Andy Cheung‘s work is starting to turn heads. Recently the graduate of both Foundation Visual Art & Design and 3D Animation & Visual Effects saw his final project from his Foundation year screen at this past Vancouver Asian Film Festival.
Orizuru is the result of an intense collaboration with Sound Design for Visual Media student (now a graduate) Matthew Golden. Andy offered his thoughts on the story’s roots and how he combined different media to create a truly unique film.
Hi, Andy. Could you start off by telling us what your short film Orizuru is about?
Andy: Orizuru is a tribute to Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who developed leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
Japanese legend states that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish, such as recovery from illness. Having folded only 644 before her death, her friends completed and buried them all with her. The Thousand Origami Cranes has become a symbol of world peace through Sasaki’s story. The short portrays her as a crane, from her first steps to her final breath in a journey through Japanese history and art.
Why did you want to make this film?
Andy: I read Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes as a child and was inspired by the story. I wanted to create a tribute to it. Although it’s a tragic story, I still wanted to have a feeling of optimism afterward, to show the spectrum of colours of the paper cranes.
Can you take us through the different animation processes you used and the challenges for each?
Andy: Each one had its own challenges. I used techniques I learned at VFS and spent hours developing the style and look afterward. I used stop-motion animation as well as motion graphics to tell this story, and each technique was very difficult to create, especially stop-motion animation — since it is frame by frame.
I built my own green screen studio — everything had to be built from scratch, including the paper crane, for which I used a combination of copper and steel wires to build the interior structure. Later came the task of animating it frame by frame. I used clay and other metal rigs to animate, and used After Effects to key out and composite the new background and remove the metal rigs. The crane, birds, and scenery were painted and drawn in Illustrator and then composited and animated all within After Effects with some Flash animation for reference.
What was the audience response like when it premiered at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival?
Andy: Many people were impressed by the visual style, because it was an interpretation of Japanese ‘ukiyo-e’ style artwork, which is printed on woodblock. People were pleasantly surprised to see that the digital reproduction had meshed together very well. The story was familiar to them as well, since many had read it before.
Are you working on any new projects right now?
Andy: I recently graduated from the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program and am working as an animator for an independent studio. I still have short films to come that are based on children’s stories and childhood recollection.
Can’t wait to see them, Andy!
Check out Orizuru below, or watch it on our YouTube channel.