Students get the chance to become ‘satellite’ film stars

April 16, 2008 at 2:16 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Enterprising students from both Hahnville and Destrehan will get the chance to show-off their own films at the Satellite Center's third annual Video and Animation Festival.

"The students really look forward to entering their entries in the festival, having them viewed by peers, parents, community members, business leaders, school board members and any other attendees the night of the festival," Brian Gough, webquil/distance learning coordinator at the center, said. "The more exposure they receive for their work, the better for the near and distant future."

The purpose of the festival, which begins on April 24, is to encourage, promote and support the future development of the art of animation, new media and video production. The festival does this by providing insight into career opportunities within the industry and giving students and other festival participants the ability to learn from and network with industry leaders.

The festival got its start when Rhitt Growl, Albert Dupont and Gough, all instructors at the center, spoke to Stacey Simmons, who is involved with the Baton Rouge Area Digital Industries Consortium and is a professor at LSU CCT. Simmons had come to speak to the teacher's classes about the possibility of team members from Louisiana taking part in the Red Stick International Animation Festival in Baton Rouge. After attending the festival, Growl, Dupont and Gough decided that they needed to begin a similar festival in St. Charles Parish.

The first year, the festival was thrown together in less than a month and was basically just a viewing session with a small awards ceremony. Last year, the festival started offering concessions and the viewings were organized into multiple viewing rooms, which were divided by entry categories.

"Last year, we had 40 to 50 entries," Gough said. "This year, we are expecting much more than that."

Gough says that most of the students that take part in the festival have spent countless hours over the last couple of months putting the finishing touches on their videos.

"The products can take anywhere from one to three months to complete and that includes countless hours of extra work away from school," he said. "Some have worked as long as three to five hours a day on their projects for the past month and a half to complete their animation/video."

The completed animation/videos range from very good to just average and Gough says it all depends on the students dedication and motivation. This year, there will be two separate categories of entries, advanced and aspiring.  This is so that students from Hahnville and Destrehan would not have to compete against Satellite Center team members, because of a slight advantage those that attend the center have.

"This is new and came about after speaking to the high schools and finding out that Satellite Center team members have an advantage when it comes to software, laptops and time in class to work on their entries," Gough said. "Hopefully, this will allow for fair competition and persuade more high school students to enter the festival."

Even if the students are working on the project as part of a class, Gough says making a video is difficult for all of the students.

"I would say that since nobody that enters this festival is a professional or has much experience in film or animation, this is a great stretch for all students/team members who enter the festival," Gough said. "Most have never used the software or skills needed to complete an entry until they start this project at their high school or the Satellite Center."

Because of the difficulty, the WebMastering and Digital Graphics teachers at the high schools have worked very closely with Growl, Dupont and Gough to make the festival the success it is today.

"We all work together to make sure the students/team members have the skills and knowledge to complete this long-term project," Gough said.

And those skills will pay off big time when the students or team members try to get a career in this industry.

"Today's businesses are looking for creative thinkers that can solve problems on their own and this project challenges the students/team members to push themselves to creative decisions that are far beyond what is normally expected of young adults," Gough said.

Plus, it's not just the students who gain something from the festival. In fact, the attendees might be the luckiest of all.

"We have received rave reviews from almost everyone who attended the festival in the past," Gough said. "Most cannot believe that students/team members in St. Charles Parish are creating this work."

There are six categories in both the advanced and aspiring level, consisting of flash animation, 3D animation, other animation, short film/documentary, PSA or commercial and music video. There is a winner and runner-up for each category.

The viewing sessions will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m,  on April 24, with the awards ceremony following at 8:15 p.m.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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