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Cartoons can pack a lot of meaning into just a few minutes
By Wang Jie

COMPARED with a feature-length animation, it's a lot more challenging to put together a meaningful animation clip that lasts just a few minutes.

An exhibition of 59 intriguing shorts is underway at the Liuli China Museum through April 20.

The works were created by a-haa in Shanghai, Gobelins L'ecole de L'image in France and Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan.

"Short animation is an art form that attracts us, like weibo, and sometimes a kind of emotion or a moment of humanity and be perfectly expressed through these short animations," said Chang Yi, the museum co-founder with his wife, Loretta Yang Hui-shan.

Chang was a famous movie director and his wife an actress in Taiwan in the 1970s. In the past two decades they switched and decided to explore the beauty of glassware.

In 2002, they opened a-hha, an animation production house in Shanghai, because they still enjoyed films. They found a new wave of animators drawing on Chinese culture. Today a-haa has four production bases in China and the United States.

"We were inspired by rich Chinese cultural heritage and we want to tell the story about our Chinese people in a most accessible way," Chang said.

For example, one 3.5-minute animation titled "Scrap Metal Dog" fuses environmental protection ideas with nostalgia. It's about an old man who buries his dog, his only companion. Suddenly, landfill metal scraps are transformed into little dogs, with shining glass eyes that prance around the man and rescue abused dogs.

The student work "Magical Painting" from the Tainan National University of the Arts, transforms traditional ink wash painting into three-dimensional animation. It received the Best Animated Feature award in 2011 at the Golden Harvest Awards in Taiwan.

The highlight of the show is "Oktapodi" produced by Gobelins L'Ecole de L'image, which was founded in 1974. "Oktapodi" is about an octopus that jumps out of an aquarium to rescue his girlfriend. It was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2009 Academy Awards.

Date: Through April 20, 9:30am-5pm

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