After working on my first short animated film last year I decided that it’ an area of digital media that I want to pursue and develop my skills in. For my capstone ideation I have used creative and innovative techniques to come up with an idea for a short film. I want to use 3D software primarily, but also incorporate 2D and real-life footage. My film will be based on a true crime story, combining fantasy and thriller elements. The story focuses on and is narrated by a woman called Cai Xia Liao, a vengeful Chinese woman who committed the most horrific and unbelievable killing of a four-year-old boy and his grandmother in Melbourne with a pair of garden shears. The pair met in China in 2012 while Mach and his wife were separated. But when he tried to end the romance Liao became enraged. I want to focus on the dark themes of jealousy and revenge and hope to do this through visual language techniques.
Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like there’s a new—and wildly successful—book, podcast, or show devoted to a crime. From Case File and Dr Death to In the Dark and Atlanta Monster, there’s no shortage of true crime podcasts. Netflix is also now dominating the genre with huge successes like— The Keepers, Evil Genius and, Wild Wild Country. I’ve always been fascinated by true crime and as I’ve gotten older my obsession with these dark twisted stories has grown. When I first heard the story of Cai Xia Liao, the violence and horrendousness of her crime really hit me, it was unbelievable that anyone let alone a woman could commit such a heinous act. I instantly felt like this was a story of fiction, and this is what inspired me to tell it in a different style and media. I could see the symbolism and a unique style coming to fruition as soon as a started writing the story down. I want to tell a real story in a new dream world, juxtaposing the truth and an imaginary world. Sometimes crime documentaries can be visually uninteresting, and it is the story that engages the audience opposed to the visual language and style. I want to combine both elements to make something new and exciting for the audience.
The aim of this project is to tell a true crime story using a variety of visual language tools, colour and symbolism. My focus is for the final project to be in a style that represents who I am as an artist and create something for my portfolio that showcases my strengths skills. I want to create something for my fellow crime lovers and present a true crime story in a different medium that will entertain the audience. I hope to develop my digital skills such as– storyboarding, modelling, rigging, lighting etc but also gain deeper understanding of how to manage a project.
The film style I’m aiming for is like a graphic novel or comic, I will be researching and test rendering different ways of making my 3D animation look like 2D, experimenting with flat colours and black outline. Time management will be one of the biggest risks and potential downfalls of my project, I will try to reduce areas that I know will be time consuming. Firstly, rather than relying on heavy character animation, I will focus more on the shots I use. To save time recording voices for an entire script and animating a lip-synch, I plan to have Liao narrate the film as if she’s talking to documentary makers from her jail cell. My environments will be very minimalistic as they are not the focus of my story and not an area that I want to allocate a lot of time to. I will be researching short animated films that tell a big story in a small-time frame and how they manage to evoke emotion in a 2 – 3 minutes window. I will be specific when telling my story and make sure I take out unnecessary scenes, creating the world in Cai Xia Liao’s head and delving deep into it.
To achieve this project, I will create a in depth time management breakdown and set myself deadlines for every step of the production. During pre-production I need to create a clear idea for every scene in my film and focus on concepting and storyboarding. I will need to create a full animatic of every shot so I can stick to my proposed 3-minute length. To meet my goals, I will need to research the short film market and true crime to make sure there are people that want to watch it. I will need to show a lot of self-discipline and ask for help from my peers. It’s also important to Identify the people and age group that are most interested in true crime and alternative style films so I can make my project appeal to them.
According to (Marshall, 2013) creativity is about unleashing the potential of the mind to conceive new ideas. It is subjective, making it hard to measure. Innovation, on the other hand, is completely measurable. Innovation is about introducing change into relatively stable systems (Pati, 2018)). While coming up with an idea for my short film I switched between both creative and innovative techniques and I found benefits of both. In the creative process I used convergent strategies to generate many different ideas and explore their possibilities and stylistic options. Once I had a multitude of ideas, I used divergent techniques to narrow them down and decide which one I wanted to develop.
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Upon the decision to make a short film, the obvious next step was to decide what it would be about. In the past I have had a tendency of coming up with one idea that I think is great and simply running with that. This time I set myself the goal of coming up with six different options and choosing from there. When the creative juices weren’t flowing, I grabbed a pen and paper and started brain storming.
Alex Osborn an advertising executive in Madison avenue developed this technique in 1953. Brainstorming integrates lateral thinking with an informal approach (Bilel, 2018). It inspires people to generate ideas and thoughts that could seem a little crazy at first. These ideas can then form original, creative solutions to a problem, while others may ignite even more ideas. This helps people get out of a creative rut by forcing them out of their standard way of thinking (Bilel, 2018). Osborn states that when brainstorming there is no such thing as a bad idea, I found writing even the most random thoughts helped generate a new idea. Once I started writing things down it was easier to think freely and follow a path, and from there I started visualising each idea and getting excited about them. Brainstorming is a technique that I’ve used since primary school and I think it’s an important and useful technique. Sometimes I overlook the benefits of it when it comes to concepting, but it’s a technique I will be sure to use for future projects and problem solving.
My brainstorming method resulted in 6 ideas that I thought had potential for a short film, to thin these options down I used a diverging technique called negative section. This tool is relatively simple but quite powerful, you simply put each idea into a no or maybe pile (Silva,2010). If unsure you put the idea into the maybe pile (Silva,2010). After this process I removed three ideas that were definite no’s and consequently had 3 ideas I was happy with. I think a risk in using this technique is that if you aren’t careful you can throw out all your intriguing and unique ideas and end up with a rather ‘safe’ but uncreative or innovative idea.
Six Thinking Hats
After my negative selection session, I had to narrow three ideas that I liked down to one. To do this I used another converging technique – Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. The Six Thinking Hats is a tool that enables you to look at ideas or problems from a different perspective (De Bono, 1983). The six perspectives represented are: facts, emotions, positives, negatives, creativity and planning (De Bono, 1983). This technique makes you consider each perspective one at a time to avoid confusion from too many angles crowding your thinking (mindtools,2017). As I have a naturally optimistic approach to making choices, I often don’t look at potential negatives in an idea. I found looking at ideas from different viewpoints very helpful and I think it will change the way I solve problems and generate new ideas. During this phase I found the black hat quite beneficial, it is used to look at ideas negatively, highlighting dangers or why an idea could fail. It helped identify flaws and risks of my ideas before committing, allowing me to alter or eliminate them before its too late. As a positive thinker I often miss these problems in advance as I’m too busy focusing on the things that will be successful.
Conventional thinking in red oceans is why blue oceans go undiscovered. – Ava DeVurney
In film it is very difficult (some would argue impossible) to come up with an entirely innovative idea. I have focused on certain elements that I believe will make my idea innovative. Firstly, the story, after doing research I was unable to find any true crime stories that have been made into animated short films. I also want to use the creative technique of setting the film inside a human body – zooming the camera into each scene in a different part of the body. I’m hoping that these story telling elements and visual language will help create something unique that the audience will feel inspired by.
Blue Ocean Vs Red Ocean
In 1985 W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne came up with two terms to separate the market world – Red ocean and Blue ocean. Red oceans are existing industries or the established market space (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005). Blue oceans are all the industries not yet discovered – unknown market space (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005). According to (Du Verney, 2017) the Hollywood film industry is predominantly a red ocean market; however, she believes by bringing minority stories to screen we can make space for undiscovered blue oceans. I hope that this original story and alternative style will make this film somewhat innovative.
Four Action Framework
One blue ocean strategy I used to think more innovatively about my idea was the four-action framework. Illustrated in Figure 3 the Four Actions Framework created by Kim and Mauborgne in 2005 aims to separate the trade-off between low cost and differentiation to create a new market (Dahan, 2009). According to (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005) there are four key questions a business or individual needs to ask when using the framework: (1) What factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated? (2) What factors should be reduced well below the industry standard? (3) Which factors should be raised above industry standards? (4) Which factors should be created that the industry had never offered?
While this strategy is more commonly used in business products, there are benefits of using it to when making a film. After putting my idea through the framework, I was able to refine my idea and explore new areas of potential innovation.
A stakeholder is an individual or group, who will be affected by or has vested interest in the outcome of my project (Goodpaster, 1991). I have presented a stakeholder analysis to identify their needs and, to develop a strategic vision of the human and institutional landscape. I want to know any key relationships between my stakeholders and what they care about most from my project.
- Ian McKenzie & Zahra Salarnia
- ATMC NZ
High power and interest:
The two stakeholders I have identified as high power and high interest are myself, and my lecturers. I have vested interest in the outcome of my project and power over the decisions. I will be investing time creating the film and completing it successfully will have an impact on my future and my degree. My lecturers are in this category as I will be working with them closely every step of the way and consulting with them regularly. They are vested in me completing my project as my failure could impact them too.
High power and low interest:
ATMC NZ are in the high power and low interest category. As a student here my film has their name on it. It is important I keep them satisfied and succeed in my project, but it isn’t necessary that I keep them informed on details daily.
Low power and High interest:
I’m considering my classmates and family as low power and high interest. My classmates will be part of my project as I will be working alongside them, collaborating ideas, and asking for help. Deborah and I are always invested in each other’s projects. I keep her informed of progress and changes as well as how I am feeling personally. My family have high interest in my success at ATMC and therefore my film. They want to see me learning and developing skills that will help me in the future. As my biggest supporter they always take an interest in what I’m doing creatively and what kind of stories I’m telling. However, for both groups, despite taking their feedback on board the ultimate decision making will be my own making them low power.
- Bilel, K. (2018). Effectiveness Of Electronic Brainstorming As A Technique Of Creative Thinking:, Theoretical Approach. مجلة أبعاد اقتصادية, 590. doi: 10.36539/1427-000-008-031
- De Bono, E. (1985). Six thinking hats. Mamaroneck, N.Y.: International Centre for Creative Thinking.
- Dahan, N. (2009). The four Ps of corporate political activity: a framework for environmental analysis and corporate action. Journal Of Public Affairs, 9(2), 111-123. doi: 10.1002/pa.321
- Editorial board of IJDCI. (2013). Perspectives on design creativity and innovation research. International Journal Of Design Creativity And Innovation, 1(1), 1-42. doi: 10.1080/21650349.2013.754657
- Goodpaster, K. (1991). Business Ethics and Stakeholder Analysis. Business Ethics Quarterly, 1(01), 53-73. doi: 10.1017/s1052150x00008782
- Kim, W., & Mauborgne, R. (2005). Blue ocean strategy. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.
- Marshall, E. (2013). Creativity, OCD, Narcissism and the Big Five. Thinking Skills And Creativity, 10, 91-98. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2013.05.003
- Pati, P. (1999). The Role of Top Management in R&D Effectiveness. Vision: The Journal Of Business Perspective, 3(2), 18-25. doi: 10.1177/097226299900300204
- Six Thinking Hats: Looking at a Decision From All Points of View. (2020). Retrieved 8 March 2020, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm
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