This weekend, I participated in RIT's School of Film and Animation's annual Ani-Jam competition. The competition is a 24-hour animated short film contest where teams of up to 5 people stay up all night and crank out a film. Even though I am in my third year of undergrad, I have never had the opportunity to take a stab at it. This year, however, I was able to carve some time out of my schedule, get together a team of 3 of my best friends, and try our hand at it.
All of the teams in the running met in the School of Film and Animation in Gannett Hall at 12:30pm on Saturday, October 21 for an info session. There were 12 teams, ranging from undergrad to graduate students of all concentrations: 3D, 2D, and stop-motion. We were given a very vague prompt and cast off into the wild to make a film relating to it. We would not be able to leave the building until Sunday, October 22 after 12:30pm.
Here is a (sort of) hourly breakdown of my team's film-making process.
1pm-6pm: We spent most of this time trying to hash out a narrative that related to the prompt. The prompt being, "The lid of the box was open...". Because this sentence is so vague, it could literally be about anything, so my team spent a lot of time spitballing ideas.
6pm-8pm: We started production for our final idea. Since we already had completed 6 hours of pre-production (story ideas, storyboards, character designs, concept art, animatic, shot list, etc), we felt we were in a good place to begin. We divvied up the work between the 4 of us depending on what we felt our strong suits or interests were. For example, I mostly animated and did post-production (editing, compositing), while one of my teammates did mostly background art and sound work.
8pm-4am: We started to lose our minds. We kept playing the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme on repeat. I don't remember much after that, I fell asleep on the couch in the undergrad lab at like 2am and slept on and off until around 7am.
4am-10am: Like I said, I was asleep for a good majority of this. My teammates took turns just trying to get all of our work into a Premiere file so we could make a final edit with final sound and music. While I was awake, we tried to agree on music that we thought fit the theme of our film the best.
10am-12:30pm: Our team finished pretty early despite starting production so late. We were completely done around 11:30am-ish. We hung out until 12:30pm, then went to watch everyone else's work. Everyone had really cool animations and stories, and it was just super cool to see how everyone else interpreted the prompt.
Overall, Ani-Jam was a fantastic experience and I will definitely be participating next year. I highly recommend this competition to any student studying in the School of Film and Animation, or to anyone interested in visual storytelling. There was also pizza, snacks, and animation trivia, which really spiced things up. It's really fun and rewarding to see your blood, sweat, and tears become something real for others to enjoy. That's why I love animation, and why I'm really happy choosing the major that I did.
* The Ani-Jam films will be screened at SOFA's semester screenings this December, and the audience gets to vote on which films they think should win prizes like Wacom tablets, animation software licenses, and cameras. If you're interested, I highly recommend checking them out!