The SMP Memory Kit

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CONTENTS 4 12 20 30 38 48 54 62

Chapter 1: Oral History Chapter 2: Writing Memories Chapter 3: Photographing Memories Chapter 4: Illustrating Memories Chapter 5: Animating Memories Chapter 6: Recording Soundscape Memories Chapter 7: Documentary Filming of Memories Chapter 8: Visioning The Future

Published by: National Library Board, Singapore Designed by: JAB Design Pte Ltd Printed in Singapore by Chung Printing Pte Ltd


Each of us has a rich personal history, even though we sometimes feel caught up in seemingly mundane everyday matters. As time passes, things change but there will always be unforgettable and happy memories that remain vivid in our minds. These are the stories that help us to find a common ground with our friends and loved ones. Why not take a step further and capture your personal stories for posterity? Let your creativity flow. You can write a story, create a photo journal, or embark on personal projects through drawing, animation or documentary filming. Share your stories with your future generations through the Singapore Memory Project to give them a sense of what life was like for you. This memory kit provides various suggestions on how you can document your memories. We look forward to reading your happy, interesting and unforgettable stories!

© National Library Board, Singapore 2013 ISBN 978-981-07-6164-6

The Singapore Memory Project Memory Kit – Your guide to capturing personal memories is published by the National Library Board, Singapore with permission from the copyright owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, for any reason or by any means, whether re-drawn, enlarged or otherwise altered including mechanical, photocopy, digital storage and retrieval or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing from both the copyright owners and the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. The text, layout and designs presented in this book, as well as the book in its entirety, are protected by the copyright laws of the Republic of Singapore and similar laws in other countries. Commercial production of works based in whole or in part upon the designs, drawings and photographs contained in this book is strictly forbidden without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.

Gene Tan Director, Singapore Memory Project

Please direct all correspondence to: National Library Board 100 Victoria Street #14-01 National Library Building Singapore 188064 Tel: +65 6332 3255 Fax: +65 6332 3611 Email: Website:


National Library Board, Singapore Cataloguing-in-Publication Data The Singapore Memory Project Memory Kit : Your guide to capturing personal memories. – Singapore : National Library Board, 2013 68pp 21cm ISBN : 978-981-07-6164-6 (paperback) 1. Collective memory – Singapore – Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Storytelling – Singapore – Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. Oral history – Handbooks, manuals, etc. 4. Interviewing – Handbooks, manuals, etc. DS609.9 959.57 -- dc23


The Singapore Memory Project (SMP) is a nationwide movement which aims to capture and document precious moments and memories related to Singapore; recollections not only from individual Singaporeans, but also from organisations, associations, companies and groups. This project, driven by the Ministry of Communications and Information, is led by the National Library Board.


INTRODUCTION Oral history is the collection and documentation of memories through recorded interviews. Your interviewees will recollect and share stories of their lives and experiences, people they have met and places they have been. They will also add their personal feelings and opinions to their stories, making the past come alive.



For oral history recording, it is advisable to use a professional recorder and microphone. Otherwise, you may use your mobile phone too. If you wish to make a visual record, you may use a video camera. It is useful to have a pen and notebook with you for taking down important points and follow-up questions while your interviewee is talking.



This section is contributed by the Oral History Centre, National Archives of Singapore (NAS). NAS is the official custodian of Singapore’s collective memory and is responsible for the collection, preservation and management of Singapore‘s public and private archival records.

Equipment and tools checklist

Recording device (audio recorder, video camera or mobile phone) Microphone (if necessary) Spare batteries Pens Notebook

Open-ended question

A picture indeed paints a thousand words — but would it not be even better to hear the story behind it?

1 Decide on the theme and focus

Decide on your research theme and interview focus. For example, your research theme could be “school days”, and your interview focus could be “my favourite lesson”.

You can start by thinking about yourself and your objective. What are you curious about? Whose memories do you want to capture? What is interesting about the person’s background or story?

To get ideas for your theme and focus, you may wish to check out the resources at the National Library and National Archives of Singapore (NAS) in person. Online resources such as NewspaperSG ( and Access to Archives Online ( are also helpful.


2 Choose your interviewee

Identify an interviewee who is willing to share the types of experiences you want to capture. For a start, your interviewee could be your parent, grandparent or teacher.

How do you feel about being a member of the school band? This question encourages the interviewee to share his or her thoughts in detail.

How was it like studying in a village school?

Closed-ended question

Ever wondered how grocery shopping was like before there were supermarkets?

Ask more open-ended questions, beginning with “Why”, “How” and “What”, to allow your interviewee to share more information and his or her personal feelings.

This question requires merely a “Yes” or “No” reply. The interviewee does not get the chance to elaborate further.

Do you know that these students were celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II? Ask your interviewees about the types of celebrations they had in the past, which you rarely hear today.

How were kampong residents affected by floods during the 1950s? Get your interviewees to share their personal experiences coping with events in the yesteryears. Photos courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

3 Prepare your questions

Did you like being a member of the school band?

You may order your questions chronologically, or you may arrange them such that one question leads to another smoothly. Do remember to cover basic personal information at the start of the interview, such as the years spent in school and his or her age when a particular incident took place. This will help listeners understand the interviewee’s background and relate to the interview better.

4 Conduct a pre-interview session

During the casual pre-interview session, share your objectives and scope with your interviewee. Use memory aids such as photographs, newspapers and publications to evoke his or her memories. Your interviewee may bring up new, interesting topics that you may add to the interview scope.


5 Conduct the actual interview

During the actual interview, pay attention to your interviewee so that he or she is more willing to share. You need not follow your prepared questions exactly; go with the flow of your interview and ask for more details when necessary. Always remember to get written agreement from your interviewee for the use of the interview. Make a copy of the agreement for your interviewee.

6 Document and disseminate


Always back up several copies of your recordings. It is also a good gesture to send your interviewee a copy of the interview. To facilitate searches, prepare a synopsis, or summary, of the interview. You may also want to transcribe the recording to provide quick access to its content. When you transcribe, you will need to listen to the recording and document its content word for word in writing. Actions and emotions should be indicated within brackets, for example (interviewee smiles). You may choose to transcribe only selected or notable parts.

During the interview, nod at appropriate times to show that you are listening. Smile and maintain eye contact with your interviewee. Familiarise yourself with your recording device before the interview, and remember to press ‘record’ just before you begin your interview! During your pre-interview session, look out for ambient sounds that will add noise to your recording, such as telephone rings, heavy traffic and electrical appliances.

When transcribing, don’t change your interviewee’s choice of words and tenses, as the speech reflects his or her social background.

Remember to turn off your mobile phone (if you are not using it as a recorder) and encourage your interviewee to do so too.

If the interview was not conducted in English, you may also consider translating it into English to share it with more people.

Email your audio file of not more than 20MB to singaporememory@ Include your personal details such as name and contact number and a synopsis of your submission.

For sample oral history recordings and transcripts, check out the National Archives of Singapore’s Access to Archives portal at

MORE ON ORAL HISTORY Books Memories & Reflections: The Singapore Experience – Documenting a Nation’s History Through Oral History by Oral History Centre

The Oral History Manual by Barbara W. Sommer and Mary Kay Quinlan

During an interview, maintain eye contact with your interviewee, nod and smile at appropriate times. Your interviewee should feel comfortable with you and the environment.

7 Upload your story

Try not to interrupt your interviewee. Avoid acknowledging with terms like “yes” or “I see”, which will sound unnecessary on playback.


Photo courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Online Steps to Conducting Your Own Oral History Project by the National Archives of Singapore

Practical Advice: Getting Started by the Oral History Society (UK) How To Interview - Part 3: Tips & Tricks


An interview session in progress.

PAULINE LOH Pauline Loh is a journalist, magazine editor and award-winning book author. She shares with us her interviewing experiences as a journalist. More details on page 17.

How do you prepare for an interview session?


After ensuring that I have the interviewee’s name and contact number, I will do further research on the interviewee and the story angle, and email a list of questions so that he or she has time to prepare the answers. In my email, besides introducing myself and arranging for a date, time and place, I will check with the interviewee the language he or she is comfortable with; if necessary, l will arrange for an interpreter. It’s also important to state the length of interview time (usually one to two hours) and give my contact number in case of changes.

Which interviewing experience impacted you the most? Once I interviewed an 80-year-old blind woman who was the sole

caregiver of her husband who was suffering from dementia. Nobody else was staying with them. She measured out her husband’s medicine by feeling the sizes and shapes of the pills. He was incontinent, and she detected his urine spillage by smell. He could leave the house and she won’t realise it because she was blind. She would wait for the police to call. I was shaken by the fact that there were people living in such desperate plights in prosperous Singapore.

Could you share your experience of a challenging interview? In my second year as a news reporter, I had to interview a grieving husband whose wife had been electrocuted to death by a faulty water heater. I read up the police reports so that I wouldn’t have to ask unnecessary questions. I introduced myself as a reporter upfront. He was still in a state of shock and talked disjointedly.

Photo courtesy of the National Library Board

I tried to keep my notebook as unobtrusive as possible. I did not interrupt, not even to ask questions. I maintained an interested and sympathetic facial expression. I kept the interview short so as to not prolong his grief. After the interview, I expressed my condolences and thanked him for his time. From this experience I learned that it is important to show sympathy and not to interrupt.

Can you give some tips on how to conduct a meaningful interview to those new to interviewing? Always be punctual for interviews. If you are not confident about taking notes fast enough, bring along an audio recorder. To help your interviewee open up, remember to make eye contact and smile. Ask open-ended questions, and don’t interrupt his or her answers. Show empathy through facial expressions; never rebuke an interviewee or moralise. Don’t talk about yourself. Always be courteous — introduce yourself, thank the interviewee, and smile.




Memory writing is the act of capturing memories and documenting them in written form. Think of some of the most memorable places, people and events in your life and put them down in writing. You can also help capture the recollections of others by interviewing them and documenting their memories in writing. Think of it as “freezing” a particular moment in time. Together, the written memories will create a rich tapestry of stories, allowing us to leave a legacy for our future generations.

WHAT YOU NEED You hardly need anything else besides a pen and notebook, and perhaps a computer. Memories may come back to you anytime, so be sure to jot down anything that comes to mind, so that you can look through your notes later.



Equipment and tools checklist

This section is contributed by Kelly Pang, a former journalist and executive sub-editor with The Straits Times. She was one of the key researchers for The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew and From Third World to First. She is also a co-founder of Dotted Line Consultancy, an editorial consultancy.

Writing tool such as a pen or pencil Notebook Computer Interview transcripts (if you are writing someone else’s memories)

3 Outline your story

Before you start writing, ask yourself: What is the key idea that you want to convey through this memory? Is it to highlight the significance of a person or place, to relate a lesson learnt, or to capture someone’s personal memories?

Let’s say you are writing another person’s memory about life in the 1960s. Your key idea can be the neighbourhood he grew up in. Framing your story with a “key idea”, or angle, will help you decide what to put in and what to sieve out.

Write an outline to help you organise your thoughts. You may want to structure your story with an introduction, main body and conclusion. You can introduce your key idea in the opening paragraph, go on to describe different scenes and people in the next few paragraphs, and conclude with your interviewee’s personal reflections.

1 Choose a topic


If you are writing your own memory, begin with a memory list: write down the most significant people, places, events and experiences you can remember about your past. Then pick one topic that is especially meaningful or nostalgic to you. If you are writing someone else’s memory, you may need to do some research first to find out what is interesting about his or her life. Then select a topic to focus on.

2 Research and conduct interviews

When writing your own memory, go through your personal memorabilia, journals and old photos. Talk to friends and family members — their recollections may help jog your own memories. Write down all the details you can remember about the topic, including your thoughts and feelings. Follow up with some research at the library or on the Internet. If you are writing another person’s memory, do an in-depth interview and transcribe the interview. (See chapter on Oral History)

4 Write your story

Voice: If you are writing your own memory, use the first person “I” so that the memory becomes more intimate to your reader. If you are writing another person’s memory, you can use the third person, i.e. “he” or “she”. Introduction: Put down your key idea and background information about the memory in the introduction, to give your readers a bird’s-eye view of what is to come. For example, for your interviewee’s memory on the neighbourhood he grew up in, the introduction can be written as:

learnt, your feelings and thoughts about the memory, or your hope for the future. If you are writing someone else’s memory, you can conclude the story with your interviewee’s personal reflections. For example:

Mr Lim Teck Boon, 57, may have left his \ka mpung days behind but he still carries fond memories of growing up in a remote Chua Chu Kang village. Born in 1956, he lived with his fa mily in a one-storey house on a chicken farm until they were resettled in a HDB flat in Jurong East in 1988.

Main body: Use vivid details and recreate scenes that engage your readers’ five senses. Show them using movements, smells, colours, sounds, texture, taste and more. Enliven your story with dialogue or quotes to express your main characters’ own voices. It is fine to recreate conversations based on the material gathered from your interview or if you have noted down specific unique phrases. For example:

Mr Lim’s house was along a dirt road known as Track 2, an offshoot from the main Chua Chu Kang Road. He said: “It would turn into a brown slush after the rain. My friends and I loved running barefoot and chasing one another on the muddy path.”

Like the other houses along this road, the Lim fa mily’s house had wooden planks as the walls and zinc plates as the roof. Mr Lim said: “When heavy rain fell on the zinc roof, the noise was thunderous. We had to raise our voices in the house just so that we could hear one another.”

Conclusion: If you are writing your own memory, you can end your story with your personal reflections, such as the lessons

Even though the fa milies along Track 2 moved to flats, Mr Lim has kept in touch with some of his old neighbours. “I missed the old days and our ka mpung spirit,” he said. “Luckily, many of us moved to the sa me housing estate and we still visit one another during Chinese New Y ear and meet at the coffeeshop to catch up.”

5 Do a final check

Read through and correct any spelling or grammar errors. Make sure that important information, such as the dates of events and the names of people and places, is correct. If unsure, make it a point to check it up.

Let your story sit for a few days if you have the chance. Then read through it again to see if you have missed any details or if you should remove any.

6 Upload your story

Save your writing in a Microsoft Word document if required.

Follow the step-by-step instructions and upload your story directly onto the portal.


Your story should answer the questions of who, what, when, where, how and why — also known as the 5W1H. Use the 5W1H as a checklist to see if you have a complete story.

Enhance the memory with old photos, video footage and oral history recordings, especially if you are publishing online. Look out for these during the research stage and ask your interviewee for old photos. Remember to ask for permission to use them.


The History in Matchboxes by Zhang Ling, Hui Han and Pham Thi Minh Thuy

Books On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

Hearts of Rochor Centre by Ruth Anne Keh, Nguyen Thi Viet Linh and Zhao Xijun

Your Life as Story: Discovering the ‘New Autobiography’ and Writing Memoir as Literature by Tristine Rainer

Streets We Remember by Hamzah, Su Myat and Li Junlu

Online Make the Most of Your Memory: 10 Tips for Writing About Your Life

Tips on Writing Your Autobiography or Memoir How to Write Your Autobiography

PAULINE LOH Pauline Loh is a journalist, magazine editor and award-winning book author. She has met many interesting people during the course of her work and has always felt that it would be a pity if their stories are not preserved. So when she heard about the Singapore Memory Project, she jumped aboard with conviction. Since then, she has written several Singapore memories and conducted small group training on writing memories.

What are the most important elements in memory writing? It is important to capture all aspects of who, what, when, where, why and how — also known as 5W1H — in your writing. Paint “word pictures”, eg. descriptions of the place or person you are writing about. For example, if you are writing about a kampung (village), describe the road conditions, the number of houses, the materials used to build houses, the landmarks, the residents and more.

How does one write a credible memory that will impact readers? Get all the facts right, including the dates of events. Include quotes from your interviewees. It is important to provide descriptions, since scenes are or will no longer be available. Focus on the positive and refrain from criticism, especially on sensitive topics such as politics, race and religion. After writing, check your grammar and spelling.


Raffles Hotel

Singapore is seen through their eyes as tourists. I wrote The Robinson’s Department Store Fire story because it was rare to find an insider’s story of that tragedy. We have news and court records of Photo courtesy of National Library Board this incident, but a first person’s experience is always the truest and most heartbreaking account. I also wrote about my father-in-law Ong Every individual has his or her own Tien Soo’s younger days, so that his take on the same scene. For an grandchildren would know more interesting angle, quote the people about him. involved in the story. You can also go into detail for the one scene that is crucial to the whole story. For example, for a story on the Malaysia Cup, you can write: “Fandi Ahmad lined up the ball. The stadium fell Cecil Holmes and Brian Grimwood into an anticipatory hush. Selangor’s have heavy British accents, so I had goalkeeper pulled his gloves to concentrate to understand what nervously. Fandi moved. It was over they said and try to reflect their way in a split second. The 50,000-strong of speaking when I quoted them. audience went into hysterics. Fandi They also kept interrupting each alone was silent. He stood with other, so I had to take careful note of arms akimbo, a small satisfied who said what. smile on his lips.”

How do you develop an interesting angle for a story?


What was the most difficult challenge?

Can you share about the memories you have written? For Unofficial Raffles’ Historians: Raffles Hotel as Seen Through the Eyes of Two Special Guests, I interviewed Cecil Holmes and Brian Grimwood. I was interested in how

My father-in-law was 80 when I interviewed him. He spoke in the Hinghwa dialect and little Mandarin. He was also sick and in pain. In addition, he was a taciturn person, so it was difficult to draw him out. To overcome the challenge, I also talked to the people who knew him, such as his wife and children.

SAMPLE STORY Excerpt from Unofficial Raffles’ Historians: Raffles Hotel as Seen Through the Eyes of Two Special Guests by Pauline Loh Although Raffles has its own resident archivist, Bertie and Cecil put up a healthy competition for the post. If Bertie is to be believed, when Michael Jackson stayed in Raffles (which he did during the Dangerous World Tour in 1993), a gloved hand was spotted to have silently slid around the door of his suite and then quietly withdrawn. Bertie is also adamant that the great singer moonwalked in the corridor. They also reminisced the time a great-great-(they were unclear about how many greats) grand nephew of Vincent Van Gogh stayed in Raffles. This famous person had made his suite into an art studio and had invited Bertie and Cecil to view his work.

And did you know that the front door of Raffles was once at the side?” announced Bertie triumphantly. “Not many people know it. And breakfast used to be eaten outdoors, accompanied by songbirds in cages. Ahh, that has to be my fondest memory. But it’s not politically correct now.

They (the bellboys) wore these little hats. It’s as much a tradition as the doormen’s majestic turbans! It’s a shame the practice isn’t continued. It would be nice to see that again. Started on the topic of the doormen, Cecil declared affectionately, “The doormen are our friends. We’ve gone out socially with one of the brothers, Swaran. One year, he brought us out to eat frog. You heard right – frog. It was at a restaurant across the road from Raffles. Swaran said we must try it. The frog was still alive! It was huge! We couldn’t eat it. But we did buy a live one. We carried it back to Raffles Palm Court and released it among the bushes. So now, whenever we’re back, we would listen out for its croaks. We saved its life!”


INTRODUCTION Photography is the art and practice of taking and processing photographs. It is a great tool for documenting memories because it can capture precise moments in time.


A single photo features a memorable moment, place or event. However, if you want to tell a complete story, you may wish to develop a photo essay instead. A photo essay is a series of photos arranged in a specific order, allowing you to explore a theme or show the progression of an event. A great photo essay evokes emotions in its audience.

WHAT YOU NEED To tell a story through photography, you don’t really need fancy equipment. Often, a basic point-and-shoot camera or even your smartphone camera will suffice. At the end of the day, your camera is only a tool. More important are your interactions with your subjects, your research and the content and messages that are conveyed through your photos. Do ensure that you have sufficient battery and memory space to last through your fieldwork.


This section is contributed by Zakaria Zainal, a documentary photographer. He published Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes, a photo essay on retired Singapore Gurkhas. Read Our Gurkhas at www.singaporememory. sg/showcases/30/contents

Equipment and tools checklist Camera (Digital SLR, point-andshoot camera or smartphone) Spare batteries Storage cards Pen and notebook Tape recorder Photo-editing software such as Adobe Lightroom or Picasa (available free at


your topic; they may be your photography subjects, their friends and relatives as well as academics and experts. Besides equipping you with knowledge, your detailed research will also give you the confidence to tackle the challenges you may encounter over the course of your project.

1 Choose a topic

Look around you for story ideas or think about the experiences you have had. In my case, I had a six-month internship with a Nepalese newspaper; the experience exposed me to the country’s culture, and this in turn helped me decide on my topic and in my interactions with the retired Singapore Gurkhas.

3 Determine the angle, message and emotions of your story

2 Research 22

Football fans captured in Gila Bola.

Spend time reading and collecting information on your topic, at the library or on the Internet. Learn from or emulate similar photography projects. Talk to and interview people related to

Keep the story simple. There may be several ways to approach your story, but stick to one that you feel will help guide your readers better. For example, the topic of Singapore Gurkhas offered many possible angles. In the end, I decided to keep the focus on the stories and memories they have of Singapore during the time of their service.

Photos courtesy of Zakaria Zainal

6 Put photographs together to tell a story

4 Plan your photos

From Gila Bola: Surviving Singapore Soccer, by Dan Koh and Zakaria Zainal, a photo essay on Singapore football fans.

Plan the shots you want to take. It is useful to study photos taken by other photographers — you can get tips and inspiration on shot sizes (e.g. wide, zoomed-in, portrait, close-up), lighting, composition and more.

7 Caption your photos

5 Take photos and conduct interviews

Photo courtesy of Zakaria Zainal

When you arrive at the scene to take photos, don’t be too rigid about sticking to your plan. Go with the flow and let your eyes and heart decide what photographs to take. When you interview your subjects for the captions or story, be sure to get answers to the questions of who, what, when, which, how and why (5W1H).

In most cases, you will not be able to use all the photographs you have taken. Be discerning and select only the best ones that narrate the story well. The editing process also helps you know if you need additional photographs to help tell the story better.

You may have interesting photos, but ultimately what will guide your readers are detailed captions. Your captions should include names of the people in the photos, date, information on what they are doing and where they are at, where relevant.

8 Upload your photo essay

Save your photos in JPEG or PDF format and email to Include your personal details such as name and contact number and a synopsis of your submission.


SAMPLE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKS Our Gurkhas: Singapore Through Their Eyes by Zakaria Zainal


Mosaic Memories by Justin Zhuang, Zakaria Zainal and Wee Ho Gai

Familiarise yourself with the functions of your camera and the basic principles of good photography. These will enable you to be creative and take good pictures under different conditions.

Write your story and captions while the details are still fresh in your mind so you will not lose key information. Take it as an assignment you have to send to an editor or teacher in less than 48 hours.

Gila Bola: Surviving Singapore Soccer by Dan Koh and Zakaria Zainal

Write a project statement that will give you a clear direction. It also prevents you from going off-topic and helps you focus when you feel overwhelmed by too much information.

Don’t be too pre-occupied with collecting information and photographs all the time. It is good to pause, analyse and reflect on the material you already have.

Books BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like the Pros by Jim Miotke

It is important to identify your target audience and know who will be interested in or affected by your project. If you always keep them in mind as you work on your project, you will take more meaningful photos.

Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewees for more names of people or suggestions of things and places you can photograph. They may likely lead you to the right individuals and ideas for your project. Take down key personal information, especially names and ages, accurately. Other important information includes occupation, contact numbers and email addresses.


How to Photograph Absolutely Everything: Successful Pictures from Your Digital Camera by Tom Ang Image Makers, Image Takers by Anne-Celine Jaeger Online What Makes a Great Photo Essay?

5 Types of Photos That Make for Strong Photo Essays 5ive Foot Way Shooting Strangers, Photographs by Danny Santos II Sebastian Song’s blog


What are three things you would Which photography assignment bring to any photography session? was the most meaningful to you?

JEROME LIM Jerome Lim photographs for and writes the blog The Long and Winding Road to capture Singapore’s changing landscape. He hopes to preserve his memories of a Singapore that we may not see tomorrow by documenting his experiences through photography. Check out tag/jerome-lim/

Spare batteries, storage cards and cleaning gear. It can sometimes be hard to predict how heavy your usage may be, and it is always important to keep your lenses clean.

My attempt to capture the last days of the Malaysian Railway in Singapore (below) put me in touch with like-minded people, many of whom have become friends, and also with the spaces and people that made the railway what it was.

The now defunct Bukit Timah Railway.

How is capturing photographs to tell a story different from normal photography? 26

I don’t see any difference, as every photograph has a story to tell. It is important to visualise what you want to capture from the perspective of the story you want to tell.


How do you prepare for your photography sessions? The amount of preparation depends on the subject matter. If you’re documenting a place, you’ll need prior research to identify, for example, the key features of an architectural work or subjects of interest.

Courtesy of Jerome Lim.

Photo courtesy of Jerome Lim

Can you share some photography tips? To tell a story, it’s important to identify our subject, isolate it within the image and visualise how the rest of the image will relate to it. Keeping your photographs simple and uncluttered often works well.

You can give great visual impact to your photographs by following simple rules of composition, such as the rule of thirds or diagonals. The use of light to highlight subjects can add dramatic effect. It’s also important to understand the relationships between aperture size, shutter speed, depth of field and motion.

A larger aperture has a shallower depth of field, which can be used to isolate subjects. Faster shutter speeds freeze objects in motion while slow shutter speeds result in blurness, which can be used to suggest motion.

What equipment do you recommend? I use a digital SLR camera primarily as it offers a greater degree of control. But compact and phone cameras are excellent and easy to use. I recommend equipment that you feel most at ease using. Understanding your equipment (and its limitations) and knowing how to use it is more important than how sophisticated it is.



Clockwise from top left: Rule of thirds Off-centre subjects Use of leading lines Use of light Use of blurness to suggest movement

Photos courtesy of Jerome Lim

INTRODUCTION Picture journalling is the art and practice of documenting experiences with illustrations, sketches or drawings. It is a personal and direct way of recording events and expressing your thoughts and emotions, especially if you are combining illustrations and words. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be trained in art or be an artist to start drawing. If you have an eye for observation and a mind for imagination, you are all set for picture journalling.


WHAT YOU NEED You need only readily available tools and materials — at the most basic, only a pen and paper. It is advisable to use a sketchbook; loose sheets may get lost more easily.



This section is contributed by FleeCircus, aka Lee Wai Leng, a Singapore-based illustrator. She participated in the Singapore and London Design Festival 2007 and was picked by Gryphon Tea and Swiss bank (UBS) to collaborate in a limited-edition artwork. She documented her childhood days in Pulau Ubin and Toa Payoh with an illustrated journal, My Memory Book by FleeCircus. Read the journal at

Equipment and tools checklist Drawing and colouring tools (such as pens, markers, pencils, colour pencils, watercolours) Sketchbook Camera

3 Decide on your illustration style and materials

If you are new to drawing, you may wish to begin with pencil sketches or simple line drawings with a marker. Decide if you want to add colours, with markers, watercolours or colour pencils, for example.

You need to get materials that are suitable for your illustration style. For instance, if you want to use watercolours, it may be advisable to use watercolour paper to get the right effect.

1 Choose a topic

Here are some ways to get ideas: brainstorm with a friend; talk to people around you and relatives about their stories; list down your own experiences. My own childhood experiences of playing traditional games such as “five stones” and ice-cream stick boomerangs were the inspiration for My Memory Book.

2 Research 32

If you have decided to document someone else’s memories, conduct an interview with him or her to get more information (see chapter on Oral History). If you are documenting your own, write down what you remember about the people, event or place. What had happened? Who were involved? When, where and how did it happen? These details will help you decide what to include in your illustrations.

4 Decide on your storytelling style 5 Begin sketching and writing

Your story can be chronological with a beginning, middle and end, or it can be made up of vignettes — small episodes that explore a theme. You can also juxtapose and do a comparison between the past and the present. For My Memory Book, I went with a combination of snapshots and a comparison of then and now.

It is advisable to provide captions or a short story to go with your drawing so that another person can fully appreciate it. Therefore, remember to include details such as dates, names of people and places, together with a description of what the drawing depicts and the context.

Focus on drawing the most significant or unique areas. If you are capturing memories of a place that still exists, you may wish to make your sketches on site in order to capture the details and its sense of place. It is also good to take pictures of the place for reference. You may wish to write the accompanying story to your sketches in longhand — this will give your illustrations a personal and intimate touch.

6 Upload your illustrations

Save your illustrations in JPEG or PDF format and email to Include your personal details such as name and contact number and a synopsis of your submission.

Go through old newspapers, books or old photos if you need visual references, such as for the type of clothes people wore and how places and objects looked like.

Pages from My Memory Book by FleeCircus.

Photos courtesy of Lee Wai Leng


ILLUSTRATION SAMPLES Learn the basics of drawing from books, websites and illustrators. Read up about illustration styles, composition and colours. Don’t worry about whether your sketches are “beautiful”; what is more important is the story you want to tell. Draw with a permanent ink — with a marker or pen, so that you will not be preoccupied with making changes. 34

If you get stuck, try one of these drawing prompts: draw in a continuous line, draw with only dots and draw patterns. Focus on words and be inspired by them. You can enrich your journal with a collage or montage. Seek out and add small objects, printed matter and old photos that enhance the memory or story. You will get better at drawing if you do practise more. When you feel more confident about drawing, begin to think about how you want to compose a page with your drawings and text.

From My Memory Book by FleeCircus.

Moving Forward by Andrew Tan My Memory Book by Flee Circus Traditional Toy Making by Lim Qixuan

MORE ON PICTURE JOURNALLING/ILLUSTRATION Books Drawing for the Absolute Beginner: A Clear & Easy Guide to Successful Drawing by Mark and Mary Willenbrink

Online Urban Sketchers Singapore blog

Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures by Cathy Johnson

Drewscape’s blog

The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are by Danny Gregory

Organisation of Illustrators Council

Urban Sketchers Singapore Volume 01: A Book of On-Location Sketches and Drawings Documenting the Singaporean Urban Landscape by Urban Sketchers Singapore

Photos courtesy of Lee Wai Leng

OIC@Singapore Cable Car

Don Low’s blog

Marcus Lim’s blog


DOMINIQUE FAM Dragon playgrounds were typically found in Singapore housing estates in the 1970s and 1980s. Dominique Fam’s comic, Once Upon A Dragon, tells the story of what one such playground means to a boy at different stages of his life. Dominique, an illustrator by profession, illustrates for advertisements, print and web publications. Check out the comic at showcases/29/contents.

Can you tell us more about Once Upon a Dragon? Once Upon a Dragon is a comic about my memories associated with a dragon playground. I hope readers can identify with the experiences in the story; and if they are able to identify with the characters, that’s even better. Keeping the art style simple and generic is an effective way to do this. I also thought sequential art is a good way to move the story along.


Excerpts from Once Upon A Dragon.

Why did you choose illustration to document your memory?

What was most difficult about the process?

I’m an illustrator and I like to draw comics, so my inclination is to use the medium I am familiar with. Could the story be told in written form or with a photo montage? Perhaps. But I felt most confident telling the story using the method that I am best at, so that’s what I did.

It wasn’t difficult trying to recall the memories. It was however a challenge deciding what to exclude. My story centres on the dragon playground, so that had to remain the focus. And because it’s a story spanning 20 years but told in only 20 pages, whatever didn’t help to move the story along had to be edited out.

Can you tell us about your experience in producing Once Upon a Dragon?

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

The illustration process took a few weeks, but it took longer to recall the events, and research and plan the scenes. The recalling stage couldn’t be done in just a few hours or a few days. I tried to recall by looking at some items from the past or by thinking about them. But sometimes I just had to wait for the memories to come back.

It was the opportunity to look at things from hindsight. As we go through experiences, our perspective is often limited, especially when framed by our emotions. But when we look back, we can see things from a wider angle. Being able to write about them years later was an interesting way to revisit the past.

Illustrations courtesy of Dominique Fam


INTRODUCTION Animation is a technique involving filming or photographing drawings, models (such as clay and paper cut-outs) or objects in sequence. The drawings, models and objects are slightly moved or changed in each successive frame so that when the frames are played back in rapid succession (24 frames per second), an illusion of continuous motion is created. Animated sequences can be presented as videos or motion pictures.


Combining storytelling with visual entertainment, animation is an excellent medium for documenting and presenting memories. Stories and experiences are brought to life with action, sound and visual impact. There are three types of basic animation, namely: • Cel animation, where pictures are hand-drawn on transparent sheets called celluloids • Computer animation, which uses computer graphics in 2D or 3D formats to create moving images • Stop-motion animation, which uses models or objects manipulated and photographed frame by frame Stop-motion is a suitable animation style for beginners, as the resources and tools needed for it are readily available. Stop-motion techniques are also easy to learn and practise. This chapter provides a guide to making stop-motion animation using cut-out models.


This section is contributed by Ho Wei Siong, who is among the pioneer group of animators trained in Singapore. He co-founded Animagine, a leading provider of animationbased training to both students and adults in Singapore. Animagine has developed proprietary software and solutions to support learning through animation.


WHAT YOU NEED Stop-motion animation with cut-out models uses flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, cardboard, stiff fabric and photographs. To film or photograph the individual frames, you may use a webcam, digital camera, video camera or even a smartphone. The process of making an animation can be divided into three stages, namely pre-production, production and post-production.

PRE-PRODUCTION 1 Choose a topic

3 Write the outline

Equipment and tools checklist


Markers Blue tack Scissors Paper, cardboard, stiff fabric, photographs Camera (webcam, digital camera, video camera or smartphone) Tripod Computer Stop-motion animation software such as Animaker (PC) [trial version available at www. animaker] or iMovie (Mac)


All great stories begin with an idea. Before you decide on the memory you want to capture, ask yourself some questions: Whose memories or what kind of memories are you interested in? Are there people around you with interesting stories to share about places, people or events from the past?

2 Research

Once you have decided on your idea, research deeper into it. Interview people for their recollections. Flesh out the details with background research at the library or on the internet.

Storyboard frames for the animation Little Gestures.

You may wish to use the classic storyline with three main parts: beginning (set-up), middle (confrontation) and end (resolution). The set-up introduces the main characters, and their situations and goals; in the middle part, the main characters confront their obstacles; the finale sees a climax in which the main characters overcome their final obstacle and reach a resolution.

4 Make a storyboard

Prepare a storyboard using your outline. A storyboard is a series of drawings or sketches (stick figures are fine) that tell the story visually and help you organise your animation shot by shot. Your storyboard should reveal information such as the characters and how they are moving in each frame, dialogue, and the types of shots and camera angles.

Illustrations courtesy of Animagine


PRODUCTION 5 Create the scenes and characters

Set up the first scene. Draw the characters on paper, cut out and piece together the different parts with Blue Tack to create figures with moveable joints. Remember also to include a background with cut-out objects for the scene.

6 Begin filming or photography

7 Capture the frames

Set up your digital camera on the tripod so that it faces the scene. If you are using an animation software such as Animaker, connect your web or video camera to the computer and launch the software. Begin by taking 24 frames as the establishing shot. [For a tutorial on Animaker, log on to products/animaker]

Move the artwork bit by bit and capture the images frame by frame. For each adjustment, capture two frames. Continue making adjustments and capturing frames until you have captured all the frames needed for the first scene. Refer to your storyboard and move on to complete the subsequent scenes.

43 Cut-out models and props used for Little Gestures.


Using Animaker, a software for stopmotion animation.

Photos courtesy of Animagine

Photos courtesy of Animagine



9 Upload your animation

If you are using a Mac, import the images first into iPhoto and then iMovie to review the frames and animate them as a sequence. After creating the animation, add any desired dialogue recording, music and sound effects as well as titles, transitions and credits. If you are using Animaker, the frames would already have been captured by the program. Review the frames and render the frames as an animation sequence by clicking “Make Movie”.

Ensure that your animation is in one of these formats: AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV (20MB per file). Follow the step-by-step instructions and upload your video directly onto the portal. Alternatively, you can save your videos into a DVD and mail it to: Singapore Memory Project 100 Victoria Street #14-01 National Library Building Singapore 188064 Attention: Azlin Aziz

Keep the lighting bright and consistent. Use electric lights such as table lamps, and don’t film or photograph near a window.

It is crucial to plan ahead when producing an animation because it is time-consuming and sometimes difficult to fix mistakes during editing. That’s why it is important to have a script or outline and to follow your storyboard. Keep your camera steady on a tripod. Don’t stand too near the camera or you may accidentally knock or move it.

Be aware of shadows, especially those created by people walking past. Any shadows cast will create a flicker in the final sequence. Always check to make sure that the hands that are adjusting the cutouts and objects are not caught in the shots. Don’t rush to capture the frames. Vary the types of shots (such as wide shots, medium shots, closeups) and camera angles (frontal, low, high) — this will make your animation more interesting visually. 45

Still from Little Gestures.



Stop-motion videos

Books Beginner’s Guide to Animation: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started by Mary Murphy

Little Gestures N.E.Mation!

Frame-by-Frame Stop Motion: The Guide to Non-Traditional Animation Techniques by Tom Gasek Online Animaker tutorials iMovie tutorials Photo courtesy of Nexus

How did your team decide on the story for Little Gestures? JANICE LOW EARN QING Janice Low Earn Qing, Sumithri Rekha Venketasubramanian, Sheryl Teng Swee Sim and Felicia Koh Xiao Jie, from National Junior College, took part in the 2013 N.E.mation!, a digital animation competition organised by Nexus for youths to express their thoughts on Total Defence in Singapore. Their animation, Little Gestures, was a top 10 finalist and can be viewed on YouTube. 46

The theme of N.E.mation! competition was “Together We Overcome”. 2013 marked the 10th year since Singapore overcame the SARS crisis, so we thought that the SARS topic would express the theme very well. We wanted to show how people could help others overcome problems with simple gestures. This seed idea guided us in building our story.

Was Little Gestures based on a real-life story? Little Gestures is fictional, but our ideas came from our observations, experiences and research. For example, we learnt that nurses had contributed a lot during the SARS crisis, so we felt that it was important to include them in our story. Towards

the end of our animation, our main character thanks a nurse for taking care of her mother who has contracted SARS.

What was the production experience like? We had only three weeks to produce our animation, and we had to work really fast to meet the deadlines. Our characters and props were first cut from paper and painted with watercolours, which gave a soft, pastel look that suited our emotional story. We then took many pictures and animated them using stop-motion techniques.

What did you enjoy most about the experience? Producing an animation may be a tedious process, but animation is a powerful tool to convey ideas and illustrate a story. We animated many characters and took thousands of pictures. It was really satisfying to see all the images come to life as an animation.

What advice do you have for someone telling a story using animation? Be determined and never give up. Continue to reanimate a scene as long as you think there is room for improvement. It may be too late to make any changes to it at the later stage.

Still from Little Gestures.

From storyboard to animation.

Photo courtesy of Nexus

Photos courtesy of Animagine


INTRODUCTION “Soundscape” refers to the sounds heard in a particular place that are considered as a whole. Even if we are not listening out for them, we hear these sounds and they help us identify locations and environments.


The soundscape of an MRT station in Singapore, for example, includes the sounds of fare gates opening and closing, trains rolling into the stations, and the warning beeps for closing train doors. In a local coffeeshop, you hear the clangs of glass coffee mugs and drink servers shouting beverage orders in a lingo that is unique to Singapore, such as kopi o ga dai (black coffee with extra sugar) and Milo peng (iced Milo). We relate the sounds of everyday life to our community, identity and heritage. Often, they may be taken for granted until they have disappeared or are at risk of disappearing. By collecting and documenting random soundscapes, you can help preserve the aural memories that may come flooding back when someone hears them again. Areas for soundscape projects could include the following: • Wet markets • Hawker centres • Conversations (dialects) • Festivals (e.g. getai) • Playgrounds Equipment and tools checklist • Train announcements Digital audio recorder, or smartphone • Bus doorbell


This section is contributed by Tan Pei Ling, a Singapore-based interdisciplinary artist. She began to record and use sound as a medium in 2008 when she realised that she was beginning to lose aural memories of her grandmother. Her work Two Concrete Walls looks at sounds as testimony to the demolition of Teban Gardens, while And They Gathered Them Together in Heaps, examines Singapore’s constantly shifting landscape.


For long-term documentation, it is advisable to record soundscapes in digital format, such as with a digital audio recorder or your smartphone’s audio recording function. If you wish to make a visual record as well, you can capture the soundscape location on video while recording the sounds.

with audio recording function. For a slightly more advanced or higherquality audio, try a Zoom audio recorder. (You may also download smartphone apps like Soundcloud and Chirbit for recording). Batteries Computer Sound-editing software such as Audacity (free for PC and Mac), Soundtrack Pro or Protools (Mac)




Pei Ling‘s work Two Concrete Walls looks at sounds as testimony to the demolition of Teban Gardens.

1 Choose a location

Begin by listing the places you are familiar with or interested in. Take a walk around these places and note down the sounds found there. They could be the school canteen, the wet market or a Malay wedding reception, for example.

2 Research


Go online or to the library to read up about the location you have decided on. Highlight the sounds you should listen out for, their significance and how they have changed over the years. Talk to the people at the location; they may be able to share important information about the place or about interesting sounds you can collect. For example, if your chosen location is the wet market, talk to the stallholders to find out the best times to record certain sounds (such as customers bargaining).

Photo courtesy of Tan Pei Ling

segments during editing. You can also document the soundscape with a video camera, which records both the audio and the visuals.

Use a digital audio recorder to record the soundscape. Let the recording function run while you listen out for the key sounds you want to capture. Note down the timings when these sounds occur, so that it is easier to find these

Use a tripod when recording. You would not want to hold on to your recorder for long recordings.

4 Edit your recordings

Upload your recordings to a computer with a sound-editing software such as Audacity (audacity. or Protools. Review your recordings, choose the segments that have captured significant sounds, and put together the various parts.

5 Upload your recording

3 Begin recording

It is advisable to keep track of the dates of recording every time you upload your recordings to your computer or an audio-sharing site as it is time-consuming to figure out afterwards.

Save your audio file in MP3, WAV or WMA format. Email your audio file of not more than 20MB to Include your personal details such as name and contact number and a synopsis of your submission. Alternatively, save your audio file into a CD and mail it to: Singapore Memory Project 100 Victoria Street #14-01 National Library Building Singapore 188064 Attention: Azlin Aziz

Where you point your recorder at determines the type of sounds you capture and how clear or loud the sounds are. Also, get as close to your specific subject as possible. Sound is sensitive to movements. If you intend to walk and record at the same time, wear shoes that do not make loud noises and remove all accessories that may cause disturbance in your recordings. The soundscapes of a particular place may not be the same at different times of the day. Try recording at a location at different times in such situations.


MORE ON SOUNDSCAPE Check out some familiar local sound clips on the National Archives of Singapore’s portal ( Books The Book of Audacity: Record, Edit, Mix, and Master with the Free Audio Editor by Carla Shroder

Recording on a Budget: How to Make Great Audio Recordings Without Breaking the Bank by Brent Edstrom Practical Recording Techniques: the Step-by-Step Approach to Professional Audio Recording by Bruce Bartlett and Jenny Bartlett

Online How to Use Audacity

Audio Editing: The Basics Aporee British Library Sounds Recordings

video, I have been able to record both soundscapes and still images on the same outing in a city.

DAVID CLARKE On his trips to Singapore in April 2009 and May 2011, David Clarke from Hong Kong made recordings of the city’s sounds — from traffic, construction and nature to music in a Hindu temple. He is a professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Hong Kong. His soundscapes of Singapore are shared on solubleshark


How did you get started on soundscape collection? I have been documenting Hong Kong, where I live, using photography. Since digital cameras nowadays allow you to quickly switch to recording digital

Why did you want to collect soundscapes of Singapore? Hong Kong has certain similarities with Singapore, and I’m interested to see where the two cities overlap and differ. We have cicadas in Hong Kong too, for instance, but I recorded one in Fort Canning Park because its sound was different from any I had heard from insects in Hong Kong. That I grew up in England gives me some perspective on Singapore too, given its British colonial past.

Did you purposefully listen out for these sounds? I don’t normally do a great deal of research before setting out to record. I find that I get the best recordings if I just wander without

too much preconception, even getting a little lost sometimes. I can then be a bit more open to discover what happens there.

Why do you combine visual and audio? I often prefer to record sounds that are mingling together in the city, since that’s how we actually hear. To do that well you need to have visual too, to explain what’s going on and prevent it from being just a blur of sounds. If you use sound recording alone, then you usually need a written explanation.

How do you think these soundscapes help you relate to your memories of Singapore? My experiences of Singapore involved all my senses, so I need to have sound recordings and photographs to try to recall my time in the city as well as I can. I’d select a few moments of sound that have meaning for me rather than

attempt to sum up the city as a whole, though. Fragments can often be enough.

What should one look out for in soundscapes? When you feel a sense of novelty in the soundscape you are listening to, that’s the cue to start recording. Another approach is to record your everyday environment in a diaristic way; you should select personal experiences that can be legible to other people, capable of triggering collective memories.

How will you be using your soundscape recordings? For now I am mostly happy to share the recordings individually via YouTube. Later perhaps I would like to join the recordings together to make a longer film. I could compare the soundscapes of different cities, or pick out themes such as nature and music heard out of doors.

Still from David’s soundscape video on the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Still from David’s soundscape video on Fort Canning Park.

Photos courtesy of David Clarke


INTRODUCTION A visual format combining storytelling with moving images and sounds, film (or video) is an excellent documentation tool for memories. Within the film genre, documentaries are especially suitable for memory collection because they are factual records of events, people and places. Documentaries also often involve interviews with people, thus recording their reminiscences, points of views and emotions. This chapter provides a guide to making documentaries using basic equipment and tools.


WHAT YOU NEED The basic equipment needed include a video camera, a tripod for mounting the camera and a microphone. For editing, you need a computer and video-editing software. If you have a bigger budget, you can add lighting and sound equipment for higher image and sound quality.



This section is contributed by Wee Li Lin, one of Singapore’s most prolific filmmakers with some 10 short films as well as two features, Gone Shopping (2007) and Forever (2011), under her belt. Li Lin’s memory project, Singapore Country, is a documentary on the genesis of Singapore Cowboy, the hit song by Matthew Tan, Asia’s most accomplished country singer. Watch the film at

Equipment and tools checklist

Video camera (or digital camera or smartphone with a video function) Storage cards Batteries Tripod Microphone or digital sound recorder Computer with built-in video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. Free downloadable software available at http:// videopad/index.html?gcl id=CKWaxKjKkrkCFXFe4 godLREA0Q


Optional: lights (recommended for indoor shooting or at places where lighting is dim)

2 Research

The filmmaking process is divided into three stages: pre-production, production and post-production.

PRE-PRODUCTION 1 Choose a topic


Think about the topics you are familiar with or passionate about; it could be a person, place or event. For example, if you are a music fan, you could make a film about a Singapore band. If your grandfather ran a provision shop, you could interview him about how people shopped in the past and document the old-style provision shops remaining in Singapore.

Conduct your research at the library and on the internet. Ask around for recommended people to interview. Select people to interview. Conduct pre-interviews with your interviewees to find out more about the place or event and how they were involved. At this stage, you should also determine your story angle. Materials such as old photos and video footage will help you tell a more complete story, so don’t forget to seek them out and ask for permission to include them in your film.

Sample shot list

Courtesy of Wee Li Lin

4 Outline your story

3 Assemble your crew

Get your friends and family to pitch in. The key roles in the production are the director, cinematographer/ camera operator, sound and film editor. During the shoot, each person should perform only one specific role. Sample outline


5 Plan your locations and shots

Courtesy of Wee Li Lin

A documentary script is usually written after all the footage is shot, but it is useful to write an outline before the shoot (see sample outline on page 56). The outline should have a beginning, middle and finale; it should include the characters, their goals and problems, and how these will be resolved. Plan the interview questions: Ask openended questions that will draw out more information and emotions.

With your outline you can now plan your locations and shots. Decide if the interviews will be conducted indoors or outdoors. Plan to shoot on-location at the places related to the memory you are collecting. You also need to list down the B-roll shots, which are footage other than the interviews, such as buildings and daily life. The B-roll shots can be used to illustrate the interviewee’s or narrator’s voiceover. Determine the types of shots you want to capture; for interviews, medium shots are suitable, while a variety of shots, such as wide, medium and close-ups, will make your film visually more interesting.

Various shot sizes from Singapore Country. TOP: Medium shot; BOTTOM: Wide shot. Courtesy of Bobbing Buoy Films

It is useful to have talent and location release agreements. Let your interviewees and location owners know how you will be using and disseminating the film before they sign the agreements.

Once you have secured the filming venues and interviewees, determine your filming locations and arrange your interview appointments accordingly.

PRODUCTION 6 Begin filming

Shoot the interviews and B-roll footage. For the interviews, set up your camera on a tripod so that the shots will be steady. Connect the microphone to your camera if it has a mic input. If not, use a digital recorder or a laptop to record the audio, which you can sync with the images at the editing stage. Place the microphone or recorder as close as possible to your interviewees when they are talking.

POST-PRODUCTION 7 Review the footage and write the script 58

Look through the footage and write the script. Choose footage that will tell a compelling story. Write the script complete with the interviews, narrator’s voiceover (if including), B-roll shots and other materials, such as old video footage and photographs.

Get to know your subject matter well; you can’t tell a great story if you don’t know it well yourself. A compelling story can only happen with a compelling character. Develop the characters, i.e. your interviewees, in your documentary well.

8 Editing

Using the script as a guide, edit your footage using video-editing software such as Windows Movie Maker (PC) or iMovie (Mac). At this stage, add royalty-free music, sound effects, the title and credits. You may choose to include subtitles in your documentary.

SAMPLE FILMS (videos accessible via Internet Explorer)

Singapore Country by Wee Li Lin Water Heritage Memories Let’s Play by Writemind Productions Pte Ltd Games We Played by Little Red Ants

9 Upload your documentary film

Ensure that your film is in one of these formats: AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV (20MB per file). Follow the step-by-step instructions and upload your film onto the portal. Alternatively, you can save your film into a DVD and mail it to: Singapore Memory Project 100 Victoria Street #14-01 National Library Building Singapore 188064 Attention: Azlin Aziz

MORE ON DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING Books Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen by Sheila Curran Bernard

Online How to Make a Documentary

Making Documentary Films and Videos: A Practical Guide to Planning, Filming, and Editing Documentaries by Barry Hampe

Making Documentaries Interview Techniques for Documentary Filmmakers

Filmmaking for Dummies by Brian Michael Stoller

6.5 Ways to Start and Finish a Documentary Film Project

Be respectful but also be willing to dig deep to uncover and discover things. This is not investigative journalism but it’s about unearthing and excavating things that may be long buried. So be determined!

Listen to the quality of the audio before you begin actual shooting. If there is too much background or ambient noise, move your interviewees to another location.

Always shoot more than you think you need so that you have more footage to work with. It may be a hassle or difficult to ask your interviewees to return to shoot additional footage.

Take note of the lighting at your location, as lighting can affect the mood of your story. A white cardboard can be used to bounce light to the shaded side of an interviewee’s face.

Documentary Interview Tips


LIM JUNDA Lim Junda is a motion graphics designer. He made Haircut, a short film on one of the last remaining street barbers in Singapore, for a cinematography class during his Motion Graphics and Broadcast Design diploma course at Nanyang Polytechnic. His film is featured on the Singapore Memory Project portal at www.singaporememory. sg/showcases/4/contents


How did you decide on Haircut? My teammate, Ian Chua, and I were at Sungei Road, a place in Singapore with lots of character and heritage. We stumbled upon a street corner, where elderly men get their hair cut by another elderly man. And we knew that was it — that was the story we were going to tell.

Can you tell us about the filming process?

What did you find most memorable about the experience?

We tried to be as unobtrusive as possible when we were filming, in order to capture the calm and laid-back atmosphere, which is vastly different from the fast-paced lives most of us lead now. These elderly men helped make Singapore what she is today; we wanted to subtly pay tribute to them through the film.

It was the owner’s smile when we were done filming. We took some photos of him cutting hair and made a collage for him. Sitting there also let me take a step back from my own busy life; the peace and serenity calmed me down.

What was the most difficult challenge? It was getting the permission to film. We put aside our fancy equipment and went inside with the most harmless-looking camera. At first, the barber and his patrons were unwilling, but they agreed after we promised not to be a hindrance. We filmed quietly from our seats at first. Then, when they got comfortable with our presence, we moved around the space to capture more.

What advice do you have for someone using film to document memories? Many people may think that they cannot produce their shots if they don’t have a certain piece of equipment. That is true only to a certain extent. Equipment only aids the process; don’t let it restrict your storytelling and creativity.


Stills from Haircut.

Photos courtesy of Lim Junda



A vision is an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good.

– Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, in The Leadership Challenge

Besides capturing memories of the past and present, you could also capture your vision and aspirations for Singapore in 20, 30 or even 50 years. The vision can be a personal one or one that relates to the wider community or even of Singapore as a nation. There are various ways you can present the vision, in writing or using any one of the other documentation methods such as animation, illustration or documentary film.

WHAT YOU NEED You need a pen or pencil and a notebook, your computer as well as the tools required for your chosen documentation method, which are described in the respective sections in this kit. 62


This section is contributed by Martin Tan, co-Founder and Executive Director of Halogen Foundation Singapore, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to youth leadership development. Halogen seeks to build young leaders who will change the world.

Equipment and tools checklist Writing tool such as a pen or pencil Notebook Computer

Ask yourself the questions below; your answers should pertain to the topic you have chosen.

1 Choose a topic


What has been achieved? What has been done well? What are the important

The focus of your vision can be your family, community, lifestyle or specific themes relating to Singapore such as transport, housing, environment, entertainment and places. You could start by thinking and writing down the people and issues that you care about, then pick a topic that matters to you most. For example, if you feel strongly about the environment, you can develop a vision relating to environmental responsibility in Singapore and express it in writing, a drawing or animation.

There is no limit to how you can document your vision. At the very least, the vision and key actions should be documented in writing.

Besides penning these down, you can use other creative documentation methods described in this memory kit, such as illustration, animation and filmmaking. For example, you can express your vision statement and the key actions visually, such as with a mind map and illustrations.

things that can be improved? learnt?

A vision must first and foremost be ideal. No one wants a vision of the future that is worse than today. Your vision statement should be positive. Focus on things you want to do or become rather than things that you do not want to do or become.

Where are we at now?

6 Determine the key actions 3 Imagine the future

Spend some time revisiting the past and thinking about the present. You may need to conduct some background research at the library or on the internet. Answer the questions in the green box (top right). This reflection exercise is essential as it allows you to understand how things were before and the lessons learnt.

What lessons have we

2 Look to the past

5 Document and disseminate your vision

By understanding the past and the present, you will be able to know what you want to keep, change or create for the future, and answer the question “What do we want to be?” For example, if your observation is that people generally do not recycle, your vision can focus on inspiring the recycling mindset.

• Inspire Singaporeans to make recycling a part of their lives

• Teach Singaporeans to recycle easily

• Make recycling resources such as recycling bins and services readily available

• Reward and recognise Singaporeans who recycle

4 Describe your vision statement

With your answer to “Where do we want to be?”, you can then form and write down your vision statement. It should succinctly express an ideal, desired future. For example, your written vision statement could be “Singapore will be a nation of recyclers.”

You can skip this step or choose to add value to this vision. Answer the question “How do we get there?” by identifying the key actions that must be taken to achieve the vision. For example, the key actions needed for your vision may be:

7 How to submit your vision

Follow the step-by-step instructions and upload your vision directly onto the portal.

WHAT OTHERS ENVISION FOR SINGAPORE Our Singapore Conversation Challenge Magazine – What’s Your Vision For Singapore in 2030?


KUIK SHIAO-YIN Kuik Shiao-Yin is a co-founder and the creative director of The Thought Collective. It comprises School of Thought; Thinktank; Food for Thought; Thinkscape; and Common Ground. Find out more at

How did The Thought Collective begin?

What was developing The Thought Collective vision like?

What is your vision for Singapore’s future?

When we started our first venture, School of Thought (SOT), in 2002, we were a group of young teachers who wanted to help youths see that education goes beyond exams, that it should benefit not just themselves but their communities as well. The other ventures of The Thought Collective, on the other hand, grew out of instinct and calculated whim.

In 2012 when SOT turned 10, we developed The Thought Collective vision. We took 10 years of working hard, bumbling around, failing, succeeding, and, finally, weeks of sitdown sessions to get our vision out. We went back to our memories of our entrepreneurial journey, told our best stories, and talked it out as a team, carefully choosing the words that would best describe our company vision for the future.

I want to see my city become renowned for cutting-edge thinking and outstanding achievements not just for herself, but for the good of the world. I want her to be a model of graciousness and kindness to her neighbours. I believe Singapore has everything within her to be a truly great city of creativity, compassion and character.

What is The Thought Collective’s vision? As a group, we are here to build up Singapore’s social and emotional capital. Anything that helps Singapore become more trusting, confident, creative, and better at relating – we’ll give it a shot.


Stills from The Thought Collective’s documentary.

How have you documented and shared your vision? We have documented our story in a little booklet and made a short documentary about the vision forward. You can view the documentary at The Thought Collective website.

Going forward, how will The Thought Collective contribute to this vision? We will do whatever our mission statement says we do: drive innovation, nurture thought leaders, transform community spaces, bring people together for good causes and more.

Photos courtesy of The Thought Collective


Memories of School Days 1. Share your fond memories of your school days. a) What are the names of your schools? b) In what years were you in the schools? c) Describe your first day of school.

Before Interview 1. Equipment checklist

2. What was your favourite subject/lesson? a) Why was it your favourite subject/lesson? b) Who taught this subject/lesson? c) What were some funny/unforgettable incidents that happened during the lessons?

Recording device (audio recorder, video camera or mobile phone) Microphone (if necessary) Spare batteries Pens Notebook

3. What are your fond memories of your school activities or achievements? 4. Who was your best friend in school? a) What did you both have in common? b) What were some of the fun things you did together? 5. Share your happiest or an unforgettable memory of your school days.


Interview preparation • Understand the background of interviewee • Prepare your questions • Decide on the interview location



Memories of Places and People

During Interview

1. Can you describe the neighbourhood you grew up in? a) How many years did you live there? b) How did your family come to live there? c) Who were the other family members/interesting personalities living in the same neighbourhood?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

2. What was the house you grew up in like? a) Who lived in the house? b) What did your family do for a living?

Introduce yourself and state the purpose of interview Invite interviewee to share basic personal information Request interviewee to complete memory contribution card Seek permission to record interview. Conduct the interview. Explain that story will be featured on Thank your interviewee

3. How was the relationship with your neighbours? a) What were the memorable occassions shared with your neighbours?

After the Interview

4. Who were your closest friends during your teenage years? a) What games did you play? b) Which were your favourite hang-out places?

1. 2. 3.

5. When did you move away from this place? a) Why did you move away? More suggested questions for other themes available on

Check the facts and if necessary, double check with the interviewee Write out the story. Suggested storyline: a) Introduction (key idea and background story) b) Main body (include quotes and vivid details) c) Conclusion (personal reflections of interviewee and photos, if any) Upload your story onto

Learn how to capture memories in eight different ways and embark on personal memory projects with friends and family. Share your memories with future generations through the Singapore Memory Project. This kit is available online at


ISBN 978-981-07-6164-6

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