It’s time for SVA’s 23rd Annual Dusty Film and Animation Festival! On the evening of Monday, May 7, 2012, the organizers screened forty animated shorts produced by the graduating class in the Silas Rhodes theater. Reeves Lehmann, Chairman of the Film, Video, and Animation Department at SVA introduced the screening and reminded those in attendance of the talents and capabilities of its graduating class and the potential opportunities that lay ahead. The shorts were preceded by an introduction which was initially created for last year’s Dustys and animated by Kaukab Basheer.
The shorts screened showcased a wide variety of talents and styles. Those in attendance from the graduating class were very excited to see their work shown on the big screen. I’m going to go over some of the shorts that I personally enjoyed.
Synopsis: Two kids are unhappy with the way their parents force them to dress. When they meet for the first time at daycare, they help each other discover who they really are.
Brief Thoughts: I Am was a little rough in its character walks and how consistent the character models were throughout, but it makes up for it in the timing of its jokes and delivering its message of acceptance without being heavy-handed in doing so.
Synopsis: An off-duty squadron is attacked and decimated by fierce creatures while off-duty. The last remaining soldier relives the events leading up to his final moments.
Brief Thoughts: One of the things that you expect with the style of art used in the character designs is that the characters will stay tightly on-model throughout. That didn’t quite happen here, probably due to the time constraints of getting a thesis project done in time (which is an accomplishment all on its own). If the animator ever chooses to dip back into this project, it’d be nice to see those tightened up because he’s got a cool short here. He effectively capture the anxiety of a dying man being hunted and knowing there is no way out.
Synopsis: Sisters taking care of chores by the streams while goblins march near with fruit for sale. When one sister barters for fruit and falls ill after consuming it, the other must save her.
Brief Thoughts: An animated interpretation of Christina Rossetti’s poem of the same name. Major props for doing a traditionally animated short. Solid story telling. The characters are consistently on model. Everything moves and lands as you’d expect it to in that style of animation.
The Adventures of Coconut the Courageous and Pumpkin
Synopsis: Coconut the Courageous attempts to save his dragon, Habanero, from the evil sorceress with the help of his faithful, mandolin playing dog, Pumpkin.
Brief Thoughts: Stylistically, this short felt like a hybrid of Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game/cartoon and Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 70s. The storytelling and pacing were solid. It was enjoyable, but a little predictable and could have benefited from jokes with a little more punch.
Synopsis: A girl struggles with the lose of her mother and the inattentiveness of her father. When their home is overtaken by shadow creatures, she must decide what’s most important to her.
Brief Thoughts: I would have liked to seen more time added onto this short. I thought the characters could have used a little more fleshing out. It’s strong visually and appears to have been heavily influenced by Miyazaki. The dog is adorable.
Synopsis: Two astronauts attempt to escape a black hole. The female astronaut sacrifices herself to save her male companion. The male astronaut struggles to cope with not knowing her fate until he comes across the ship he thought lost to the black hole.
Brief Thoughts: I really enjoyed the distinct art style of this short. It’s pretty strong throughout.
Synopsis: A lonely woodsman has difficulty making friends with the woodland creatures until a stranded alien teaches him how.
Brief Thoughts: Adorable. The entire short. When it ends you’re left with a smile on your face. The character designs are fun. The woodsman is made immediately lovable through his desire to befriend all of the woodland creatures.
Animated by Bo R. Jessica Wang.
Synopsis: With the tagline of, “Rethink, redo, recycle.”, Cycology takes an abstract look at the consequences of failing to care for our planet.
Brief Thoughts: I enjoyed how visually coherent Cycology was in spite of its abstract construction.
Synopsis: An explorer discovers the fossilized remains of a man in an arctic cave. After accidentally destroying the skeleton, he builds a time machine to retrieve the skeleton so that he might sell it for a fortune.
Brief Thoughts: Borja’s sense of humor in this short reminded me a little of Adventure time. It’s a strong short all around. I have nothing nitpicky to say.
Synopsis: A young Buddhist monk-in-training has a passion for gardening. He rescues a flower from from bad weather one evening. When the flower beings to wilt, Dechen struggles to cope with his inability to save the flower through his own efforts. Angmo, the head monk, intervenes to teach young Dechen a lesson about co-existing with nature instead of attempting to control it.
Brief Thoughts: Dechen was a strong short. I would love to see what this one looks like with a full-polish. Kaukab’s character animation is very strong. The character designs and their fluidity when animated gave off a Chris Sanders/Disney 2D Feature Animation vibe.
Synopsis: A four-eyed creature and his dog find a working radio that may lead them to other survivors.
Brief Thoughts:Transmission was my favorite short of the evening. Visually, it was clean and crisp. Even though it didn’t take any risks with the framing of its shots, the story-telling was strong throughout.