iAniMagic animation contest winner interview

The Best Technique award for iAniMagic Animation Contest 2017 has been awarded to Yingzi Zhuo for her impressive animation, Door, which depicts the difficulties we encounter door-after-door throughout life. Zhuo is an enthusiastic student from Xiamen Academy of Arts and Design at Fuzhou University, China, with a strong passion for animation. Her attentiveness to detail is shown in her award-winning piece, which has led to her well-deserved Best Technique award. Join us in discovering Zhuo’s method to success!

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Thanks, Yingzi for finding the time to speak with us. Your award-winning submission, Door, was described as a “simple but very impressive” piece by the judges. Can you share your thought process for creating this animation with us? What inspired you?

Usually when I begin creating a new animation, I am used to thinking about designing the key frames first, and then coming up with a concept map, which covers the key elements like the characters, setting, and storyline. But for Door, I actually created the concept map first and used this as the foundation for the whole work.

The initial idea was inspired by some doodles I drew before and a nightmare I used to have about being chased by bad guys and not being able to lock the door to stop them from approaching closer. As I thought deeper into this, a series of images surfaced and were slowly connecting together in my head. Then another thought developed: even if a room has many doors, what if the person still couldn’t get out? The locked door in this animation is not just a door in my mind—it  is a symbol for the restraints and boundaries we encounter in life. This soon became the basic storyline.

iAniMagic animation contest storyboard iAniMagic animation contest storyboard
As I was designing the last key frame, I considered showing the door finally opening, but I felt that such an ending doesn’t leave the audience with room to think further. Instead,I decided to end the animation in a loop, connecting back to the beginning of the story. This better conveys my initial vision and thoughts behind this animation.

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Do you have any particular drawing technique to share with our readers?

In order to capture the character’s essential movements in the animation, I actually performed these movements myself and asked a friend to help me take photos for reference. This way, I can draw the character’s movement more accurately.

iAniMagic animation contest capture the movement  iAniMagic animation contest capture the movement

Why did you pick this topic? What message, or messages, do you want to convey with Door?
This is a piece that’s in close connection to my inner thoughts. As I was creating Door, I felt like I was having a dialogue with myself about the society and future. Animation creation is not just a way to practice animation techniques—I  see it as a way to communicate with oneself to use creative ways to express thoughts and emotions that you may not be able to with language. With Door, I believe that everyone will have their own interpretation after watching it, and I hope this work provides them with some food for thought.

looks like a pencil sketching animation. Why did you choose this particular style?I personally really like the interesting message that a simple style can convey because sometimes seemingly simple things are the most powerful. Simple imagery can touch people’s hearts, attracting attention to the key aspects the creator wants to highlight on. However, creating simple pictures in an effective way is quite difficult to grasp, so you definitely need to work hard to prefect the simple sketches.

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Why did you choose to study animation and films?

I have always loved watching all kinds of cartoons when I was young. I always hoped that I could choose a profession similar to my hobbies, and this degree helps me kickstart my career path.

Every time I complete a new animated film, I find it incredibly satisfying. When I see the final piece, I feel like all the hair and sleep loss are so worth it! Successfully conveying the message and story that you want to share through your animation is an incredible experience. I also love getting feedback and recognition for my efforts.

How do you usually practice your animation skills?

Reading professional books is very essential. There may be things you don’t understand at first—but it doesn’t matter! You can learn more by practicing, then go back to the book and you will work it out. This will help deepen your understanding of animation.

However, learning animation is a long process. Learning the techniques is one aspect, but learning to express with animation is another, and this takes a lot of time and effort to master. Learners should keep their eyes open and also pay attention to illustrations, music, and other artistic techniques other than just animation. They can be very inspirational. Another important thing that has helped me is to be curious about people and the things around you. Try to express your thoughts and expression through the form of animated images.

Do you have any artist you particularly admire?

Right now, my favorite artist is Mr. Koji Yamamura, who taught me at university. I was fortunate enough to see his Mount Head animation, and it was an eye opener for me. Mr. Yamamura is a true inspiration to me!

Koji Yamamura Mountain Head animation
Image source: Mountain Head, Koji Yamamura

Can you recommend some animation competitions, exhibitions or events suitable to our readers?

There are many animated competitions for our students, such as Cyber Sousa- Xiamen International Animation Festival, Taiwan International Student Design Competition, Beijing Film Academy Animation Academy Award, Asian Animation, Comics & Digital Arts Competition, China Independent Animation Film Forum, and Aniwow! China (Beijing) International Student Animation Festival.

What projects are you currently working on?

Lately, my project partner and I have been working on our graduation project. We are at the stage of final revision and coordinating the sound tracks. I hope I can continue creating interesting animated films, and I would like to pursue a career in animated advertisement in the future. 

Can you recommend an animated film to our readers?

I would recommend Reci Reci Reci by Michaela Pavlatova. This short film is a classic from 1991. It is a very good example to explain the difference between animation and other film and television production. It utilizes the uniqueness of animations to portray the topics being discussed by the guests over the dinner table. It’s definitely a very good piece of work to learn from!

Big thanks to Zhuo for sharing your story! We look forward to seeing more animated films from you! Yingzi Zhuo’s work and website:

Bilibili ID: 卓卓卓卓大子

Weibo ID: 小卓子大桌子布袋子

Read this blog in the official Kdan Chinese Blog. 點此閱讀本篇文章的中文版本。 

Other posts in the iAniMagic winner interview series

iAniMagic 2017 Winner Story – Ian Chung, the Jury Award Winner

iAniMagic 2017 winner Story – Beck Williams

iAniMagic 2017 Winner Story – Aastalim, Honorable Mention & Student Award Winner