UCF’s character animation program is not for the faint of heart.
In two years, a class of amateur artists and animators would be expected to produce a fully featured short film. They would be required to write a script, design settings and characters, record dialog and — at the end — put it all into motion.
But first, they had to get their film picked. For Brian Colvin, a senior animation student and the director of the film Farmer Glorp, this was easier said than done.
“The first semester you figure out what film you want to make and present pitches,” Colvin said. “Then we voted on those and then narrowed it down until we had the two best ideas in the class.”
Colvin’s was one of only two films to be chosen for production. It revolves around Glorp, a farmer whose solar harvests are invaded by a playful, hungry alien named Flip. A lighthearted game of cat-and-mouse comprises the backdrop of the project.
The story was inspired by a first grader's story the team received early in production. They were tasked with turning the story into a complete animation. Tim Keebler, a senior animation student, was the lead rigger for Farmer Glorp; it was his job to design and put Glorp and his interlocutor into motion.
“They gave us three different first grader's stories from Ohio, and the one I ended up doing a concept on was a story of these people living on the sun,” Keebler said.
Keebler said that the main difficulty he and his team encountered was fitting Glorp’s story into the time limit of the film.
“In order to make the film you have to have a time limit and certain restrictions, which was five minutes, and trying to make our story make sense within a five-minute limit was difficult,” Keebler said.
Haley Vallandingham, a senior animation student and the director of the second film to be chosen, Buzz Kill, mirrored Keebler’s struggles.
“The hardest part, personally, was to have a story that made sense. Just getting the story nailed down and getting it approved was a big struggle,” Vallandingham said.
Buzz Kill tells the tale of an overly tidy college student named Anh who becomes pitted against her new roommate, a messy Moth. Vallandingham drew on characters from her own life for the story of the film.
“The original idea came to me, and I was sitting in my kitchen, and Anh was my mom and the moth was a fly,” she said.
Jackie Baldoquin, a senior animation student and the director and lead compositor of Buzz Kill, said that the goal of these final animations was to demonstrate the skill and talents of their teams to the world.
“Our ambition is to submit to enough film festivals and approach it with a mixed media form and get recognition,” she said.
But more than that, Baldoquin said the real challenge was to expand the frontiers of possibility into new creative realms.
“Every juniors' and seniors' goal is to push the envelope and do something that nobody has ever done before,” she said.
Daniel Ceruti is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.