Thursday, 15 August 2013

如果花会说话 If Flowers Could Speak

Have you ever wondered if you put your ears close to flowers, I mean really close, what would you hear? Living on the West Coast of Canada, we are blessed with lots of colourful and fragrant flowers. I am also grateful that I can visit a heritage garden site at work everyday. Without it, I wouldn't be able to produce this story... you should see the sad state of my home garden. Well, I spend my time between my design work, and writing these stories. No time for pulling weeds and tending my own garden. So I use my lunch breaks at work to stroll through the heritage garden. From season to season, it's a feast for the eyes, and ears if you listen carefully.

Chinese with English Subtitles

Chinese with pinying

This is the debut recording of Emilyn playing violin. She started early this year and made really good progress. Emilyn also typed all the text and Pinyin this time. One thing she really likes to do is to proofread my work. So when the movie was done, I asked her to proofread it. She picked out two mistakes in Pinyin and was mighty proud of that. Movie Maker has been a great tool for my story projects but with this flower story, I was a bit frustrated by the limitation of the software and want to use more editing functions. I guess I have out-grown the tool. Progress on my part. I remember learning and using Adobe Premier back in the days when I did media production work. I might have to think about the next step in terms of building my skills. That includes my writing skills. I'm already creating the next set of stories. They are sketches by Emilyn and scribbles by me on paper for now. 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac with a twist. I think we completed six animals. Another six to go. And at the same time Emilyn and I have brainstormed ideas for the next QiQi story. I don't think photography will suit these new works. Another ambitious art project on the horizon and I'll see if I can get Chantal to help this time. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

奇奇的祕密任務 The Secret Mission of QiQi

Watch the video.

QiQi is a squirrel. "Hao Qi" means being curious in Chinese. So we name the squirrel QiQi.

It has been almost two years since our encounter with a squirrel trapped in a chimney. That was the summer when we travelled to Kimberley and stayed at our friend Erica's cottage. A squirrel fell into the chimney in the kitchen and screeched, in pain I thought at the time, the whole night. My imagination ran wild: an injured bird, a hurt squirrel, bloody feather and mangled fur?  Erica had to call in her neighbour to help. We were happy that we freed a very scared but healthy squirrel after several hours of dismantling the kitchen fan under the chimney. The kids had a frenzy trying to chase the squirrel out of the house. It was all for a good laugh at the end and Erica said: why don't you write about it. Here I am: two years later, I finally finished the project. And I owe Erica a big THANKS!

As always, the writing part is easy. I wrote the story shortly after the trip. The art work and the video production always take a long time. We had a "draft" hand-made story book before I asked Emilyn to re-do all the illustrations. That proved to be a challenge for an 8 years old to keep a consistent design and style. She had to learn how to draw a squirrel from different angles with different actions. She settled on a grey squirrel, the same kind that frequent our backyard, and researched the habitat and food habit of this creature. Quite a process and an accomplishement for Emilyn. The voice recording  also took a while as the story lines are longer and more complex linguistically. Fortunately, days of recording got Chantal, the 4 years old, interested in the production and she sang the opening song with all the enthusiasm she had. Perfect sound effect I was looking for.

This is the spring break week so I am very pleased that this story is finally on the blog for all the kids to enjoy. I am still busy with the upcoming publication of my first series of story books. Camera in hand, the kids and I are in search of flowers in the woods or gardens. Every time we run into a squirrel, we say "hey look, QiQi is busy with his secret mission".