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Exceedingly Fond - AAI Promo 2015

Pete Sung

It’s finally done. After months of intense laboring, the promotional video for the Asian American Initiative at Fuller Seminary is complete. I have to admit, it was tough on me. I wore many hats in making this video: director, producer, editor, animation director, cameraman, among the many. And I can’t tell you how many hours I put into it (actually I’m afraid to total it up). But I’m glad to say it’s finally ready.

A little background on it. As a student in the Asian American Initiative, I have benefitted from the wisdom and experience of both Ken Fong and Daniel Lee. They have blessed me with their thoughtfulness and foresight in carefully developing me to be a better leader. So I felt a personal stake in creating a video that authentically reflected their vision while at the same time served as a helpful invitation to others.

While I now have several videos under my belt, this one really stretched me. Probably the biggest challenge was directing the animation sequences. It was totally new to me. I had the privilege of working with several talented animators. Kenji Ono, a feature film storyboard artist at Dreamworks, got us going with the storyboards. Hannah Joe, a recent art school graduate from Otis College of Art and Design, handled the character design. While Kuangheng Hwang, usually an industry 3D animation artist, lowered himself a dimension to tackle the movement of our characters. With meticulous care, they took on each of my demands and put the pieces together.

To give you a better sense of the transformative work that went into taking this piece from concept to print here’s a look at Kenji’s storyboard of the Older Brother character stewing over the Younger Brother’s party. We sought to convey the misplaced motivation of trying to earn his father’s love so we decided to show the Older Brother reflecting on all his hard work with a mental montage, and his face of disgust sitting prominently in the middle.

We went through several renditions. In it’s final form, we decided to go with a simplified version of the images, appearing one-by-one, with a prominent tree in the background whose fruit turns to black as the Older Brother reaches his boiling point (by the way, trees are meant to be a recurring symbol throughout the video).

There were plenty of others who served important roles in the making of the video, but the unsung heroes were my family. They put up with not having their husband and father around much for months on end as I juggled this project with the many other demands on my plate. Now that it's over, hopefully the video will serve it's function well. But even if it misses the mark, I remain very grateful for the people I worked with and the many lessons I learned.