Animation Students Place Third in National Competition

A team of animation design students led by senior Brittany Keyes has placed third in a national competition to create a 30-second film in just 24 hours. Their 3-D film, Mathamanimals, depicts the inequality between jungle animals against a background of ironic music.

The team of five students was one of two CSU, Chico teams that participated in the seventh annual 24-Hour Animation Contest for Students held in San Jose, California, Sept. 26–27. 

The contest, themed “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, gave students exactly 24 hours to submit a 30-second animated short created from scratch. Competitors weren't made aware of the theme until the start of the contest.

Both CSU, Chico teams completed and submitted films before the deadline.

Keyes’ team included Sean Roberts, Kevin Hand, Todd Olson, and Zachary Polic. The second team was headed by senior Tina Backlund and included Aaron Luts, Nnamdi Johnson-Kanu, Nick Goodrich, and Kiljan Cochran.

To create their videos, the students brainstormed and storyboarded the plot, and then went to work designing the characters and modeling them into 3-D on their computers. Once the characters were rigged for animation and textured, the students set up the 3-D environment, animated the characters, added sound, and exported the files to a viewable media form. After working on the projects all night, both teams finished ahead of the deadline.

CSU, Chico computer animation and game design lecturer John Pozzi helped guide the teams during the all-night contest.

“It was our first year competing, and we were up against 53 films from 15 schools and three countries,” Pozzi said. “If you can imagine theatre in a software environment, it’s just like that. You have to set up lights and cameras [in the computer program]. There’s so much involved.”

For their efforts, Keyes’ team won five $250 scholarships to CSU Summer Arts 2015, a two- to four-week summer school program held at CSU, Monterey Bay, as well as animation design software and accessories.

Contest sponsors included Walt Disney Animation Studios and Dreamworks Animation, among others. Competing schools included Cal State San Jose; CSU, Fullerton; Long Beach State; CSU, Northridge; and one school each from Australia and Canada.

“We’re a 3-D-heavy school, and we were competing against a lot of 2-D schools,” Pozzi explained. “In 3-D design, everything’s done in a software package and has to be built and constructed. They’re doing a lot less drawing and a lot more technical work. So we knew we needed a technically diverse team.

“Only four or five 3-D pieces were submitted, and two of them were ours.”

—Sarah Langford, Public Affairs and Publications