Tackling Covid-19 through total defence a key focus in N.E.mation! competition this year

Themed "Together We Keep Singapore Strong", the 15th edition of the annual competition moved online this year due to Covid-19. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic was a key issue tackled by teams in this year's N.E.mation! competition.

The annual contest sees students and youth produce short animation clips to express their views on total defence.

Of the 1,064 submissions for the student and youth categories this year, 70 per cent highlighted how Singaporeans could apply the concept of total defence during the pandemic.

Themed "Together We Keep Singapore Strong", the 15th edition of the annual competition moved online this year due to Covid-19.

Teams in the youth category produced animation clips with online mentoring from industry partners. The mentors include Lucasfilm, the production firm behind the Star Wars franchise, and Singapore Press Holdings' content marketing agency Sweet.

Participants in this category are aged 17 to 25, from post-secondary educational institutions.

This year, those in the student category - for participants aged 13 to 16 - competed in storyboarding instead of animation production.

Only the top three teams turned their concepts into animation clips, while the other seven teams within the top 10 had their storyboards turned into illustrations.

The N.E.mation! open house was held at the Singapore Discovery Centre on Sunday (Jan 17), with the top three student teams and top nine Youth teams presenting their work and the inspiration and ideas behind their submissions.

The event was also streamed live on Facebook for family and friends who could not attend due to safe distancing measures.

Members of the public can watch the clips at this website and vote for their favourite entries online from Monday (Jan 18) to Feb 12. The champion in each category will be announced at an awards ceremony in February.

One Youth category finalist, Team Dragon Fruit, comprising four digital animation students from Nanyang Polytechnic, presented fake news as a virus that turns people into zombies in its clip that addressed the role that fake news played in triggering a run on supermarkets here last year.

In February, Singaporeans emptied supermarket shelves after the national disease outbreak response to the coronavirus situation was raised to Orange.

Similar scenes occurred in March after Malaysia announced its first movement control order as people feared it would halt the supply of food and essential goods here.

Team leader Alicia Lim, 19, said: "People started to hoard products like masks, instant noodles and toilet paper because they read fake news and didn't fact-check before they started spreading it."

Nanyang Polytechnic's Alicia Lim representing her team Dragon Fruit at the N.E.Mation! 2021 Open House. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

She added that she personally knows people, typically in the older generation, who unknowingly spread misinformation through chain messages on platforms such as WhatsApp.

"Since they are not as cautious of such news, they pretty much believe what they see, and forward it to all their friends," she said.

Another team of four digital animation students from Nanyang Polytechnic, Cocomelon, produced a video of people morphing into different front-line roles and jobs to honour the national effort in fighting Covid-19 and to tell people that everyone can play a part.

Team leader Rebekah Chew, 18, said: "It can be anything, even the small things like giving out masks to other people and reminding people to wear their masks and take precautions."

The competition is organised by Nexus, the department responsible for total defence and National Education in the Ministry of Defence.

Nanyang Polytechnic's Rebekah Chew representing her team Cocomelon at the N.E.Mation! 2021 Open House. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Nexus director Jerica Goh said: "We would like to encourage more young Singaporeans to think about total defence and how we have put total defence in action in our fight against Covid-19."

She added that the new storyboarding competition for the student category has made it easier for more students to take part. "We are happy to see the increase in participation even as we adapt to changes."

The online format of the competition this year saw a 40 per cent increase in submissions from the previous edition.

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