Young artist creates animated video of pandas integrating winter sports with traditional Chinese paintings
People's Daily Online

You Yi, an animation artist in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, made an animated video that integrated pandas playing winter sports together with some masterpieces of traditional Chinese paintings, in the hope of cheering on athletes at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

A snapshot of the video made by You Yi features a panda snowboarding in combination with the features of the famous Chinese painting named “A Panorama of Rivers and Mountains.”(Photo provided by the interviewee)

In her video, a panda designed in the style of a Chinese ink wash painting snowboards around mountainous areas, with the design inspired by a painting called “A Panorama of Rivers and Mountains.” Painted during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the masterpiece that reveals a blue-green landscape is stunning for its sweeping scale, rich coloration, and all of its expressive minute details. Moreover, some pandas portrayed as skeleton athletes can be seen in the animation sliding down the Great Wall, while still others try out short-track speed skating, figure skating and curling in a snow-covered forest and on a frozen lake. The designs that You used were all based on a variety of gems found in traditional Chinese painting. In the end, the bold trial was well-received by Chinese net users who watched the video online.

You, who was born in 1998, said that her inspiration came from an animated video made by a French television company for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games featuring a combination of the Japanese art of Ukiyoe woodblock prints and themes from the Olympic Games. “I was touched by the harmony of the two types of elements and hoped to bring traditional Chinese paintings, China’s national treasure of the panda and winter sports together,” she said.

A snapshot of the video made by You Yi shows a panda sliding down the Great Wall. (Photo provided by the interviewee)

You made the video all by herself, including its conception, sketching, and editing. “Before I started, I looked into many traditional Chinese paintings such as ‘A Panorama of Rivers and Mountains,’ ‘Evening Snow Blending River and Sky,’ one of the scrolls of ‘Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers,’ painted by Wang Hong of the Song Dynasty, and scrolls about bamboos,” she explained. Then she added pandas playing winter sports according to the features of these artworks. “The blue rolling hills are suitable for snowboarding,” she said, while the Great Wall serves as a track for skeleton. “It’s incredible! A panda sliding down the Great Wall. It is so athletic,” said a net user.

The reason for choosing the panda is because of Bing Dwen Dwen, the cute panda mascot of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Moreover, the panda's distinctive black-and-white color matches the style of Chinese ink wash painting, she said.

Photo shows You Yi’s sketches of the pandas, whose movements were inspired by the performances of some of China’s top winter sports athletes, such as Wang Bingyu, Shen Xue, Zhao Hongbo, and Wang Meng. (Photo provided by the interviewee)

Her inspiration for the movements of the pandas came from the performances of some of China’s top winter sports athletes. “The panda that practices speed skating has the iconic pose of Wang Meng, four-time Olympic short-track speed skating champion. The two pandas performing figure skating imitate Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who won China's first Olympic gold medal of the event in Vancouver. The inspiration of the one playing curling comes from the performance of Wang Bingyu, former skip of China’s national team, at the World Women's Curling Championship in 2009,” You said with a smile. She added that this arrangement was a surprise hidden in the video, and she was glad some net users discovered it.

After majoring in animation, You became an independent animation artist in 2021. You made the video because she is an enthusiast of winter sports. “I usually practice figure skating,” she said. “I find winter sports very interesting and my sentimental attachment to winter sports may be one of the reasons for making this video,” she added.