In 2019, Bachelor of Media Arts alumni Alisha Steinberger and Goody Wu collaborated together on their grad film Across the Bridge, a five-minute animated short that centers around the bonding of two siblings through a video game. Throughout 2020, the duo entered the film in to twenty festivals, resulting in receiving three awards as well as being named as a runner-up for four additional awards.
Alisha and Goody have released the film on both YouTube and Vimeo where viewers can experience the story and multiple animation techniques within the short. “We wanted to make a story that others could relate to, and since we both have siblings that we argue and have fun with, we thought it would be a fun starting point, and also relatable for other viewers,” shared Alisha and Goody. “We also want to include a bit of our Taiwanese cultural background in the environment and character design of the game.”
The short film packs in plenty of sophisticated animation, from two-dimensional rendering depicting the characters in their day-to-day life and three-dimensional rendering for the imagination-based video game experience. The credits also feature a classic animation style those who have played arcade games and early Nintendo games may just recognize. “We used the two- and three-dimensional animation to differentiate between the real world and the imaginary game world. We also included the pixel animation at the end credits to portray how the game might realistically look like as opposed to the vivid look of it in the characters’ imagination,” explained Alisha and Goody.
“There were several reasons for our decision to make a multimedia film,” the duo continued. “Mainly we wanted to incorporate all our technical skills, making a good variety of work to put in our demo reels. Ultimately, we really wanted to integrate these mediums with the story, to help tell and enhance the storyline.”
The film caught the attention of multiple festivals that the pair submitted to. “We won PULP.’s Digital Juice Audience Favorite in Film/Animation and The Rookies Excellence Award. We also won the Emily Carr University Animation Awards’ CG Modelling award,” shared Alisha and Goody. “We were runner up for Athens Digital Arts Festival, DYTIATKO International Children’s Media Festival, FECEA Rio Brazil, and Berlin Sci-fi Film Fest.”
“We enjoyed all of the festivals we were lucky to be a part of, but a few stood out as especially fun. Ottawa International Animation Festival was a huge highlight, as we got to see many amazing shorts, some of them from other ECU graduates as well as listen and participate in interviews with other filmmakers,” the pair continued. “We had a similarly amazing experience at Blood in the Snow Film Festival and Whistler Film Festival, where we got to know the artists behind the films through interviews and chatting rooms. All the festivals did a really great job adapting to the online format. We were very lucky that they put in the extra effort to make it work during the crazy times in 2020!”
When it came to the packed short film, Alisha and Goody split up the work based on their own interests within animation. Alisha worked in the two and three-dimensional realm, handling layout and animation, character and environment designs, colour boards and animatics. Goody took on most of the three-dimensional asset, world and character building, including modelling, texturing, grooming, lighting, and rigging, alongside rendering and troubleshooting all three-dimensional aspects.
The pair also worked with other artists, with Alisha handling the compositing, communication and delivery of assets from other artists, such as composers, sound designers, voice actors and FX artists among others. “It wasn’t too hard to decide who should take on which tasks, because we both have polar opposite interests within animation,” explained the animators.
In terms of what’s next for the animators, they are working on side projects outside of their animation and modelling careers in order to expand their portfolios and skillsets. Goody is working on a likeness project, which is modelling and texturing a three-dimensional character to look as much like the intended reference as possible – in this case, a person. Alisha is working with character effects and dynamic simulation artists to bring prehistoric birds back to life.
“We’re hoping to expand our skills to be able to make more short film projects, spreading stories we think are important, surrounding human and animal rights topics,” shared Alisha and Goody. “We really hope to use our passion for animation and knowledge we have learned, and apply them to subjects that need to be talked about, and hopefully positively impact our crazy world.”