Student filmmakers ‘jam’ out animated films in 24 hours

Films produced during Animation Jam competition to be screened Nov. 11

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Image from one of the seven films produced by teams of film and animation students at the SOFA Animation Jam competition.

In 24 hours, seven teams of students produced short animated films as part of a competition called Animation Jam. The October event was sponsored by RIT’s School of Film and Animation.

People are invited to screen the films at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Audience members will vote on their favorite film. The first, second and third place teams will choose prizes from Autodesk, Wacom or Toon Boom Animation.

Mark Reisch, a 3-D animation professor in the School of Film and Animation who led the competition, presented students with the theme of “out of the blue” and they were tasked to create a film around that premise.

“Undergraduate and graduate students learned what it takes to complete a production on time,” Reisch says. “Many of them pulled an all-nighter to finish their films. They had a lot of fun.”

Steve Markowitz was among a team of four students. They produced a 3-D science fiction-style movie along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Their black and white film centers on a man haunted by a blue light, which is the only source of color in the film other than the man's blue eyes.

“It took us the full 24 hours to produce It Came Out of the Blue!” says Markowitz, a third-year film and animation student from Cherry Hill, N.J. “In that time, we put together an original story, storyboards, a live-action version of the film for reference to timing and movement, built an environment and the props, animated a full-human character, drew the background, lit the shots, designed and mixed the sound, edited, and more. What usually takes a film studio two or more years, we condensed into one day. It was obviously challenging, but inspiring to see what can be accomplished by some of the most intelligent and creative people in so short a time.”

The school based its Animation Jam competition on a similar event hosted by SIGGRAPH, the annual international conference and exhibition on computer animation and interactive techniques.

Adds Reisch: “We had a team of students win the competition at SIGGRAPH several years ago so we thought ‘why not host our own event?’ We hope to expand RIT’s competition next year to a regional or national competition.”