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The animation from Nanyang Girls’ High School shows how everyday stresses can accumulate and overwhelm us – and how we can ease them by seeking help.
Text Melody Tan

The protagonist of Health in SYNC is having a very bad day. She feels ostracised in school, and is mocked by classmates in their group chat. Her poor grades result in a scolding from her parents. Despite her growing distress, she’s reluctant to seek help, preferring to bottle up her growing tidal wave of emotions – until it’s almost too late.

Team member Tan Yitong, 15, from Nanyang Girls’ High School (NYGH) said that the animation’s content was drawn from the real world, adding: “I think all of us have experienced at least one of these issues, to differing magnitudes.”

Keeping it real

Having worked together on media projects since Secondary Two, the three members of the NYGH Infocomm Club found it easy to agree on animation as their chosen format to convey ideas that would have been difficult to illustrate in a live-action video. “Animation opens up possibilities,” said Zhao Xinqi, 15. “For example, the health bar above our protagonist’s head – we can’t show that in a skit.”

Yitong added that animation also allowed them to use colours as metaphors for emotions. Using the same example of the health bar, she shared: “It gets darker as the protagonist experiences more negative emotions, and the overflowing negativity is represented by black liquid.”

Teammate Sydney Siow, 15, also highlighted the universal nature of animation – a useful feature when trying to reach out to a diverse audience of youth from various backgrounds. “As opposed to a video with actual people starring in it, you can’t really recognise or put a face to a drawing in an animation. It could be anyone, even you. It’s more relatable,” she explained.

A rewarding journey

While working on their project, the three members were also involved in other technology and media competitions. But the most challenging aspect for them was using only their personal learning devices (PLDs) to create the animation, from the first frame to the last. They struggled with the grainy appearance of the exported animation and had difficulty stitching together frames that had been produced on different PLDs.

  Far from being just for kids, animation has become a medium for youth to see their experiences, identities and goals reflected on-screen.
Source: 'Rugrats,' 'Wild Thornberrys' exec tackles animated series on teen suicide, mental health

Eventually, the team was able to iron out their technical issues, and even try out new techniques in animation, video editing and storytelling. “We experimented a lot with symbolism, like the black water,” said Xinqi. “We also learnt to add more frames in between. Normally, in our CCA, we do our animations in one go – we never go back to add more frames in-between.”


They also deployed their creativity in problem-solving. For instance, while they were able to obtain some copyright-free music online, the team had to DIY some of the audio elements. “I created most of the sound effects by myself in my bedroom,” confessed Sydney. “In one scene where the mum was scolding the daughter, it was actually me talking to myself and speeding it up 500 times!”

Despite facing some initial challenges, the team is glad to have used animation to present their idea – a sound decision, judging by a Distinction award they received in the Media category at the Infocomm Media Club Youth Awards. Sydney reflected: “When you draw something, it’s more memorable. In real life, there are too many details to remember. But the visual imagery in animation is enough for the audience to remember what’s important.”

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