Why I Don’t Participate in Contests

      25 Comments on Why I Don’t Participate in Contests

Well, I’ve taken the Aniboom Radiohead Contest banner down. I posted about the contest a little while back here. It looked like a pretty OK contest even though I stated later on in this post that I wouldn’t enter it myself.

But since it was primarily a storyboarding contest and this being a storyboarding blog, they approached me. They offered to give me a link in their resources section if I put up a banner on my site. I did and they gave me one. It wasn’t in a very promenent place and I seemed to be in the company of only their paid sponsors. Not many links there at all. Weird, but what the hey. No skin off my nose and I got a few click-throughs.


Frankly, I’ve never really gone back to the site since. Just kind of forgot about it and then I’d take the banner down at the end of June when the contest was over.

Yesterday one of the search terms that found my site was ‘aniboom contest scam’.

Ohh-kay. Interesting.

I wondered what was brewing over there but again, forgot about it. Who knew if that person found anything about that subject, right?

Then I get an email today. Most of it wasn’t so much a message to me but a cut and paste from the Adult Swim message boards and some links to the message boards on the Aniboom site.

It didn’t look good.

They’ve picked their ten finalists that get the $1000 to make a minute of animated footage from their storyboards.

But there’s a problem.

Most of those top ten are not storyboards at all. Maybe two or three are. The rest are fully animated or partially animated 2D and 3D clips. It has come up that one or two of the finalists have taken existing footage and just edited it to a Radiohead song. No original story made specifically for that song. On one of them, twelve people were credited. There is proof to some of these claims.

I went and I looked. I couldn’t even sit through most of them.

I don’t get it.

Some people in the message boards even said the wording of the rules and regulations ‘changed’ during the contest. I have no proof of this obviously. The commenters in the forum didn’t really come off as sore losers or whiners to me. Most were very articulate and raised many good points about fairness and what the real spirit of the contest was supposed to be.

Which should have been original storyboards and animatics FIRST. Then the finalists would do one minute of animation. But the rules didn’t forbid an animated entry (and welcomed them), so there lies the loophole. I just figured you’d be crazy to put in all that effort to animate something. A storyboard contest seemed reasonable.

The forum moderator came off as flippant, illiterate and bit of a jerk to me (sorry buddy, but you did). I know he’s getting all the flak for something he probably has nothing to do with, but he’s not taking anyone’s concerns seriously.

That’s a problem.

These people just want some answers. A statement. A denial. Anything. Aniboom is losing face over this. What they set out to do may be blowing up in their face. That’s too bad.

There is a ‘wild card’ entry that’s still open and some folks are killing themselves to make their entries. I think that’s nuts. Why bother? There is so much damn work involved just to make an animatic and these people are now trying to pump out one minute of animation. My hand-drawn final film for school was 45 seconds and took the better part of 5 months. It’s a crapload of work. Even with the tools today.

I say stop doing it. Your time is worth more than a slim chance at getting one spot.

Tons of people made 4-5 minute storyboard animatics. That alone is very time consuming. I currently get 5 weeks to do an eleven minute storyboard. And I bust my ass by the end. These folks worked hard to get that done in the month or so the contest gave them. Now they feel cheated and duped. It’s just a shame.

Even the $1000 is a joke to make one minute of animation. The $10,000 for the winner is too. Sorry, but it is. You know how much work it would be to animate all that? TONS.

But if you’re just re-editing some existing footage, it’s a pretty sweet deal.


This is why you have to watch out for contests.

To me the only type of contest to enter is when you submit work you have already created (and go into it knowing that). They have advertising and graphic design contests like that. You retain rights because you already created it. It’s judged for what it is. But they are probably far and few between for animation. There are lots of festivals though.

I just feel bad for the true fans of the band that put so much time and effort into this thing. Go check it out if you like. I’m not going to give the links…you can find it.

I just feel better by stepping away from the whole thing because it left a bad taste in my mouth. And yes, I’m emailing Aniboom to remove my link on the site.

I’m going to post an entry I discovered from a former student of mine Ben Meinhardt. He was recently featured on Cartoon Brew and is a very talented guy. Even before I got to him. 🙂 His entry is a true storyboard animatic with movement. I know this took time to do and it deserves to be seen. Check out his entry here:


Then go check out his site. It’s nothing fancy but has links to a series he did for MTV and links to his school films which remain in my top ten to this day. You must watch “Binge and Purge” first. Then “Dancing Animals in Love”…one of my favorite flash films EVER. Try to get the song out of your head after…no can do.

He rocks. Enjoy.

What do you think about all this? Did I make the right decision? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

UPDATE: My link has been removed from the Aniboom resources section as I requested. I feel all clean again.

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25 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Participate in Contests

  1. dan szilagyi

    Hey Karen,

    Good points all around on this topic i say, i heard about the contest and at first it seemed like a good idea, but then i thought about the prize money and what you have to do to get it, it didn’t seem to be worth it for me to bust my hump so that the band can get a sweet video or even boards and then use it to make money.
    And you’re right, tons of people (lots who we know) killed themselves in order to get something out, i guess in part lots of people think if you win then you’ll get more attention and possible job openings? or fame? who knows.
    I think something like making a short 5second animation for an intro to a website ( like the mytoons thing that happened a while ago) is fine because the work you do is done already, but for something like radiohead the whole thing just sounds fishy.

    good job on this post!


  2. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Dan,

    Thanks for that. I’m really curious what others think about this. I was leary about putting up the banner, but at the time it seemed reasonable.

    They should have made the rules to be storyboards/animatics ONLY to level out the playing field a bit more. Anyway, thanks for the input and it’s a good lesson to all. Don’t waste your time.

  3. ben M

    Hey Karen! This is Ben, thanks for the kind words!…and yeah, that contest turned sour when they announced the semifinalists…of course the 10 best ‘boards’ is a subjective matter but (as you mentioned) one of them is simply edited together scenes from a previously made film…but the real insane thing is it’s a one minute clip..it is not even the full length of the radiohead song.

    i just dont get it….

    i am actually kind of relieved i didnt win because trying to actually make what i boarded would be suicide(especially for the price)…but to see who did win undermined the entire point of the contest, and you couldn’t help but get that ‘scam’ shiver….(there Are some good ones amongst the semifinalists).

    i had fun making this board but i’m done with it. yayyyyy, animation industry!

  4. Kay Nender

    It’s too bad they didn’t stick to judging the storyboards first. It seems all the best writing comes from people who’s storyboards were the simplest. They could have picked the best stories and then matched them up with stronger animators and had some really great work. Instead, the finalists are mostly unwatchable for sheer lack of anything happening.

    It doesn’t matter how good an animator is. If he didn’t work with a writer, or spend as much time studying good writing as he did studying animation, he will bore everyone to death!

    What an awful waste of time and talent!

  5. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Ben: Hey guy! I’m surprised you found me so fast. Congrats on the Cartoon Brew thing and those MTV shorts. I remember you telling me about them a couple of years back.

    Yes, the whole thing is a shame. They had a chance to show not all contests are scams and they’re really bordering on it. Ugh. But it’s so true about what a headache it could have been if you had WON. I think a lot of entrants didn’t really think about that. How much of a nightmare you would have had ahead of you for that amount of money. It doesn’t go far.

    Maybe it all was meant to be. On the bright side I got to see your entry. Curious how many other people I know on there. Thanks and hope you come back. 🙂

    @ Kay: Hi and welcome! So true. Story is everything. Not just storyline but character and appeal. Like I said, I had a hard time sitting through most of them. You have to wonder if they really looked through all the entrants.

    I’m sure there’s some real lost gems in there. With a lot of sweat that went along with them. Thanks for your input Kay. 🙂


  6. Debi

    Just throwing my 4 cents in (weak amerian dollar 😉 )…
    I think you did right. Sounds like they burned a lot of people, not something you want to be assoicated with, especially for only a link. Now if they paid you…that’s another story. 😉

  7. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Definitely no money involved…thank god!

    Would I be a bad person to be gleeful of your dollar? It’s sure making my upcoming US vacation a lot sweeter than the one I had 3 years ago. Gotta love ‘almost on par’.

    Yes, I’m a bad person… 🙂

  8. Rowdower

    i completely agree with you karen. my submission (http://www.aniboom.com/Player.aspx?v=198874), which i thought was in the true spirit of the contest, lost to either animation companies or people who used pre-rendered material. it’s just so aggravating and unnerving that this would happen in a radiohead contest. but then again, i don’t think anyone expected aniboom to be run by complete and utter jackasses.

    one of the things that should’ve clued me in on what type of contest this was going to be was near the beginning when aniboom decided it would be a great idea to forgo their earlier deadlines and begin the contest a week before it was scheduled. not only that, but their web player had so many audio problems that the music came out distorted while the system used to submit storyboards took most people weeks to get anything into the contest, let alone those poor souls who tried to get their storyboards in at the last minute.

    there were so many great submissions that it boggled my mind to see that the final 10 were just abysmal in comparison. honestly, i thought that ben meinhardt was going to win one of those spots. his animatic was just great. sucks that all of us were suckered into thinking this contest was going to be anything but a complete disaster.

  9. roger

    I think you have summed up the main issue perfectly. I have posted several times at the Aniboom forums trying to make those points.

    I also don’t think that the “judges” watched all of the submissions.

    There was such a mad dash for the $1000 that some animators started ignoring storyboards/animatics and tried to dazzle with slick visuals.

  10. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Rowdower: Hi and welcome (hey, at least I’m getting some cool new readers out of this whole thing 🙂 ). Yes, yours and Ben’s submissions are what most submissions should have been like. An original animatic from a storyboard that had a STORY.

    I’m very curious who actually runs Aniboom myself now. I’m getting the vibe that it’s just a bunch of tech savvy teenagers or something. They are keeping very anonymous. If they really are in the industry they sure as heck don’t want to be known. Doesn’t build much trust.

    I was browsing their About and FAQ pages. I wonder if anyone has received any money from their little ‘profit sharing’ thing they claim to have. Very curious. And they say they’re going to pump out contests one after the other. Hmm…let’s see how many folks enter them after all this.

    Everyone really has to be careful with this stuff. Contests like this usually just profit two parties: the people running them and the people who get the ‘winning entry’. Not the artists.

    @ Roger – Hi and welcome to you too!
    What most amateurs don’t realize is that $1000 (and the $10,000) is truly nothing when it comes to animation. It’s a very expensive medium and that is a small drop in the bucket for what it really costs.

    Here’s a little reality check: a 5 minute storyboard…ONLY the board (no revisions, no animatic made, just the bare board)…is worth about $2500-3000 (if not more in some cases).

    Spending all that time to probably lose your rights and all for nothing is truly heartbreaking to me. And it makes folks really bitter. This industry is hard enough, never mind with all this kind of crap lurking about to make it worse.

    Thanks to you both for sharing your thoughts and experience with this. Hope you come back. 🙂

  11. roger

    Thank you! This is an amazing blog you have here. I wish I had found it sooner. There is lots to learn here. It’s bookmarked and I will definitely be back often.

  12. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Don’t you all feel better now?

    I should have my own contest for the entrants (since the work is already done). An hour of phone consulting/critique to get real feedback on your storyboards.
    What do you think? 🙂


  13. Aitor Herrero

    Hi Karen!
    Sadly, I was one of the contestants this fraudulent contest.


    I confess that I am not a fan of Radiohead, had never heard a disc theirs. Nor the money was an incentive for me (I live in Spain, 1000 dollars converted to Euros, is frankly very little money). I presented to this competition because I am tired of working under the direction of another person, I usually story-boards for TV series. I thought it was an “entertainment” was fun and if luck and was selected, it would be good for my resume and future work. In addition, I wanted to compete because I seemed surprising and very professional contest the idea of a contest for Story-boards!
    When I made my story-board believed necessary to make some small animation for better understanding, because he did not want to mess with images letters, so consult Aniboom about it. They told me they were flexible, so I tried to encourage so coarse and as little as possible, so that despite asking permission, not like he was taking advantage an elaborate animation. Well … My surprise was great when I saw the semi-finalists. It was all completely designed, animated, colored, etc. … and some not arriving in two minutes! I took react, totally entranced by the winning videos (many of whom had not seen the list that was three weeks and by that we did all our work fast in order to gain positions in the popular vote) as saying went, I had a feeling inferiority in mind that my work was mediocre compared with the semifinalists, really surprising, if we think that it was done … in just 3 weeks! but reading within the forum I ido learning of the fraud. At the moment, we are mobilizing the contestants and is exciting to see how “maybe” thanks to the Internet can do something about it. I doubt that the contest changed, but at least Aniboom and Radiohead have to clean up its image after that.
    A greeting to all and I’m sorry for my bad English (I am writing through an automatic translator)!


  14. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Aitor! (I’ve become intrigued with these automatic translator thingies)

    Sorry to hear you were yet another to waste their time. My feeling is they launched the thing and got overwhelmed with entries. Then the folks deciding the winners are probably not artists or in the industry (heck, maybe they are…I don’t know). So they couldn’t look past what a storyboard is and just went for the ‘bright, shiny thing’ that looked nice (in their eyes) and went “Whew! OK, that was much easier.”

    Now they just keep blowing smoke up your butts saying how awesome and talented you all are and how could they decide between all that awesome-ness?

    The most insulting thing is in their last response (thanks roger) when they say they “leveled the playing field” by ALLOWING previously made animation. Huh? Wha??

    They just don’t get it. It’s too bad.

  15. HalieDawn

    Hey! Yeah, I’m also one of those people who got duped. My video:

    Seeing the semifinalists was a total bummer. I remember first watching the Faust Arp video by Dany Saadia and thinking that it looked like previously existing footage with a Radiohead song edited into it. I didn’t comment about it, but later I went back to the video’s page and saw that some had posted a quite lengthy comment about how the footage was created by an animation team and was intended for some completely different project. I replied to this comment agreeing with the person who wrote it, as well as some other’s who felt the same way. When I went back to that page a few days later the ENTIRE comment was deleted concerning the fraud within the entry. I couldn’t find any function on Aniboom that allowed a person to delete the comments on their video, so I’m assuming that Aniboom themselves deleted the comment.

    There was another video that I saw that was also created by an animation team and done at least a few years earlier for another project (http://www.aniboom.com/Player.aspx?v=197778, a video originally for Radiohead’s “The Gloaming”, however, the entry was submitted using the song “All I need” and it was entered by the guy who produced and designed the costume in the video. He wasn’t the animator nor do I think he did any animation in the video at all.) Anyway, I decided to post my opinion on the video, as well one other viewer, and the comment also became very lengthy, yet it hasn’t been deleted.
    I’m just wondering what got the comment on Dany’s video deleted and not the comment on the “All I need video” deleted? Essentially it was concerning the same sort of fraud, however, within a few days the comment on Dany’s video become nonexistent. It just seems suspicious to me.

    Some people have been saying that the people complaining about the semifinalists are sore losers. I’m sure that there are some sore losers out there, but for me personally, I didn’t care if I won or lost, in the end, I was just really hoping a really interesting Radiohead video would come out of this competition. A video that could visually represent what Radiohead’s songs musically and lyrically represents. What I am most disappointed about is that I do not think that any of the chosen semifinalists can accurately and justly represent the song that corresponds with their video. All the semifinalists appear to lack any interesting or complex storyboards…plus most of them were cheats.

    I think that I will finish my animation eventually, because I would really like to see what I can do with it. I’m not a professional animator at all, nor am I trained in animation. I’m just a high school level visual artist who learned how to use flash, and as I personal goal, to see myself complete an animation that I have honestly put a lot of thought and time into would be a great accomplishment. But if I finish my animation, or get to the one minute point, do you think I should submit it to the contest anyway? I know I won’t get anyway within the Aniboom community, but just for the sake of showing what my storyboard has translated into, should I submit what I create? Hm.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed you’re post about the contest, and appreciate everything you’ve written about your opinion on what’s going on. Thanks!


  16. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Halie and welcome. 🙂

    Considering you’re in high school that’s a pretty good video you have there. Keep at it!

    I certainly hope they’re not deleting any comments. I have to say at least they’re keeping up all the negative forum discussions…it would be really bad for them to delete anything there.

    The decision to keep going is up to you. But my opinion would be just do it for yourself as a portfolio piece. I certainly wouldn’t give this contest any more of my sweat if I were you. But as a personal accomplishment, go for it. Start your own site or blog and put it up there.

    Thanks for coming by and I hope you come back. I’ll be putting up more content for beginners as well. Not just people with training. So maybe you can pick up a few tips to improve your work. Keep me posted if you do go forward and good luck!

  17. dan szilagyi

    Hey Karen,

    On a different note, and maybe a possbile future topic to write about? i know you talked about how to be succesful in the industry, but what about trying to get work when you have little experience, this might just sound quite dumb of me to ask but i’m in that jam right now i think, i’m not sure if its because i lack enough experience or flat out right aren’t good enough ( because you never get an answer back after you reply, unless they hire) or maybe because its slow and lots of more experienced people are also looking for work, so what kinds of things can one do in hopes of finding a way in? i wouldn’t mind to hear some of your hardships ( if you don’t mind writing about them) because i find those are fairly useful in terms of getting a handle of how things work.
    Speaking of work, you wouldn’t know of any places looking? i’m tempted to try AKA but i’m not even sure if they are working on anything

    just some thoughts~

  18. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Dan,

    I wish there was something to say here to help you out but this comment section is probably not the place. I will try to write a post along these lines soon.

    But the short version is that it is tough right now. It’s slow. This is the true test of who keeps at it and who gives up. You may have to do something else in the meantime to pay the bills. Many others have and it’s not failure. It’s surviving. This business goes in cycles and we had a big boom a little while back and now it’s on the down turn, but hopefully not for too long.

    I’ll try to give you something more in the near future about this issue. To be honest, I’ve been very lucky in my career and my biggest hardship has usually been burn-out from over-work (don’t hate me). It’s either a feast or famine out there!

    And don’t ever be afraid to email me direct too. Chin up. 🙂

  19. Debi

    Hi Dan,

    I too am in the trenches with you, though recently it has been getting better. Everyone always says it comes down to luck, of being in the right place at the right time…only problem is some of us have a knack of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m one of those. My suggestion is just to try to be everywhere, all the time. Luck can’t hide all the time.

    Just brainstorm all you can, find places that might need your work, think outside of the box too for places to look. Ask anyone you can for suggestions. Take what jobs you can to build up a resume and portfolio. Slowly you should see more and more jobs coming..and by slowly, I mean years. As Karen said, its all about who keeps at it and who gives up.

    And one last suggestion, (I know this is just a blog and I’m sure you’re better in professional letters, but just in case…) make sure when you’re contacting anyone about any job/question/anything job related over the net, watch your typing. Your first impression on the net is your typing and grammer. It’s your “dress suit”.

    Oh, and Karen…CURSE YOU AND YOUR LUCK!!! 😉 j/k

  20. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    It’s skill baby…all skill. 🙂 j/k too

    Thanks for that input Debi. It’s good for folks to hear it from others besides me. Hate to say it, but I can’t totally relate to having it really tough *knocks wood* in this (animation) business.

    They say luck really is just when preparation meets opportunity. Keep working on the ‘preparation’ then when that opportunity comes, you guys will be ready. If you want it enough, it WILL happen.

  21. Justin Smith

    Hey Karen,

    Im sure you won’t remember me now but you taught me storyboarding a few years back! Just wanted to say great site and your right on about this contest…I never entered nor had any intention of entering but after reading about this mess, its apparent there was a complete lack of planning on Anibooms part. I think you did the right thing by removing the banners and separating yourself from them.

    And for the few people who said they entered because they really wanted to do work of their own, there are other opportunities out there and ways to at least give yourself a chance to do your own thing. Be very careful with contests. So often you end up doing a lot of work so that someone else can make a buck of it. Even with the limited amount of experience I have had in this industry, I recently have found that if your persistent enough, have good ideas and really believe in your work, some of the bigger studios down in the US WILL give your ideas a chance and at least get them into development. Whether they go anywhere, who knows but its a start and in my opinion, a much better use of your time and talent than many of these contests!

    Sorry about the rant Karen 🙁 I just get real upset when people get taken advantage of in this industry. I have been very lucky to have been employed by the same studio since school ended but I know if I were desperate for work, I may work for a lot less than deserved.


  22. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Justin!

    Yes, I remember you (OK, I had to go check my old student sheets…glad I kept those). And when I checked out your blog I definitely would have remembered you because of your film. Love those designs!

    Rant away! You know you’re a true animator when you’re ranting about something. 😉

    Thanks for your input. It’s great for people to hear it from the folks right in the trenches. About what is possible out there.

    Congrats on the steady employment! That’s great to hear. Hope you come back with more input (and rants). 🙂

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