RMIT animation students have had their original tribute to silent film star Buster Keaton showcased in the United States at the 21st Buster Keaton Convention.
Third-year students Sophie McPike, Sam Ross, Mia Freeman and Leon Truong created an end sequence for a hypothetical re-release of Buster Keaton's 1921 film The Playhouse, as part of their Bachelor of Design (Animation and Interactive Media) degree.
The work came out of a studio that allowed students to focus on creating motion graphics for title sequences.
Nikki Crabtree, the Programming co-chair for the International Buster Keaton Society, contacted the students after seeing the video online.
“We loved the animation and thought it would be enjoyed by our members,” she said.
“The artwork is spectacular and really captures the essence of The Playhouse.”
The convention, held in Michigan last month, featured film screenings at the historic Frauenthal Theater with live accompaniment, special guest speakers, informative presentations, a walking tour of the Bluffton Actors' Colony and a memorabilia auction for Buster Keaton fans.
The idea for the animation was sparked after Sophie McPike presented on the genre of silent film comedy to the class.
“The brief asked us to form groups around the genres people liked, and Buster Keaton was instantly the favourite silent film comedian to animate,” she said.
“I absolutely love Buster Keaton, I have painted and drawn his face hundreds of times and I've seen all of his films, so I was super excited when I received an e-mail from the International Buster Keaton Society!”
Mia Freeman was equally as thrilled to have the group’s work shown internationally.
“It is super exciting, not to mention flattering, to have our tribute to Buster acknowledged and viewed by other fans,” she said.
Helen Dickson and Rebecca Hayes, the group’s lecturers, agreed that having the students’ work sought out by an international organisation was a great achievement that highlighted their talent.
“The students are extremely talented individuals, and all of the animation staff are thrilled for them,” Dickson said.
“Projects like these help to provide students with an understanding of what is required when working on animated productions within the industry,” Hayes said.
The Bachelor of Design (Animation and Interactive Media) looks at animation in all its forms – from the animated character to motion graphics across linear and interactive environments – and is one of the most popular animation courses in Australia.
Story: Emma Morgan