter in the Warmth (Harry Zhuang, Henry Zhuang)
Project Marionette (Joshua Tan, Candice Elizabeth Chua, Liew Yong Jia)

Spycat is a crowd-pleaser that hits all the right buttons, and will delight the young ones. The clich├ęd formula cannot be faulted as many animations, after all, work within the framework of a despicable villain and an antihero that is otherwise disguised as a bumbling loafer. “Stupid lazy cat, what has he ever done for anyone?” bemoans Ashley, the owner of pet cat Oreo in this 5:47 short, the latter harboring a separate identity of secret agent extraordinaire Spycat called upon to save the world time and again. The villain is Captain Chico, mastermind of the thievery of swathes of paper supplies around the world from Tokyo, Paris and even Timbuktu. With a hilarious motive and contemporaneous references to Facebook, the Japanese anime-esque short film indeed has legs to expand into some sort of mini-series.

Chugawagas take on a more mature theme that is hardly child’s play. A team of ‘spirit-like’ creatures work diligently through the night as human beings drift off into their dream worlds, brandishing film equipment as the hierarchical nature of the Chugawagas eventually take shape during the course of the 4:18 film. There are directors, producers, cameramen, soundmen etc among the Chugawagas in this short film that will resonate with the filmmakers themselves, as well as anyone in the industry. The double entendres in the film are clever, with the apotheosis of almost being found out in their dalliance a plausible reference to censorship laws and fly-on-the-wall filmmaking.

Kevin, is a one-man 2:46 project by Clio Ding features a starving dinosaur battling the worst day of its life, marooned on an island with no means of being rescued. There are UFOs, aliens, sunken ships, explosions and a tall coconut tree, amid a ragbag of unfortunate happenings to befall the dinosaur. Befitting the cute hilarious story are simple sketches that form the animation; while not as technically-pronounced as Spycat or Chugawagas, the form fitting the function in accentuating the mood of the short piece that is paired with an ironically jovial score.

Winter is a dramatic piece about a hedgehog on the search for warmth in a cold winter, with its eventual desperation driving it into the cave of a hibernating fox and eventually its demise. Save for a cold, deep bass voice reciting the bleak tale in the form of a poem, the film is inherently silent without any music accompaniment, as well as sketches that emphasizes the stark nature of the story.

Marionette, the closing film for the evening, is a spooky thriller that is definitely not for the faint-hearted. With an ambience reminiscent of Hotel 626 (http://hotel626.com/), the bone-chilling interactive advergame that was created to promote Doritos snacks, Kaitlyn wakes up in a locked room to find herself the subject of a startling scientific experiment.

Marionette - Trailer

“Unfettered by the constraints of physical realities, they construct worlds of wonder and imagination, drawing from the inspiration of real life,” said the introduction to Digital Animation in the accompanying portfolio. All in all, kudos to the 33 graduating students of ADM’s Digital Animation Class of 2011 who will be set for greater things, especially with animation being a sunrise industry here given the establishment of both international and boutique studios here.
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