This Animation Creates Nostalgia Out of Vintage Inventions

Memories are a sensitive part of our lives. They can be happy, sad, uplifting or dreadful. Depending on our situation, the same memory may even cause us to experience completely different emotions at different times. Visual artist Hwang Ji Lee touches on this phenomenon in his animated short film, Signal.

Based in Seoul, Hwang Ji brings multiple talents to the table. In Signal, a film about a girl reliving her memories while dreaming on a swing, he showcases his various capabilities: Hwang Ji composed the relaxing music, created the playful pastel-coloured animation and directed it all. Still, he considers himself “just a normal creator” even though his output is undoubtedly alluringly.

We got together with Hwang Ji and spoke about his work, talents and ideas.

THE PLUS: What was the story behind this video?
Hwang Ji Lee:
There is a girl on a swing. She starts thinking about all her memories. ‘Signals’ and routines play a role in these memories. When the memories start to surface simultaneously to the repeating ‘signal’, the girl comes back to reality. Everyone who sees the film will remember it through their own eyes. In the film, the girl’s imaginative memories are irrelevant to the real world. Therefore, I thought that people could somehow relate to ‘signals’ through clicks.


TP: Why did you title the video Signal?
At first, I came up with several titles such as ‘Imagination’ or ‘Memories’. However, ironically naming the film ‘Imagination’ felt it would unknowingly limit the audience’s imagination. 

TP: You made both the music and animation for this video. Which one did you start with, did one inspire the other?
I worked on my music to start with. I usually listen to the music first before thinking about the images that would match it. The music was made based on the big image in my mind, so my work was hardly influenced. It was during the editing process however.


TP: The pastel colours in the video are beautiful. How did you decide on this colour palette?
It was not so difficult deciding on the colours. I wanted to bring up a vintage and nostalgic feeling. Since there are some scene transitions, I decided based on what would suit the film best and chose this.

TP: You are also a freelance designer, it seems you have a lot of different talents! Tell us a bit more about yourself.
It haven’t been a freelance designer for long. Therefore, I am trying to promote myself through my artwork. I personally think I am just a normal creator who loves music and is interested in putting it together in an animated form. I am interested in many different creative areas.


TP: How do you feel about working in so many of these areas?
It is very exciting to work in different creative areas. Signal was the first film that featured my music. I know that it still needs work but it was pure joy to me. I will continue to try out different things going forward.

TP: How did you first get into filmmaking? What kinds of hobbies do you have outside filmmaking?
I liked drawing since I was a kid. One day though, I realised that it was limited in its expression. That’s how I became interested in animation and motion graphics. Nowadays, I am focusing on making character emojis. I am also planning to make a short film about it afterwards.


TP: Where do you draw inspiration from?
I observe and listen to many things for inspiration. To maintain my originality, I don’t look at or listen to anything other than what is related to the brain storming process. I usually enjoy my own time thinking and that is when I get inspired.