More than 1,300 students and 450 projects entered the 7th Thailand Animation Contest 2013 (TAC), with St Francis Xavier Convent School securing first place in the secondary school category for the third time in a row. The school also took the second and third prizes.
Meanwhile in the university category, no team was declared a winner since the judges felt that the quality was not up to the desired level.
TAC is one of the biggest animation contests for students of all levels. One of the rules is that the contestants must use open-source software, and the theme for this year's contest was "Saving has gone, how to take it back", which saw various interpretations from participating teams.
The triumph of St Francis Xavier Convent School wasn't a foregone conclusion at all.
The school had to work hard and dedicate a lot of time and effort to develop the animation skills of the teen students. Sara Rhujitawiwat, who works as the animation advisor, said the key success factor is the selection of team members to ensure excellence in three main skills _ drawing, animating and editing.
Teaching animation courses to students in Mattayom 4, 5 and 6, Sara understands her students' skills and she approached them to join the contest, creating teams from the diverse expertise of each child.
"Everyone needs to work very hard," said the teacher. "Students also have to be supported by their parents because animation is a tough job that they have to be patient and really dedicate themselves."
As soon as the TAC semi-final result was announced, the junior animators from St Francis Xavier had to stay at the school to work together and prepare for joining the study camp.
Their winning entry is called Fireflies, made by the team that call themselves So Long.
Fireflies , based on the concept of a world where people expect good fortune to fall from the skies, took first prize.
Three members of the team _ Waewwan Charoensuk, Suwassa Marat, Thanyasinee Laoweeratham _ based their animation on the concept of a world where people are waiting for luck.
The story shows that we should not expect to have good fortune without working hard for it.
"We present a world where people live without the Sun, so a girl keeps fireflies for light. But the game's city, where people pay respect to a big bird, which stands for luck, refers to Thai people who expect to get rich quick by luck, or by playing the lottery," said a team member.
Sara herself made The Unexpected and won second prize for a story about unexpected happenings in our lives. Her animation features a man who wants to buy a car and saves his money in a jar, but what he hasn't foreseen is an accident that costs him money. "We wanted to stress that people should not save money for buying things they want, but should save for any unexpected incidents, such as accidents or an illness," said Nattakamon Sukitjakamin, a team member.
At the university level, no team was awarded the first prize. However, a project called Gold Eater by the Sarakhan team, third-year students at Media Arts, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), won first runner-up.
Gold Eater is the story of a man who is very proud of himself because he can save money, but "Gold Eater" is a character representing a saving box that always eats away at the money. The story underlines that saving money is a hard job, but the the attempt to keep doing it brings joy to the saver.
"The story was based on our childhood, when we were expected to save money if we wanted anything,"said Sutakorn Sameenoi, a team member. Members of the Sarakhan team who have experience of animation contests pointed out that figuring out the story concept is not as difficult as the use of software tools.
Apinunt Tieowsuwan said TAC is their opportunity to participate in the Talent Development Programme for the International Animation Contest (TIC), which is a stage on which they can enhance their technical skills to compete in international competitions.
"At the international contest, there is no constraint of using the open-source software. We can use any kind of programme, and that means more opportunities to play with ideas," the team said.
The Thailand Animation Contest 2013 is in it's seventh year and is jointly held by Allianz Ayudhya, National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) and the Foundation of King Rama Nine The Great.
According to Patchara Taveechaiwattana, Allianz Ayudha chief market management officer, the TAC contest has seen an increasing number of contestants. Winning teams receive the HRH Princess Sirindhorn trophy, a 50,000 baht cash award, 1 million baht in life insurance for each team member and a trip to Japan.
The first runner-up receives 30,000 baht with 500,000 baht in life insurance. The second runner-up receives 10,000 baht and 500,000 baht in life insurance, while the merit award is worth 5,000 baht and 100,000 baht in life insurance.Kwan Sitathani, Nectec deputy director, said that the contest aims to promote Thai youth to showcase their creativity along with the promotion of using licensed software tools. The use of open-source software is one of the contest conditions that has been implemented for the last four years.
Gold Eater from third-year students at Media Arts, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, was named first runner-up.