Microflix 2020 Progress Diaries with UTS Animation Students – No. 2

Another day bites the dust as we roll closer and closer to the Microflix submission deadline (August 31st). For some, it’s another day of going around in circles trying to find inspiration for their adaptation.  And so another progress diary from UTS Animation students is in order, in the hope that it will spark your imagination.

Today, I am delighted to present two groups and their adaptation progress so far, who have chosen texts that depict and explore different takes on motherhood throughout time. Xinyi, Yaojia, Yue, and Yumeng have chosen to adapt Fabulous by Rose Young,

“We think this article mainly speaks about the estrangement and barriers between people of different ages. The mother and daughter in the article have different aesthetic standards. This situation is very close to real life. Due to the development of the world, each generation faces and experiences different living environments and receives a different education, which makes people’s ideas, opinions, cognition of the world and evaluation of beauty different. This has also led to many family conflicts. Parents and children may not be able to understand each other’s behaviours and ideas due to lack of communication, and treat each other in a more extreme way. This undoubtedly will not solve the problem, and will make the generation gap between the two more and more serious. So we added a good ending to the story. When the daughter grows up, she remembers her unhappy childhood experience. She chooses to be an open-minded mother, learns to tolerate her children and understands her new clothes. That’s what we want to convey through this story and the final work. It is hoped that the new generation of young parents will be exposed to many new technologies and education, and may be able to get along with their children more peacefully in the future.

Illustration developments for ‘Fabulous’

From the other group, Alexandra, Elana, Jasmine and Jihee have chosen to adapt Pressure by Jude Bridge,

“It was the most memorable short story out of the selection we were given, and we were attracted to the author’s writing style – the frantic stream of consciousness, and the relationships between the characters was prominently depicted through the author’s emotive language, and the truncated sentences – conveying the busyness and pressure that the main character was under.

There were many elements in this story that we found interesting and challenging to adapt. The social media aspects, the relationships between the characters and the mother’s obsession with perfecting her virtual persona – these were all elements that we found incredibly interesting, and wanted to adapt.

A team photo of Alexandra, Elana, Jasmine and Jihee

In short, find an aspect of the Microlit text that resonates with you personally and/or your understanding of the story theme. The way you and your team approach this does not matter, as long as it inspires creative story-telling. Alexandra’s group approached Pressure with a ‘faithful to the original’ perspective, beginning the process by,

“Annotating Jude Bridge’s story, picking out the key elements of the story and trying to rewrite them into a script for us to storyboard. We also did some research on yummy mummies and social media influencers – the aesthetics, clothing, houses, and the way they interact with their followers, and audience. We iterated the characters and interiors a couple of times until we were happy, and we wanted to present a ‘clean’ but ‘hectic’ version of the main character. It was our first time adapting someone else’s work, so we tried to stay as faithful as we could to the essence of the story, and to present it in an interesting way.

“Pressure’ character adaptations

Where as Xinyi’s group approached their adaptation of Fabulous having,

“Brainstormed about the possibilities of different storylines. The first version of the story we adapted was quite different from the original version, which mostly changed the meaning of it. Therefore, we just made a slight difference in the ending. It’s more realistic, easy to understand and better expresses the key points in a limited time.

Both approaches are true to the adaptation process and neither are more challenging than the other. Challenges will arise and how you handle them is part of the adaptation experience. For Xinyi’s group, the historical context was the most challenging aspect.

“The story of ‘Fabulous’ took place in the United States in the 90s, and the story involved a considerable proportion of the fashion and culture of the 90s. We hope that this short film can reflect the characteristics of the time in three aspects: fashion, art and music. It is challenging and very interesting to understand the United States in the 90s from so many aspects.

In addition to this, their collaboration with their UTS student Sound Designer, Matthew Hocking, arose artistic differences, however produced a satisfactory result.

“In the initial stage of communication with the sound designer, we hope to use different types of music to express the differences between the characters. The sound designer we worked with did this perfectly. During the production stage, we considered using instrument sounds instead of sound effects, but the sound designer was not very satisfied with this idea, so we gave up at the end. After several communications with our music department partner, we are satisfied with the sample he sent, which is in line with the theme. So after a few small changes, the final sound source was decided.

Illustration development for “Fabulous

Alexandras group on the other hand found,

“One of the greatest challenges in adapting Jude Bridge’s ​‘Pressure​‘ was going through trial and error in storyboarding to depict the story in a distinctively visual manner. At the beginning, we were stuck in the track of literal translation from the text to the visual. We had to create and discard lots of storyboards and animatics until we were satisfied with what we have today. We were also struggling with using Harmony Premium at a professional level, as well as naming conventions which caused some issues when we had to go back to certain files.

And experienced a similar trial and error process with their sound designer Josefina Perdikaris Curulli too.

“We provided our sound designers, with a list of diegetic musical references and non-diegetic sounds which reflected the key underlying themes of our film. This helped establish an overall atmosphere within our compositional process. Our soundtrack went through multiple iterations, including experimenting with the main melody, tempo and pitch. We broke our film down into scenes for the sound designers, in order to convey the story beats. However, after playing the sound effects and soundtrack together we noticed it sounded disjointed. We had to refine these scenes with an underlying melody, which made the composition more succinct. The final result accentuated the key moments of the film and cohesively conveyed the essence of our story.

Getting everything right in the process is challenge and a far-fetched expectation. When challenges come, the parts you enjoy the most come to light. Alexandras group found,

“[What] we enjoyed the most about the adaptation process was the collaborative experience with both the animation students and the sound design students. Our animation team had similar interests and we were easily able to decide on the aesthetics of the film. We were also very eager to communicate with each other so we would regularly hold Zoom meetings and discuss our film in the chat group.

Storyboarding “Pressure

And Xinyi’s group found their challenge simultaneously to be the most enjoyable part.

“The research process was enjoyable. We managed to research many styles that we had never encountered before, such as different clothing styles in the 90s, surreal background designs, 90s home décor and contemporary home décor.

For those of you reading this that have finished their adaptations already, please leave a comment telling us what your most enjoyable aspect of the process was. Or if you’re just starting yours then I hope this post has provided support and inspiration. We’re looking forward to your submissions in the meantime!

Good luck! Taj

Anastazija (Taj) Luksic is a student at University of Technology Sydney, where in 2017 she completed her Media Arts and Production degree, and is currently finishing off her Creative Intelligence and Innovation bachelors. During her degree she worked on personal documentary projects, with one screened at the Focus On Ability Film Festival 2017. She also volunteered on a number of sets ranging from a commercial for Batyr, to ‘The Horizon’ web series.