Participant Animation Showcase

Graeme Hopkins

I Don’t Feel Like Myself

My animation piece, “I Don’t Feel Like Myself” is a short film based on the experiences of trauma and transformation during the pandemic, particularly through my own experiences in activism. As a result of a scientifically unsubstantiated “block timetable” imposed by the Saskatoon Public Schools Division, I suffered long-lasting trauma. This, as well as my subsequent experiences in advocating for student mental health and education, inform this piece.

The title refers to how unchosen transformation as a result of pandemic-trauma can be a shocking and disillusioning process as well an an empowering one. I have made this piece to express myself, challenge my own healing process, and protest student mental health negligence in Saskatoon. I am inspired by informal ‘doodle” styles. I tried to incorporate this by re-drawing my subjects between frames and prominently featuring a scribble-esque style. My choice of this style is informed by the fact that life during transformation is fluid, defying all rigid barriers, such as inhibitions and old ideas about one’s personality and being.

I completed this artwork using the digital software FlipAClip, in addition to an iPad and an Apple Pencil. I used a somewhat spontaneous technique in planning scenes and shot compositions, with some prior planning and storyboarding beforehand. I also incorporated the theme of transformation by having the subjects in the film mold and shift into each other through the artwork. Finally, I referenced both the negligent block schedule policy and the fracturing of youth mental health with the final frames, in which several hands rip apart a schedule.

With this piece, I wanted to confront my own ideas and share my experience with as many people as possible. While I like to believe I understand my mind fairly well, I believe that, sometimes, making art can be the only way to truly understand oneself. Making this art piece has helped me as I continue to heal from the trauma I experienced over the pandemic. I also wanted to shine a light on the harmful policies of the Saskatoon Public Schools Division and encourage students and parents or guardians to take action. Furthermore, I hope this film helps youth to recognize their own experiences and personal transformations and normalize them.

Emily Duong

Life is a Video Game

My works are meant to be distractions to escape reality. It keeps me occupied from keeping my eyes from school textbooks to drawing figures on a blank piece of paper. I find myself developing a habit of letting my brain’s thoughts fly off to space and refusing to focus on academics properly often since the pandemic of COVID- 19, as academics tend to be pushy and want to be time consistent, as everything requires so much time and energy. My brain has not only craved doing art, but video games. I can’t spend any day without them. The colourful pixels displayed on my games have brought me joy. It brightens my day like using a pack of new highlighters. I’ve always been told video games are a ‘threat’ to my brain, that it only prevents me from focusing on school, succeeding in life such as post-secondary education and as I’m growing up, I’ve been told I should stop indulging myself into playing them.

My art medium for this project is animation. It is based on my passion for the arts and video games. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our daily lives, my project consists of a snapshot of my daily life living with this situation. As you can see from my creation, it’s heavily inspired by the 8-bit or cubic game style, similar to a side-scrolling game like Nintendo’s original’s Mario Bros game in 1985, with an overworld perspective, just like GAMEFREAK’s Pokemon games. To me, Life is a video game; it contains point As and point Bs, and multiple stages of difficult obstacles.

I’m most excited about how other people view my artwork being shared to an audience. The way I see my art being publicly known, I always think of a vintage painting being displayed in a museum. The admiration in awe I see in people’s eyes really fills me with joy, equivalent to the lovely comments on my art I get posting on my social medias. Some of my favourite and unique processes I went through while creating this piece is making sprites for my persona similar to a player avatar in video games and building sets like those for movies, using an online 8-bit art maker. Adding touches of colour in every block has been fun. Seeing myself building everything colourful together and bringing the piece to life was really rewarding to see as the final product.

Ridley Burwell


When I started creating my animation I considered how I felt at the outset of the pandemic. I, like most people, believed it would be over soon. So at the end of the school year all I could fathom was that I would be getting two weeks off school. Two weeks off school sounded good. But as the pandemic dragged on this changed.

After a while the home you were so thoughtfully confined to starts to not seem as interesting. I’m a competitive swimmer and I remember when pools closed for most of the summer my whole day was thrown out of whack. I started to go to bed at 3 in the morning and woke up close to the afternoon. Relatively minor things but everything compounded and it did not feel like a fun little break from school.

I went through a lot of ups and downs during Covid, isolation and sometimes the lack of isolation. I tried to show those with my animations. I attempted to represent my feelings in the periods I can remember.

Uma Berg

An Extrovert in the Pandemic

I am a very creative, artistic, and extroverted person. These are all things I struggled with during this pandemic. I found myself losing inspiration to create. Not only did I feel like I was losing inspiration, but I was also feeling lost in an online world. I need to be social and interact with others, which was really hard for me to do because I was in online school for the majority of my grade 8 school year. I didn’t get to see any of my friends and it felt like I was alone and in a whole new world that was online. It felt weird when the majority of my social interaction (excluding my family members) was done online through apps like Zoom. In my animation you’ll notice there is a point where my character is thinking about how alone they feel. For this scene I decided to really zoom in on the word “alone” and on the emotions attached to it.When I feel alone my mind feels dark with constant thoughts racing through it, and that is why I decided to have a black scribble enclosing the screen, followed by the word, “alone”.

When I was starting to really struggle, my family was there for me. We decided that the best thing we could do for me during that time was to put me back in in-person school. Because of my family and interacting with all my friends again, I was able to start feeling more confident and happy again. This was such an amazing feeling of relief and joy that felt almost like a burst of energy. Near the end of my animation I created the same scribble effect as before, but this time with the color yellow and the wording, “I have my family”. I used the color yellow because to me it represents happiness, which is the reason it is now my favorite color. I wanted to say, “I have my family”, in contrast to the word, “alone”, because those two sentences play such an important part in my story and struggle with this pandemic. With this animation I really hope to be able to share my story and help others who felt the same way during this pandemic, feel less alone.

Ayesha Shakil

A Guide on how to make Friends

My piece shows and depicts the social anxiety all of us may go through after returning to our daily lives pre-COVID. I’ve always turned to art to calm me down and express my thoughts in ways that words were never able to do. I’m not insanely talented in the area, but I do enjoy it, and that’s all that matters to me.

As a person that has gone through an unusual experience throughout highschool, art and music have taught me ways to reach out to others like me and step out of my comfort zones. Looking past the negative ways of how COVID has affected all of us, I’ve come to try different ways to get involved in my community, such as holding mini workshops for children over zoom or doing small bake sales. The halt in our lives expanded my perspectives and made me more of a broad and open person. Our world is still healing from the ways this pandemic has affected us. Whether that be as macro as economic states, to as micro as relationships between you and the people around you. For me, communicating through technology for almost a year changed many relationships that I had tried to maintain for such a long time.

The biggest challenge I had to face was returning back to school without my best friend of 11 years standing by my side. I had then realized that I didn’t know how to get around without the comfort of my other half, but now, with all the different classes and people I haven’t seen in almost a year, I had to communicate and socialize again. It then hit me, wouldn’t life be easier if there were a simple book to relay the message on how to build friendships once again? I learn best through reading, and that’s exactly how I wanted to use my strengths in my animation.

In this animation, there will be many things to keep an eye on, the first thing being the animal I used to represent me. I chose to use a bear as it symbolizes my school because it is a place at which I build many relationships. All my connections, all my friends, and all the teachers I’ve met have been an asset to my school. The second thing being is using a book in an animation, I felt like having that aspect made it very rhetorical and meaningful in a way that was special to me. I experienced using stop motion and animation and it was definitely not an easy process. Jumbling my fingers on my tiny phone screen and getting the flips of the pages look seemingless on stop motion took me quite a while. I used vibrant colour themes to make the audience more engaged and more interested to see what was being shown. For the book itself, I went for simple block letters and drawings of stick men to ease the anxiety of how building relations can be. Lastly, at the end of the animation, I decided the best place for the bear to make its first friend should be the person who would be watching the animation. It leans in for a hug hoping you feel the warmth and kindness they do.

My goal was to make an easy and effortless message to those who struggle with making friendships. I hope this animation gives you an authentic and raw feeling of how I view the bases of human relationships and how they bloom to be the most important people of our lives.

Sofiya Zhukova

Our Mental Pandemic 

Our Mental Pandemic is a piece about a struggle and indecision that can come when you’re making an important choice for yourself. My piece not only talks about the difficulty of making a choice under peer pressure, but also alienation and discrimination that has gone on in our society for the last two years. It’s been a hard time for many from loosing loved ones, jobs, social life and succumbing to mental illness. My goal with this project is to rip the band-aid off and look at the wound that has been festering, because once we admit to the pain, we can start to heal. We all have a choice and I have made mine, to face my truth.

Walk your path
Follow what you like
Wrong or right
Black or white
Don’t hesitate
Make a mess of it
Deciding that you’re
Having none of it
Walk straight
No direction
Decide your music
The greys the new
News now
What’s with all these hues
That have issue
With you
What will you choose?
The people
Arguing like
Red or blue
Pointing, Pointing fingers at you
That makes two
Two million
Some screaming freedom
Because whispering please
Are no longer being appeased
No confronting
Only conforming
If you’re different
Then there no place
No place for you
Or us
I say that you disgust
Just trust
While the world
Around you turn to dust
And there’s nothing left
But rust
A red wave
That must
Have made
Us mad
Because in the end
The hatters were
Everyone had
A hidden
Agenda in plain sight
On the walls
Of what we once called
Cause hells
The next train stations
Limited express
The night come out,
But the morning is still depressed
Down about the lies
And stressed
Loosing jobs
Closing schools
There must be a limit
End up being the fools
Cause they know
You’re unvaccinated
One, Two, and more,
Being anticipated
How much more
Will we be alienated
Sign this up for the passport
You’ll be rewarded
Privileged and escorted
To an empty resort
Because the report
Said covid took the others
Heck if that matter
Sign all the papers
Spit on the others
Those you don’t
Are a danger to one another
Taken the safety measures
Don’t even bother
Because you’re a danger
To society
But even with all this anxiety
Yes you
Have the power of equality
You make decisions for your sanity
Don’t take it too far
Leave the rest of us
Our part
Cause it was always
Our choice for the start.

See more of Sofiya’s work here:

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