The British Council of Singapore, in collaboration with the Speak Good English Movement within Singapore’s National Library Board, sponsored a “Walk and Talk” competition in May of 2007. Students submitted a two-minute audio walking tour of a Singapore location. They described the sights and sounds, and recreated the atmosphere according to their feelings and impressions of the place. Winning entries were turned into short animated films with an official screening at the awards ceremony. My company, Ideaforia, was asked to be the animation consultant and work with the different teams to produce the final pieces. The students comprised three different age groups ranging from 10 to 20 years old.
In the storyboard session I worked with the students on their visual ideas. The entries were primarily judged on the written submission and the verbal expressiveness in the recording itself. Within the workshop I helped students realize the visual possibilities, keeping in mind that in this context, the audio needed to play the starring role over the visuals. We emphasized complementing the atmosphere and feelings that the words and narration conveyed. At the same time, the visual story, told through animation, could reveal a new understanding to the audience of what they were trying to say about the location. In this way, abstract concepts such as friendship, cultural heritage, mystery and addiction found its own visual “voice.” As the students began to realize the new dimension that animation could bring to the story they were telling, they developed quite sophisticated concepts within the storyboards. Many subsequently provided their own artwork to be used in the final piece.
Over a two-month period, beginning with the storyboard sessions, I worked with the students, and designated parent or teacher mentors, to complete the ten animations, all two minutes in length. The workshop series culminated in a special screening of the finished pieces at Singapore’s Esplanade.