This film is the journey of father and son. Zak, the composer told me this composition was inspired by his then-2 year old son, and wanted to make this film about the young son entering into this unknown world, and him being a guide, as best as a father could be. As a father of 2 young boys myself, I was gravitated by his sentiment, and immersed myself in this project, adding my own experience. Even though my boys are bigger now, I still remember the time when he couldn’t go up on stairs without holding my hand, still he was so eager to let go of my hand, and go off on his own. I remember him being so small and fragile, I felt I will, with all of my power, protect him from all the bad from this world.
Kids grow up so fast, and we grow old quick.
I wanted to hold onto that memory.
I wanted to encapsulate that feeling.
In this film, I pursue capturing these memories and feelings of being a father.

When I start a project that requires my full attention, the first step I take is to write the notes down onto a notebook: those could be lyrics, key words, budgets, schedule, comments, ideas etc. Sure, those information might be in the emails, but physically writing them down helps me to digest them, then to own them. In these images, first 2 pages, you can see, I simply wrote down what Zak was telling me in his emails, with some sketches of what those might look like. After that process, I moved onto some primitive thumbnails. The last image was sort of an artist statement.
After taking down notes, I created a few key images based on Zak's visions. He had few specific images, such as father and son walking through the forest, wild wind's blowing the tree, and the door at the tree. The very initial inspiration Zak had was “Fantasia” and its somewhat abstract animation sequences. 
After concept art and getting thumbnails done, I storyboarded out from the beginning to the end, based off of what Zak had in mind. I draw basic thumbnails, also think of how to transition from one scene to another,then draw some more. I put them all against the music to see the flow of the whole piece. The first draft normally informs me which parts need to tighten up, hens more drawings. After this investigation, I realized that it needs a lot of work to make the whole thing tighter, as well as to create the visual language that carries through the whole 4 minutes.
After the storyboard/animatic phase, I moved onto actual design for each scene, or sometimes animation came first then design, color and composition: the production of it wasn’t quite like regular jobs. I went back and forth, quite often unable to tell if I’m making the right decision: it's the most difficult part of making your own thing. Here are some of the design frames vs the final compositions. At least the 1st chunk of the film was in good shape, but I still had to figure out what to do with the 2nd part, which was still pretty open and loose.
The 2nd part of the composition was about the son going into different portals, which leads to the different worlds. At first, I had no idea what those worlds were suppose to be, so I had discussions with Zak, then asked him to send me various photos of things that had certain importance to him. After some contemplation, I decided that the unknown world was the world of son’s father (and mother) before he was born. Kids don’t connect the dots, that their father or mother was once just like them: young and not a parent. To your kids, you are always a parent forever. Zak lives some far out place now, and I imagine, to his kid, parents’ life before he was born must be the unknown worlds that I wanted to weave together in the 2nd part. I sketched out a bunch of ideas, some from his photos, some from my own experience, and some from imaginations to mix real and surreal worlds, in order to create something like a dream sequence. Here I present you all the sketches, and some of final images that made into the final.
The last thing to figure out of the film was how to end. While at the discussion, we came to use the spaceship flying away as the ending. I sketched out different versions of how the spaceship comes in and how they would leave. In the end, i streamlined quite a bit to spend more time zooming out.
Poster for the film
Some of my favorite sequences.
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