From animation newbies to N.E.mation! Top 10 finalists
All they knew about animation was from Japanese anime.
But this group of girls from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School decided to take a gamble.
They joined N.E.mation!, an annual contest for students to express their thoughts on Total Defence through digital animation.
Just as they were packing up and about to go home, they learnt that they had beaten 750 other groups to be selected among the top 10 teams of the competition .
Last Saturday at The Cathay, they showcased their work at an exhibition called Downtown Picnic.
N.E.mation!, which is into its 11th year, is organised by Nexus, the Mindef department responsible for Total Defence and National Education.
Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary's team leader, Olivia Surrthi Ketheesan, 14, said they did not expect to reach the top 20, let alone top 10.
"Before the top 20 teams were announced, we were told we could take the team photo home as a memory if we did not make it.
My team was already packing our bags... when they called out our names.Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary’s team leader, Olivia Surrthi Ketheesan, on how her team had not expected to reach even the top 20. They are in the top 10.
"My team was already packing our bags and deciding who would take the picture home when they called out our names," she said.
Her team's animation clip, titled Our Five Fingers of Defence, showed how the five pillars of Total Defence are needed to protect Singapore, just like how all five fingers are important for the human hand to function.
To illustrate this idea, the team used finger puppets.
She added that it was a challenge for her team, who called themselves [Blank Space].
They had to sew costumes for the finger puppets. A team member had to turn her finger for 200 takes, while kneeling in front of the camera, before she did it correctly.
Another team that made it to the top 10 is Doughnuts & Donuts, from Cedar Girls' Secondary School.
They came up with an improvised version of the game, snakes and ladders, to illustrate the ups and downs that a country goes through.
Team member, Raksha Saravanan, 14, said that she has learnt how to work better in groups through this competition.
She said: "We had to see each other every other day. Sometimes, we get sick of each other and start to fight. But we have learnt to talk things out and resolve our differences."
Mr Xavier Lai, 30, the animation instructor for [Blank Space], is very proud of what the girls have achieved.
He said: "They have learnt to be more dedicated and responsible of their work, from the time they started six months ago. This is already an achievement, but I like to aim high. I am eyeing for a win."
Vote for N.E.mation! and win great prizes
You can play a part in the competition by voting for your favourite team.
Public voting for the teams started on Saturday and will end on Feb 5.
People can go to www.nemation.sg to view the top 10 entries and cast the votes.
Voting can also be done on the N.E.mation! Facebook page, or SMS 76677, in the format: NE11
Each person can vote for up to three teams.
Voters can stand to win attractive prizes like Apple products.
The winning team will be announced on Feb 19 at an awards ceremony at the National Gallery Singapore.
The winner will receive a fully sponsored trip worth over $20,000 to a renowned animation studio in the US .
The first and second runner-ups will receive prizes worth more than $6,000 and $5,000 respectively. - ADELINE TAN