Chroma Wheel

50-word version:
Chroma Wheel explores the personal journey of art creation and the various emotions that come with it. The story follows a protagonist who experiences creative blocks in a bizarre world, where emotions transition from confusion to excitement and ultimately find harmony.

Longer version:
Chroma Wheel is made with digital hand-drawn animation and composited in After Effects. The film explores the personal experience of making art and the various emotions that come with it.
The protagonist, P, is trapped in a “Mind Desert”, a bizarre world of extending dunes and thick smoke, a place typical of when one is facing a creative block. Monister and Compass Bird are the two creatures that live in this world. The environment shifts as P starts to get footing on his musical creation.
The creation process, I am visualizing with changing colors and motions. The colors intensify as P begins to see the work coming together. Meanwhile, the protagonist experiences emotions that evolve from confusion to excitement, anxiety to harmony. By using the language of animation and sound, I want to capture the highs and lows of creating an artwork, and the feeling of letting go of it at the end.
The climax is the moment when P puts all the ideas together and makes a final composition. Simultaneously, several electronic musical models are connected to each other representing the moment when the work of art is leaving you behind and generates its own ideas.
My intention in making this film is to trace the various actions I made and the feelings I had during my creative process. I hope my audience can relate to this journey and the emotions toward the finished work.

  • Zechen Li
  • Zechen Li
  • Eujin Kim
    Animation Coloring Assistants
  • Tao Tao
    Animation Coloring Assistants
  • Zechen Li
    Storyboards & Layout
  • Andrea Ye
    Background Art
  • Zechen Li
    Editing & Compositing
  • Tao Tao
    Editing Assistant
  • Zechen Li
    Sound Design
  • Zechen Li
    Voice Acting
  • Arti Tefo
    Voice Acting
  • Yiyi Liu
    Mixing Support
  • Sonia Mohan
    Music Composers
  • Shannon Lin
    Music Composers
  • Zechen Li
    Music Composers
  • Chris Sullivan
    Special Thanks
  • Joel Benjamin
    Special Thanks
  • Nick Ian Flaherty
    Special Thanks
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 7, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    China, United States
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - School of The Art Institute of Chicago
Director Biography - Zechen Li

Zechen Li is an animator, filmmaker, and sound designer based in Chicago and Beijing. He creates animations and soundscapes that allow personal feelings to linger and be released. As someone who grew up with technology, he strives to build a connection between spirituality and digital software. He was born in Beijing, China, and received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2023. His works have been selected by AI-AP’s IMAA11 and screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Add Director Biography