NEKO

 

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NEKO (which means “cat” in Japanese) is an original animation featuring a heroine who journeys into her pet cat’s fur to battle the gigantic, blood-sucking parasites that have inhabited its body. As a social impact design project, it was conceived by the creators to encourage people to take better care of their furry family members. It’s the only animation project to be awarded the coveted 2017 Design Mark from Golden Pin Concept Design Award. The short film is created by a team of six design students from Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology — Zeng Pin-Ciao, Tsai Meng-Shu, Liu Yu-Chi, Hsu Tzu-Fu, Wang Wei-Fan, and Lin Hao-Ting. The production sees each student’s special skills – as artists, producers, video editors, and more – all working in tandem to bring to life the fun, animated short. Below, we had a chat with Zeng Pin-Ciao, the director of NEKO, on the challenges of working as a team and the differences between American and Japanese animation.


来自台湾的动画《奈可》,剧中女主角是一个住在小猫身上的城市守护者。她会解决任何危害到这只小猫的害虫,借此传达宠物健康防疫观念,并推广饲主定期为家猫做驱虫防疫的工作。此件作品尝试用笔触的线条呈现艺术风格表现,极具特色,甫获2017金点概念设计奖标章肯定。《奈可》制作团队由曾品乔、蔡孟书、柳育琪、许子甫、王玮凡及林颢庭组成。他们皆毕业于南台科技大学,成员专业各有所长,如原画设计、场景、美术、后制、剪辑等。在未来,他们期望各自在不同专业继续精进、一同成长,做出有趣的动画。下面,我们和这部动画的导演曾品乔进行了一次采访,内容有关团队合作的挑战以及美日动画的差异。

Neocha: What was the motivation behind the original story?

Zeng Pin-Ciao: In the beginning, I was inspired because I was spending a lot of time with cats. I lived with a cat for around six months, and unfortunately, the cat fell ill. Afterwards, I began learning about the variety of parasites that can affect a cat, as well as how to prevent it. In the end, I decided to use the concepts of health and disease prevention as the starting point to remind people of the unremitting love and devotion that we promise our pets.


Neocha: 当初创造故事的动机是什么?

曾品乔: 最初主要是因为我和猫咪有了长时间接触,才萌生的念头。当时我和家里的猫咪生活了半年,但猫咪不幸生病了。随后我就了解相关的知识,像是寄生虫与除虫等,最后我决定以宠物健康防疫观念作为出发点,提醒大家不时的要想起当初养宠物的决心,爱护与照顾必须是要持之以恒的。

Neocha: How long did it take to finish the animation? What difficulties did you encounter?

Zeng Pin-Ciao: It took eight months to finish the short film. In the beginning, the challenge was to bond as a team and figure out how all of our technical skills could fit together since we were all individual artists. This was my first time doing Japanese-style animation and many aspects were fresh, new, and challenging. It took one-and-a-half months to complete just one-minute of animation. The total length of the final animation is longer than four minutes. The biggest challenge was getting the composition right because adjusting it at a later point would mean that the whole scene would have to be redrawn. As a director, it’s important to be decisive, otherwise it affects the mood of the entire team.


Neocha: 这支影片花了多久时间完成?期间有没有遇到什么困难?

曾品乔: 这支影片共花了8个月才完成。一开始是技术上的磨合,因为大家都是刚开始配合,加上我是第一次执行日式动画的处理方式,很多事情既新鲜也很艰钜挑战,1分钟的动画制作差不多1个半月,我们影片总长约4分多钟。过程中最具挑战的部分就是修改镜头,因为其实对于动画来说,修改就等于是重画,所以是要下定决心才能做修正,不然随便修改也会影响到整体团队的氛围。

 

Neocha: It’s obvious that you’re deeply influenced by Japanese animation. How did this interest come about and who are your favorite animators?

Zeng Pin-Ciao: Actually, when I was in high school, I adored American animation, such as the work being put out by Dreamworks and Walt Disney. The purpose of a Disney film is to make people happy and make them dream. Inspired by this, I started to study American animation. Later, during university I got to know the work of Japanese animator Satoshi Kon, and I realized that animation can also be used to encourage deeper thought and reflection through negative emotions. The same can be said for the work of Hideaki Anno and Katsuhiro Otamo. In their works, they always give the audience space to reflect; they do not simply aim to please the audience. I began to admire this approach and started studying Japanese illustration. NEKO became my first challenge after I got to understand the Japanese style. This work is also a very important experience for me because it helped me realize a lot of my inadequacies. It was a great learning opportunity.


Neocha: 从作品看出你们受日本动漫影响很深,是受到哪些作品或特定动漫家的影响呢?

曾品乔: 我在高中时期很崇拜美国动画,如迪士尼或梦工厂等等,迪士尼做动画的初衷就是用动画带给人们梦想与快乐,因此开始学习美式动画。后来在大学,也开始接触了日本鬼才导演今敏先生的作品,我发现动画不只是能给人快乐,日本导演喜爱用负面的情绪带给观众更深层的省思,如庵野秀明导演与大友克洋导演也是一样,在作品中总是能带给人思考的空间,不再是单单只是满足观众。我开始憧憬这样的呈现方式,就开始去了解日式绘画。《奈可》就是我接触日式的第一个挑战,对我来说,做这个作品是段非常重要的经历,因为在这过程中我觉察到很多不足之处,因此也学到很多。

Neocha: You received the 2017 Design Mark from Golden Pin Design Award. Can you share the benefits of participating in this competition?

Zeng Pin-Ciao: From the first round of the competition to the final stages, it’s been really exciting all the way. I was incredibly nervous presenting my work on stage, but it was still an unforgettable experience. During the competition, I also attended a presentation training workshop held by Golden Pin Design Award. It was a great experience. In the workshop, I focused on learning about body language and how a good communicator performs. It was a rare opportunity to learn from a master presenter. I really appreciate the hard work of the organizers and the staff was very friendly. I am truly thankful for this opportunity.


Neocha: 你们今年以《奈可》获得金点概念设计标章,可否与我们分享下参与这次竞赛的收获呢?

曾品乔: 从初审到决审都令人非常兴奋。即便在提报作品的时候我非常紧张,但终究也是个人生中非常难忘的经验。竞赛过程中,我参与了金点概念设计奖举办的「简报实战训练」活动,我觉得是很棒的经验。在课程中,我很专注地在看老师的肢体动作,一位能言善道者是如何表演的,这也是很难接触到的实例。感谢整个单位用心的筹备整个企画,工作人员也都非常乐于助人,让人感到暖心,真心感谢给予我们这个机会。

Neocha: So what’s on the horizon for you and the team?

Zeng Pin-Ciao: With the conclusion of NEKO, we already have a short script for a new story that we want to try and make. We’re trying really hard to acquire the necessary resources to pull it off. Because of my experience with NEKO, I feel confident that I’ll have much more to offer in our next project. It’s very exhausting putting so much of yourself into a project, but in the end, I’m happy. Ultimately, with all of my animations, I hope to leave a lasting impression and help people.


Neocha: 接下来是否还有其他的计划?

曾品乔: 接下来有一个小短片的剧本想要尝试看看,还在很努力的找资源与筹备。因为完成了这次的作品《奈可》,给予我很多经验上的帮助,能够放更多思考与意义在下部动画之中。创作虽然说很辛苦,但也真的很快乐,我期望能够用动画帮助到更多的人。