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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Students stand out in first annual animation contest

Three BGSU students won a dinner with three head animators at Dreamworks and around $10,000 in prizes. And it all started with an e-mail about a contest.

Senior Jim Levasseur of Libertyville, Ill., Senior Tomas Jech of Pittsburgh, Pa., and recent graduate Jacob Gardner of Western Springs, Ill. were all working on their own short films but decided that working together would be the best option for the competition.

Together, they worked on a two-minute movie but instead of doing what was expected, they made a short film that poked fun at the movies each team would have to create.

They wanted to stand out from the rest since everyone was basically doing the same thing.

Their tactic worked.

Out of 16 teams from all over the world, the BGSU team qualified for and later won the first annual FJORG! contest in August.

The contest, which was held at the Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics conference and exhibition in San Diego from Aug. 6-7, required each three-member team to create a 15-second film – in just 32 hours.

Because they had such a short time to create a physical character for their film, the judges gave each team a character to make their own. The teams were also given two options for themes: “Impossible escape” and “fate worse than death.” The BGSU team decided to chose the “impossible escape.” Their film, which was about two friends trying to escape from the railroad tracks, was called “Switch.”

“Two friends find themselves inexplicably tied to railroad tracks as the train approaches their friendship is tested,” Jech said.

After the 32 hours of working – and just two hours of sleep, they turned in their film without any nervousness.

“We were not really nervous about winning or losing because after we finished we felt happy with what we accomplished,” Levasseur said.

Then professionals judged the films on animation and other factors such as facial animation, lip sync, storytelling, how well the film fit the theme, attitude and team work and movement.

And the team from BGSU won.

Then came the prizes.

During a meal with the animators, Gardner had an especially inspiring encounter.

“The animators asked us why we got into animation and I said I was inspired by Aladdin,” Gardner said. “One of the animators asked if it was because of the Genie and I said “yeah” and he said he worked on it. It was cool to meet the animator that inspired me.”

Gardner, who recently graduated, was later offered a job as an entry-level animator at Dreamworks in Los Angeles.

Jech is looking at grad schools in the Czech Republic upon graduating and Levasseur isn’t quite sure what he wants to do upon graduation yet.

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