Documenting Asian-Canadian Experiences: Ombre- a Stop-Motion Animation

A wall covered in sticky notes with drawings used in the stop-motion video "Ombre"

As the first assignment for my HIST 483 - Asian Migrations to the Americas class I was given the "simple" task of "representing a class partner in video, text, or sound". I chose to make a stop-motion draw-my-life style video! This assignment mostly gave us the chance to experiment with video-making and interviewing subjects for later assignments.

(Note: Parts of the video where the subject's name is mentioned have been omitted or changed for her privacy.)

As the first assignment for my HIST 483 - Asian Migrations to the Americas class I was given the "simple" task of "representing a class partner in video, text, or sound". This assignment was an opportunity for the class to experiment with and build skills of video-making and interviewing subjects for later assignments.

The Challenge

Since this was the first time I'd ever edited a video or interviewed anyone, there were a lot! of new challenges! Firstly, what is representation? and what would be the best way to "genuinely" represent someone in just 3-4 minutes? or would my interviewee be comfortable with sharing these stories with a classroom full of "strangers"?

As a director and interviewer, I came to understand that I had a lot of control over how others might view the video subject. With great power comes great responsibility!

The Medium

After meeting with my partner and getting to know them better, we agreed that she did not want to be directly filmed and instead, I created a stop-motion "draw my life" style video for a number of reasons:

  • Highlighting the subject
    By removing my voice from the original interview track and just focusing on drawing the subject's story, I could highlight her narrative through her own voice.
  • Creative and "fluid" representation
    As drawing allowed me to control the visual representation of the subject, I was able to use a ball of ever-changing scribbles to represent the confusion in the subject's perception of her identity as a child as well as her progression into the fully formed person that she is today.
    I also used the medium of sticky-notes' colour and positioning in the video frame to represent place and ethnic identity. Yellow being Canada or Canadian "identity" elements and pink being South Korea or Korean "identity".
  • Forming a narrative
    By using techniques like the meshing of pink and yellow coloured sticky notes, I was able to capture the subject's narrative of hybrid identity through the metaphor of "ombre". This metaphor actually came up once near the end of our interview, but I found that it was a perfect symbol to visualize such a complex idea as identity.
  • Setting a humourous and light-hearted tone
    We both decided on making a video that would make our audience laugh, and drawing is perfect for keeping a light-hearted tone and adding little references and jokes. This was also enhanced through music and sound effects.

This assignment was an introduction to a number of new concepts on video representation and interviewing. See my next assignment for more!

  • Produced, drew, and edited a stop-motion animation video to share a classmate's life story on Asian-Canadian identity using Adobe Premiere.