Topic: Some Concerns about THAC & Future Contests
As we all know, THAC wrapped up over a month ago and the results were recently posted. Before we get started I want to say Congrats to all the winners and the Top 10 who placed this year.
Now that we got that out of the way, I’d like to take some time to address a few concerns I had with the overall judging of the famous contest. THAC 2018 had over 60 qualifying entries this year, that number keeps growing as more people are becoming more interested in participating. There were only three judges to review all those films.
The Top 10 were announced and displayed in the contest winners’ forum post, however to some peoples’ surprise many of the films that made the top 10 didn’t seem to match what the judges were supposed to be looking. For anyone out there thinking that I’m writing this as a hit-piece, please know that that’s not the intention. I’m just an animator and film critic pointing some things out.
In last week’s Season opener of the Frame100 podcast, the hosts went through the Top 10 entries that got acknowledgment. Starting at the 10th spot was “Cease Fire” by Twickabrick, a very good animator (s). However what ended up winning THAC 2018 was The Exquisite Corpse by RealBrick, Chris W., and Lucas. Both films were well animated, and interpreted the “Unlikely Alliance” theme in an original way! What’s important to understand here is that while both films were well done, these two films (In my opinion) should have been switched. Here’s why:
In the description for THAC XV, Nathen Wells (The current Host) listed what your brickfilm would be judged on:
“Entries will be judged on criteria including originality, production values (animation, set design, cinematography, sound, etc.), story, and creative interpretation of the theme by the judges. Films will be discussed and ranked collectively by the judges until a consensus is reached. The top 3 films will eligible for the prize pool. Entries below 10th place will not be publicly ranked.”
That’s a direct quote from the original forum post. If this was, in fact, true, The films in the Top 10 should be ranked differently. I’m not going to get into every single brickfilm and explain why I feel it should be moved to “X” RANK. So I’ll use the first place entry & the 10th place entry to explain.
Starting with “Cease Fire”. The Animation in this film was spot on! It was smooth, no camera bumps or light flicker. The story was unique, and lighting and color correction brought the film to life. It had been argued one of the judges that Cease Fire didn’t have a lot of animation. (Source: Far & Away Future Productions). The ENTIRE film was an animation. It had subtle movements that really made the minifigures look real. There was nothing to bring you out of that world in any way. Yes, there was a lack of animation e.g (Walking, running, jumping, panning etc.). However, that’s not an element that should be considered when judging. Overall the film met the Judging standards listed above.
Now let’s talk about the 1st place entry “The Exquisite Corpse”.
This film was another well-animated entry. It had a dark twist that really sucked you into the sick romance of a man and his corpse. Which I personally found really enjoyable, I loved the taboo nature of the story and its characters. For a film being as long as it was, it was even more impressive! However, let’s bring something to light.
This was animated by more than one person. This was a collaborative endeavor by three people. This, in my opinion, shouldn’t be judged using the same merits as let’s say “Brick city cops”. That was another entry animated by one person. The reason why this raises some concerns for me is simple. You have a film that is being animated by more than one person, which means less work per person (in theory). This means that a lot more ground can be covered in shorter amount time than just having one person do everything. This undermines the concept of THAC. One of the other major points I wanted to hit was this quote specifically:
“Films will be discussed and ranked collectively by the judges until a consensus is reached.”
I understand that obviously, judges need to agree on the films they are representing. However, something to note: “SillyPenta,” The site Admin said during the frame100 podcast last week “BiM contests intentionally don’t judge on specific criteria”
This, in my opinion, is problematic. If you are a judge of a contest, you should follow the guidelines that you’ve listed. By not following those guidelines, you end up with results like “My gut tells me that I should go for “X”. Or “Oh I don’t like this, just because.”. These are not professional ways of critiquing films. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but to me something just doesn’t pass the “smell test”.
There were also only three judges for over 60 entries. This is also a problem, and here’s why:
If one judge particularly likes a certain film, chances are he will want that film placed high. With only two other people to “veto” that film, chances are they won’t. This also comes down to the nature of the relationship between judges, which is a post for another time. The point I’m trying to make is that if these films aren’t being judged by strict guidelines, It doesn’t make any sense to enter a contest. When I enter a contest, I expect to know what it is exactly I’m being judged on so I can make a film that best fits the requirements.
It’s really discouraging to find out that the hard work in a film will go unnoticed because the entries aren’t being judged on the what was outlined in the contest rules. It makes me feel like there’s no point in putting out my best work if that’s not going be judged on its animation etc.
So, I pass the questions off to you fellow community members: What do you think of the current judging system? Is there any way we could as brickfilmers could help make these rules more clear for future events?
Am I being harsh? Do you feel like my concerns are justified? I would love to get a civil discussion started!