Jellyfish Shengxi's profile
A Ticket to Tomorrow - 2D Animation Project
A Ticket to Tomorrow
A 2D animation project I created for fun to celebrate my childhood in middle school (2002-2005) - By Jellyfish SW
The Story
I wish I could go back to my childhood days when there were lots of fun and no worries.

As a designer, I always like to share my story with others in a narrative and expressive way. The day has finally arrived. I'd like to tell you now, a story of my unforgettable English learning experience I had in middle school, from 20 years ago.
What is A Ticket to Tomorrow?
Published in 1992, A Ticket to Tomorrow (ATTT in short, not AT&T) is an ESL textbook I use in middle school (2002-2005). This is an audio-based, radio-magazine format series that presents a basic course in English through entertainment. Songs, scenes, and teaching segments focus on grammar, pronunciation, and functional language.
A Ticket to Tomorrow, ESL Textbook by Howard Beckerman, James Kelty and Alison Rice. Published in 1992. 
Original Textbook (Left) and localized copy I own in Chinese (Right)
The textbook depicts Mr. English (the male character), Tamara (the female character from the 21st century) and their friends' adventure in a world of the past and the future.
An illustration from the textbook depicting Tamara (Left), Visitors from the 21st century, and 
Mr. English (Right), the main character and the host of the English program
In the very first program, Mr. English meet Tamara for the first time. They introduce and teach audiences to sing the theme song, which is also named A Ticket to Tomorrow.
A Ticket to Tomorrow - Main Theme, segment from the original tape cassette, Program 1. 
This melody deeply rooted in my memory.
What makes it special?
Okay, this is an ESL textbook, so what? What makes it so special?

ATTT IS special: it greatly influenced my passion of learning English.

Back in middle school, learning English as a second language has never been a pleasure for me. I was afraid of speaking English in class, did poorly in grammar exercises (and I know, I am still not good at grammar as you can tell while reading my writing), and fell behind almost everyone on exams. Informing my parents to place a signature on my failing English test report has always been my childhood nightmare. 

Most traditional ESL textbooks we used were written and being taught in a didactic and tedious way, with wordy and lengthy paragraphs, and emotionless audio contents recorded on tapes. I was frustrated and never motivated to learn.
New Horizons in English, the main ESL textbook I used in middle school (distributed by our school, which I believe we were using a pirate version), with all the annotations I marked on paragraphs
I met ATTT when I was in 8th grade. This was my first interactive/entertaining ESL learning experience. I was fascinated by the story of the mysterious visitor from the future, the time travel narratives and all those happy songs from this textbook. For the first time, I felt that learning English could be exciting and fun.

All of a sudden, I was no longer a passive learner: I am eager to know how Mr. English and Tamara's new adventure unfold, and how to sing those happy songs. This motivates me to repeat listening the audio contents, and with a good sense of musicality, I even recite all of them! I quickly became the fastest learner in class. For the first time, I feel I am on the top of the world.
My exercise book for ATTT, with the little cute sketch I drew on the cover :) You can tell how I am in love with this series
While most of my peers felt those songs and the storytelling were childish during those days (they prefer to listen to Jay Chou when it comes to music), I never thought in that way. ATTT had became my BEST childhood memories and I still love it today. It has been almost two decades since I graduated from middle school, but I can still recall a lot of songs and conversations from the textbook. Obviously, the one I would never forget is the theme song: A Ticket to Tomorrow.
The Creation
How to celebrate 
As a designer who loves graphics and music, I want to celebrate my childhood by creating an ATTT theme song music video, which require the preparation of audio and graphic assets.

Because ATTT is a very old textbook, for a long time, ATTT songs can only be played on a cassette player. Thanks to the Internet, they are now available on Youtube.
My cassettes collection (distributed by our school) that comes with all ESL textbook I used in middle school, 
you can see those ATTT cassettes with my sketch on it. Again, I love this series :)
However, rather than borrowing the song from the original cassette soundtrack, with past experience in audio remix and midi creation, I decided to remix a new karaoke version of the songs with guitar and piano using Overture (a sheet music/midi editor on Windows, similar to the Garage Band on Mac, I am a Windows user so...), and use Vocaloid Tianyi Luo, a vocal editor developed by Yamaha, as the vocalist.
Overture 4.0 - A sheet music/midi editor on Windows
A Ticket to Tomorrow - Main Theme - Karaoke remix
Vocaloid3 Editor - Vocal editor on Windows
A Ticket to Tomorrow - Main Theme - TianYi Luo vocal remix
Graphics - Character Design
The vocalist TianYi Luo, introduced by Yamaha, is a virtual singer that has an official persona. 
Official TianYi Luo Persona introduced by Yamaha
Meanwhile, ATTT is accompanied by guitar as you could tell from the original sound track attached above. So it makes sense for me to draw a mini TianYi Luo singing while playing the guitar. It is time for some Adobe now!

To prepare for animation, I also need to draw her facial expressions and hand gestures (based on real guitar chord).
Assets for creating an animated Tianyi Luo
Graphics - Stage
What would be an ideal stage that could best express my nostalgia, while also be a good background while TianYi is performing? Recall from my memory in middle school, there were often performing activities in class. So it makes sense to use middle school classroom as the background. 

To better recreate the actual scene, I dig through my photo library and social media account to find a few classroom photos taken 20 years ago as reference.
Photos of my middle school classroom taken almost 20 years ago
Background illustration created based on those old photos
Of course you don't want an empty classroom. As a way to commemorate the past (2002-2005), I added few symbolic/iconic objects to the illustration that were popular during those days:

 • Cassette player (do they still exist today?)
 • Flash player (quite new during those days, the original iPod was introduced in 2001 btw)
 • Jay Chou's album - Fantasy (published in 2001, Jay Chou was, and still is, incredibly popular)
 • Electronic dictionary (there was no smartphone and no wifi. You need this, or a real dictionary to learn English)
 • Nintendo Gameboy Color (whoever has this is the king in class)
 • Tarot cards (Astrology was quite popular among girls back in the day)
 • Characters from Stone Age (very popular online games released in 1999)
Popular antiques back in those days (around 2000-2005)
And of course, other stuffs that we are all familiar as a student.
 • School uniform and school bag
 • Textbook and exercise book
 • Drinking bottles
 • Stationery
 • Basketballs

Then we have this:
Background illustration with more details
And finally, let's put my favorite ATTT illustration along with few sketches on the chalkboard!
Background illustration - Final
Graphics - Motion Design
Next step is motion design. I think of this as a script.

 • Projector screen shows count down and retracts when the music begins
 • Wall hang fan starts working when the start motives of the song is introduced
 • Tianyi Luo starts singing while the background slowly scrolling from left to right
 • Gradually reveal sketches on the chalkboard
 • Cassette player starts to play original ATTT soundtrack and sync with the new remix
 • Clock runs backward to hint this is to commemorate the past
 • Confetti effect at the end to celebrate my childhood with ATTT

There you go! Below is what I have when put these together.
Goodbye, my childhood. Only memories of my childhood will live with me forever.

11/14/2021 By Jellyfish SW
A Ticket to Tomorrow - 2D Animation Project

A Ticket to Tomorrow - 2D Animation Project