How Would You Fare in a 24-Hour Creative Challenge?

Each fall for the past seven years, Bradley students have participated in the 24-Hour Animation Challenge, which pits teams of five from more than 100 schools from around the world against each other. This year, 431 teams competed to produce a 30-second animated film about their love of animation.

According to the competition organizer, “This is a call to arms! A celebration! A love letter to animation! Show us how animation at its very nature has properties that can be explored in ways that no other medium has.”

Students from animation, game design, game art and marketing took part in the challenge, but they didn’t expect such an abstract theme with such limitless possibilities. 

“It definitely caused some confusion at first, but I loved seeing how each team interpreted the prompt,” said sophomore animation major, Lauren Duell, who was the team lead for Artie’s Animators, one of six Bradley teams.

The challenge started at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 13, so students already had a full day of classes before the competition commenced. There were plenty of snacks on hand, as well as pizza. Associate Professor of Animation Scott Cavanah and his daughter were on breakfast duty making pancakes on a portable griddle Saturday morning.

“Animation is a time-consuming process,” he said. “Our students work for weeks, sometimes months, on projects, so finishing a project in 24 hours shows them (for better or worse) what it takes to get an idea across the finish line in a very short amount of time.”  

Freshman animation major Paul Kararo met his team, Pass the Cookies, for the first time right before the event. They quickly established their strengths, so when it was time to go they split up the responsibilities and got to work.

“We were assigned a different scene based on how comfortable we were with the style or task we worked in,” he said.

Team Pigeon Pestilence, led by senior Eden Collins, upped the ante in the competition, employing a tricky and time-consuming process.

“We took a leap to try stop-motion for this challenge, and it was definitely a learning experience along the way, but it was worth it,” she said.

All of the teams, but one, finished early. Pass the Cookies worked until the very end.

“That last hour I was having pretty strong anxiety,” Kararo said. “We were working on one final shot, and I didn’t want to risk missing the deadline due to malfunctions or unknown rendering time. Skillfully though, we managed to complete our film within time.”

Cavanah said the exercise provides students an opportunity to work with a multi-disciplinary team. “Our animation majors do not do a lot of team projects in their normal classes, and they certainly don’t have a chance to work with students from other majors and cohorts.

“Everyone rises with their best abilities. It’s the epitome of a great team.”   

“I am so happy with our team’s final product!” said Duell. “It fit our vision, everyone had their artwork shine, and most importantly, we did it together. Whether we place well or not, we had a fun time working on it, and we’ve all earned a new portfolio piece.”  

“I am always amazed how well our students do compared to students enrolled in art schools who spend every credit over their four years in animation classes,” Cavanah added. “Our students only spend about half of their college career studying animation, and yet their skills and their films are right up there with the best.”

Despite his anxiety and nerves, first-timer Kararo enjoyed the thrill of the game.

“I loved being able to collaborate with other skilled artists to produce something we can all be proud of,” he said. “For better or worse, this kind of experience is one you'll never forget, and you can be sure to see me back for more next year!”

Emily Potts