N.E. mation!11: No animation training? Have no fear
Joining a national animation contest can be intimidating, especially if you do not have any training in animation.
But sometimes, being inexperienced in animation can be an advantage, said a former contestant who finished in second place.
Freelance designer Marcus Lee had some knowledge in animation, but felt it worked against him.
So he is urging students without prior knowledge of the topic to take the plunge and register for N.E.mation!, an annual digital animation competition for secondary and tertiary students.
N.E.mation! is into its 11th season and organisers are hoping that more students without any training in animation will sign up for it. (See report above.)
Mr Lee, 26, whose team won second place in the competition's first season in 2006, had been learning animation during his art elective and on his own since Secondary 1.
His friends, whom he joined the contest with, also had experience in animation, but Mr Lee felt that this restricted them.
He said: "Other teams with no prior knowledge...started out with a clean slate. They were open to trying out new ideas.
"With our knowledge, joining the competition felt like we were creating a production. I felt it kind of boxed us in... It's not about how skilled you are, it's about the story and your ability to tell the story."
Other teams untrained in information technology (IT) included students from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, who were the winners of season seven and nine respectively.
N.E.mation!, which is organised by Nexus, the Central National Education Office, encourages students to express their thoughts on Total Defence (TD).
The competition provides all the necessary training needed for shortlisted students to produce their own animation clips.
Instructors from animation-based learning company Animagine will guide teams throughout the entire process.
Last season's winning team, from Beatty Secondary School, had no formal background in IT, apart from basic Microsoft tools.
Team members were students Ang Jia Shing Adeline, Evan Tan Jia Ho, Muhd Zulfazlin Zainal and Chua Hui Min.
Adeline, 16, told The New Paper: "This competition focuses on the story line, not on computer skills. You need a creative story... It's the message of the video that matters."
The team won a 10-day learning trip to visit renowned studios in San Francisco and Los Angeles during their June holidays this year.
They also visited Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Exploratorium, which is a public learning laboratory in San Francisco.
Past winner Leia Ham, 23, who got into the top 10 teams for the first three seasons of the competition, came from the air rifle club of CHIJ St Joseph's Convent.
INSPIRED BY HOME: Past winner Leia Ham and her team’s animation clip in the first season of N.E.mation! carried the message that if everyone worked together, Singapore would become colourful. PHOTO: YOUTUBE/ NEMATORS
Drawn to the idea of winning a trip to Studio Ghibli in Japan, she entered the competition with a group of friends.
She said: "We were mostly just average secondary school kids. The point of it was to go and learn how to do it."
After the competition, Ms Ham got a Diploma in Digital Media Design (Animation) - now known as the Diploma in Animation - at Nanyang Polytechnic.
She is now studying entertainment art at ArtCenter College of Design in California.
"I think my great fondness for animation had to have come largely from that first impressionable experience," she said.
"Without the competition, I might not have got the advice and support that led me to believe that I could try doing art as a career."
How to join N.E.mation!
WHAT: N.E.mation!, an annual inter-school digital animation competition.
WHO CAN JOIN: Students who are Singaporeans or permanent residents from secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institutions.
WHEN: Registration ends Aug 16.
HOW TO REGISTER: Go to nemation.sg and submit all team members' particulars and at least one story idea before deadline.
Each team must consist of three or four students from the same school.
Champion: A fully-sponsored overseas learning visit to renowned animation studios worth more than $20,000.
1st runner-up: Prizes worth more than $6,000.
2nd runner-up: Prizes worth more than $5,000.