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Two newest BYU student animated films win 'Student Emmys'

The Brigham Young University Center for Animation extended its award-winning tradition by earning two "Student Emmys" this year.

The program's two most recent films, Pajama Gladiator and Kites, received two of the three trophies given in March in the College Television Awards' animation category, awarded annually by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. Kites took first, and Pajama Gladiator came in second.

The recently completed Kites was unveiled to the news media March 18 at a campus event. In a radical departure from their tradition of comedies, the BYU students chose a poignant feel for the new short. The film tells the bittersweet story of a boy and his grandfather using their shared love of kite flying to deal with a major change in their lives.

Pajama Gladiator premiered last year - to read more about it, click here. To watch it, click here and look for it on the bottom right of your screen. Five BYU students who worked on it went on to help produce Pixar's next blockbuster Up, which hits theaters in May.

The latest awards bring the Center's haul to nine "Student Emmys" in the six years that the BYU program has been entering films.

"In this industry, experience is everything, and this was absolutely the best thing I could be doing right now to prepare for my career," said BYU junior James L. Jackson, who co-produced Kites. A newlywed as of last weekend, Jackson and his wife are working the award ceremony into their honeymoon itinerary.

Jordan Pack, the other co-producer, has graduated and works for Disney Interactive in Salt Lake City.

"Animation is a ridiculously collaborative effort - a single production crew will have people from math, art, film, computer science and animation backgrounds," said senior Jed Henry, who directed Kites. "My greatest source of satisfaction came from seeing all these differently skilled people working towards one artistic goal."

Center for Animation Director R. Brent Adams highlighted that collaboration - both among different students majoring in different fields and even among university administrators - as a reason for the BYU program's success.

"The support of administrators from three colleges and at the university level allows us to give more students more experiences than they can get anywhere else," Adams said. "That's why we have professionals from Pixar and all the top animation studios visiting campus every semester to mentor and recruit our students."

Kelly Loosli, Ryan Woodward and Cynthia Overman were other faculty mentors on the films.

Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, declared BYU students "the best in the industry" at a press conference on campus last year.

"Over the years, Pixar has worked with a lot of different universities around the country and hired people," Catmull said then. "One of the interesting things is, all of a sudden, in the last few years, we found that BYU has risen to the top. BYU has an extraordinary program here."


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The BYU Center for Animation's latest short film, Kites, is a poignant departure from the program's tradition of award-winning slapstick comedies.
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