Saturday, February 4, 2023

Animation Students Race to Make Short Film in Just 24 Hours


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Story and Photos by Stephanie Hall | Contributing Writer

Animation is an incredibly long and tedious process, with a few seconds of animation taking hours to complete. For three teams of animation students from Middle Tennessee State University, they completed a 30-second animated short in just 24 hours. 

Hosted by California State University, Long Beach professor Aubry Mintz, teams of 5 students write, animate and edit a 30-second animated film in only a day. Members of SIGGRAPH gathered at 5 p.m. to watch the introduction live stream and to find out the theme. This year, the theme was to share what they envisioned the future to be like in 100 years and how life will be different. 

Starting at 6 p.m. on Oct. 14, teams must turn in their film in by 6 p.m. on Oct. 15. There was a total of 297 teams, across 17 countries, 86 universities and 15 high schools. The contest is now in its 20th year and all films are judged by a group of five judges in the animation industry. 

MTSU ACM SIGGRAPH has been competing for a long time. A team placed 10th out of 218 teams in 2018 and 8th out of 183 teams in 2017. For ACM SIGGRAPH president Morgan Ruth, she was excited to compete this year. 

“It’s my personal first time ever doing it. But it has definitely been talked about within the major of animation and it has been increasing in popularity as time goes on,” Ruth said. 

There was a total of 22 sponsors, including Disney Animation, Dreamworks and Nickelodeon. There are a ton of prizes for the winning teams

MTSU had three teams participate this year: Ramsey’s Rapscallions, Team Titans and Smoldering Teapots.

Ramsey’s Rapscallions was made up of Mia Fulmer, Morgan Ruth, Stefan Gramling, Ethan Johnson and Reid Robertson. For Johnson, they were able to work together and pull their weight, with some of them also taking breaks. 

“I slept for like, I think two hours at some point, and I think Stefan did as well. I don’t think Mia has slept at all, but I think the rest of us have,” Johnson said. 

Stefan Gramling, running off of two hours of sleep, hard at work.

While winning would be nice, the contest is more a way to hang out and create something cool.

“I just really like to hang out with everybody. Victory is the end goal. But I do like the fact that the experience of doing this and working with the team and all that stuff and a lot of the time we don’t have like a lot with our major. We don’t have a lot of time to spend on things that we really want to do. And this is kind of like a good alternative. Good break from schoolwork,” Johnson said.

The Team Titans was made up of Jules Wilson, Alex Queen, Lizzie Rowlinson, Amarii Stratton and Sophi Morris. Rowlinson hoped that her team would be able to work together to make the animated short. 

“I think the hardest part is everyone always has really good ideas and it’s hard to condense all of them into one story. The hard part really is just coming up with a good story. The rest of it is just painstakingly long to do, but it’s at least you at least know what to do,” Rowlinson said. 

Four hours before the deadline, Queen was feeling nervous about the deadline, but she focused more on her work than the countdown.

“I’ve taken two naps. That’s what we’ve been able to take pretty good breaks. We’ve all also evened out the workload, so that helps. Also, that way nobody has more work to do than somebody else,” Queen said.

Finally, the Smoldering Teapots was made up of Andrea Guajardo Treviño, Andy Belcher, Seth Savage, Shelby Holcombe and Stacey Teves. Holcombe and her team planned out their schedule beforehand so that they could make sure to take breaks. 

“We’ve prepared … a schedule that we have planned out on. Like, for example, when we’re going to get meals, we know our breaks and how much time we’re going to do planning and brainstorming. Mentally, we’re just focused on getting the film done,” Holcombe said. 

Andy Belcher modeling a robot for the short film.

The Smoldering Teapots decided to combine live action stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation in their short. This caused some problems putting them all together, but they were able to work together to create their short. 

“I feel good. I think we will get everything done. It’s been a bit of a tight rush. A lot of unforeseen things kept happening, going wrong. So hopefully we will get back on track and finish on time. That’s our goal. I have high hopes,” Belcher said. 

The results of this competition won’t be released until Oct. 21. However, the teams of students worked extremely hard and will hopefully get some rest after working tirelessly for 24 hours. 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ethan Pickering, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News 

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