Bitter Tea: A Journey of Nostalgia

Liang, Yunqi
Jackson, Anna
Kennedy, Jason
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Master of Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis explores the potential for the 3D design and modelling of digital assets to evoke a nostalgic reaction within a short, animated film. Some of the complex feelings triggered by familiar things and memories in life, and small objects or moments in people's lives, can make us feel like we are transported to the good old days. Years of living alone abroad, far from home and family, have frequently triggered my nostalgia. Not limited to individuals, nostalgia is now being studied and applied in many industries. This phenomenon also appears in the animation industry; excellent animation works can arouse the audience's empathy, allowing more people to experience the charm of nostalgia and rich emotions. The intense feeling of nostalgia is multiple and mixed; analysing and understanding self-directed nostalgia is the central point of this research. The contextual review explores the visual connectivity of objects that trigger nostalgia and other elements such as sound, smell. Analysis of great animation works identify techniques that create a nostalgic atmosphere or storyline by controlling objects, lighting, texture, and colour. These creative techniques are effectively applied through the animation practice conducted within this research. Some changes during the practical production process demonstrate the advantages of 3D animation that can be flexibly adjusted in the materials, scene and character construction to meet the various needs of designers.

This project engages with autoethnography to link the researcher’s emotions with nostalgia through a practical exploration involving 3D animation. The story content of the animation is adapted from actual events and memories from the researcher’s life, and the characters are based on members of her family. Loneliness, guilt and love mix with nostalgic memories to become complex emotions represented through the story design. In the animation design, Chinese opera music and regional cultural elements guide the audience’s feelings; let the audience more concretely experience the nostalgic state of mind as the stranger drawn by the culture of the hometown. The animation subtext tells the story's development, leaving room for the audience form their own emotional associations. 3D animation is a method of exploring topics that is not limited by space or materials and communicates the enthusiasm, healing and courage brought on by nostalgia.

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