I staffed the Sacramento Regional Event, this last weekend, and I loved it. It was a great experience, and I want to repeat it, next year, however, one thing that irked me a lot was the Animation Competition and Award.
I’m not an animation person, but this doesn’t really make any difference, I am rather disturbed at a fairly simple fact. During the awards ceremony, on Saturday night, when The Autodesk Award for Visualization came about, there were three noted teams, 115, MVRT, and 114, Los Altos High School, who were in attendance, at the event, and team 192, GRT, who was not in attendance, at the event. Team 192 won the award, and while I agree that they should have won, as their animation was excellent, in my humble opinion, I don’t think they should have even been eligible to win at the event, as their team was not in attendance.
The main reason this was possible is because of the fact that FIRST decided to have a “confrence” system for the Animation Award judging. Every team who submits an animation has to specify one of five national confrences (Western, Midwestern, Northeastern, Eastern, and Southern) to which the team’s animation is submitted. Three of these five confrences contain five specific regional events, and the other two contain four. Every single animation submition is judged, and eligible for an award, at every individual regional event in the same confrence. So, theoretically, a team could win 5 Awards for Visualization in a single year, and have ten trophies to show for it, despite the fact that they might have not competed in any of the regional events at which their animation was judged (as you can specify any confrence as your submition confrence, even a confrence with no regional events in which your team is competing).
As far as I know, this is the first time that FIRST has had an award which was possible to be won by a team who was not attending the event at which it was won, and, as such, it robs many teams. In the situation which I just experienced, GRT’s team was not at the event in question, Sacramento, and they did not have the change to walk the line of judges, or to even be applauded by the other teams (who did, in fact, vote them into winning), which I find rather unfortunate. It also, probably, is rather disappointing for the teams who actually were attending the event, and who submitted animations for judging, who may have had excellent animations, themselves (as teams 115 and 114 were noted as being very close runner-ups, for the award). Along with personal feelings, this adds a certain amount of political pressure on teams who were judged, but who feel that they may have been cheated, and will therefor give other teams an artificially inflated or deflated score, not based on merit, but because of the fact that they may have already won an award at another event.
If it were to be changed, I would suggest that only teams who are competing at any specific event should be judged at the event. Team 192 did not attend the Sacramento Regional, so they should not have been eligible to win an award at it.
I’m, personally, very disappointed with this aspect of this year’s Animation Award, but at this point, there’s nothing we can do about it. The rules are already set. However, if you agree with me, I urge you to contact FIRST by email, or whatever, explaining why you’re disappointed, as well.
It’s rather unfortunate to see FIRST make such a mistake, but it’d be even more unfortunate to see them not correct it for next year.