Our main concept behind our interactive collage is a juxtaposition of fantasy elements against famous Singapore historical scenes and monuments.
Before deciding on that, we actually had a a few brainstorming sessions to source our inspirations. We googled search interactive collages but to our disappointment we still could not find a suitable interactive collage that was to our liking. To be honest, the interactivity part probably confused us a little before we even started the project. We couldn’t decide if we wanted to settle the interactivity part first, or to decide on the theme first. And as such, it took us a long time to finally settle on a theme.
There were considerations also whether we wanted to make our theme surrealistic or realist. We had several suggestions;
1. A fantastical land that is surrealistic and abstract, with many juxtaposition of elements together in one collage. Colorful and complicated composition.
2. A fairytale-like story using recognizable fairytale characters. E.g Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty etc etc
3. The milkway, universe with planets and constellations in which the interactivity can be used to zoom in on each planet or constellation and play with it
4. A realist approach to Singapore’s historical timeline, with mention of famous figures and monuments. E.g Stamford Raffles, Esplanade etc etc
We deliberated for quite long, as there were no consensus across the board on which is better. Yet, due to time constraints we had to quickly choose a theme or without which we cannot start on our collages, and also our interactivity. After much discussion, we decided on merging several themes together, for various reasons.
The themes that we merged were fantasy and history.
The general concept that we were looking for were to induce nostalgia through juxtaposing notable monuments/characters in fantastical environments. The main reason behind is that we believe that all Singaporeans share something in common; which is a shared history, and it is not just limited to Singaporeans. Things such as the Japanese occupation, HDBs, and even our present esplanade and MBS, are all monuments that are famous worldwide, and which is what forms Singapore’s identity as well. Using such elements in our work would help bring out the emotions of nostalgia and warmth. We wanted to allow the audience to view the work through a 1st-person, or as close to a 1st person perspective as possible to enhance those emotions, and so we initially decided on a storybook sequence, where the audience will be brought through different scenes as though reliving the moments.
We had a few scenes in mind, of which we confirmed several:
3. Samsui Women
4. Jap Occupation
5. Early Settlement
9. Universal Studios Singapore
After deciding on the scenes, we had to create the collages to work on.
One huge problem laid in the fact that all of us had differing commitments and schedules, and it was hard to meet often to discuss the project. Therefore, we had to do most of the discussion through online chats and facebook messaging. It was also difficult to do the collages together, and so to make things efficient, we splitted the workload amongst ourselves. Sheryl took charge of Esplanade, USS, and Pre-Singapore, Enqi took charge of Early Settlement, Jap Occupation and Sentosa, Yin Lam took charge of Samsui women and MBS, while I took charge of the overall interactivity and the character design, and also the Kampung and HDB collages. It definitely became a lot more efficient after we each had something to do instead of waiting around.
However, I believe that we should have settled on a style before we each started on our collages. When we compiled our collages together, I realised that all of our styles were largely different. Enqi’s and mine were more geared towards the realist side, while Sheryl and Yinlam’s collages were much more towards the fantasy side. There were immediate concerns about whether the collages would look coherent together in a timeline. We met Jing for consultations, and at the end of it, we decided that we needed to redo some of our collages in order to form a similar style. We managed to agree on going with Sheryl’s collages’ style and used one of her collage as reference to redesign our collage.
Therefore, using Sheryl’s collage as reference, I also re-edited my HDB and Kampung collages, and tried to add in more fantastical elements, while still retaining the realistic aspects of the monuments to fit our theme.
Luckily, all of us managed to fit our styles together and finished the scenes needed for interactivity. There were slight problems during collaging process, such as the need to agree on sizing, composition and many others especially because each of our work had our individual style to it, and much compromise was needed.
An overview of our scenes:
(We had to leave Japanese Occupation out as there were difficulties in the file format and due to time constraints, we decided that it was not an important feature in our overall collage)
I was also in charge of character design, which I based largely off the character Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Largely because she is an iconic fairytale character that most people know of, and also her story is both famous and similar to our concept of traveling through dimensions, and was in my opinion thus best representative of our work.
Using Illustrator, I traced out the initial drawing I had on paper and also filled in the colors with shadings. The primary colors used are blue and white for the clothes and yellow for her hair, also largely influenced by the character Alice.
Initially, a 5px outline was used, but while doing the interactivity, I switched to a 1px outline as it was gentler and blended in better with the collages.
Out of personal attachment and perhaps as the story is close to all of our hearts, we decided to name our character Alice as well.
Our character, Alice (as well), will thus be representing the audience as the main protagonist in walking through the scenes in our interactive collage.
Interactivity for us this time round was a real pain in the ass. There were so many problems that we faced while using Catalyst to do our interactivity that we had to scrape many initial ideas and develop alternatives.
One such example is when we wanted to use a double-zoom effect for our collage; which means using a zoom-out effect on the primary photo while at the same time using a zoom-in effect on the secondary photo, so the back photo will zoom in while the first photo zooms out to create a smooth zooming effect. However, there were problems with the transitions, and we couldn’t manage to create the effect. The problem laid in the fact that Catalyst automatically adds in weird transitions that we didn’t want and couldn’t delete, hence the zooming effect wouldn’t work. Although I’m sure that it was also due to our lack of knowledge and expertise in using Catalyst. All of us started the project with zero knowledge of how Flash and Catalyst worked. It’s pretty amazing we even managed to produce an interactive collage in the end without proper guidance (sorry to say but Youtube tutorials weren’t of much help either).
The alternative we came up with was just a simple zooming effect of the second background, which will replace the primary photo (and therefore the primary photo does not move). Also, in addition to make the collage less flat, we made the character resize and walk into the end of the collage, and when she reaches the next collage will zoom out, so the illusion of travelling through dimensions is formed by using a ‘portal’ effect.
Once she reaches, the next collage will zoom in to fill up the primary screen, replacing the previous collage.
Luckily, this method of zooming worked and we could finish the overall collage by using the states and timeline to control fading in and out of the images.
We also placed in individual interactivity within each collage. For example, clicking on the road would make the road light up, or clicking on the roses, will cause a duplication of more roses etc etc. However another limitation we faced was the inability of Catalyst to handle large amount of data, and hence we had to optimize most of our layers, and hence we could not show the individual interactivity in our final work. It is regrettable, but I’m sure that with more time and knowledge, we would have definitely been able to do it. So we sent the individual interactivity seperately in another folder to the group server, and hopefully that works.
Overall, this project was the hardest for me, especially because it involved the use of Catalyst and Flash (and coding) which has never occurred to me to use it before. Learning from scratch was really hard, especially when it conflicts with commitments and time constraints. But still, it was a very enriching experience, and now I’m proud to say that I have some knowledge of using Catalyst. Will be very valuable skills I can carry to my future workplace I think! :)) And I love making collages. And I love sourcing through photos the entire day just to find a few suitable ones. I’m a photo-watcher at heart. (is there even such a word?) But anyway, here marks the end of my final project, and the final part of my portfolio!
NM3223 has been a blast! 😀
(for my individual collages)