Sapphire’s final animation project & reflection

Sapphire’s final animation project

This final piece of animation project is my first time to work alone on the Comlab project myself. Without the group collaborations, I sometimes feel really stressful doing all the stuff by myself. However, it’s also an interesting experience for me to create my own story of Tuzki, a famous character on social networks, and present it to others.

I have encountered quite a few problems during the process. At first, I was not able to present all my thoughts using Aftereffects since I never used this software before and it was a little bit challenging for me. So I decided to try to simplify the process and create a simple but meaningful story. And it turns out to be effective.

Also, I was obsessed with some technical problems while doing the moving of the character and exporting the final project. The Tuzki sometimes moves in strange directions and I couldn’t find out the reason. So I added more key frames which fix the position instead to see whether it works. Fortunately, it works pretty well.

Anyhow, I am happy about the final result and appreciate the process of studying AE and all other softwares which enable me to handle more technical stuff.

Response to Sita Sings the Blues

I was fascinated by the animation “Sita Sings the Blues” after watching it. It tells us two stories happened separately in ancient India and modern America, though different in time and space, have similarities within them. When telling the story of Sita, the author applied a couple of different methods to make her story more interesting and attractive, like putting narrators interspersed between every part of the story, adding songs sung by Sita to reveal her emotions to the audience. The author is like facing the audience and telling the story directly to you.

Also, the aim of her story is value-based. Through this vivid presentation of women’s love at all times, this indeed set people, especially women thinking what their position should be when they decide to start a new relationship.

Response to the reading and “Embrace the Remix”

“Everything is a remix”, Kirby Ferguson said in his series of “Embrace the Remix”. I had never thought of such idea before until his creative point was introduced to me. Actually I am totally convinced by his speech and I really appreciate it. However, adapting this idea to the current society is hardly possible because we mentally justify it but physically resist it.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” This is the most impressive sentence for me in his speech. We always create new things from the old ones because no one can create a completely new idea out of nowhere. Even those giants who seemed to be the original authors actually didn’t only depend on themselves to make creations. Either from nature or life, they obtained the raw materials for their creations. Can these also be called plagiarism? If yes, how could our society develop? Development of society always seems to be an inverse of patent, originality and authenticity.

Then why we, in front of social development and prosperity, would rather choose to protect the originality and insist that a piece of idea is indeed a property? Because humans are mostly selfish. In our minds, personal interests are always more important than collective interests. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing. Instead, it’s just a universal and common human nature. Like the example of Steve Jobs in the video, people will justify plagiarism only when they are not the victims caused by it. That’s the reason why we, though seeing clearly the benefits for sharing information and creations, would not apply it in daily life. Protection for one’s own benefit will remain an obstacle in the society for a pretty long time, and it’s inevitable.

Response to “Understanding Comics”

I used to be a mania for Japanese comics in high school. However, since I don’t have much time as I used to, nowadays I replace comics with animations because the latter takes me less time and tells more things.

However, after reading through “Understanding Comics”, I found my knowledge of comics stay no longer on the level that it brought me lots of fun but more about the art of creating comics, which again aroused my interest in it.

Comics is not only for children, we may find ourselves in different types of comics. We may identify with the main characters in the story and substitute ourselves for them. That’s why, in chapter two of the book, authors of comics always abstract the image of a person to make it just like nearly everyone. The background of the comics, however, is so true to life. Their purpose is that we readers feel that we ourselves are entering the vivid but virtual world. It’s a great way to fascinate readers and create more sales.

In chapter three and chapter four when Scott McCloud was talking about different transitions between panels, I was amazed by his detailed and delicate analysis about the readers’ feelings, which is an essential factor for being a good cartoonist. The gap between panels and the length of the rectangle of a panel will both affect the perception of time. Although I have been reading comics for a long time, it never occurred to me that these subtle things really meant something while I was reading even if they indeed affected my reading. McCloud sorted out lots of things which might be ignored during the reading process and displayed them to us. Moreover, to take care of those who never had experience in the field of comics, McCloud illustrated every point by adding a transparent picture. I think that’s one of the reason why this book became such a great success among readers.

“Understanding Comics” has lots of points in it that are worth reading and further discussion. Though I am not able to make clear all of his ideas, by having a try at comics, I am sure this book will make more sense to me.

surfingduck troop



Made by James, Sapphire and Ellie


James Tang:

I put the duck with 2 surfboard and psed 1 hat with the duck. Then I save them as a jpg so that I could paste them in as one layer. Then I use clone stamp tool to make a duck troop. I also did some adjustment.

Sapphire Chen:

First, about cutting off the duck from its original image. I finally found that the pen tool works the best to do this. And about adding the man in the picture. So I made adjustments to its brightness and contrast to make it darker and like surfing in the shadow of sunlight. And last, I made him to be there and used some waves to decorate the edges in order to integrate him into the background. It’s not perfect enough though. And we have a little bit disagreement on the composition of the picture. I feel that too many ducks in a picture make it a little messy.


First of all we decided that we want to make smth funny, so I found a picture of this strange duck online. Then I found background picture with a man surfing, that had the same position as the duck. I erased this poor man and put the duck instead, changing the brightness and shadows. Then I let the duck to wear a winter hat and hold NYU Shanghai flag. It seemed that one duck is not enough, so I added one more duck with Mexican hat on different board. And then, suddenly, it became an army of ducks.


We work together at the IMA lab for th final assembling of the picture. With the done material, we pass one to one and make comments on every movement. Finally we came to our troops of surfing ducks. We really enjoyed the process and love ps! Had fun doing that!

Response to “On the Rights of Molotov Man” (Sapphire Chen)

The article “On the Rights of Molotov Man” is kind of a debate between two women, Joy and Susan. At least at first, I thought it to be a debate because they seemed to argue much about the necessity of copyright. On this case, I agree with Joy’s opinion that she is free to use the photo shot by Susan without her permission because Susan, as well, did not ask for approval of the person being her subject. This point really makes sense.

However, when I read Susan’s words in depth, I found that these two people were actually talking about different things. If what Joy was entangled with was the issue of copyright, then what Susan considered was rather the photo itself. The most important reason why she discourages Joy’s action is that the historical photo is only for recording history, that is, things happened exactly at that time, at that place, and under that circumstance. As a photographer, she emphasizes most the “aura” of one thing, the idea which is given by Walter Benjamin in his book “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Joy, like the technology of mechanical reproduction, spread the photo out so that everyone could make use of the picture for their own purposes. Thus the photo no longer remains itself, but the symbol of rebellion instead. People can attach meanings to it whenever they want. The original meaning may be distorted, which is the real concern and fear of Susan. So I think it remains a problem in the age of mechanical reproduction about the conflicts between sharing and privacy protecting.

What does technology mean in the 21st Century?

E.M. Forster displayed a misery to us in his book “The Machine Stops” where humans were enslaved by machines and were eventually led to death.

I can say that it is not only a misery, but moreover, it is a shame. Having created the machines out of human intelligence, we, as the masters of such technology, readily permitted its dominance over us. We are so proud of and dependent on the machines that we worship these things as what is done in a religion. To this point, I remember an old saying in Chinese tradition: a man of honor won’t be controlled by a foreign body. That is, a wise person will never be restrained by outside things. However, nowadays, there are few people in the real world that are like Kuno in the text, brave, unyielding to reality and willing to explore new things. They tied their own hands in the virtual world, swallowing second-hand messages and being content with these stuff. Too advanced technology can mean recession in human abilities and virtues. No more creations, explorations, adventures or inspirations will ever exist when we trust that the machines, the technology we use will solve everything for us because we lose courage and even interest in discovering new things. Machines are not gods. Machines are just machines, convenient for life but easy to collapse. Real life experiences and face-to-face communications will never be replaced by these cold tools because different environments, inspirations received on a travel and feelings of others’ feelings can only be acquired when one is put into a society.

However, I’m not saying that technology is completely a bad thing in the 21st Century when there is technology everywhere. Of course, it means life of higher quality. Also, the machines created may help people find or save more resources on the earth so that they won’t have to live underground as “The Machine Stops” stated. Technology has helped people go through difficult periods. Without it, we may have sped up our extinction on the earth already.

In the 21st Century, technology is like some others things as well.  It serves humans, but should not be served by humans.