Grandfather and the Clock

Animation about the history of timekeeping

Animated story produced for Globe Creative who was in charge of the exhibition design of the exhibition Treasures of Time at the Hong Kong Science Museum.

When we developed the storyboard, we knew the story had be not just narratively interesting, but historically accurate (not to mention visually appealing). With time travel playing an important part in the story, we took some artistic license to make the story work.

Su Song was a scientist and scholar of high esteem, so he is depicted wearing a long dress of high officials. On his head he is wearing a zhangokfutou, which literally means 'spread-horn head cover'. This hat with its elongated horns on both sides was designed to keep officials from whispering during court assemblies.

Emperor Wan-Li also makes an appearance. Considered as one of the worst emperors in Chinese history, he was reportedly was living a reclusive life and not at all in good health, so we have given him a pale skintone. The emperor’s throne is copied nearly literally from the painting that exists of him, a little creative license was permissible when it came to designing the cover of the empty throne seat.

Matteo Ricci was a Jesuit priest from Italy who reached Beijing in 1601. Note that he is not wearing a catholic cross, as he is not wearing one on any of the painting that exist of him, presumably for reasons of political correctness. Ricci is wearing a Chinese style skirt with a sash.

We looked to Chinese history dramas for inspiration when it came to creating a court mood for the Emperor scene, i.e. the tapestry in the background was inspired by one we found in a history soap. A small table was modelled after a antique Ming table we found on Sotheby auction website.

The video Grandfather and the Clock plays on a screen near the ticket office. Try not to miss this exhibition of amazing elaborately decorated clocks created in an age when kitch wasn’t yet kitch. The exhibition is on until until April 10.

We produced a Cantonese, Mandarin and an English version (Mandarin version shown here with English subtitles).