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Sisler students win big in 24-hour animation challenge

November 8, 2022
Sisler CREATE's Team Clam won first place for high school students and seventh overall in the 24 HOURS Animation Challenge.

Students in Sisler High School’s CREATE Program made a strong showing in the recent 24 HOURS Animation Contest.

The online contest, which ran Oct. 14-15, was open to teams across the globe. Now in its 20th year, the challenge is hosted by Aubrey Mintz, Director of Animation and Visual Effects at Chapman University. 

Universities, colleges and high schools can enter the annual challenge free-of-charge, and are able to enter as many five-member teams as they wish. Over 300 teams and 1,500 students participated in this year’s event.

Team Clam, which consists of Sisler CREATE students Sam Balanial, Gian Abad, Francesca Musni, Kimberly Chau and Xierra Cansino, won first-place in the high school category and seventh overall.

Teams were tasked with creating a 30-second animation in 24 hours; their entries were then judged by a panel of industry leaders.

Collaborating online during the 24-hour challenge, Team Clam said they were focused but tried to have fun along the way. The team also relied on their experience from previous 24 HOURS challenges.

“This is our second year together as a group, so we were very prepared this year,” Xierra said. “We got our processes down really well.”

The students used online collaborative tools to create their video, including Toon Boom Harmony Premium, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, Miro, Magma, Discord, Google Drive, Garage Band, Adobe Premier Pro and After Effects.

“The prompt for this year’s challenge was life 100 years into the future,” Sam said. “We struggled to think of a creative way to integrate that theme into our animation.”

The group went for a humorous approach, imagining a future where birds rule the earth—although they still have some of humankind’s wasteful tendencies.

“There’s kind of a commentary about consumerism,” Sam said.


Setting goals

Despite the humorous nature of their contest entry, Team Clam put a lot of thought into this year’s competition.

“This year we actually set goals for ourselves beforehand,” Xierra said. “We looked at the top five videos from last year and thought about what they had in common. So we wanted it to be very fast and to have cuts that were fun to watch and engaging. And we just wanted to have very compelling backgrounds and character designs.”

The team tried to set itself apart with colorful and upbeat animation.

“A lot of people went for a more depressing or sad look, but we realized a lot of the top contenders from years before usually had a wholesome, funny or happy feel,” Sam said. “We just didn’t want to do something sad. We wanted to do something we’d enjoy making.”

“We were so pumped”

Team Clam made sure to gather at Sisler when the winners were officially announced online.

“All the students that participated in the 24 HOURS challenge came to school at 5 p.m. that Friday. We were all sitting together and watched on the big screen,” Xierra said. “When they said our names for the first place prize for high school, we were so pumped. I couldn’t even hear myself talk.”

As a result of their win, the team won $1,500 to split amongst its members, as well as long list of equipment, software licensing and other prizes.

The team is already working toward full careers in the industry. All five of the groups’ members have been selected for an internships with animation giant Nelvana, and Sam, Kimberly and Xierra have been accepted into Vancouver Film School. 

The team said that now, more than ever, students from all over the globe can break into animation.

“Animation is really online focused now, you can pretty much work from anywhere,” Xierra said.    

Top ten finishes

Sisler teams all managed top ten finishes in the high school division: Team Casks (Stephen Dueck, Angelica Velasco, Shaun Murillo, Kaleb Piere and Connor Stanley) finished in second; Team Aabzark (Adrian Knight, Cedric Abejero, Daphne Dizon, Maryanne Guiboche and Ivan Abrasaldo) earned 7th place; and MadDogz (Shon Lantzberg, Ming Fang Kan, Onah Fuentes, Maria Gotiongco and Angelica Dino) finished in 8th place.

CREATE Department Head and animation teacher Jamie Leduc said he was proud of the accomplishments of all of the Sisler teams, especially considering that they were up against university/college level teams from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Sheridan College, Seneca College and more. 

“They did really well,” Mr. Leduc said. “A lot of the students in the program, especially those five ladies in Team Clam, they exemplify that attitude of taking those next steps needed to bring their learning to the next level. It’s all about research and reference and looking at what it takes to put together better animation. They really took advantage of this opportunity.” 

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