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Kendall Animators Take Part in National 24-Hour Competition

Posted October 3, 2012 in Student

Since 1997, California State University of Long Beach has held a 24-Hour Animation Competition. For the last four years, it was a CSU-only event, but this year the contest was opened up to other colleges across the U.S. Eight schools entered 33 teams of five members (schools could enter multiple teams). 160 students had exactly 24 hours to complete a 30-second film/public service announcement from scratch.

In their first year of competition, the Kendall Animation team, self-named “Fifteen Gigatons of Dynamite” captured second place, beating all teams but one from CSU-San Jose.

Assistant Digital Media Professor Brad Yarhouse served as the team coach. “The five team members and I met at 8:00 p.m. Friday night, which was when the theme was announced. I gave them two pieces of advice: First, know your own and your teammates strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage, and second, organization is key—make a schedule and stick to it.”

This is what the students received as their creative brief: “NASA's most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, has landed on the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars, or if the planet can sustain life in the future. Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover…or was it something else? What did the Mars rover really find? With your team, explore the possibilities of what the Mars rover uncovered. Was there proof of existing life? Alien species? Answers to how Mars became the inhabitable red planet? Or is it completely habitable and is NASA just sending us fake images as a big cover up?”

The team began working in the Digital Media Labs until 10:00 p.m. (when the school closed), and then headed to a member’s apartment to continue work, which included an early-morning trip to Meijer to obtain cardboard boxes to construct their animation set.

Says Yarhouse, “They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and that adage applied. The team thought their work was awful, but after a few hours of sleep, they were back at it.” At 4:00 p.m. Saturday, with just four hours to go, Yarhouse met again with the team to work out glitches. Then, with just seconds to spare, “Curiosity 2” was submitted. “The first upload didn’t go smoothly, so they renamed the file with a ‘2’ in the title, which they forgot to remove,” says Yarhouse with a laugh.

Judging the entries were animation professionals: Steve Hickner (DreamWorks Animation Director), Rob House (Sony Imageworks Sr. Technical Director), Eric Robles (Nickelodeon creator of “Fan Boy and Chum Chum”), Morgan Kelley (DreamWorks Senior Character Animator), Mike Roberts (Award-winning Animation Director, “Rumbleseat”), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (Walt Disney Animation Studios Director of Talent Development & Recruitment).

Congratulations to the team, all senior Digital Media majors: Gairen Tembreull, Marvin Gray, Luke DeCarlo, Chase Goff, and Rob Graham. Each received an animation software package, other prizes, and some much-needed sleep.

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