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Villa Maria’s Students, Alumni, and Faculty Create Video for the Korean War Legacy Foundation Premiere Date Set for June 15 at Villa Maria College

A year-long project for a group of Villa Maria’s current animation students, alumni, and faculty will premiere publicly on Saturday, June 15. Villa’s team worked with the Korean War Legacy Foundation to create an animated film that preserves the history of the Korean War while promoting some of its positive out comes.

“The Korean War Legacy Foundation approached us in the hopes of making an animation that can be used in classrooms to help get younger students interested in the history of the Korean War,” said Jeffrey Werner, the College’s chair of digital media arts. “This was a major project that took our students a significant amount of time to complete, and they gained authentic experience as they worked.”

The project began at the start of the Fall 2023 semester. “Students began by exploring the interviews on the KWLF website and putting together a script,” continued Werner. “Then, they moved on to creating test animations to get used to their art style.”

Creating the animation also gave students the opportunity to work with alumni – graduates of the same program in which they are currently studying.

“We brought in two fellows, two recent graduates, who led the project,” said Werner. “They spent the entire summer and fall semesters providing art direction and working on storyboards and animatics. Their work helped shape the final animation.”

As the project progressed, more alumni became involved. “This Spring, we brought in three recent graduates as interns. They worked as lead animators and helped motivate the class. As a team, we spent the last four months animating, illustrating, and compositing until the film was complete.

In the end, five alumni and 18 students collaborated to create the animation, including a music student who created a unique score for the film. Joe Giardina, instructor of animation, served as the project’s creative director while Werner served as its executive producer.

The following students, alumni, and faculty worked on the project:

  • Sierra Annunziata, ‘22: Director, Character Design, Background Design, Animator, Colorist, Compositing
  • Courtney Brisky, ‘22: Lead Background Design
  • Timothy Clavier, ‘23: Storyboards
  • Caitlin Cork, ‘24: Layout, Rotoscope Animation, Animator, Colorist
  • Delanie Daigler, ‘24: Layout, Rotoscope Animation
  • Derek Ditkowski, ‘22: Editor
  • Kareem Donmore. ‘24: Head of Story, Storyboards, Character Design, Background Design, Layout, Visual Development, Animator, Clean Up Design, Colorist
  • Rachel Falsone, ‘22: Lead Animation, Background Design, Colorist
  • Joseph Giardina, Instructor of Animation: Creative Director, Story, Background Design, Layout
  • Eli Henry, ‘25: Background Design
  • Erin Hill, ‘24: Story, Visual Development
  • Savannah Hicks, ‘24: Layout, Clean Up Design
  • Emmanuel Kamoche, ‘25: SFX Animation
  • Cameron Knisley, ‘21: Lead Animation, Background Design, Colorist
  • Aramis Marquez, ‘25: Layout, Lead Animation, Clean Up Design, Colorist
  • Aurora Mills, ‘23: Visual Development
  • Joshua Quinones, ‘24: Story, Visual Development
  • Timothy Reinard, ‘25: Rotoscope Animation
  • Salem Saloman, ‘25: Layout, Production Assistant
  • Brianna Scutt, ‘23: Production Coordinator, Visual Development, Production Coordination
  • Michael Scrivens, ‘24: Story, Storyboards, Visual Development
  • Asha Titus, ‘24: Storyboards, Layout, Production Assistant
  • Nathaniel Washburn, ‘24: Layout, Animator
  • Jeffrey Werner, Assistant Professor: Executive Producer, Editor, Sound Design, Compositing
  • Milissa Williams, ‘25: Original Score

Annunziata proved to be a critical resource to the project’s success. “Sierra was brought on as one of the fellows during the summer of 2023,” said Werner. “She was so good at leading the class that she was made the film’s art director during the fall semester. “She continued to excel and produce excellent work; she earned the title of director as a result.”

Dr. Jongwoo Han, president of the Korean War Legacy Foundation, will travel to Buffalo this weekend to attend the public screening of the film. All members of the Western New York Community are welcome to attend. Villa Maria College is located at 240 Pine Ridge Road, Buffalo, NY 14225.