“Mittashane,” an animated video created by Alfred State College students while studying abroad in Toyko, recently won “Best Animated Short” at the Western New York Film Arts and Music Event (FAME) held at Genesee Community College.
According to Jeremy Speed Schwartz, associate professor of Digital Media and Animation, Mittashane is a 5-minute music video for Castro House, a band based out of western Tokyo. It was created in 2016 by students within the Digital Media and Animation (DMA) Department who participated in Alfred State’s Studio Tokyo study-abroad offering.
Every other year, one of Alfred State’s seasoned faculty members leads a group of digital media and animation students on this three-week winter program. While abroad, students explore Japanese art, cinema, animation, and digital media. They also create animation and digital media projects in collaboration with local artists, and expand upon their research of Japanese media and production methods through site visits to museums and production studios.
Castro House, according to Speed Schwartz, lists the Beatles as one of its major influences, and the music video pulls from some of the psychedelic design ideas in the artwork surrounding Beatles films. The video, he added, was also influenced by the 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster in Fukushima, and the reaction many in Japan had to the continued use of nuclear power despite its dangers.
“The story is fairly loose,” Speed Schwartz said. “A group of corporate fish build a giant spherical robot, and launch it into the sky where it devours the sun. They are accompanied by a troupe of dancing bunnies, a singing Capricorn, and a psychedelic guitar player.”
Mittashane, Speed Schwartz said, was a collaborative production where each student had “ownership” of their shots. Within a few guidelines, students could design and animate their shots however they wanted, which created an eclectic feel to the overall piece.
Those involved with the video’s creation included Ashley Adams, Nicole Barber, Ben Ceci, Brian Chu, Alex Ciolek, Amelia Fantasia, Eric Gonzalez, Alex Jermyn, Tim Morgan, Alexis Parker, Amelia Phillips, Danielle Roberts, Nia Seward, Jordan Williams, and Kevon Wyllie.
Most of these students have since graduated, and many of them are still using Mittashane on their demo reels and putting it on their resume, Speed Schwartz said.
“I hope it continues to provide a good jumping-off point for their careers in animation, and this award certainly helps them stand out in a crowded field,” he said. “For most of these students, Mittashane was their first publicly-screened animation. This film has been in film festivals for two years, which is a pretty long festival run. There’s something about the bouncy energy of the song and the imagery of the film that really connects with people.”