Topic: BFD Summer Animation Contest

Hi, Lewis from Bricks and Pieces Animation here, and I'll be discussing Brickfilm Day’s first Summer Animation Contest.

Since February, we’ve hosted 3 community events and collaborations under the Brickfilm Day name, but this summer, we’d like to try something slightly different. This August, we will be holding our first brickfilming contest, however, what differentiates it from other summer animation contests is that it’s just that - an animation contest, with emphasis animation.

Each entry will be judged on animation, and animation alone. Any narrative, notable cinematography, editing, sound design, voice acting or production design, whilst permitted, will be ignored by our judging panel. Think of it as a series of animation challenges and tests.
The aim of this contest is to allow brickfilmers to experiment with their animation style, and maybe even allow them to consider aspects and techniques to animation they didn’t previously consider. As judges, we’ll be looking beyond just “smooth”, well eased animation, and instead focus on the following key areas:

  • Technique

  • Character Animation

  • Creativity

The contest will take the form of a knockout tournament composed of two groups, with contestants evenly distributed between the two. Each group will be set a ‘theme’, and given 6 days to animate a clip anywhere between 3 and 20 seconds long, based upon the theme in question. The creators of the 5 best animated clips from each group (as decided by our judges) will then progress to the final round, where they’ll again be set a similar animation challenge to complete within six days. The three entries from the final we believe to be best will be awarded first, second and third place.

Each entry will be judged on the previously mentioned three key areas - technique, character animation and creativity.

First of all, being the more objective area of the three, technique is what you’d expect any animation to be judged on. This involves how well entries are eased in and out, timings, and how well other techniques are used, such as arcs, anticipation and rebound, secondary action, and squash and stretch to achieve natural looking movement.

Of course, as with any artistic rules and techniques, choosing when not to use these methods at appropriate places can also help sell your animation. For example, impacts from punches can feel more much more weighted and realistic without the use of easing out, and relaxing the use of easing and arcs in movement, or even skipping the odd frame or jump cutting, can make an action, scene or character feel more frantic or angry. Also, spontaneous, sudden and unexpected action can also be a great way to achieve visual comedy or make a scene more interesting to view.

For this contest, entries will be judged on how well animation techniques are implemented to create natural looking (but not necessarily realistic), inventive and entertaining animation. If your unsure on any mentioned techniques, I’d recommend looking up Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s “12 Principles of Animation” for more detail.

Character animation is an aspect of animation that I feel is often neglected by many brickfilmers, particularly by those less experienced, and yet it is in my view the most important area to consider when animating. Who is your character? What mood are they in? How are they reacting to the given situation? Watching animated films which lack this thought process behind them can be like watching a well crafted live action movie with poorly acted leads - everything appears great on a technical level, but if the performances fall flat, it can be difficult to invest in the narrative and characters. Despite this not being a contest judged on storytelling in the traditional narrative sense, we’ll be looking for how well emotions and character are conveyed in animation and how they translate to the screen.

Lastly, we’re also encouraging creativity with each animation challenge. Try thinking outside the box, and how you can make a simple animation test into an entertaining video. Exaggerated, cartoon-like animation and visuals effects animated in camera can be good ways to do achieve this, and, as previously mentioned, also think about how you bend established animation laws and techniques in an effective manner. Most importantly, try to have fun and experiment will new animation styles - don’t take this contest too seriously!

Our judging panel will compose of myself, former Bricks in Motion admin Seán Willis, also known as silllypenta, and Chris of eggyolk2002.

The theme for the first group of contestants will be published on the Brickfilm Day YouTube channel, Twitter and Instagram accounts at 12 noon British Summer Time (BST) on Friday 3rd August, with the deadline for entries received being 12 noon BST on Thursday 9th August. The theme for the second group will then be announced on the same platforms and last from the same times between Friday 10th August and Thursday 16th August.

The top five entries from each group will be announced on Sunday 19th, with the final beginning at noon BST on Friday 24th August and ending on Thursday 30th August. The winners will be announced in September, in a video where our judging panel will discuss the strengths of each finalist’s entries, whilst also offering advice on how to better them.

If you wish to participate, please ensure that you are able to enter at least one of the group stage rounds and the final.

Thanks to our sponsors Firestar Toys, the winner of the contest will win a £25 voucher for their online LEGO parts store, with the two runners up each receiving £10 vouchers.

  • All entries must be 100% stop motion animated, primarily with LEGO figures or bricks. Whilst you are permitted to use some non-LEGO elements (such as cotton wool for smoke), all entries must be at least 75% animated with LEGO pieces and elements, or similar construction toys. Use of CGI, 2D, or other animation techniques are forbidden.

  • Each entry must be composed of between three and twenty seconds of animation. Multiple takes in the same video are allowed, but only one video can be submitted per round.

  • Each entry must be animated within the timeframe of the contest round.

  • Please refrain from including overly mature content, such as gory violence or sexual content.

  • Entries may not be made public until the round deadline has passed.

  • Each entry must contain the contest logo and Firestar Toy’s logo for at least two seconds. We will send you HD copies these logos once we confirm your participation.

  • The judging panel’s decisions are final, and reserve the right to disqualify contestants for breaching these rules.

If you wish to take part in this contest, simply send us an email to [email protected] saying you’d like to enter, and, if you’re available to participate in only one of the two groups, please let us know which week you CAN’T do. Please also (if possible) attach examples of demo reels or test footage you've done in the past - if we have a large amount of people wishing to take part, due to the tournament-like nature of the contest, we may not be able to accommodate everybody. We will, however, try to allow as many people to take part as manageable, and we will base animators accepted into the contest on their current animation skills.

Please could we ask all who wish to enter to do this before 12 noon British Summer Time on Monday 30th July. Any applicants after this time will not be accepted into the contest.

Once we've confirmed your participation and which group you will be taking part in (drawn randomly), you will be expected to be able to enter both rounds. To submit your entry, please email us a link of your entry as an unlisted YouTube video or password protected vimeo video (with the password needed to view it) before the round deadline. Please also either include your full name in the email body, or the name of your YouTube channel.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you consider applying to enter. Don't hesitate to ask us any questions regarding the contest!