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24-hour animation contest returns with teams representing 45 schools

900 students from across the world were given one full day to create a thirty-second film.

Cal+State+Long+Beach+teams+competing+in+the+24-hour+animation+contest+discus+prompt+ideas+for+their+30-second+animated+films.
Cal State Long Beach teams competing in the 24-hour animation contest discus prompt ideas for their 30-second animated films.

Cal State Long Beach teams competing in the 24-hour animation contest discus prompt ideas for their 30-second animated films.

Carlos Villicana

Carlos Villicana

Cal State Long Beach teams competing in the 24-hour animation contest discus prompt ideas for their 30-second animated films.

Carlos Villicana, Assistant Arts and Life Editor

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Last weekend, over 900 students from seven countries competed in a contest requiring teams of five to craft a thirty-second animated film within 24 hours.

The halls of Cal State Long Beach’s Fine Arts 4 building were filled with the drawing materials, yawns and work of nearly 100 animation students who hoped to be among the top five winners of the contest. Prizes for the victors included materials such as pens and tablets, scholarships for the CSU Summer Arts program, gifts from studios and the second edition of the book “Ideas for the Animated Short.”

All work on the films had to follow a theme given by CSULB Head of Animation and organizer of the event, Aubry Mintz minutes before the competition began and had to be done on school grounds.The theme for this year was inspired by the Sesame Street song “One of These Things.” The 183 participating teams had to create films where at least one thing was clearly different from everything that surrounded it.

“I’ve heard more than once from studios or employers that they look for [the contest] on résumés. It shows that students can work together in a team in a very limited amount of time with pressure to deliver a finished product,” Mintz said. “That’s very appealing to them.”

Separated by location, all of the competitors communicated through a Facebook group that was constantly being updated with photos and videos of students working and sleeping as well as memes and nervous questions about the rules. The 18 teams on campus set shifts for sleeping, organized potlucks and worked to music in rooms that they shared.

Teams sketched their shorts onto tablets.

“In a sense this is really the closest parallel to [working in] the industry that we’re going to get while at this school because you have a set deadline, way less time than you actually need and you’ve just got to pull it together,” Alex Tasker, junior animation student and member of Team Acrylic Whiskey, said. “I think that’s really the biggest charm and why this contest is so popular.”

The annual event began as a challenge from Mintz to one of his classes at the Laguna College of Art and Design that has since evolved into something recognized and even sponsored by many potential employers of its participants. Sponsors for this year’s installment included networks and studios such as Laika Entertainment, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Pixar Animation Studios. Employees from these studios also acted as judges for the competition. They evaluated films based on degrees of completion and the quality of each team’s animation, creativity and storytelling.

To prepare for their weekend residence on campus, students brought materials such as sleepings bags, water coolers, extra clothes and snacks. Many teams prepared by practicing their skills as animators in class and getting to know each member’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I’ve been preparing for it kind of all year by learning the software and the techniques for making animations faster, something concise that’s 30 seconds [long],” Tristan Marx, senior animation major and member of Team Hush Puggies, said.

He described the contest as a test that examined how well students had learned and practiced every lesson received in class. Competitors had to push through exhaustion and technology malfunctions, with some colleges even experiencing power outages.

“Animating is hard. It’s really hard. And when you’re doing it in your most primal self, it’s a party,” Tasker said. “I’d compare the ending of it to getting out of a really long traffic jam. You finally get that exit and it’s done, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Unfortunately for the local animators, the top five teams all came from outside schools. Although they didn’t win the contest, six teams from CSULB did not go home empty handed but rather with donations from local businesses that included drawing materials from Graphaids Art Supply and movie tickets to the Art Theatre of Long Beach. The highest ranking team from CSULB, the Hush Puggies, was comprised of Marx and senior animation students Holly Furnish, Sarah Black, Yesenia Garcia Lopez and Xareni Ramirez.

Their film, which features a head of broccoli trying to pass as an ice cream cone in a training academy of sweets, featuring a drill sergeant twinkie, was submitted with only five minutes to spare.

“I’d do it again with this exact team,” Marx said, a sentiment echoed by his teammates.

Many competitors went home upon finishing the final versions of their films, ready to make up for the sleep they missed out on as they labored to meet their deadline.

“The second we submitted it, my brain shut off,” Marx said. “It was like ‘done, no reason to be awake anymore.’”

Bear Eats Mackerel, a team from Sheridan College placed first overall in the contest with their movie about a musical note that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the song.

“We really put our all into the film but I don’t think we ever really thought we’d get first place,” Daniel Park, a sophomore animation student from Sheridan College and member of Bear Eats Mackerel, said. “We are super impressed with the other films in competition and we just feel very lucky to be recognized by the judges.”

All of the short animations produced at the competition can be viewed on their Youtube playlist.

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