ECU Student Films Win Top Three Spots in Contest Celebrating Korea-Canada Diplomatic Ties


(Back row, L to R): Charis Li, Woonam Kim, Consul General Jongho Kyun, Luka Hinic, Consul Changuk Kim, Tristan Wei, Nayoung Kim and (front row, L to R) Nathania Wijaya, Rachel Wen, Hei Ching (Kathy) Cheung, Minseo (Mindy) Choung and Sol Jin gather at the Korean Consulate in downtown Vancouver for an award ceremony. (Image courtesy the students)

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By Perrin Grauer

Posted on July 04, 2023 | Updated July 07, 2023, 8:35am

The students created their films in ECU faculty member Woonam Kim’s third-year ‘Collaboration in Digital Media’ class.

Three teams of ECU students recently took the top three spots in an international video competition celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties between the Republic of Korea and Canada.

Luka Hinic, Charis Li, Tristan Wei and Tony Yan were awarded third place. Second place was awarded to Minseo (Mindy) Choung, Sol Jin and Nayoung Kim. And Hei Ching (Kathy) Cheung, Rachel Wen and Nathania Wijaya took home the award for first.

The short, 3D-animated films were created as a project-based learning challenge in ECU faculty member Woonam Kim’s third-year ‘Collaboration in Digital Media’ class. Woonam says the class “is both demanding and difficult, as students need to work with external partners, and expectations are high since partners expect commercial-level work.”

“This past academic year, students worked well and created beautiful, high-quality animation,” he tells me via email. “During production, many students dealt with creative demands, heavy workloads and technical difficulties in the 3D animation process. However, all the students were willing to learn and achieve a high standard. They really grew as artists through this production process, and I am proud of my students and their achievements.”

Video by Luka Hinic, Charis Li, Tristan Wei and Tony Yan.

Titled Side by Side, the competition was an initiative of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Vancouver. Students from schools in both Canada and South Korea were invited to participate. After three months of work and hundreds of iterations, the winning teams were invited to the Korean Consulate in downtown Vancouver for an award ceremony. There, they met with diplomats and were presented with prizes. The winning films were also featured on the Korean Consulate of Vancouver’s YouTube channel.

Each of the short, animated films employs unique tools and techniques that advanced the skillsets the students brought to the team. According to Luka Hinic, Woonam encourages all his students to experiment.

“He’s always pushing us to keep learning new things,” Luka says. “His motto is if you want to learn how to do something, just try it, and then we can explore and develop it. Which is a really great way to learn.”

Tristan Wei helped develop the story for his team’s film. He says Woonam also pushes his students to question their decisions at every step along the way.

“Through that questioning, I learned the story from multiple perspectives, which made the story even richer,” he says. Maintaining a critical eye throughout the process improved every part of the film, he adds. “There were a lot of things we had never tried before, and this project is definitely a huge improvement. The story, the look of it, the quality of the animation — all of it is a huge step forward from our previous work.”

Video by Minseo (Mindy) Choung, Sol Jin and Nayoung Kim.

Kathy Cheung says she walked away with a much clearer picture of what working as a professional animator would be like. In particular, she began to understand how individual artists can find fulfilment in a project that includes so many other contributors.

“When you’re collaborating on a film, it’s not very often that you can do everything exactly the way you want,” Kathy says. “It’s about learning how to put your mark as an artist into these films that already have a theme, and working within it so it’s still your thing and not just a commission or something you’re completely disconnected from.”

Rachel Wen says the interchange between classmates was especially inspiring. Her fellow students included Canadians, Koreans and international students from other countries around the world. Through their research, each team chose a theme that appealed to them. But they also quickly fell into an easy exchange, sharing stories of their home cultures which enriched the stories within their films.

“It was an eyeopener, especially amongst ourselves, our classmates,” Rachel says. “We got to exchange personal experiences with each other. For instance, we didn’t always know how to accurately represent Korean culture. So, we asked our Korean classmates, and they asked us to share our Canadian culture with them as well.”

Video by Hei Ching (Kathy) Cheung, Rachel Wen and Nathania Wijaya.

Nathania Wijaya says the collaborative spirit of the class extended between disciplines as well as between cultures.

“It was really nice to have a collaborative environment where there were people from different majors. It was really cool to see people there from illustration, from fine arts, and to work together with them,” Nathania says.

“I wish more people knew about this class. I keep thinking about what could happen if we had more people from different majors all contributing to these kinds of projects. In the past, people have created comics or other types of media. And I just think it would be super cool to see more possibilities explored in this class.”

All five students also agreed that they learned invaluable lessons about professional practice.

“The journey was a fulfilling experience as we practiced our creative skills and learned new ones through the animation pipeline,” they write in a statement. “It taught us not only about international diplomatic ties, but about the importance of our collaboration with each other, preparing all of us for our future creative careers and films.”

Watch the winning teams’ videos now via YouTube.

Visit ECU online to learn more about studying 3D + Computer Animation at Emily Carr.

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