Microflix 2020 Progress Diaries with UTS Animation Students – No. 5

Hello and welcome all you Flixers! Only one day left until the submission deadline – Monday August 31st – how is everyone feeling? Here at the Microflix team we wish everyone the best of luck while they progress through the finishing touches of their Microflix’s. How many of you are feeling a lack of motivation to do these finishing touches? Or maybe you’re all completely done and I’m talking to no one here… Even so, I’m still here just in case there are a few of you still in need of some motivation to get you through those final stages.

Today, I am delighted to present my last two UTS animation student groups and their adaptation progress so far, who have chosen texts that depict the subject of natural disasters through different writing styles and structure. Caroline, Christy, Ivan and Zang have adapted Caught Up by Kathryn Fry.

‘Initially, the vivid imagery of the men at the gym in Fry’s text jumped out to us, and we thought it would be fun to explore and animate. Upon further reading, we saw the chance to play with the juxtaposition of the gym scenes and the environmental issues that Fry also explores, and decided to choose this text for those reasons.’

Colour palette iteration from “Caught Up

Caitlin, Charmaine, Irina and Jacob have adapted Rain in the Northern Rivers by Moya Costello because,

“There was a strong sense of imagery, but light on specific plot and character, which gave us freedom to construct our own story within the text’s themes.

Final Environment Illustration from “Rain in the Northern Rivers

While both texts explore the subject through imagery, the differ in narrative structure, plot, character, and tone. Thus leading to different adaptation approaches by each group, especially when adapting a text that needs the filmmaker to decide on a plot and structure.

“When adapting Moya Costello’s microlit text “Rain in the Northern Rivers’, we wanted to visually and audibly capture the extreme transition from a drought to the flooding of a forest, from the perspective of the life forms affected by such a drastic change. The piece was broken down into smaller parts which were individually researched; this included information regarding the location, gothic ideas and themes, human impact and wildlife native to the area. From here, we worked as a team to produce a narrative that incorporated this, focusing on the dual perspectives of the bird and fish. The colour, environments and designs changed through the short film to reflect this evolution. We explored the theme of rain as a force for both destruction and protection. It was also important to capture the intense metered writing style of the original story through stylised sound design, that adheres to an internal rhythm.

Preview from “Rain in the Northern Rivers

Their group found making this decision to be the most challenging part of the adaptation process.

“It was challenging creating a new story and characters based on the imagery and geographical identity of the original text; finding the balance of creating a new product that remained true to the ideas and spirit of the original text.”

Character Iterations from “Rain in the Northern Rivers

On the other hand, Caroline’s group’s story has a clear main character and narrative structure, and within that there are many layers to unfold.

“We wanted to adapt the original text in a satirical way to highlight the hypocrisy and performative wokeness that social media users, and in particular influencers, exhibit when serious issues arise in society. We represented this through one instance of our main character, Peachy, capitalising on the devastating bushfires in Australia to promote her social media presence.

They also found that decision-making was the greatest challenge when adapting their text.

“As we have our own artistic style and preferences, decision making was quite the challenge as our opinions tended to clash, though we did not experience any major dispute, narrowing our ways through to a compromise took time, patience, and a lot of communication.”

Character design from “Caught Up

Contacting the author can be a good way of diffusing any challenges or issues that might arise when approaching your text. Caitlin’s group for example,

“Were able to receive feedback based on the author’s intentions and motivations for specific imagery, which helped affirm some of our research ideas regarding establishing a specific, visual identity and story focused on environmental ideas. The author’s responses also assisted in our research process and enabled us to gain a wider scope for our research that went beyond our assumptions.

Storyboarding from “Rain in the Northern Rivers

Whereas Caroline’s group found that,

“We contacted the author and discovered that even though our interpretations of the text were slightly different, the underlying themes were the same. She gave us the creative freedom to adapt her text in any way we saw it and even encouraged us to do so, stating that the beauty of the connection between reader and writer are the limitless interpretations that can be formed.

Storyboarding from “Caught Up

And on that note, the creative freedom given to the sound designer of your piece can dramatically effect the overall look of the piece, and can be used to convey the literary techniques of a story. Like Caitlin’s group who worked with UTS Sound Design student Julian Oliver,

“Rather than simply having sound effects scattered randomly throughout the short film, we aimed to have a naturalistic score, with every sound contributing to a musical rhythm; building a rising pulse with the story’s tension, and diminishing in the quieter moments of release or catharsis. We wanted to capture the original story’s poetic and rhythmic writing style. The music was used when needed to supplement this idea further, establishing or contributing to the emotional tone of the story, as well as the rhythm. The sound ultimately helped provide additional life to the environment and characters in the story.

Preview from final scene of “Rain in the Northern Rivers

Similarly, for Caroline’s group,

“The sound brief was to mainly depict the superficial tone of the story but also for it to contrast with the sombre nature of the tragic events in reality by juxtaposing an airy, upbeat pop instrumental depicting the bubble we live in in society against the devastation and destruction portrayed through the minimalist sound effects of the bushfires. The music tied our whole film together and made the contrast of the two different atmospheres much more memorable, effectively conveying the message we wanted to send.

Preview from “Caught Up

Everyone who’s looking for that motivation to get those last bits of editing done, then look no further, since once you have your sound and visuals all together, what’s not to be proud of according to Caitlan’s group,

“The most rewarding part of the process was seeing our initial ideas come to life over the duration of two months.

Similarly, for Caroline’s group,

“How our ideas gradually evolved and came together at the end, resulting in a final polished work that is both fun and delivers a message. We all have our own aesthetic and initial concept about the adaptation, so to be able to overcome all the differences to contribute to one that meets all our standards is something we’re proud of.

So good luck getting those flix’s submitted! We are super excited to watch what everyone has created!

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.