Student animation, music honored with prestigious national awards
For more than a decade now, you could say that the BYU Center for Animation has “owned” the animation category at the College Television Awards, commonly called the “student Emmys.”
The tradition continued this year with BYU winning its 15th and 16th student Emmys in 11 years. Fittingly, this year’s big winner is titled Owned.
Owned took the first place award in animation and Chasm earned the first place award for best use of music. For Richard Williams, who composed the score for Chasm, he's done some owning himself. It’s his second student Emmy personally.
Owned is a comedic animated short. The brainchild of co-director Wesley Tippetts, it documents the experience of a pompous, disheveled video game champion, Jeff, who is brought to his knees in an online gaming experience against an unknown opponent. The opponent ends up being a baby, Abby. A twist near the end of the short results in a life-changing experience for the gamer.
Tippets said he’s proud of how the short turned out, how the team worked together and the BYU animation program as a whole. The students have a sense of responsibility to continue the award-winning tradition.
“The year [of students] that’s coming up, they’re probably going to be looking at our film and looking at what worked and what didn’t work, and the program is just going to continue to get better and better,” Tippetts said.
This past year the New York Times documented the BYU Center for Animation’s meteoric rise over the years and the bright future that’s ahead.
The student animators looked for ways to push their animation to the extremes in Owned, creating two very different characters in two very different worlds. However, the students still needed to tie those worlds together thematically, making them look like they belonged in the same film.
Carson Crawford worked tirelessly on the baby’s room as an animator. She’s specifically proud of the rug, which took hour upon hour to make it look so soft and fuzzy. Overall, Crawford said it was a team effort.
“I love the dynamic that we had from different departments,” Crawford said. “Computer science with animation with illustration. It was helpful, and I think it led to a lot of success.”
Typically, anywhere from 25-40 students are working on one of these shorts at any given time. Unique to this project, all of the students who worked on it were still around upon its completion. A total of 17 attended the award ceremonies in Los Angeles April 23.
“It’s an honor that they think of us so highly,” Crawford said.
The other co-director of Owned is Daniel Clark.
Chasm is a sci-fi animated short with some stunning visuals and a compelling storyline, but it’s the music that stands above and beyond to earn the student Emmy. BYU music student Richard Williams composed the score. Williams approached the animation department for the opportunity, knowing of the high-profile nature of these films. As soon as Williams saw Chasm he was excited.
“I knew I wanted to create something really epic,” Williams said.
After composing the music, Williams utilized the BYU philharmonic, who site read and performed all of the music in a two-hour session.
“The sound design and the music together definitely are miles ahead of any other student project I’ve seen,” said Megan Lloyd, director of Chasm.
This is the second student Emmy for Williams, who worked on the score for the animated short Mashed four years ago. He said working on the score this time posed more challenges and stretched him more, but that he’s better for the experience.
Clark and Tippetts later received the Gold Medal for animation at the Student Academy Awards in Hollywood for Owned. The awards are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the same group that awards the Oscars each year.
About the BYU Center for Animation
Established in 2008, the BYU Center for Animation operates under the direction of two colleges—the College of Fine Arts and Communications and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. The animation major is intended to provide students with the skill sets necessary for success in the animation, live-action, special effects and game industry with emphasis on both the artistic and technological avenues. The computer science animation emphasis gives students the opportunity to learn both the technical and artistic side of creating and implementing digital animation and games, preparing them for technical careers with animation and game programming studios.
“So how do I see the full-length shorts?”
Since the shorts are still in the running for other awards, they are prohibited from being posted online in full. In-person screenings are sometimes available at different events on the BYU campus. The BYU Center for Animation is in the process of making past student Emmy winning videos available on its website.