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Western Colorado's Selective University
Colorado Mesa’s graphic design students wrapped up a year of hard work on May 10 at the annual CMU Animation Festival in the University Center ballroom


Animation Festival brings academics to life

Colorado Mesa’s graphic design students wrapped up a year of hard work on May 10 at the annual CMU Animation Festival in the University Center ballroom. Facilitated by Professor of Graphic Arts Carolyn Quinn-Hensley and senior students with concentrations in animation, the festival was a two-hour showcase of labor that went into each short.

“I showed two animations this year,” said senior Michelle Starke. “I’ve been working on the first one since October and it’s still having some problems, so it’s definitely a long process. The second one took around 20 to 30 hours.”

The festival featured a range of work submitted by students in the five animation courses– Intro to Animation, Animation I, Animation II, Studio I and Studio II. Each course focuses on an animation method, including stop-motion, Flash and Maya, a 3-D computer graphics software. Students complete one animation per class in each method. All graphic design students are required to take the introductory course, but only those with animation concentrations take all five. As they progress through the program, the stories and characters they develop become longer and more complex.

For senior animation students, the festival serves as a capstone. The work they present to the audience must demonstrate that they’ve built on their knowledge by incorporating multiple animation methods. They each design a two-page spread featuring examples of storyboards, character studies and artistic styles.

The nine spreads from this year’s seniors were compiled in a professional-quality book, two copies of which were raffled off to lucky audience members.The seniors took on key organizational roles, becoming heavily involved in everything from designing the book, to putting together the raffle and door prizes, to advertising the event. As the program’s popularity grows, the logistics have become more complicated.

“I know [the festival was] a little bit more selective this year, because we can’t play everything. If it’s not good enough, it’s not getting in,” Starke said. “The festival started in a little room and now we take up half the ballroom.”

Starke was pleased to end her time in the animation program with a vibrant celebration of the art form.

“It was a great turnout, and it’s nice to see all our hard work up there on the screen after months of stressing and staying up all night,” she said.

This year’s animations, as well as the shorts from previous festivals, are available to watch online at The senior book can be previewed and purchased at •

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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