Ying-Fang Shen, Assistant Professor, Communication Arts


Antonio Garcia, Professor and Director of Jazz Studies

Animating the journey of pregnancy

In The Waves is a non-narrative experimental short film inspired by Ying-Fang Shen‘s pregnancy in 2014. Shen explains,”The changes in my body and mind inspired me to recreate the initial starting point of life.” The animation is created out of textile. Without a preconceived visual outcome, she experimented with the representation of the beginning of life through a tie-dye creation process. The fabrics became visual records that were transformed throughout the animation process.

A textile pattern with an embryo-like organism in the center.

During production, the fabric was altered and restructured with different light and movement. Shen created a custom light box, which allowed more freedom in adjusting the intensity and position of the backlighting. This helped create intricate movements and smooth transitions between scenes. By adjusting both the fabric and the light to manipulate the forms, she created a narrative expressing her musings on life.

In addition to material and method, this experimentation incorporated an alternative narrative perspective. VCU Music faculty Antonio Garcia, who specializes in both instrumental and vocal genres, explored his own perception of the beginning of life through the creation of a soundtrack. Unlike traditional means of animation scoring, where the music works to nearly mimic the finalized motions of the characters, Shen decided to let the soundtrack have a distinct voice. Only having been exposed to half of the completed animation, Garcia was encouraged to form personal conclusions about the story as his inspiration for the score, rather than have the music correspond exactly with the animation. Paired together, the animation and music immerse the viewer in a unique take on the beginning of life with unexpected beauty and harmony.