Topics: College of Fine Arts, Immersive Learning

October 13, 2011

~~~Two Life" is a 12-minute film created by students in the university~~~s growing animation program. The film is one of six animated shorts included in this year~~~s Heartland Film Festival.
A collaborative, interdisciplinary effort by more than 65 Ball State University students has brought to life the love of two mannequins in "Two Life," a 12-minute film that's the latest creation of the university's growing animation program.

"Two Life" is one of six animated shorts selected for inclusion in the 2011 Heartland Film Festival. Held each October in Indianapolis, this year's festival features a record 129 films scheduled for screening. "Two Life" takes place during the nearly 100-year lifespan of an upscale department store in New York City and will screen at select theaters Oct. 18-22.

Students participating in the film's creation represented a variety of majors, from animation and graphic design to telecommunications and music technology and composition. The bulk of work on the project was created as part of a 10-week summer course called the Summer Animation Studio, which created the studio identity Still Life Animation, said director Paul Symons, who co-wrote the film with alumna Ann Thurber.

"I think this opportunity really simulated what a studio production experience could be like," said Symons, a graduate student in Ball State's digital storytelling program. "My job was to creatively make sure the art produced was congruent and as high of a level as we could afford."

Andy Beane, assistant professor of art and the film's executive producer, is proud of the students' work on "Two Life" and the attention it's received. "It's exciting to be part of the Heartland Film Festival. It's the largest film festival for the state," he said.

Animation program grows in size, scope

Beane is entering his fourth year overseeing the university's animation program, one that has seen tremendous growth under his leadership. Enrollment has increased 50 percent to 60 majors; a second faculty member, John Ludwick, has been hired by the Department of Art to assist with the teaching load and a newly created master of fine arts (MFA) with an animation emphasis.

Beane explained that a strength of Ball State's animation program is how easily it lends itself to collaboration with other departments — not to mention its access to the latest state-of-the-art equipment for creating films. "We can reach out and work with other departments using technologies like motion capture and laser scanning, as well as our friends in the School of Music, and all of that ties together in a way that makes what we have here unique," he said.

Assisting with music for "Two Life" was Sean Sumwalt, a talented Ball State senior composer who recorded the film's score and whose work has garnered attention from the film industry.

Symons said the most exciting point of working on "Two Life" was completing the music, setting it to the animation and watching the finished product for the first time. "There was this overwhelming sense that this was a movie; that we'd made it work," he said. "It took a lot of time to get there, but it was very satisfying."

View the schedule of screenings for "Two Life" on the Heartland Film Festival website.