24-Hour Animation Challenge 2023

24-Hour Animation Challenge 2023

By: Abby Allred

Edited By: Jenna Berndt

On Friday, October 13th, hundreds of animation students across the world prepared to pull a collective all-nighter. But this wasn’t the typical college student all-night study session, this was a competition.

The 24-hour Animation Contest is an annual worldwide event that first began in 2002 as a classroom challenge in Aubry Mintz’ CALArts courses. The contest is sponsored by huge names like Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Wacom and many more.

At the event, students gathered in groups of 5 to produce a short animated film within 24 hours, with absolutely no tolerance for late submissions. This may sound like a crazy endeavor, but the students I spoke with loved being a part of this challenge. The theme of this year’s event was revealed as the timer started: love letter to animation, and why it’s not just for kids.

This is the first year UVU has taken part in this event, and it looks like it was a hit. Participating in this competition gave these students huge advantages and it also lends great exposure for the animation program here at UVU.

While our teams didn’t get any prizes, they still managed to place in the top 100, which is extremely impressive considering over 400 teams throughout the world participated.

From UVU,  3 sophomores and 12 juniors participated in this competition. The sophomores felt that doing this challenge gave them the unique opportunity to prepare for next year’s competition and allowed for extremely unique learning experiences. The unique structure helped students experience the entire animation process in a short amount of time, giving them the ability to analyze what is and isn’t productive within the pipeline, and also get a better understanding of how their future jobs might look.

I spoke with one sophomore participant, Ben, who said, “Now that I’ve done this challenge once, I can’t help but think about what I would have done differently. I think mainly I would keep it more simplistic.” Ben went on to explain how getting overly invested in the details slowed some students down and distracted them from the main story and ultimate goal of the challenge, but did result in some cool effects in the final short film. Ben looks forward to participating again next year as a junior.

Next year’s goal, in the eyes of animation professor Rodayne Esmay, who supervised the teams throughout the competition, is to “...[find] the perfect story to fit the theme as closely as possible.” Rodayne goes on to say this goal will help future students prioritize the story and will help motivate them to spend more time on narrative development. With such a short amount of time to work on and polish something, story really is everything. The art can be pretty and technical, but if it doesn’t support the story, it’s pointless. Every element of a short film should add to the overall story and have a purpose.

With such a big emphasis on story, the process of storyboarding is one of the most important things these students did to develop their shorts. The teams each worked hard to build 2D rigs for their animated shorts. The time crunch made this extremely difficult, and lack of sleep didn’t help either. Rodayne mentioned that, “... the rigs should have been rigged from a quarter-front point of view, or possibly a side view.” This would have allowed for more diverse camera moves and a more natural-feeling short film. Both the students and supervising professor agree that more time should have gone into the storyboarding process so the rigging artists would know exactly what they would need each of their rigs to do.

Despite the struggles, though, getting a bird’s eye view of the whole animation pipeline is invaluable for those looking to grow their skills to industry standard. Like a mini Project Runway challenge for animators, this contest was a unique opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zones and improve quickly through hands-on experience.


Click the links below to view the 3 shorts produced by our very own UVU Animation students!

The Day of the Competition

Animation Team 1   Animation Team 2   Animation Team 3

Animation Student    Animation student working 

Animation student taking a short break during the competition   Animation student using a tablet    Animation students collaborating   Time Remaining on Whiteboard

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