College of DuPage to host Animation Night May 15

Students from College of DuPage’s Animation Portfolio capstone class will screen their year-end projects during the 14th annual Animation Night at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, in the Belushi Performance Hall, located at the McAninch Arts Center on campus in Glen Ellyn.

Animation Night is a celebration where advanced students showcase projects they have completed throughout the semester. In addition, work from other animation classes as well as projects from area high school students will be screened.

Motion picture/television professor and program chair Tony Venezia said 22 COD students — the most ever showcased during Animation Night — will screen their work, which ranges from comedy to drama and reflects a variety of styles.

“Animation Night is really for their careers,” he said. “While working on these projects, the students learn what to do, how to do it and what’s realistic given the deadlines. Real success comes through a learning process where they will get frustrated, fall down and pick themselves up again. These are invaluable experiences that will help them in the future. Once they graduate, they either are ready to get a job or transfer to a four-year school.”

Instructor Alex Leon, himself a graduate from the animation/motion graphics program in 2017, is impressed by the program’s growth and the students’ enthusiasm.

“Animation Night is an opportunity to share their stuff with the world and a great way to start their careers,” said Leon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in animation from Columbia College Chicago. “This industry might be tough but they are learning to never quit improving.”

COD student Kayla Hedlund’s project, “Cyber Skunk,” features Tammy da Skunk, a rescue ranger for the Q-Town Liberation Force. The character grew out of sketches she made last year.

“My film is set in the near future and is influenced by current events, such as the rise of AI and the political scene,” said Hedlund (Glen Ellyn), who plans to take a gap year after graduating and experiment more with 3D animation. “When I completed storyboarding, I had a seven-minute film. I needed to learn how to refine my ideas and cut out the fluff. It’s not about the scale of the story but how effectively it is told.”

COD student Jose Rivas (Berwyn) came up with the main character for “Isabell the Demon Tween” while taking a cartooning class two years ago. He hopes to turn this piece — about a 12-year-old demon girl escaping hell and living on earth — into a pilot episode for a series he would pitch to a studio or TV network.

“For Animation Night, I needed to focus on what the essence of the story was and how this could be conveyed in a 30-second film,” said Rivas, who grew up with Disney, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. “In the future, I want to devote more time to the universe I’ve created and focus my energy into making a high-quality version of this. When I created this character, I wasn’t sure it would lead me here but it’s been a cool experience so far.”

Learn more about the animation/motion graphics program at College of DuPage at

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