SIT Screens Arts’ Students gain regional and international recognition
Publish Date: Tuesday, 18 June 2024
SIT Screens Arts’ Students gain regional and international recognition
Celebrating student success, SIT 2D Animation Tutor, Ruby Meades (back), with Bachelor of Screen Arts students, Lillia McNatty (centre), first-year Animation student, and Joshua Reedy (front), second-year Game Design student. Their creative work has recently garnered regional and international attention.
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Exciting things are happening at Ů School of Screen Arts; the creative work produced by Animation students is gaining regional and international attention. For the second year running, SIT students’ work has been included on the 2024 Toon Boom Educational Showreel. The other outstanding works are the student achievements in the nationwide VF 48-hours film competition.

Three talented SIT Animation students feature in this year’s Toon Boom Educational Showreel. The reel showcases hand-picked examples of student 2-D animation from the most renowned animation schools in the world. The trio and their works in the 2024 showreel are: William (Will) Andrews - Dead or Alive, Inseong Lee - Spicy Boyz, and Joshua Reedy- Draco and The Slime Lair.

SIT 2D Animation Tutor, Ruby Meades, selected and submitted the student projects to Toon Boom. “They were inundated with entries from all over the world, so there was a limit of three entries per institute. SIT gained all three [available] places,” she explained.

It’s noteworthy that Toon Boom chose work which had won recognition at SIT prize giving as well. “Spicy Boyz won best animation last year, Josh’s characters were used in a game which won the best game, and for Will, it's the second time he has been selected for the showreel,” Ms Meades said, adding “They’re very dedicated students and I’m glad they can reap some rewards from their mahi... It [also] affirms that we are attaining excellence in 2D animation education in NZ.” 

Ms Meades stated that a significant portion of the work was completed off-campus. “Josh was a remote student; he did all his work through HyFlex synchronous learning. It really shows you can learn and apply what we’re teaching from anywhere.”

Ms Meades also helped to organise five SIT teams competing in the national VF 48-hours film competition, which took place over a weekend - May 17th-19th - at SIT’s centre for creative industries, Te Rau o te Huia. 

The competition, which is in its 21st year, requires teams to produce an entire short film - one to five minutes in length - over a 48-hour period. Starting at 7pm on Friday night and finishing 7pm Sunday night, the films must be uploaded prior to the deadline or they are disqualified.

There was a lot of pre-event organising involved and Ms Meades admitted it was somewhat nerve-wracking running it for the first time in SIT’s new creative centre, “...but it all ran smoothly, and we’ve had awesome results”.

Ms Meades acknowledged the internal support the weekend received which ensured its success. “The faculty head and SIT facilities were really accommodating. Student Services Ůd free breakfasts; it was above and beyond!” Key dedicated staff also volunteered in overseeing the building and guiding students involved. 

Of the three live action films and two, 2D animated films successfully completed, three are finalists in the regional competition to be held in Dunedin on July 1st. Ms Meades said she was “super proud” of the team Blackbird Pie, which is made up of mostly first-year students, led by Lillia McNatty, who is in the running for the best female / gender diverse filmmaker. Of the second-year students, Casey Anderson led her team Lezz Go to use the LED wall technology in a captivating way.

Ms Meades also led a team of local graduates. “It was nice to have [the graduates] back, collaborating on a project” she said, adding it was an opportunity to get graduates fired up and encouraged about working on their own animation projects again. Their 2D animated film ‘Targeted’ is nominated for six awards in the city finals.

The collaborative nature of the weekend reaps multiple rewards as music and audio students are invited to participate and there are new working relationships made.

“You get to try things and see what works, even learning what roles you prefer doing in the production. These events force you to propel your learning and doing.”

“I’m excited to get more teams involved in the future.” Ms Meades said. “To all involved, who organised the event nationwide, I’m really grateful for and thankful to passionate people in the industry ...”

SIT School of Screen Arts Programme Manager, Rachel Mann, said she’s thrilled with the great results in both competitions. She explained the significance of gaining international recognition through the Toon Boom Showreel, recalling a SIT tutor who’d attended the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France last year sent back a photo of the Toon Boom stand adorned with SIT student work. “We all felt proud that firstly, Patrick was in France promoting his animation, which our learners had interned, and that our learners’ work was showcased by Toon Boom as well, giving SIT learners lots of representation at this prestigious event,” she said.

“[Annecy] is the biggest animation selling market in the world; it’s where the industry goes to connect. It’s the Cannes of animation and just as famous in the world of animation, [and] we’re there with the whole world.... there are actually people recognising [the animation] is world class,” Ms Mann said, adding “it’s being acknowledged as high quality and for its artistry and entertainment value.”

For students to see their work as valuable helps to develop pride in their work and self-confidence. “It allows them to see they can be a part of the screen arts industry; it’s really important to be invested in this,” she said. “The role that SIT plays is to take [the student] from school into the industry. For those retraining it’s to help them pivot. You are there to guide and support," Ms Mann explained.

“There is a real sense with the learners we go on a journey with them, to get them into an industry which is going to give them a really fulfilling career. And they’re getting it, they’re understanding it... You want them to be getting the full value out of this part of the journey.”

VF 48-Hour film competition regional finalists from SIT School of Screen Arts:

Discombobulated Pistachios - Targeted

Blackbird Pie - A bad time in real time

Lezz Go - Match

 (SIT student clips begin at 2:30 minutes)

Toon Boom is 2-D animation software used widely throughout the UK, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; their annual Educational Showreel highlights clips from students attending leading animation schools internationally, all created on Toon Boom Harmony or Storyboard Pro software. SIT is a designated Centre of Excellence (COE) for Toon Boom software, having a proven standard of instruction and delivering a high-level quality of service to their students. Tutors are trained accordingly, and SIT is a certified institute. Top schools internationally include Cal Arts (top school in the US); Savannah College of Art and Design (world number 3); and Pratt Institute.