BYU’s Grendel animation wins Student Academy Award

Grendel is kind of a dragon creature but
he likes to have his cup of tea and sit on his couch and watch the sunset. He’s really just this nice guy. When these Vikings move in next door his
first thought is I want to go meet these awesome neighbors like I’m gonna take
them cookies. It’s all about kind of being that nice neighbor like hey everyone likes cookies who doesn’t like cookies? And then things go wrong when the
Vikings see him and think oh he’s a monster. It’s a twist on the story of
Beowulf. The story of Beowulf is kind of an Old English tale. Beowulf is the hero and he comes in and he ends up killing a monster named Grendel. So we’ kind of flipped the story
and the idea on its head Grendel’s kind of this friendly monster
that has these really rowdy Viking neighbors move in next door to him and
start harassing him. The reason why we chose this project was because of its scale. Not only is the running time long but the number of assets, locations, props, characters… this is by far the largest project we’ve ever taken on. When it was originally pitched in the pitch night, it was ridiculous all of these different characters, all these different sets. There’s an ocean, there’s fire, all these
different things going on. If you were to compare this like to a Pixar film, Pixar likes to have just a limited number of backgrounds, like two or three characters,
in their shorts. We have this huge swath of extra just little Vikings that are sort of thrown around like props, then then you have Beowulf, Grendel and then you have this huge dragon. We had really skilled animators working
on our film with us and the lighting turned out really well, all of the
effects I was really impressed with. My favorite thing is that they designed
Beowulf who’s supposed to be super human and very masculine as a man who
actually can’t grow a beard which obviously is a fatal flaw for a Viking. So instead he actually has a little Viking that just holds on to his earlobes so sometimes that Viking falls off his face and you see that he’s got
like a weak chin. This beard I believe it was made by Brent’s wife, one of our faculty. I always joked that it would be a punishment if anyone doesn’t get their work done they gotta wear this beard. I got this call and they’re like “this is the Student Academy people there’s a really big issue with your
film. It’s won an Academy Award!” and I was like “What?!” This is the first student Academy
Award we’ve won in a number of years. It’s a really big thing and every year
we’ve pushed to try to make character animation better. This actually has
characters that seem to come to life. I was so happy that we could win this
award because it’s another great way for us to kind of look back and be really
happy and feel no regrets for how hard we worked.

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