Film students aim high

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    By Emilie Cassan

    BYU animation students have a message for Pixar: watch out.

    The students said they hope their short animated film “Pet Shop” will match the quality of “Toy Story” and “Monsters Inc.”

    A four-minute animation film comparable to “Pet Shop” would cost about $4 million in the professional industry, said Logan Dean, the film”s director.

    Although the animation department only has a budget of between $100,000 to $200,000, students and faculty still believe their films will be of professional caliber, said Kelly Loosli, a professor in the animation department.

    “We want to make sure the animation stays at the quality we want it,” Dean said.

    “Pet Shop,” the second film produced by the two-year-old animation major, “is student run and student organized,” said Brent Adams, a professor in the animation department.

    “This is an opportunity that just doesn”t happen in other programs at other schools,” Adams said.

    The production, animation and promotion of “Pet Shop” are part of a senior project put together by a group of 14 students.

    The students began working on the film as juniors in order to finish the film midway through their senior year. It will then be ready for film festivals, portfolio use and hiring purposes.

    Starting the project during the winter semester of the students” junior year was a change made in the program after problems arose during last year”s project, “Lemmings.”

    Because students started working on “Lemmings” so late into their major, they were not able to submit the film into festivals or use it in their portfolios.

    Tom Mikota, a senior from Kimberly, Idaho, majoring in animation, said last year”s experience offered students room to improve.

    “I”m pretty excited because what we did last year…it just took us so long because we were like the pioneers,” Mikota said. “We were just trying to get it all figured out, how everything works. Now this year, all the guys can come in and see what we did last year and try and do better.”

    Another change from last year”s film is the amount of performance animation of the characters in “Pet Shop.”

    Students said “Lemmings” did not have the same amount of action as “Pet Shop.”

    Adams said that is the hardest part about making “Pet Shop”: making sure that the story and everything else can be understood through the acting ability of the characters.

    Another obstacle students are facing in creating “Pet Shop” is the ability to express emotion in a 3-D medium.

    Exaggeration is key, Loosli said.

    “Animation is the art of melodrama,” Loosli said. “Exaggeration and animation go hand in hand.”

    The students are halfway done with “Pet Shop” and it is scheduled to be finished in December.

    Students plan to enter the film into 2004 film festivals and have been in contact with major Hollywood production companies, Loosli said.

    Students said they hope the film will one day be used as a trailer, which would be shown before a feature-length animated film.

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