Animation students compete in international film challenge

In May 2019, Dr. Guangping Zheng, Professor Kevin McNulty and animation students Catie Adams, Tyler Aldridge and Virginia Lake Petty traveled to Shanghai, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to participate inWonderful World International Student Media Art Exhibition

The Wonderful World exhibition is a friendly film competition that focuses on the creation of public service announcements.

Students are encouraged to create live action films, animated short films or news packages that help raise awareness about global issues, from autism to the environment.  This year’s theme was “Human and Animals.”  

Throughout the 2019 spring semester, students Catie Adams, Tyler Aldridge, Carter Blackmon, Zack Gonzales, Matt Guardo, Roxy Haines, Judson Holden, Rachel Hood, Chance Horner, Devon McElhiney, Calli Morgan, Virginia Lake Petty and Mike Tompkins met weekly in McNulty’s Media Arts 4900 Individual Problems class to discuss the story and design for the film.

The result was “First Leg of the Journey,” an animated short film about a teenage girl who creates prosthetic limbs for her dog, Charles, after he loses his leg in a car accident.

The film won 2nd Place for Best Animated Short at the exhibition, out of 28 universities and 13 participating countries including the U.S., China, Germany, France, UK, Malaysia, Greece and Tanzania.  This is the third consecutive year MTSU has participated as well as placed in the competition.

“Completing the film was certainly no easy feat,” said Aldridge. “We all had to step outside of our comfort zones and take on new roles in just about every part of the production pipeline.”

“Now that everything is said and done, I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

McNulty hopes the film will have a life outside the exhibition and has already submitted “First Leg of the Journey” to various film festivals.

“This is such a great opportunity for students to get experience honing their craft and working as a team in an animation production pipeline,” he said.

After the film awards, students and faculty were treated to additional cultural excursions in Shanghai, China and Malacca, Malaysia, to learn more about local culture and history. Aldridge, Adams and Petty participated in a 72-Hour Collaborative Production, where students were split up into multicultural and multi-language groups tasked with creating a video or animation in 72 hours based on the theme of “From Shanghai to Malacca.” Petty was part of the team that won Best Art and Best Audio Editing awards. 

“It was great to experience a culture so distant from my own,” Petty said. “It was also nice to discuss other people’s culture and feel like I got to step outside of my isolated American bubble.”

MTSU’s animation program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Animation and is ranked the #1 animation program in Tennessee by Animation Career Review. MTSU is also listed at #23 – up from #24 last year – as one of the “Top 40 Public Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S.”  Additional rankings include the #8 spot on the Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges in the South, as well as #9 in Animation Career Review’s new list, Top 10 Animation B.S. Programs in the U.S. 

MTSU’s animation classroom

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Categories: Faculty, News, Students

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