The Anijam Challenge – A first for Scotland

June 4, 2015

Smudge Digital is excited to be growing as an animation studio, based in Film City Glasgow. The AniJam Challenge, a 48hr creative animation mission came to Scotland for the first time earlier this year and Smudge Digital were delighted to host it. Here, Creative Director, Nicole Anderson reflects on the Anijam challenge and what it means for Smudge and the animation industry in Glasgow…


Just a few months ago, Smudge Digital hosted Scotland’s first ever 48 hour AniJam event, held in the CitizenM hotel in Glasgow city centre, as part of the Glasgow Short Film Festival. We had three main factors driving us to organise and host the event; to help create more animated content in Scotland, to showcase the talent that we have here and to really bring the Scottish animation community together. This created a real buzz of excitement around the event, and with the teams ranging from groups of students, to lecturers and successful animation studios, the range of experience within the teams made it a much more compelling competition.

Reflecting on the event, I understand now why so many people questioned why we were responsible for organising it. We are still a relatively young company continuing to find our feet in the industry, but chose to spend a huge amount of time “giving back to the animation community” in coordinating such an event. But for us, that is what we are all about as a company. We have always considered hosting this type of event and  it was at the heart of our plans right back from when we first started discussing the inception of Smudge Digital. It is something we wanted to do, particularly in Scotland, for both new talent coming through and for our peers, to do something a little more creative and fun. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much we love what we do. So where did we get the idea for organising the AniJam? Well like all good stories it started a long time ago (well a couple of years)…


Credit: Laura Liebnitz

Several years ago, when we had just completed university and were on the brink of deciding what to do next, we entered into a similar competition held in Bristol, as part of the Encounters Film Festival. We made a short film in 48hours, and had a huge amount of fun whilst doing so. From that single event we made contacts with other animators and producers, but what we benefited from the most was the sheer exposure of our content and animation skills. Our work was seen by a producer in London who got in touch with us offering the opportunity to create some content for a TV show. The completion of the job brought about our idea to create our own company, and from there, Smudge Digital was born. We are not saying that if you enter this event then your work will get picked up and you will have a crazy urge to start your own company, but the potential could be great. Just creating content to increase your exposure on a different platform from what you’re already using is rewarding enough.

The AniJam is not a new concept – we’re not reinventing the wheel. There have been events going for years in Scotland albeit in different formats. We have had the Hackathon, 48hour Film Competition, GameJam to name a few. However, we wanted to create an event in Scotland that was purely for Animation only. For us, not enough content is getting created in Scotland and that is something that we want to change. We have always believed that in order to be better at your craft you need to be creating more content. As the old saying goes “Practice makes perfect” and what better way to make more content than by squeezing it in to one weekend? Over the weekend, we had 72 contestants in 12 teams, producing 12 films, with a huge amount of success. We have even inspired a group of animators to create a short film they have been developing for years. As part of the event the Glasgow Short Film Festival screened the films as part of their 2015 program, for some entrants it was the first time seeing their work on a big screen. The Glasgow Science Centre has played a pivotal role by screening all the films on their Big Screen, continually supporting the event, so if you are down keep an eye out to see the films.


Credit: Joseph Andrew McLean

Of course, we’re going to say it was great, so that’s why we asked one of our attendees for their thoughts, “This event has had a profound effect on me, it’s really been the impetus to create more and drive me forward professionally. After seeing what can be produced in 48 hours I’m confident the next project (currently under way) will benefit from this and that can only domino into the future.Cave Painters representative

So from that single event we have 12 films, 4 of which we have been put forward to other festivals and it’s inspired at least one team to create more content, and to collaborate with fellow animators in Scotland. We believe we have kick started something, but as always,  more needs to be done and at Smudge Digital, we will never rest on our laurels.

Did you attend the Anijam Challenge this year? Are you interested in finding out more about the challenge or Smudge Digital? Visit the website, follow @SmudgeDigital on Twitter or contact Nicole