College of DuPage to Host Virtual Animation Night May 14

By: Angela Mennecke

A cartoon featuring characters that will be shown at Virtual Animation Night

Students from College of DuPage’s Motion Picture/Television program will screen their work virtually on Facebook live for their end of year Animation Night at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14.

Animation Night is a capstone celebration where advanced students showcase projects they have completed throughout the semester and during their time in the program. Seventeen students will screen their work, which includes hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery. Students also are required to submit their projects to a minimum of three film festivals. 

MPTV Professor Tony Venezia said he is excited for his students to have this opportunity to share their hard work even if it’s in a different format than he expected.

“Despite the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, my students are showing up to our virtual class every week to collaborate, share their successes and their pain points,” he said. “They are so passionate about their work and they are all working their tails off to get their projects done. I’m always proud of my students, but this group has really risen to the occasion and has taken on this challenge with grit and determination.” 

Venezia said the capstone class and participation in the event will help students build essential skills and techniques that will have long-term benefits. 

“This is a pretty intense class that lasts 16 weeks,” Venezia said. “Being committed to something for a long period of time helps them learn how to focus on a project from start to finish. Animation Night then gives them exposure and creates opportunities for them.”

Animation student Jacob Nader’s project idea came to fruition after he reflected on what it meant to lose your creative spark, he said.

“I had a hard time coming up with an idea, and then it clicked for me,” he said. “Why not turn my artist block into the project itself? My project goes through an artists’ mindset about lacking an idea and then learning how to overcome that and accept that all artwork can’t be masterpieces. My actual animation is not a detailed character, but a silhouette. I really wanted it to be a blank slate where viewers can really see themselves as the character.”

For student Annika Denton, the inspiration behind her project stemmed from the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” and the Japanese animated fantasy “Howl’s Moving Castle”.

“My project is a short animated film done in  After Effects about a girl who enters a magical garden and what she encounters along the way,” she said.“This is really just one small part of a bigger story that I hope to complete even after the capstone class is over.”

Venezia said that despite the quick shift to online learning, his students are getting a taste at what it will be like in their careers. 

“This year has been all about how well you can overcome obstacles and still succeed,” he said. “Things come up in the real world all the time. I can’t tell you how many times in my career there has been a crash and burn. Power outages, forgetting to save a project or finding out a project you were just assigned is due the next day. It’s about adapting and pushing forward. You can have everything ripped out from underneath you but have the skills and tenacity to finish the project regardless. And that’s exactly what my students have done.”

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