Festival allows students to practice animation skills

Andrew Lafrance

Andrew Lafrance

A team of four SDSU students is traveling to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a national animation festival.

Eric Say, a senior graphic design major; Chris Biewer, a senior general art major; Lynette Lobien, a senior painting/printmaking major and Isaac Windham, a senior communication studies/theatre and general art double major will head east for the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, which runs from May 14 to 17.

Prior to the festival, the students will compete in the “Cartoon Challenge,” a contest aimed at four- or five-person, college-age teams. Students in the competition are required to create a 30-second animated feature about a public service topic in a four-day period. The teams do not find out what their topic is until the morning of the first day.

“We all have different styles, so it will be interesting to put something together in a short amount of days,” said team member Biewer.

This is SDSU’s first year attending KAFI. Professor Cable Hardin, the adviser traveling with the team, said he is proud of the students attending.

“They are strong in their own individual areas of animation. Some are more technical and others are more fine arts oriented,” Hardin said.

Biewer also said he is excited to attend a festival like KAFI.

“It will be so much fun to work with a team. The SDSU animation department has only been around for a couple of years, and it is cool to be a part of the first team to attend KAFI.”

While the competition is the main reason the SDSU team is attending the festival, there are many other programs and events to attend. KAFI boasts an animated film festival, professional development seminars and training seminars for students.

“I’ll get to see what other people are doing with their animations. That way I can motivate myself to do better in the future,” Lobien said.

The competition is especially good for students like Lobien.

“I’m a competitive person when it comes to art, and I’m always trying to improve,” she said.

To be considered for KAFI, each team’s students must submit a four-minute reel of their work. Hardin said the reel was of each individual’s work, but that they seemed to work well together as a team.

“These students really stepped up to the plate when they submitted their entry to this competition,” Hardin said.

SDSU’s acceptance to the competition might have come as a surprise since classes such as classical animation and a motion class for graphic designers are new to SDSU. Hardin said students of any major can take a class.

“The program may be very new, but we’re making a great effort. We have journalism and biology majors in our classes right now. Animation can take a huge effort, but when it is achieved, it pays off big.”

The four students traveling to Michigan are hoping that their efforts pay off in the competition as well as in the classroom.

“One person can think of something that, with a team effort, can spawn into an even better and bigger idea,” Biewer said. “That’s the neat aspect about working with a team.”

Hardin said he is hopeful that SDSU’s team will win.

“The winning teams get scholarships for their animation departments. It would be neat to be able to expand our new department further.”

Still, no matter what happens at KAFI, the students hope to enjoy themselves.

“I look forward to animating a film in such a short amount of time,” Lobien said.

Biewer agrees. “Actual animation studios may not have such extreme deadlines, but this competition is designed to test you.”

Hardin said he is sure that the SDSU team is ready.

“Our team has never gone before. I hope we can be the wildcard and bring some unique perspective since we are from a location that is totally different.

“But whatever happens,” Hardin said, “the students will have fun and learn a lot about intense artistic collaborative effort.”

More information about KAFI can be found at www.gokafi.com.