Student wins digital animation competition on fourth try

This teenager doesn't know the meaning of failure.

On three previous occasions, she had tried to get her team shortlisted for a national animation competition.

Each time, she failed.

But she gave it one last push and not only did they make it to the finals, they also won.

N.E.mation!10 is a digital animation competition organised by NEXUS, a Ministry of Defence department responsible for Total Defence and National Education, to mark Total Defence Day on Feb 15.

The finals were held last Saturday at the School of the Arts drama theatre with Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung as the guest of honour.

For this 10th instalment of the competition, 795 entries were received and only 10 were picked to be in the final round.

On Jan 25, The New Paper (TNP) had featured Chua Hui Min, 16, from Beatty Secondary School and her N.E.mation! journey.

She had failed to reach the finals the first three times. She took part in this year's competition with schoolmates Ang Jia Shing Adeline, 15, Muhd Zulfazlin Zainal, 15, and Evan Tan Jia Ho, 14.

For six months, they worked on a one-minute animation clip that they felt would reflect the meaning of Total Defence.

The team used a spinning, reflective surface to show images of Singapore's achievements such as Changi Airport, NEWater and the Marina Bay skyline.

Inspired by the Total Defence pillars of Economic Defence and Psychological Defence, the team believed that Singaporeans should be proud of their country's achievements.

They made use of a praxinoscope, an animation device with an inner circle of mirrors, to project the images.

This was the first time in the competition's history a praxinoscope was used.

The team won a fully sponsored trip to renowned animation studios in the United States.None of the team members has been there.

Past winners have visited the Walt Disney and DreamWorks animation studios.

Said Hui Min, who first took part in the competition when she was in Secondary 1: "I felt my determination and hard work put in for the past four years were finally rewarded."

Zulfazlin collapsed and knelt on the floor when he learnt they had won.

"I have dreamt on many nights that we had won the competition. I couldn't believe that my dream came true," he said.


Participants created their animation clips over a three-week training programme during the year-end school holidays last year.

Before the programme, the team had to pitch their animation story to a panel of experts and they often stayed up until 11pm at Hui Min's flat to brainstorm ideas.

Hui Min, who is pursuing a diploma in animation at Nanyang Polytechnic, said: "I would approach members of the public on the street and ask them to vote for my team.

"Several of them recognised me from TNP's report and wished me all the best."

Public voting counted for 50 per cent of total scores, with more than 48,900 votes recorded this year.

Mr Alexander Choy, the teacher-in-charge of N.E.mation! for the school, said: "It is not common for a neighbourhood school like ours, with only five years' experience in the competition, to clinch the top prize."

Mr Choy, 47, thanked the school principal, Mrs Marion Tan, for her support.

During the second week of voting, during morning assembly, Mrs Tan encouraged students to vote for the team on the spot using their mobile phones.

This catapulted them into the top five teams with the highest number of votes.

Said Mrs Tan: "The competition's values of creativity and being a good citizen are values we would like to see in our students.

"The team's perseverance is a source of inspiration for our other students."

This article was first published on February 24, 2016.
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