We have had the pleasure to interview Ian Chung (鍾侑軒), the Jury Award winner of iAniMagic 2017, to learn more about his journey in the animation world. After graduating from National Tainan University of Arts, he started working as Storyboard artist and 2D FX Artist in an animation studio. Previously he was involved in the production of various Taiwanese animation films and TV series. His award-winning piece Future is considered to be a ‘stylish’ and ‘fun’ piece that has caught attention around the world.
Read on for our conversation with Ian:
In your animation narration, you mentioned that creativity in like magic for many animators. How do you think creativity is developed? Or is it an innate skill?
I used to think that you have to be born with a creative mind, but now I believe that creativity is something you could develop and even practice with a systematic approach. By being highly observant and attentive to all sorts of things, your brain develops an extensive library that stores information. You can then restructure and play with the information– this is how imagination is formed. This approach should become a natural habit that requires your strong determination and curiosity in the world. Just like creating music and dancing, it takes regular practice and commitment, and all those experiences will help you form the foundation of creativity.
“Creativity is something you could develop and even practice with a systematic approach”
Can you tell us about the creation process of your winning work, Future?
When I first thought about the theme future, it gave me the chance to think about things I would like to do in the future. After putting more thoughts into it, memories of my childhood aspirations and the doodles I used to draw in my Math notebook surfaced. Back then I didn’t have sufficient skills to develop the heroes and villains in my imagination into proper art pieces. But after all these years, I felt that I could use animations as a means to communicate with the “me” in the past.
In the creation of Future, which part did you find the most challenging?
Creators of short animated videos have to use the limited time frame of the video to convey the theme and meaning of the animation to the audience. This can be challenging but it encourages creators to be organized and expressive. For me, I had to experiment with many angles to exaggerate the actions of the characters and used many 2D animation transformation techniques to create a more intense composition.
The judges were very impressed with your work, especially with your use of color. Do you have any particular tips that you can share with us?
In deciding the color palette, I took inspirations from the characters from other animation works. For example I gave the soldiers more plain colored clothing to contrast the authority of the cold and arrogant evil king. His dark purple rays symbolize temptation and evil fighting against the hero’s good force in bright blue color.
By using the emotional feelings that different colors give, it helps our audience understand the mood of the setting and the characteristics of the figures in your work. Color matching does require a lot of reading and information gathering, if you want to get it right.
In your opinion, how is 2D animation creating different to 3D animation?
2D and 3D animation are just different ways to present a story. They both require different techniques, which means a different design and thinking process are needed. However, I believe that the most important thing is not the technique itself, but how you find the right way to present the picture in your head.
What do you think is the most important element of 2D animations? How do you create a piece of good work?
The uniqueness and advantage of a 2D animation is that you can draw each line and stroke by picking up a pen. With the proliferation of Internet one can easily access information from all corners of the world at any time. However, it also means that everyone could be using the same piece of information. So I think the ability to filter data, integrate, and reproduce is the key to determe whether an animator can create good work.
Each animator has to make complex yet important decisions, such as how the characters move, the angle to draw them in, the meaning of the background, the use of music etc. To help make these decisions, you should observe daily life, read related books, appreciate films and listen to different music, in order to help enhance your understanding of the effects of different forms of expressions. I would recommend to follow closely trending social medias to stay updated: Vimeo, Pinterest, Deviantart, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and the film festivals that take place all around the world.
Can you recommend an animation film for our readers?
I would recommend The King and the Mockingbird (Le Roi et L’oiseau, 1979) by Jacques Prévert and Paul Grimault. Compared to Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, Disney or Pixar’s works, the King and the Mockingbird might come across as an old-fashioned, slow-paced, simple animation. But if you finish watching the movie, you will discover the uniqueness and bold expression of the characters, the plot, and the fine images. The symbols, satires and metaphors presented in the movie were at a different level., The King and the Mockingbird was a very modern piece of work especially when considering the environment and technology available back in 1979. I highly recommend the film!
Big thanks go to Ian Chung for sharing his story with us!