Microflix 2020 Progress Diaries with UTS Animation Students – No. 3

Have you crossed the dates off your calendar since my last blog post? If so, then you’re on the ball and know that the Microflix deadline is just round the corner. Actually, it’s next week people (August 31st), so we better get cracking on the finishing touches of our Microflix films! And subsequently, onto this weeks progress diaries from our UTS Animation and Sound Design students. Let’s see how they worked together to get the project up and running, and to the finish line…

Today we have two groups who have chosen microlit texts that reflect Australian experiences with the land and nature. Both use strong visual imagery to highlight the devastation experienced by the land. Nathaniel, Kirsten, Hollie and Theo chose to adapt Safety in Mundanity by Claire Thompson, with Elie Rizko as their sound designer.

“The text was chosen for its strong visual imagery and narration of very recent events, which we thought would strike a chord with Australian audiences. It also had personal significance with each of our members having, like most Australians, been affected by the bushfires, one of which lived in Port Macquarie at the time, and experienced them firsthand.”

First refined storyboard adapting “Safety in Mundanity

Despite not discussing with the author about their original intentions,

We were nevertheless able to make our own interpretation of their work, by unpacking the themes and imagery within the text. By doing this, we believe we were able to generate a reading and adaptation of the text that was based purely on our own experience.

Our second group, Colden, Holly, Jinyu, Hansel, and Geoffery, chose to adapt Landscape by Brenda Saunders, with Marco Bucci as their sound designer, which explores mining in Australia.

“We decided on this short story because of the visual potential of animating this story to an appealing and interesting film. We liked how it could resonate with Australian audiences due to the topic it depicts – mining of the land.’

Preview from opening scene of “Landscape

While you do not have to animate a Microflix to convey strong visual imagery, if you do there is more room for animators to create abstract visuals. The initial approach to adapting texts with such strong visuals depends on the story itself. Where Nathaniel’s group,

“Firstly considered the text and defined the main themes and imagery. An iterative process consisting of research on the Australian bushfires, as well as the creation of multiple storyboards, ensued, with feedback from peers and tutors shaping the way we combined distinct visual imagery taken from our research and the text, as well as a story that encompassed our experiences and that of other Australians.”

Iterations from “Safety in Mundanity

However, their initial defining of central themes and imagery posed a challenge to the group where,

“A lack of clear direction in imagery inhibited our ability to generate ideas early on, which resulted in a disjointed story when put together originally. By ensuring a more direct focus on narrative and our experiences during the fires, we were able to collate a range of more refined storyboards that enabled our characters to thrive within our story.

Unpacking themes for “Safety in Mundanity

And while a challenging experience to begin with, in hindsight,

“The discussions during the early stages of the adaptation process, as well as the animation process itself, were perhaps the most enjoyable experiences. Being able to see the completed animation after many hours of collective effort was a rewarding experience as we were able to see everything put together, from the sections of our story board and Animatic that made it to the final film, to the completed coloured animated sequences with sound.

Early Storyboarding for “Safety in Mundanity

On the other hand, Colden’s group approached their text by,

First we broke down the keywords and any adjectives in the story that gave us a visual imagery. This helped us to research and iterate on our designs and colour choice. During this process, we kept iterating and gave each other feedback until we were all satisfied and agreed on our approach to the final animation.

Final Storyboards for “Landscape

This initial process ended up sparking the most enjoyment in the group as,

“We enjoyed the learning and iterative process of this adaptation such as testing colours and designing our landscapes to match the Australian landscape whilst keeping it original to our style and our unique take on the landscape.

Having a strong visual piece is not all trippy visuals, there is still the underlying message of the text that needs to show through all the imagery. Colden’s group found this to be a challenge.

“The greatest challenge in adapting this text is animating the film to be visually appealing and engaging to the audience whilst also conveying an important message on the impact of mining on our environment. Perfecting the timing and pacing of the film, using camera shots and angles to show the change in mood were all important elements that contributed in showing this important message.”

Iterations for “Landscape

The sound design also proved to elevate the message of the piece,

“As it reinforced the emotional impact of the devastation to Country, caused by the mines. Our sound designer Marco Bucci composed an amazing soundtrack that satisfied all the important elements to create an emotional connection towards our film.

Similarly, Nathaniels group found the sound design lifted their visuals.

“By allowing the sound design student to explore a range of instruments and diegetic sounds for our film, the final film was able to capture more of the ambience and intensity of the story that we couldn’t project visually.

Iteration development of “Safety in Mundanity

For those reading this now who are completing or have already completed the sound competent of their flix, please leave a comment telling us how you’re using sound to tell your story! Or if you’re just starting on sound design then I hope this post has given you some inspiration! We’re looking forward to your submissions in the meantime!

Happy Flixing! 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.