Here is the full transcript of Jordan Tseng’s TEDx Talk: My Stop-Motion Life at TEDxYouth@Taipei conference.
When I was a child, my grades were pretty good. Though I’m pretty sure everybody’s were, because the work was pretty simple then.
In those days, we were all mostly good and well-behaved little kids. So, there were no problems. But when I started junior high, my grades started to fall. Because at the start you need to put in more effort to achieve good grades. I think grades, in the eyes of a child, are equal to the social status in adult society.
So, if your grades were good, everyone might say that you would have a bright future ahead and you would be successful. So, if your grades were not so good, you might turn out lost and destitute in a very miserable state.
So, as this is the only way in which we evaluate people in our education system, under these circumstances, I always felt that I wasn’t good enough. Because as a student, you study your books hard and take your tests conscientiously, as that is your duty. But if you’re not doing this well, especially if you were a good student before, yeah, you see your marks going steadily in a downward direction.
It is really hard to deal with I felt like I couldn’t find my self-worth, and I didn’t know what I was living for. From then, until I found stop motion animation, I discovered, oh, so apart from grades, there are other things that I can focus my energy into.
Now, why did I take such a liking to this art form? Actually, it was simply out of a boy’s passion for toys. Because since we were little, when us boys play with toys, we might long for something similar to Toy Story.
It looks like that the toys will come to life and play with us. I yearn for that feeling. So as I’ve grown up, I’ve used this medium to realize my childhood dream. Yeah, I will give a brief explanation of what I am doing now.
These are photos taken from one part of my last video. They all look the same, right? These miniatures, the only difference between the pictures is that the movement of the toy is slightly different. Altogether, there are 45 photos here. If these 45 photos are played in quick succession, it makes a 1875 second stop motion animation. If you want to shoot a minute long video, you need at least 1,300 photos.
So, it’s actually a very time and energy consuming process. Yeah, very tiring. But I personally really enjoy these: using toys, and then through creating stop motion videos to turn what’s in my imagination into reality. But, what’s meant to be will be. In my third year of senior high school, just before college entrance exam, my classmates, peers, the same year group, were all at a stressful, high pressure period of study.
Everyday after we’d finish class, my classmates would ask, “Do you want to go to the library to study?” Everyday after class, when I watched this scene, I always struggled with this in my heart. I pondered: if I should have gone with them to the library to improve my terrible grades or stick to my old ways and go home to film more videos?
Everyone think for a moment, if it was you, what would you choose? I was pondering. If we replace the words “schoolwork” and “animation” with “societal expectations” and “self worth.” When we think about it from this perspective, which do you think is more important? Would you choose differently?
So, I believe that there are already so many people in Taiwan who live up to societal expectations, they will do with or without me, right? Yeah, so. Even if I went to the library and studied for a month straight, I had no hope of making up for three years of study. So, I would rather — I would rather do what I can do to the best of my ability.
I have been making stop motion videos for five years, after all. So, two weeks before exams, I created this, “Lego Thor video.” This video was filmed during the time of everyone should be studying hard for exams, but I filmed it during that time. Yeah, because of this, maybe no one was gutsy enough to do this right before exams, this video has actually been shown on some news channels. Then it seems because of this, that the people around me became more approving of me doing this.
So now I would like to show you some of my work. Thank you.
However, filming this Lego Thor video, then being shown on the news, did these change my terrible grades? Actually, no. It really didn’t, they were still just as bad, still just as bad. But I believe it is like this: If you choose to do something you really love, you will instinctively strive to be the best at it. Because you are not doing it for anyone else except yourself.