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Animation Program Renders Full-Scale With National Rankings, Exhibitions

Sept. 8, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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While the Sam Houston State University computer animation program may only be entering its eighth year, its faculty and students, and the program itself, recently have been generating a lot of interest across the country.

In addition to being listed among Animation Career Review's 2014 “Top 100 Animation Programs in the United States,” debuting at No. 81 in the U.S. and No. 6 in the Southwest, faculty and students have been presenting their work across the country.

Most recently, computer animation professors Edward Ramsay-Morin and Willie Williams took three of their works to San Francisco this summer for its chapter of the American Society for Independent Film Animators’ “Spring Show.”

Among the 31 short animated films selected were Williams’s "Our Legacy" and Ramsay-Morin’s "As Dreams Sometimes Do" and "In Between Here and There."

“ASIFA-SF is an organization of independent animators; to have work selected by members of this group represents an acknowledgement of our creative research by our peers,” said Ramsay-Morin.

“Our Legacy,” a hybrid-animated film using computer-generated animation and stop-motion sand animation, is about a young boy is about to receive the lesson of his life when his grandmother reveals to him their sacred family history—that his great-great-grandmother had fled from slavery in the Deep South to obtain freedom.

Our Legacy Story Shot from Willie Williams on Vimeo.

 

In Between Here And There from SHSU Computer Animation Program on Vimeo.

"Its content deals with identity and social commentary as the two characters’ relationship develops throughout the film,” Williams said.

The piece, the only one submitted by Williams for the competition, received honorable mention recognition.

“Getting a film selected in a film festival is a wondrous prestige because these exhibitions are so competitive,” he said. “It is a great avenue for getting one’s name out there to the animation community and the world, since films from all over the globe is showcased.”

"In Between Here and There" is an edge-articulation animation Ramsay-Morin created using a sequence of three images of power lines as the source for the paths of the animated elements.

“In this project, I was interested in exploring the space between knowing and not knowing, and what it is like slip back and forth between the two,” he said.

“As Dreams Sometimes Do” is an animated collage, a technique Ramsay-Morin said is central to his artistic practice.

“For this project I was interested in the metamorphosis of an idea, how a single seed can manifest itself in different layers and forms,” he said. “At times, it is even easy to lose sense of the original thought. By employing imagery and movement that evoke a dream state, I hoped to create a sequence of animated collages that represent continuity, as well as a stream-of-consciousness experience.”

The piece has also been accepted for display at a number of venues over the last year, including in St. Louis and at West Virginia University and East Tennessee State University.

In addition to presenting their own work, the animation professors have encouraged their students in the program to display their projects locally through department-sponsored festivals on campus and in Huntsville, as well as submit their works for competition across the country.

The results have been that over the last year, three group projects were selected for the 2014 West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival, including "Ballistic Balloon Man," "Shellous" and "Trapped In Time." Another project also was selected for the “Visions” festival in Brooklyn, New York.

In addition, the student animation organization, Siggraph, has participated in the Houston 3D camp.

This exposure and the “exponential” growth of the computer animation program over the past eight years certainly contributed to the “significant achievement” of being recognized by the Animation Career Review from among the 200 the publication considered for its rankings, according to the professors.

“This is the first year that the SHSU computer animation program submitted to be considered for this ranking, so not only were we are excited to be included, we were equally excited at the rankings we received,” Ramsay-Morin said. “These rankings speak to the strength of our program, which is still evolving.”

“More of our students are getting into student festivals all over the country; we have also had more students getting internships and jobs post graduation,” Williams said. “In my opinion, I believe the ranking says that we have something good going on down here in Huntsville. The students have passion, great talent and are getting better each day. Sam Houston State University's animation program can compete with any other program in the southern region.”

 

 

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