BYU Animation Program Wins Two More 'Student Emmys' and Student Academy Award

  For the third year in a row, students of Brigham Young University's animation program have won "student Emmys" for their computer animated films – this time for "Noggin" and "Turtles."

"Turtles" also won a bronze medal at the 33rd annual Student Academy Awards.

Since its formation in 2001, the BYU animation program has won five student Emmys (officially known as College Television Awards) from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation.

"These two new awards are a testament to the quality of students we have in the program," said R. Brent Adams, professor of industrial design. "These students are intelligent, creative and consistent. The bar is set high, and they rise to meet it every year."

The quality and complexity of BYU's 3-D computer animated short films attract the attention of major motion picture studios and video game companies eager to hire artists who use "both sides of the brain," said Adams. Seniors who worked on "Noggin" have landed at Pixar, Sony Pictures and Digital Domain.

"BYU's niche is the ability to produce students who are just as comfortable drawing something freehand as they are sitting down at a computer and programming code to get the job done," said Adams, who says the program is high on the list of studios' key hiring institutions. "In the animation world, that's a valuable skill set to have, and the fact our students are able to land the jobs they are is proof of that."

Alex Cannon, who directed "Noggin," is currently doing pre-visualization work, a type of computerized storyboarding, on the next installment of the "Spider-Man" movies.

"It's really, really thrilling for me to have our film win the student Emmy," Cannon said. "I feel like we did our part in continuing the legacy of the BYU animation program."

In "Noggin," the lead character of the same name faces the ire of creatures called "bellyfaces," who don't exactly appreciate how Noggin's differences complicate their way of doing things.

The look and feel of the film is reminiscent of the drawings an archeologist might make in a field notebook, complete with intricate cross-hatching on objects and characters. BYU animations are known for subtle textures such as these and the textures are one of the reasons special effects and video game companies are so interested in hiring BYU students.

Nic Leach, who mainly worked on "Noggin" but also did character textures on "Turtles," now works for Digital Domain, an award-winning visual effects firm.

"The work that I did at BYU was basically what landed me the job here," Leach said. "When I sent in my demo reel, they were able to see that not only had I done computer graphic lighting, but I had also worked in a group atmosphere where we had to rely on team effort to complete our film."

Like Leach, other graduates of the program have gone on to work on Hollywood blockbusters like the Oscar-winning "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the second generation of "Star Wars" films. Emma Weyerman now has an internship at Pixar, the Disney-owned studio which produced "Toy Story" and "The Incredibles."

"The work here feels so similar to what I was doing at BYU that the transition from school to work was almost not a transition at all," said Weyerman, who worked on "Noggin" and "Turtles."

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