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Miles Mac animators earn national gold

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The Skills Canada 3D animation competition moves pretty fast, but as a competitor, if you stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.

The Miles Macdonell Collegiate team of Roy DeJesus and Julia Schroeder put their noses to the grindstone for the competition’s 12 hours, spread over two days in Toronto, and emerged as gold medallists. The event was part of the broader Skills Canada competition, which took place from June 4 to 7.

In the 3D animation event, all entrants were required to incorporate a clip of Matthew Broderick’s iconic "Life moves pretty fast…" line from the 1986 classic comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. DeJesus and Schroeder told the story of a young child looking for his father’s attention, but in the blink of an eye, the son grew up as his father worked.

"The dad’s missed his entire life," Schroeder, 18, explained.

DeJesus, 17, acknowledged making a small error in the animation, leaving a small piece of one of the characters’ hands in one of the shots even after the character left the frame. Still, the general excellence of the piece was enough to overcome the blemish. At approximately nine seconds, the clip was one of the longer ones in the competition.

The pair said they are successful because each brings different strengths to the team. DeJesus creates the characters models and adds "bones" to them to create their movement, while Schroeder creates the backgrounds, colours the images, perfects the lighting and renders the finished product. In order to maximize efficiency, they split the camerawork responsibilities.

"We have two computers, and we need to keep transferring everything," DeJesus explained.

"We can’t simultaneously work on it (the file)," Schroeder added.

Heading into the competition, the duo knew the British Columbia team, the defending champion, would be a tough rival. However, they put their best feet forward and were able to emerge victorious as B.C. finished third.

It was all a friendly competition, teacher Cindy Feduniw said, noting DeJesus and Schroeder were singled out for their sportsmanship by the national committee after the event.

DeJesus said he’s happy to be co-operative, even if it didn’t always work out.

"The Ontario guys (who finished second) had me come over and asked, because he thought there was just something, a little magic, missing in their animation," DeJesus said. "He was asking me if I could see it.

"I couldn’t."

Both Schroeder and DeJesus take international baccalaureate courses and also participate in athletic endeavours, and Feduniw credited both for their well-roundedness as students.

Neither is banking on pursuing animation as a career — Schroeder is planning to pursue education, while DeJesus is more inclined toward mathematics or the sciences.

To see the winning entry, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWk079BW4EQ.

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