整個過程大體分為三個階段，從2008年至2012年的三件作品《冬至 The Winter Slostice》、《芒種 A Clockwork Cock》和《霜降 Grain Coupon》，敘事性比較強，使用向量美術風格，偏重於電影語言，這是第一個階段；從2013年至2015年的三件作品《穀雨 Mahjong》、《處暑 The Swallow》和《大寒 The Poem》，開始探索動畫語言和美術形式的結合，從電腦繪圖轉向手繪，敘事性弱化，這是第二個階段；從2018年至2022年的三個作品《寒露 A Fly in the Restaurant》、《白露 The Six》和《春分 The Loach》，主要探討「迴圈動畫」的趣味性和美感，是最後一個階段。
The Solar Term series is a collection of animated short films co-produced by Xi Chen and Xu An over a fifteen-year timespan from 2008 to 2022. The Chinese title of each individual film is set according to the solar term of the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, connoting the mirror-image relationship between the laws of nature and occurances in life. Extracting the hidden traces of people’s emotion from the fragments of history is the keynote of this series which was set at the very beginning.
However, there was no overall planning for the specific contents of each individual film, the theme and form of the films were established basically according to the directors’ interest. Some of the films were finished smoothly in one go, while there were also occasions where the ideas were not mature enough to be realized in production, they would be shelved temporarily, get rebooted and fully revised after a couple of years.
The making of this series can be divided into three phases. The first phase covers the timespan from 2008 to 2012, during which the animated short films entitled The Winter Slostice, A Clockwork Cock and Grain Coupon were released, they are vector-based in artistic style and strongly emphasize the narrative by using film language. The second phase includes animated short films entitled Mahjong, The Swallow and The Poem which were released from 2013 to 2015. Switching from computer graphics to hand drawing, the directors are beginning to explore the diverse combination of animation language and artistic forms, the narrative of these films is comparatively weakened. The last phase includes animated short films entitled A Fly in the Restaurant, The Six and The Loach which mainly focus on the fun and aesthetics of rotation animation.
The directors had maintained sincere friendship after over ten years of collaboration, it was through artistic practices that the two of them got to know each other deep in the marrow and become bosom friends with tacit understanding. Unfortunately, those good days didn’t last long for Xu An was diagnosed as having serious disease. During his recovery, the two of them were still working on the schemes for a couple of short films. After the sad demise of Xu An in 2017, Xi Chen finished the remaining three films on his own.