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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2015 3 years ago

Ringling College grads earn best animated short honors

Michelle Kwon and Michael Bidinger (Class of 2014) earned best animated short honors for their senior thesis short "Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou" at the SIGGRAPH 42nd Annual Computer Animation Festival.
by: Nick Reichert Arts & Entertainment Editor

Though the current home of award-winning and beloved animation lives in Burbank and Emeryville, California (the respective locations of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar), one of the most influential sources for the future of animation can be found right here in Sarasota in the computer animation department of the Ringling College of Art and Design. 

Over the course of four years computer animation students learn the skills and tools they need to be a competent and productive storyteller with the culmination of those four years being a senior thesis short film that they create from original storyboard concepts to a final polished product. The strength of these shorts is usually what gets graduating students their first job as professional animators. One short from the class of 2014 created by Michelle Kwon and Michael Bidinger just earned best computer animated short honors at the SIGGRAPH 42nd Annual Computer Animation Festival for their senior thesis short titled "Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou." 

Organized by the organization ACM SIGGRAPH (short for Association of Computer Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques), the Annual Computer Animation Festival receives roughly 500 competitive submissions each year. Held in Los Angeles from August 9 to 13, it is one of the leading and accredited animation festivals in the film industry. It's routinely used by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival for the best animated short category at the Oscars. 

"Out of almost 500 submissions in 2015, this work stood out for its artistry, heartwarming story, and obvious attention to detail in execution," says Mikki Rose and Joe Takai, co-chairs of the festival. "Our jury absolutely loved this piece, as do we." 

Michelle Kwon (Class of 2014) now works in visual development as a 3D generalist at JibJab
Michael Bidinger (Class of 2014) currently works at Pixar Animation Studios as a Fix/Crowds Animator.

The short takes a creative approach to the typical boy-meets-girl story. Set in a colorful San Francisco, Jinxy Jenkins like his name suggests has the worst luck in the world. Lucky Lou has the exact opposite problem and she has annoyingly good fortune. However, during one fateful morning commute, opposites attract and the two run into each other creating a comedic and inspiring story.

Kwon and Bidinger's acclaimed animation skills have already served them in their young careers. After graduation, Kwon was hired by JibJab as a 3D generalist in their visual development department and Bidinger was hired by Pixar Animation Studios as a fix/crowd animator. The animating partners said in a statement that they felt incredibly honored with this recognition and are happy that their film has been enjoyed by so many people. 

Ringling College will be exhibiting at the festival in booth #907 and will be holding an alumni event at the festival on August 11. "We look forward to meeting both old friends and new at SIGGRAPH this year," says Jim McCampbell, head of Ringling College's animation department. "This film, along with many other great examples of our student work, will be on display at our booth."

During the course of the short, the two characters run into each other and balance each other's respective good and bad luck.


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