Please Check Out the Video & the Following Text Statements of this Story
The animated story "Rainbow", inspired by my personal experience as a mom with two children, was my MFA thesis at Cal-State University, Long Beach.
The film opens with a scene in the lush yard of a home. The audience sees children on the grassy lawn coloring a lovely image of a rainbow. The rainbow blends and morphs into the dangling rainbow earrings their mother as she tries to repair a sprinkler in the yard. She is visibly discouraged as she fails to make it work. She cheers up when her children bring her the picture they have colored of the rainbow. Their mother loves rainbows. She brings the children in for a snack and the audience sees that the cake she serves is rainbow cake. As Mother’s Day approaches, the children want to buy something with a rainbow on it as a gift. They go to a garden supply store to shop for their mom but they only have $3. It begins to rain as they try to find something at the store they can afford and in their imagination the items they want to buy look like monsters hungry for their money. They return home and cry in their mother’s arms, but suddenly the sun comes from behind the cloud and reflects on their mother’s rainbow earring. That gives the children an idea for a Mother’s Day gift. They use their $3 to buy a used how-to book on sprinkler repair, along with damaged CD's being sold in the garden store to scare birds away. They fix the sprinkler and hang the CD's in the trees. On Mother's Day they take their mother out to the yard and turn on the sprinkler, and, as it sprays, the sunlight is reflected by the shiny CD's, surrounding their mother with rainbows. The children are able to give their mother the best gift of all, a million rainbows!
In this animated film, I want to emphasize that gifts made with love and creativity are more valuable than anything money can buy.
"Rainbow" explores the relationship between money, creativity, and love, within the confines of the Chinese taboo that connects lack of money with shame and fear.
I grew up in China in the 80s. In my childhood, talking about "poverty" was on the same level as talking about "death" and was a cultural taboo. Parents prohibited their young children from talking about these topics. It was considered “unlucky". Chinese parents fear that if the children in the family mention the words, the unfortunate things the terms refer to will befall the family. In my case, my mother always took away the "red envelopes" I received during Chinese New Years holidays which contained money. She said she didn't want me to have too many ideas and concepts about money when I was young.
As an adult I have reflected on these Chinese cultural taboos, especially in the education of my own children. I realize that not thinking about issues in life do not make the problems disappear. On the contrary, only by letting children understand the truth in “taboos”, can they exercise their ability to analyze questions and find answers, and thus help them to grow into competent adults.
In the short film "Rainbow", I question and challenge the cultural taboo that prohibits the discussion of money with young children. In the film I break this taboo by allowing the children in the film to think and understand the concept of money, to adjust their incorrect perception of money due to their young age and build up a right one. When their frustration at not having enough money turns to fear (high prices changing their gift choices into monsters) they find motivation to use their abilities to create new things beyond money. Therefore, in "Rainbow", I not only break a Chinese traditional taboo, but also explore a positive resolution.
The exploration of making this film makes me realize that it is important to discover the culture and media theory behind storytelling, and media professionals can then communicate their authenticity effectively to audiences. This also set my goal to further pursue a Phd for research study. My ultimate goal is to complete a PhD in Film and Media Studies in order to contribute to the body of knowledge between artist, media and culture, with an aim to arm artists with the tools they need to move through blocks (like the taboo in Rainbow), and better communicate their genuineness, impacting the culture in which they reside, while creating films that bridge the gap of cultural misunderstanding and stereotypes by authentic truth.
Because one of the climate characteristics of Los Angeles, where I reside, is the abundant sunshine, I have chosen to light my film in a way that demonstrates the local lighting. In Southern California, when the outdoor sunlight shines through the windows into a room, the sunlight will hit the floor and be rebounded or reflected on the people or objects in the room. Since this is a kind of light refracted from the floor, it is very soft, giving people a warm and comfortable home feeling. I think this "soft bottom light" is unique to Southern California. I have lived in China and traveled to other countries in the past. Due to the different influences of different climate zones and atmospheres on light, the lighting in different places has a different quality.
To capture the warm joyful family atmosphere I wanted for my film, I focused on bouncing the light onto the characters from below. It is an element that I paid great attention to throughout the film creation and production process. This form of lighting runs through the entire film of "Rainbow", in order to truly reflect the warm and joyful family atmosphere. This type of "bottom light" is a technique used in horror films but I was able to move through the lighting in a way to portray a warm loving feeling rather than a feeling of dread.
"Rainbow" is an adaptation of the true story of myself and my two children.
A picture my daughter drew when she was 4 years old recorded the story of her making a rainbow for me in our garden with a sparkling faucet.
My daughter's drawing was my jumping off point for the animation in this film.
In the trailer of Rainbow, I wrote:
"In a tale of love,
two children discover
the best gifts
come from the heart."
I deeply appreciate that I have an opportunity to learn and grow with my children 😊❤️
As director of the film "Rainbow", I have an opportunity to get familiar with the entire process of animation film production. How to clearly communicate the questions and requirements for a film is valuable knowledge and experience which I have learned from creating and directing "Rainbow". For example, because a particular scene in "Rainbow" contained very complicated layers, my final editor made an error in the order of the layers during her final editing work, which resulted in a logistical visual error. As a director, I tell the final editor clearly that the cause of the error was based on the order of layers, and how that error could be fixed easily, just by adjusting the order of layers. Instead of abstractly saying that this is a logical error or that it seems wrong I needed to be really familiar with the production and then direct my team on the exact way to fix the problem.
I believe that a well-told story should be derived from the truth of life, but also go beyond life. In this film, I composed the story based on my real life. I observed the characters and landscapes from my daily life in order to present a believable and touchable story. In my process, I took photos of the greenhouse area attached to Wal-Mart and some photos of gardens in my neighborhood as references. Based on those references I had a basic vision in my mind of the gardens for my animation. I used them as sources for color tone and lighting, though the gardens in my animation were from my mind.
Regarding my technique, in my backgrounds I combine realistic lighting and shade with abstract form for some of the subjects. I used Photoshop to create the background and the characters, also After Effect and Adobe Premiere Pro to do the editing. This is a story about love and warmth so I chose to make a colorful background that reflected this atmosphere.
The characters are based on studies of my children. My daughter has a rounder face and my son's face is longer so I used them as inspiration for the characters. It is a cute comparison of shape in the film, which matches the philosophy in animation character design: that cute characters match a light and happy storyline.
Please Check out my still pictures of "Environmental Design & Characters Design" of this film in another page of this website.
Please check out the Trailer of Rainbow
Please also enjoy the content when this film was a Pre-Production of "Rainbow" in another page of my website.
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