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Dragon Gate

Synopsis

Daniel learns how be alone after spending so much time with his former girlfriend.


Our Review

Its some what magical to witness an artform, especially a traditional one, when turned into animation. AI technology has opened new opportunities in the creative industry, right from animated films to visual arts. With the use of AI technology, Directed Wenkai Duan has created this works of art that is more realistic and amazing. Although Dragon Gate is a very short film, this artwork can be cited as an example of the use of AI in visual arts. With its strange aesthetic, we have to welcome the new age of film making it with open arms.


Appreciation for meticulous effort of the team to produce a movie of this quality. Each frame reflects the complex techniques and a lot of effort to express the artistic style of ink painting. The sound track definitely deserves a mention where most moments unfold through the roar of the wind, the clash of the swords or the complete silence.

Director Biography - Wenkai Duan

Duan Wenkai is a animation director, an associate professor at the School of Animation and Digital Art, Communication University of China,. In 2012, Duan Wenkai directed the animated short film " Lion Dance", which won more than 20 awards including the China Animation Monkey Award, the Tokyo International Animation Fair Jury Special Award, and the Macau International Movie Festival Best Animation Award.

Duan Wenkai has served as the chief creator of several animation projects, Including “Kim & Jim's Wormhole”, “Wool Wool Town”, "The Mirage House in the Clouds”, and director short film " Tacit Blue " which has been awarded and selected in more than 40 animation film festivals around the world. Including the LA Shorts International Film Festival, Anima Mundi, International Animation Festival of Brazil, Animest International Animation Film Festival of Romania, and other animation film festivals. In recent years, Duan Wenkai's graduation works as tutors have won excellent results at the Annecy International Animation Festival, Zagreb International Animation Festival, Hiroshima International Animation Festival, Bucheon International Animation Festival, and Stuttgart International Animation Festival. In 2022, he was awarded the "Chinese Young Animator" title at the China International Animation and Animation Festival.


Director Statement

"Dragon Gate" is the first-ever ink-wash style short animation created by artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The film draws inspiration from the historical event during the Ming Dynasty, where the powerful eunuch Cao Jixiang framed the Minister of War Yu Qian. Xiao Shaozi, a chivalrous warrior, safeguards Yu Qian's young son as they venture into the vast deserts of Dragon Gate Pass. However, Cao Jixiang's spies are hot on their trail. The film emphasizes the portrayal of Xiao Shaozi's unwavering sense of chivalry as he risks his life to protect the innocent.Chinese chivalrous culture, from the 'Records of the Grand Historian' to the Ming and Qing Dynasty martial arts novels and contemporary wuxia fiction, has deeply influenced Chinese culture with its unique ethos of valuing promises and disregarding personal safety. Ink-wash animation is a distinctive Chinese art form and a hallmark of the 'Chinese School of Animation.' However, it has been challenging to depict intricate details in ink-wash animation, particularly when aiming to create a cinematic experience, resulting in few notable works.The advancement of artificial intelligence technology has opened up new possibilities for digital ink-wash animation. With the training artists provide, AI is more proficient than humans in creating intricate details and seamlessly incorporating nuanced character performances into the freehand ink-wash style.While AI tools offer convenience, they can sometimes compromise the artist's autonomy. Using readily available AIGC tools often leads to uniform and trivial creations, lacking the seriousness of genuine artistic expression. Therefore, since early 2023, we have dedicated nine months to the independent development of an AIGC animation creation process based on multi-modal inputs. Through the training of proprietary ink-wash style AI models, we have achieved breakthroughs in facial feature stability, and video stabilization, and created animations with smooth motions and stable characters. This endeavor has opened up new horizons in the field of animation creation.


Credits

• Director: Wenkai Duan

• Writer: Lei Wang

• Producer: Youchun Liu

AI Generation Artists:

• Wenkai Duan

• Jinggang Lu

• Qianqian Jia


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