As the number of film schools and art colleges around the world continues to increase, so too does the body of brilliant animation (opens in new tab) work being produced by the students attending these schools. In fact, the work we've seen in recent years is simply stunning!
With institutions such as SCAD (opens in new tab) in the US currently boasting more than 800 people on its animation course, we've seen an explosion in shorts being produce by graduates, as they do their level best to get noticed in an increasingly competitive job market.
In this feature we've visited some of the top schools to find a selection of the year's hottest 3D shorts. All of these shorts illustrate a blinding array of talent, and we're sure you'll have your own favourites that haven't made our list. Enjoy!
01. Happily Ever After
This short was created by Yonni Arsi and Ben Genislaw, graduates from Israel's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (opens in new tab).
Though starting off in an upbeat fashion, topped off by the Muppet-esque design of the short's lead characters, this story quickly transforms from an idyllic romance into a nightmarish vision of a future punctuated by the mundane. If this doesn't sound much fun, then you'd be right, but the movie is stunning crafted, and does end on an upbeat note.
All the 3D work was done by the duo, as they taught themselves Maya as they progressed though the project. "We aimed and tried our best from the beginning to give our characters this organic 'non-cg' look. We felt this served the story best," Aroussi explains.
We love it, and we're sure you will, too.
Like all good shorts, this story packs a lot into its 108 second running time, working in an imaginative credit sequence, an engaging set up (as a supposed thief makes his way toward his quarry), finishing up with a witty twist at the end, which we won't spoil for you.
03. The Final Straw
The Final Straw is a short film produced by Ricky Renna, a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design (opens in new tab), and it is breathtakingly good!
The film pits a cheeky corvid against a scarecrow, intent on protecting the numerous crops he oversees. But, as the short progresses, the scarecrow appears to be facing an impossible task. Action moves from a pumpkin patch, to a cornfield, to a tomato crop, to an exploding tractor, with all the scenarios providing Renna with a chance to show off his skills.
As we've already mentioned in relation to shorts, it's the pay-off that can often maker or break a short, and in The Final Straw we have a finale that's up there with the best.
04. Brain Divided
Given its reputation for excellence in the world of animation, it's no surprise that we have two shorts from Ringling College of Art and Design (opens in new tab) in our countdown.
The short was created by Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song and Joon Soo Song, and has been up for a number of awards, whilst taking the top spot in the fourth annual Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival.
The short is a classic, and takes us inside the brain of a young man on a first date. The two sides of his brain battle it out over the decisions he takes during the date, and the short wouldn't seem out of place as a Pixar pre-feature, and we can't really think of a better compliment than that.
05. ESPERO? (HOPE?)
This thesis film was created by Simone Giampaolo, Yifan Hu & Henrik Linnes, students at the world renowned National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University (opens in new tab).
ESPERO? (HOPE?) is a humorous, entertaining short, which also aims to educate. This animated comedy shows how Gaia (Earth) first met humankind, and highlights some of the subsequent problems that followed. Acting as a criticism of modern society and the way mankind has treated the planet, the movie is fully dubbed in Esperanto. The team took this choice as Esperanto was created to foster peace and international understanding between peoples. Also boasting a strong, painterly style, this short is a great presentation of the UK's leading animation school.
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Which animated student shorts did we miss? Let us know in the comments box below!