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Exclusive: Watch the winning animations from SVA’s 28th Dusty Awards

Tags: News Storyboard Pro Animation Education Harmony Storyboarding Customer Story

On May 8, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City honoured the achievements of animation students and alumni at the 2017 Dusty Awards. Directed and produced by Annie Flocco, the event featured an esteemed presenters list of industry influencers and was the climax of the 28th Dusty Film & Animation Festival, which provides a platform for emerging talent from SVA’s BFA Film and BFA Animation programs. This year, over 100 students saw their work take centre stage.

Toon Boom is proud to be an official Dusty Festival sponsor. As a Toon Boom Centre of Excellence, we have partnered with SVA to propel the potential of students and carry them from school to the studio. In keeping with that commitment, six winners from the BFA Animation program took home their choice of a one-year licence to either Toon Boom Harmony or Storyboard Pro.

We have exclusively brought together the 2017 Dusty Award animation winners’ work. Watch it below and read their interviews with Toon Boom about their time at SVA and life after graduation.


Winner
: Fiona Lu — “To Be Fiona”
Awards: Outstanding Animation Film; Outstanding Achievement in Animation Production Design
Toon Boom Prize: Storyboard Pro

What were some highlights from your time at SVA?
FL: I got to learn about every aspect of animation, such as animating, storyboarding and pitching stories, building a convincing environment and how the sound works with the story.

How did Toon Boom help in the making of your short?
FL: For my thesis project, I did all the storyboards with Storyboard Pro. It was very flexible and allowed me to add sound effects and turn the boards into animatics to have a better view of the whole animation. I know a lot of studios are using it as an industry standard so I'll just keep boarding with Storyboard Pro and get more proficient.



Winner: Joe Sulsenti — “Fishy”
Awards: Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation; Outstanding Achievement in Animation Production Design
Toon Boom Prize: Harmony Advanced

Do you feel SVA prepared you well to start your professional career in animation?
JS: For sure! SVA gave me the foundation and materials to push myself to my full potential as an artist. Because of this, I feel more confident and prepared to start in the professional world. Also, with classes geared specifically on how to navigate the professional animation world, and a Career Development team whose focus is to connect their students with as many industry professionals as possible, I couldn't think of anything else they could do to prepare us further!

What did you enjoy about learning Toon Boom software? Did it help in making your short?
JS: Storyboard Pro was my favorite tool when constructing my story. Creating the story I wanted took several tries and having a tool like Storyboard Pro made it easy to go back and revise my shots, switch their order, change their content, etc.. And it took me less than an hour to learn the basics of the program and put a clear animatic together. I see a bright future for Toon Boom and I — I think I'm ready to take our relationship to the next level.

What will you be doing with the Toon Boom Harmony Advanced licence you won?
JS: As of right now, I plan on using my [Harmony licence] to work on side freelance projects. I have some in the works and I'm excited to take advantage of the capabilities [Harmony Advanced] has to offer to make them come to life!

(Editor’s note: The above video shows Sulsenti's short being made in Storyboard Pro. You can watch “Fishy” in full here — password: fishythatwalk.)



Winner: Soren Hughes — “A Sun Came”
Award: Human Spirit Award — Animation
Toon Boom Prize: Harmony Advanced

Do you feel SVA prepared you to be a professional animator?  
SH: Yes, I was able to get a job doing layout at Augenblick Studios right after I graduated and that's definitely thanks to the skills and friends I made at SVA.

How did you find learning Toon Boom software?
SH: I had a great time learning Toon Boom [software] and it's probably my favourite program to animate in. It has a way better selection of brushes than Flash, but still keeps the simplicity of the interface — and doesn't crash all the time.

What will you do with the Toon Boom Harmony Advanced licence you won?
SH: I'm looking forward to learning the node section of [Harmony Advanced], which is something I didn't really touch while making my short. I think I will end up making some really weird fun stuff so stay tuned! I'm pretty excited about the generate bees and fairies node as well.

demetria-bozas-selfish-toonboom.pngSource: Demitria Bozas.


Winner: Demitria Bozas — “Selfish”
Award: Special Jury Award — Animation
Toon Boom Prize: Storyboard Pro

Do you feel SVA prepared you well to start your professional career in animation?
DB: SVA certainly prepared me. If it wasn't the classes teaching me the products professionals use in ‘the real world’, it was the connections that landed me the job I have now!

What did you enjoy about learning Toon Boom software? How did it help in the making of your short?
DB: I am in LOVE with Storyboard Pro. It really helped with the creation of my animatic. Since my entire film is based on sound, it really helped to storyboard to the monologue with just the click of a button. I'm constantly using it because it makes the whole storyboarding process so much easier, and that's perfect for people like me who want a one-stop shop.  



Winner
: Alexa Swanson — “Friend Fiction”
Award: Special Jury Award — Animation
Toon Boom Prize: Storyboard Pro

How did your time at SVA prepare you for a  professional career in animation?
AW: I believe that most of my preparation came in thanks to the amazing staff in the SVA Animation department, and especially from my thesis advisor Frank Gresham. You can tell that the teachers really, truly want you to succeed and they have given a major effort to push us out into the animation world.

What did you enjoy about learning Toon Boom software?
AW: I found Storyboard Pro to have an incredibly intuitive interface that I could work with ease. After looking up a few tutorial videos, I felt really at home with the software. The boarding process went quickly and revisions were easy to make with it.

Do you know what you will be doing with the Toon Boom software you won?
AW: I definitely plan to make more independent films, and Storyboard Pro is definitely the software I'm most comfortable using to plan out those films!

 

Winner: Branko Kljajic — “The Heist”
Award: Special Jury Award — Animation
Toon Boom Prize: Storyboard Pro

How did you find the teachers at SVA?
BK: I'd say my most influential teachers were Albert Pardo, Desirée Stavracos and Frank Gresham! Pardo was my thesis advisor, but he was so much more than that. From my first year, he did everything he could make my art, and my understanding of animation programs grow. Desirée made learning the business side of animation extremely interesting. Frank was my introduction to animation as my first year teacher, and I couldn't have asked for anyone better. He is always willing to help a student — even during his free time.

Do you think SVA prepared you well to start your professional career in animation?
BK: Absolutely! I feel really relaxed when I'm working because of everything I learned at school. A problem hasn't come up yet that I couldn't fix with something I heard from one of my teachers or fellow students. 

What will you be doing with the Toon Boom software you won?
BK: I'll definitely be using Storyboard Pro to board out my upcoming freelance job! I'm also thinking about making a few animatics in my spare time. If I like one of them enough, I might make it into a film. I have a lot of plans in the near future, and all of them involve this majestic program!

What would you do with a licence to Harmony or Storyboard Pro? Let us know in the comments below.

(These interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.)

Harmony