Ross School - Senior Projects 2012


Student: Chenxin Wang

Mentor: Kerry Sharkey-Miller

Domain(s): Media

Faculty Grader: Kenneth Kilfara



Documentation of Product


Title: Curiouser but Curiouser!


For my senior project I created an animation inspired by Lewis CarrollÕs, Alice in Wonderland. In the story, Alice dreams of falling into a hole and to a magical land where she meets several mysterious and complex characters, instantly making friends with them. The emotions of the girl are intricate; starting with scary and going through surprise, curiousness, and eventually ending with sadness. She gets an unreal adventure in the wonderland, but why once she leaves does everything seem to be real to her? This project reflects my personal perspective of being a student in a foreign land and learning how to live in a dream-like world.



Chenxin Wang(1)


Chenxin Wang(2)


Chenxin Wang(3)


Chenxin Wang(4)



Exhibition & Presentation Summary




My senior project is Curiouser but Curiouser.

ItÕs an 8 minutes animation that I created. Basically, it talks about a girl who dreams a wonderland that she draws. She dreams of falling into a hole and to a magical land where she meets several mysterious and complex characters, instantly making friends with them. She feels so sad when everything disappears. When she wakes up, she holds a box with a gift, which is given by the Hat man, one of the mysterious people. So, we canÕt say if it is a dream or a fact.





Kerry is the teacher of the animation class I took last year. I learnt a lot in her class. I know the basic rules of how to use istopmotion and I learnt how to create animation by using clay, paper, sand, or human. I came out the first idea of making animation for my senior project when I created my final project for the class. I think it will be very interesting and creative to make an integrated animation. Kerry is also a nice and professional teacher, thatÕs why I chose her as my mentor of the project.

Because of my personal situation, I left my homeland China and came to the United State to get the education. This is the first time that I leave away from my parents and study in a foreign country. Everything here was so unfamiliar to me, and I did feel scary and curious either because of different language or different culture. To adapt to this new environment was a challenge for me. Then, I was inspired by the picture of the story—ÒAlice in WonderlandÓ by a chance. I found that my experience is exactly like hers, everything for her is strange and unfamiliar in the wonderland as well. I was wondering, why donÕt I create this kind of story for my senior project to show my personal perspective of being a student in a foreign country? So I made this decision, which was to show up my own ÒAlice in wonderlandÓ by using the animated way. But when I decided to do it, I didnÕt realize how hard would it be.




I have three goals to achieve in this project.

The first one is to explore the production process of creating an animated film in depth.

The second one is to reveal my personal perspective of being a student in a foreign country.

The last one is to learn new technical skills.






I bought a digital camera, canon 550D to shoot and a tripod to prevent the scene from shaking. At the very beginning of my senior project, I started creating a storyline of this animation. I came out many ideas, and I created some roles in the story. I was suggested to draw some draft storyboards in my process book to organize each step about what would I shoot, what kind of angle would I shoot, and how could I shoot? Kerry and I also found a good location to shoot, which is in Court Theater.

At the same time, I began to consider choosing the appropriate costumes to each role. I established the direction of the style of the costumes, vintage. I connected with Mr. Doyle and Anita and borrowed some costumes from them. At this point, I have to mention Kerry. She provided abundant vintage clothes to me, which was really helpful. She also provided me many props to support my shooting. I think she is one of the greatest mentors ever, she was not only helped me to shoot, but she also helped me to save a lot of money and time.




Sy helped us to set up one light with a circular cover called a snoot, in the courter theater, so that we could get a circular bright scene in the darkness and it looks like a rabbit hole. We covered the floor with black blanket and settled the black curtain around the circle. The light was a problem; we could not see charactersÕ faces clearly during the shooting. We tried to use the camera flash, and it worked good but too slow! So we changed the setting of the lighting; we added one more light with a bed sheet to diffuse (soften) the harsh light so it could be used as a fill light. This made it possible to brighten their faces.


There is a funny story when I shot ChloeÕs part. I set the original role for her was a Red Lady, and I ordered a red dress for her from the website. She didnÕt want to wear that dress before I shot and there was no time to argue with the actors. Finally, the red character was changed to the blue.

I had to shoot during that 2 days to get everything done on time. And during those two days, Kerry kept saying: Hurry up Zoe! You have to be organized! We are almost out of time!!! over and over she said that!

I originally shot the opening and closing scenes in stop motion as well, but I decided on live action video instead. Because I wanted to visually differentiate between the dream segment and the conscious state of the main character.






I uploaded the photographs to Adobe Bridge to do a basic edit the sequencing of images; Each photograph is then opened Camera RAW to color balance, remove any distracting elements, and adjust lighting; brought back to Adobe Bridge to process into jpegs and then organized into animated clips in iStopMotion


Once the animated sequences are timed correctly in iStop-Motion, they are exported to Final Cut Pro to edit the individual sequences into the correct order and add sound, titles and credits. Finally export the finished animation from Final Cut Pro for presentation.


The only thing we left was to come up with the title. Dale sent an email to us about the catalog of the senior project. I just realized that I needed to figure out the title with Kerry. We were looking through the website and tried to get some inspirations. We wanted to name the animation specially and creatively. Then, Kerry found one sentence that Alice says in the original story—curiouser and curiouser.




I used to use iStopMotion to create animation. I needed to double each picture and import them into the software. In my movie, each second in the animated part has 30 pictures, and I have 6-7minutes in this part. So you can have a general guess, how many pictures did I import in the movie. I used more than 6,000 pictures, and I shot about 10,000 pictures. 


Time management:

Obviously, itÕs a huge challenge for everyone. Because I have five actors to play the roles in the animation, I was not only need to consider my own schedule and I also need to consider theirs. So itÕs not that easy to arrange the time.


Issues with the Environment and the weather:

Before I started shooting, I did some test shootings in the forest. I was planning to shoot all scenes in the forest. However, there are enormous branches and bushes in the forest, I even could not walk around to get the diverse angles of the scenes. Kerry advised me to settle down the scene in the room, and we could shoot indoors so I would not be affected by the weathers or the environments. We were walking around the school to look for a good place to shoot. Finally, we both thought Court Theater would be the best one.


Technical issues with cameras:

I only have some limited techniques to use during the shooting. I have 2 SD cards, and I need to upload images from one card into the computer when another one works. When I exchange the card during the process, my actors were almost die because they have to keep in one posture to wait for my next shooting. Sometimes, they might slightly move when I exchanged the cards, and it would cause some bad effects of the scene. I also only have 2 batteries, so I met the same problems during I exchanged the batteries.



For making a better animation, I did final making in the final cut pro instead of imovie. I never used this software before, and Kenny spent half hour in teaching me some basic rules of how to use it. I could not remember anything when I first used it. But, yes, finally I figured it out. 



Sound was also a challenge for me. Unlike working with video footage animation is not recorded with sound. I had to create all of the sound elements myself. I had to choose sounds that created the proper mood for each scene and layer the sounds to draw attention to specific movements & actions.  I created the musical elements and sound effects in garage band and edited them into the final piece in FCP.




The major I want to learn in college is communication. I am so interested in media thing.

I was thinking to be an animator in the future in China, because Chinese animation industry needs a huge improvement. And I would like to be the one who can do that.




Bibliography or Works Consulted


Free Sound Clips | Web. 16 Feb. 2012. <>.