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Animation Students Screen Films at Famed Hollywood Theatre

CSUF One of Four Colleges Represented at Animation Is Film Festival
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Students giggled as their animated character, a husky park warden, rolled on the TCL Hollywood Chinese Theatre’s grand screen. They couldn’t believe that in a span of a few months, they went from debuting their short animation film at Pencil Mileage Club’s Film Fest in Titan Theatre to the famed TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. 

Two Cal State Fullerton student films, “Rosie’s Monster” and “Occupied,” recently were screened at the Animation Is Film Festival. 

The festival champions diverse filmmakers who pursue compelling cinematic visions. CSUF was one of four colleges represented, alongside CalArts, Cal State Long Beach and USC. 

“It takes a lot of courage for an artist to put their work on the silver screen, especially in front of a large audience, and our students are doing just that,” said Kathy Baur, assistant professor of art.

“Many of our students come from a first-generation background. Some are working full-time jobs and are main providers for their families. I see how committed they are to their education and animation, embracing the challenge to make their own films and tell their personal stories.”

Creating a Fluffy, Three-Eyed Monster

Rachel Salners ’23 (B.F.A. art-entertainment art/animation) said that 1950s monster movie aesthetics inspired her to create “Rosie’s Monster,” a story about a fluffy, three-eyed monster who befriends a frightened girl. She designed a grainy overlay and embedded black and white tones throughout the scenes to produce a creepy plot with a wholesome twist.

Baur said that developing a short animated film allows students to go from “concept” to “completion” using basic principles of animation, storytelling, digital tools and sound. 

In the process of creating her film, Salners began with rough sketches of a girl hiding under her bed sheets after a lightning strike and a girl cuddling with a monster. She rendered the background illustrations, cleaned the frames and adjusted the timing of scenes with guidance from James Richardson, lecturer in art. 

Salners is no stranger to the Animation Is Film festival. Her first animated film, “Fester,” was accepted to the festival in 2022 with the assistance of Baur.

“Baur is an empowering influence for CSUF’s animation program and an advocate for the student body,” said Salners. “Richardson also guided me through creating both of my student films with thorough feedback and genuine interest.” 

Salners plans to pursue a career in the animation industry as a storyboarder, breathing life into narratives through visual cues and character acting.

“I love the unique storytelling and collaborative environment that animation can foster, and I hope to one day work closely with other artists that I admire, especially those who are fighting for more inclusion and diversity in animation,” said Salners. 

“I’ll forever be thankful for the opportunity to watch my animated film play on a theatre screen. It was such a surreal and gratifying experience.”

Bringing a Fearful Park Warden to Life

Liam Fink ’23 (B.F.A. art-entertainment art/animation) and Jasmine Kaur ’23 (B.F.A. art-entertainment art/animation) said that “Occupied” started as an experimental learning project in Blender, a free 3D software. 

It told the story of a park warden who is closing facilities late at night when he stumbles across an occupied restroom. The restroom door creaks open and he trembles at the sound of a rumbling roar before he investigates inside. 

Fink and Kaur started working on the project in one of their animation classes. One animation tool they learned together was applying textures to their 3D models and maintaining a consistent artistic style.

“There’s a yellow-green grittiness to it that was established in the concept art, so it was a matter of translating that to 3D. I can recall drawing out the wood texture on the bathroom and then applying that to our model,” said Kaur.

Before the production of “Occupied,” Kaur said she felt inspired by the computer animation production and integration into game engines in her Introduction to 3D Animation class, taught by Rudy Solorzano, lecturer in art. She reached out to Solorzano for his expertise in the development of their film.

The duo also expressed their gratitude for Baur’s expertise and guidance.

“She got us into the Animation Is Film festival in the first place and I cannot thank her enough for seeing our film’s value,” said Kaur.

CSUF’s accessibility, affordability and close location to the animation scene in Los Angeles sold the animation students on attending the university. They added that the artistic community shines through.

“I recall reading up on the faculty when I was applying for colleges and being excited hearing that some worked on my favorite shows and movies growing up,” said Kaur, an aspiring concept artist or animator. “I knew I would be gaining a worthwhile education.”

Written by: Vanessa Siguenza
Lynn Juliano