A group of Miles Macdonell Collegiate students are set to animate Vancouver.
Two pairs of students won gold medals at the 2013 Skills Manitoba Competition at Red River College in April, qualifying them for the Skills Canada Competition on the west coast on June 5 and 6.
Grade 12 students Stephanie Hunt and Alexandra Smith are making their third consecutive trip to nationals in the 2D Character Computer Animation division, and are seeking gold after earning silver last year. Meanwhile, Grade 12 student Dominika Kapustka and Grade 11 student Roy De Jesus will making their debuts in the 3D Character Computer Animation event.
Smith said she and Hunt were overwhelmed in their first year at the competition, but regrouped and had a much better showing in their Grade 11 year. Now, they’re hoping to go out on top.
"We’ve got to think outside the box," she said. "The theme was ‘don’t go there’. We thought it was a place, and all the other teams thought it was a place. The one team that won (thought of it as) a social situation."
The format has changed slightly this year, as instead of a theme, teams will be given a sound clip they must incorporate into the finished product. The national stage is slightly different from the provincial one, too, in that teams receive two six-hour days to work on the project, while provincials consisted of just one six-hour dash. Smith said both formats are challenging.
"It makes it really hard, because in that one day for six hours, your eyes start to go funny, your neck goes crooked," said Smith. "In the two days, bathroom breaks are really limited in that time — you’ve got to time everything perfectly."
After three years together, Smith and Hunt have their division of labour down to a science — Smith takes the lead on the animating while Hunt lines up the audio.
The six-hour allotment includes 30 minutes which must be spent planning and creating a storyboard, which can make or break a team almost immediately.
"You get marked on how close (the storyboard) is to your actual product," said De Jesus. "You can’t do whatever you want — you have to make sure it goes back to what the planning is."
Teacher Cindy Feduniw said she selects entrants into the provincial competition based on both skill and commitment, as she noted students spend approximately 10 hours per week training in addition to class time. She noted the school has tended to do well in 2D competition, noting Andrew Yablonski and Jordan Duchnycz won national gold in 2009, and is glad to see the 3D program solidify alongside it.
In all, River East Transcona School Division had 25 medalists at the provincials, which featured approximately 475 students competing in 42 events. RETSD’s five other gold medalists, Murdoch MacKay’s Travis Milkowski (carpentry), Kerstin Betz (fashion technology), and Jonathan Betz (precision machining), Kildonan-East’s Kelly Ross (baking) and Colin Naylor (cooking) also help form Team Manitoba’s contingent.