SINGAPORE - Sacrificing even their sleep and their holidays, 20 teams of students have worked hard in a bid to create Singapore's next best animation clip.
The N.E.mation competition, now in its 12th year, saw 13 to 16 year-old students creating 30 second clips - half the time from all previous years - based on the Total Defence theme "Together We Keep Singapore Strong".
Organised by Animagine and Nexus, the Ministry of Defence department in charge of Total Defence and National Education, the competition this year also saw members of the public - aged between 17 and 35 - pitch story ideas for its pilot Youth Crowdsource category.
Ten of those ideas were selected and passed on to students in Nanyang Polytechnic's (NYP) School of Interactive and Digital Media as well as ITE College Central's School of Design and Media.
"Previously animation just focused on secondary schools...but we wanted to expand the competition because we think that the youths beyond secondary schools have got interesting stories and ideas to tell too," Nexus' director, Colonel Joseph Tan, said at the student category open house on Wednesday (Nov 29).
Students from NYP's Diploma in Animation, for example, spent a month making a film called 'Everyday Heroes', highlighting teamwork and unification in the time of a crisis.
"The main message is that we may be regular people, but each of us can play a big part to help, with all our unique qualities." said Vivian Lim, one of three girls in Team 'LYNDA'.
Coming together as animators with unique solo styles proved to be a struggle, said Nur Khairina Asmi, 20.
"The two of them could maintain a similar style, but I couldn't," she said, to laughter from teammates Vivian,18, and Yeon Hui Shan, 19. Feedback and pitch sessions were "nerve-wrecking" because they viewed both theirs and other team's progress. It was a still good process overall because they could learn from each other, said Khairina.
Two months went into producing the film, 'Beneath The Shadows' for ITE College Central Nitec in Visual Effects students Abdul Hadi Mulia Abdul Malik and Jasmine Lee, both 18. They also worked with a pair of digital animation students from the school, who couldn't make it for the open house.
"We wanted to show people that the kampung spirit is still here. So we used different silhouettes to symbolise unity." said 18-year-old Hadi.
Working together was "quite coordinated" and a smooth process overall for the pair because they could focus on animating while their schoolmates focused on creating the objects in the film, said Jasmine, 18.
"It was a really fun experience," said Hadi, one quarter of Team 'No Vacation'.
"It took a toll on our holidays, but it was worth it. I would want to work on it again." he added.
Meanwhile, two teams from St. Anthony's Canossian Secondary School were participating for the second time in the Student category.
"We feel we didn't take it as seriously last year, so we wanted to redeem ourselves this year - and being here, we feel like we did," said Team 'String Cheese' member Alanis Mik, 14.
They had started researching months before the competition, added teammate Akanksha Thakur, also 14.
Their brightly-coloured, pixelated film, 'The Fabric of Our Society' shows how strands that are woven determine how tightly knit the fabric is - an analogy for Singapore's society.Winners will be determined equally by public voting as well as a panel of judges comprising of industry professionals, academics and government agencies.
Champions in both categories will get to visit renowned animation studios overseas next year. Previous winners have visited Walt Disney, Pixar, Sony Pictures and Dreamworks animation studios.
Those who submitted stories for Youth Crowdsource will receive CapitaLand vouchers - CapitaVouchers - worth $200 each.
Clips will be broadcast nationwide on television as well as in cinemas, and may be picked up by supporting agencies as well.
The public can vote for their three favourite clips via Facebook, SMS or at https://nemation.sg. Voting begins Jan 20 and ends Feb 11.