Shattered is a 3D film set in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. 17-year-old Scott Chen dreams of being a photographer, but he constantly argues about his passion with his practical-minded parents. One day, Scott and his dad clash into an argument about photography, and Scott's beloved camera lens cracks. Afterward, they are thrust into flashbacks. They reveal that years ago, Dedi was once interested in photography. However, struggling to pay the bills, Dedi chooses to give up his passion and focus on the family. After his argument with Scott, Dedi visits Scott's bedroom. Looking around the room, he sees how hardworking, skilled, and dedicated his son is to photography. Dedi takes his old camera lens, replaces Scott's cracked lens, and gives Scott his blessing to continue pursuing photography.
Meet the team
Editor, Producer, Previsualization, Layout, Prop Rigging, Lead Compositor
Story, Character Look Dev, Cloth Simulation, Lighting, Rendering, Compositing
Environment Look Dev, Prop Modeling & Look Dev, Lighting, Rendering, Compositing
In making "Shattered," we had three main goals. First, we wanted to create a sense of nostalgia by looking back at our own youth through the lens of Scott's story. Inspired primarily by Wong Kar Wai and Satoshi Kon, we aspired to achieve a cinematic, film photography look that could emphasize that nostalgic feeling. Secondly, we wanted to create a unique story with a nuanced angle on the Asian American identity. The aspiring-artist-traditional-parents conflict is a common narrative throughout Asian American stories, but it's common to overlook our immigrant parents, who also have their own aspirations and dreams. We hoped to shine a light on our parents' humanity, beyond just the common hard work narrative. Finally, we wished to write a story that exists as a love letter to ourselves. We embedded our real conflicts, inspirations, and experiences into the story.
The most important guiding light throughout the filmmaking process was our original inspiration deck. For several months, we did intensive brainstorming and research that required lots of virtual discussions. Kaitlin was responsible for previs, layout, and animation, so she gathered cinematography and animation references, while I gathered character references and Tiantian environment references. We also looked to our lived experiences, citing our family photo albums. In the end, our effort was worth it, as we had a cohesive vision once we started diving into film production.
By Tiantian Zhang
We were fortunate enough to explore several iterations of our characters. Tiantian first drew the character lineup. When crafting the Chen family, we went directly to the source material — our parents. What would they wear? What is typical “dedi” and “mami” behavior? We kept in mind silhouette, mood, and color palette.
I focused on the final clothing design. We wanted Scott to represent modernity embracing tradition — Y2K schoolboy chic with a hint of 90s Hong Kong.
Young Scott originally had a Pokemon shirt, but due to copyright reasons, we went another route! After working their laborious jobs, Mami and Dedi don’t have time to shop — they stick to the familiar, breathable clothes they’ve owned for decades.
Westine helped us with character explorations, capturing the everyday life of the Chen family. They're so adorable!
Environment concept art
Daniel created this lovely concept art for us! We wanted the living room to capture a homey, packed, lived-in feel with strong incorporation of Chinese culture. The green and red main color scheme is perfect for it.
Initial layout design by Nelson Mai
I created the initial blueprint for the apartment. I mainly focused on creating an environment based on the apartment I grew up in Bensonhurst Brooklyn. I researched a decent amount on feng shui placements for the altar. We explored the floor plan, furniture, altar placement, and exploration of apartment size.
By Kaitlin Yu
Robert (Bobby) Obias as Scott, A.K. Ibrahim as Dedi,
Yiqing Zhao as Mami, and Kaitlin as Young Scott
Progression from storyboard to final
Early previs with reference
"I knew that Shattered would require subtle acting to complement the poignant story, so I hired three professional actors using Backstage to help us film reference footage. Going from 3D previsualization to live-action was challenging to organize but also really rewarding. I was able to capture multiple angles and takes, which helped me finalize the layout and timing of the film. I gave this footage to my animation team as a foundation to start animating from. From directing actors to organizing a team of 11 animators, I learned a lot about the importance of communication, time management, and organization!"
- Kaitlin Yu
Music is a large part of how we show the characters' personalities and culture throughout the film. We wanted to juxtapose the traditional Chinese instruments that play as the parents conduct the ritual against the bassy, poppy music that Scott listens to as he takes pictures. Later on, the Cantopop song that plays during one of our flashback scenes is inspired by the Cantopop radio that Nelson's parents listen to (you can listen to the radio here!). We created a couple of playlists that would help Lillie in her composing process. In the end, Lillie did a great job at creating a score that is authentic to our experience and also pulls the viewer even further into the story.