Students get animated for contest

A South Whidbey High School junior and her team brought their animated short to a state competition.

A South Whidbey High School junior and her team from the Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center recently brought their wholesome animated short to a state competition.

Harper Neff from South Whidbey and her teammates, Maliyah Cassa and Daniel Gomez, were selected to represent the Sno-Isle school at the contest held on May 18 at Everett High School, where they competed against 17 other teams.

The Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center is a public high school in Everett that offers technical training, certifications and high school equivalency credits for junior and seniors, in collaboration with 15 school districts in Island and Snohomish counties, including South Whidbey.

This year’s prompt was “Artificial but not Intelligent,” and students had eight weeks to create a clip. The project was challenging, Neff said, because she had no prior experience with animation. To Gomez, the hardest part was creating the story board.

The team initially brainstormed a few ideas, such as a Frankenstein-inspired story where a scientist attempts to resurrect his lost lover, and a story inspired by GIFfany, a character from a dating simulator in the Disney Channel show “Gravity Falls.”

The team eventually chose Cassa’s idea and created “Authentic-Feeling Feelings,” a story that follows the robot and talk show host Mirkrinkle in his quest for love. As he discusses the concept of love, the robot begins to feel lonely. Because of his disturbing behavior, his attempts to find companionship fail, despite trying his best.

In the end, however, Mir gets his reward.

“You can always find someone of your own kinship, even if it’s kind of hard to do so,” Gomez said.

Though they did not win, the animated short did receive positive reactions from the judges and the audience, and was a valuable learning experience for the team.