Animation/VFX Award Contest Tips

Some unofficial personal opinions on how to prepare a submission for Animation/VFX award contests:

– Choose the appropriate category for the material. e.g., don’t submit to an “environment” category if there isn’t substantial environment work in the submission.

– Explain what you did fully in the behind-the-scenes material and/or notes. Don’t go into great detail on the specific techniques (unless they are original and interesting), but do include a complete list of all the relevant elements you worked on. This makes it easier to “parse” the visuals. The quality of the behind-the-scenes material is important, don’t make it an afterthought.

– Show the plate! If there is a major live-action element, the breakdown should show this element alone first. Go to the bare plate, THEN add any intermediate steps afterward. Otherwise it’s hard to figure out what you had to work with at the start.

Some ways your piece might be evaluated:

– Has this been done before? Given that new techniques emerge constantly, pieces that merely re-use older methods are not going to look competitive, UNLESS they are executed extremely well (e.g., with much larger scale or better art direction than has been seen before).

– Did you take risks? Did you take on a big challenge, in terms of technology, artistic ambition, or budget/schedule? In my opinion, part of the purpose of awards is to encourage risk-taking, so this makes a piece more attractive.

– Did it matter? Was your work essential to supporting the overall film/story? If your work was taken away, would the film suffer? If you hadn’t come up with new and better techniques but used old ones instead, would the results have looked just as good?

– Don’t count on scale (in terms of scene complexity) alone to be impressive – “Avatar” came out over a year ago now. Moore’s Law continues to make time and space cheaper. China and India continue to make basic artist labor cheaper.

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