Cebuano creations: NAT20’s journey beyond the prize

Cebuano creations: NAT20’s journey beyond the prize

When the group was called as the grand prize winners, none of them came forward in an instant. The boys exchanged wide-eyed glances, their expressions a mix of ecstasy and disbelief. In that suspended moment, the spotlight bathed them in a warm glow, marking their official declaration as the first-time grand prize winners of Sketcha Kucha 2023 art festival.

The boys stood frozen in the spotlight, it was a memory of a lifetime and a beginning of something.

The Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) student group known as NAT20 secured a prize of P100,000 for their successful submission, “Little Firefly.” This winning entry follows a tale of longing and reminiscence, skillfully combining visuals of sunflowers and Studio Ghibli, drawing inspiration from Francisca Juarez’s Sunflower Series painting.

“We began by researching sunflowers and their symbolisms, choosing what aspects to focus on and what to cut,” said the group.

The prose of their one-minute sketch animation was also inspired from a flash fiction titled “Rose” by Mark Reece Healey.

Among the 30 entries from various Cebuano collectives, “Little Firefly” stands out by portraying a poignant story of a father’s love. As the scenes unfolded, the crowd found themselves on an emotional tightrope, tethered between the realms of art and reality.

“I wished to evoke a sense of yearning to the readers, hoping that upon reading my piece they would recall someone in mind. Someone important, someone they’d consider or once considered the center of their life,” said Jon Christopher M. Carbonilla when asked about his creative process as the group’s writer.

The storyboard prioritized visual storytelling, symbolizing the father and daughter through the images of sunflowers. According to Jake Jeric T. Tan who handled the animation and storyboarding, he focused on non-human elements as well using techniques such as subtle motions.

“In the first scene, we see two sunflowers: a fully grown one and one that is yet to bloom. These sunflowers symbolize the father and the daughter of the story. By the end of the animation, we see the two sunflowers again, but this time both of them are fully grown and one of them is slightly wilted,” said Jake.

“I animated the bee first and added a path for the bee to travel (The same technique was used for the firefly transition in the second scene). For the sunflowers, I gave them subtle back-and-forth motions, indicating a breeze. Putting all these elements together, I used blurring techniques to emphasize the ones we wanted the audience to see first,” Jake said.

The event Sketcha Kucha, aiming to upscale talents and put Cebuanos in a spotlight of multimedia arts, also called on voice artists to be part of the narrative.

Jacob Q. Galeos, who was assigned by NAT20 as their voice actor, shared that he experimented with his talent and gladly went beyond what was expected.

“To me, the exciting and challenging parts of the whole process of voice acting was picking which tone or voice fit the character, exhausting every dialogue I could think of. I even went to the extent of experimenting with the father’s accent but settled on the final voice which we later heard in the finished product,” said Jacob.

In sync with this sentiment, NAT20’s background artist expressed genuine excitement while delving into something new during the creation of their animation.

“The background that was the most interesting for me to create was the background for the wedding scene. It was a first for me to create a background with monochromatic colors, in this case pink. I had fun trying to work around the lighting and shading, and how to differentiate things like the trees and the foliage,” said Andrei Kristoffer C. Dulay.

The group’s director, Vincent Jun B. Getigan, assured that despite the time crunch and the chaos coinciding with a busy school period, everything was under control. Accustomed to intense workloads, he mentioned he only accepts tasks that he can complete with decent quality.

“The bulk of my time was spent illustrating and animating most of the shots. I also dedicated an entire day for compositing and sound design. The most challenging part of my work was getting everything just right: I had to make sure the pacing was good. I had to blend the sounds in such a way that wasn’t distracting. I had to ensure Jacob’s voice was audible over all the sound effects, and so on. In other words, part of my job was to be meticulous,” said Vincent.

The boys from CIT-U enthusiastically ushered in opportunities for scouts and potential employers to recognize the wealth of creative talent within their ranks, particularly in the dynamic field of the creative industry. While concrete plans may still be in the incubation stage, the boys find themselves swelling with pride each passing day, looking forward to new adventures. This journey marks the realization of a long-cherished dream — to carve out a niche for themselves in the expansive landscape of the big industry, as it has always been their vision to be part of something great.

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