Winning 3D experience

Winning 3D experience

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Lai Ying-kit
3D Animation Club's Chan Siu-lung, Yuen Chun-ho and Ho Ka-ho, with teacher Owen Chan Ka-chun (second left). Photo: Lai Ying-Kit

Student filmmakers produce an animation that brings them an award at an international film festival, writes Lai Ying-kit

When the school bell rings to signal the end of class, the first thing Chan Siu-lung does is to rush to the computer room. He joins his classmates to sit at a computer, but instead of playing their favourite online game, they create their own 3D animations.

The Form Four student is chairman of Shun Tak Fraternal Association Yung Yau College's 3D Animation Club. Last week, Siu-lung and three of his classmates added yet another award to the club's trophy cabinet with one of their films.

The students were named champions at the first Vafi International Children and Youth Animation Film Festival in Varazdin, Croatia. They beat 226 teams from 26 countries to win the "Maxi" category - the most advanced of three in the contest.

Their film is a 4-minute animation intended to raise awareness of environmental protection. It simulates a computer game in which the main character - a boy - goes through three stages to depict how pollution worsens as civilisation progresses.

The students said the idea came up when countries around the world were gearing up for the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change last year.

'We saw a promotional film for the summit. We felt we could do our own version, in a different way,' said Siu-lung. 'We decided to use a video game as the format of our film because we think it is the best way to convey the message to other young people.'

The 3D Animation Club was formed last year with 38 students who had learned basic animation and filmmaking skills in class. Their works have won prizes at international competitions.

In January, Siu-lung won a special jury prize at a short film festival in Australia for first-time filmmakers under the age of 25.

Club members continue to hone their skills and learn from animation professionals at their weekend workshops on campus. Their interest is supported by their school, which installed a new, door-tall supercomputer in January to support their animation software.

Ho Ka-ho, who was part of the team that won the Croatian contest, said his next project was to re-master his old works with new, enhanced 3D effects. '3D technology has climbed another level with Avatar. The new effects make characters more real and their actions more exciting. Audiences can feel the characters popping out from the screen. I'm planning to work in this direction,' he said.

The film festival in Croatia gathered young people from all over the world to share their experiences.

Eighty finalists were invited to the host city to attend the awards ceremony and stay with young locals to learn about their culture.

Siu-lung and Yuen Chun-ho said their first-ever visit to Eastern Europe was rewarding - it gave them a chance to meet the locals and experience their culture. 'The place is renowned for its baroque architecture. Most are one- to two-storey buildings and date back more than a century ago. Life there is very different,' Chun-ho said. 'There were also scars left from war. Some abandoned, old buildings were full of bullet holes. The windows are all shattered. The sight reminds me the country is still recovering from civil war.'

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