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The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

Award-winning animator reflects on process, memorable moments with 1st project

Sophomore Rocco Spampinato teams with others to bring life to ‘Lift’
Anisha Mandem
Sitting in the animation studio, sophomore Rocco Spampinato works on his current project – a follow-up to the award winning animation, ‘Lift.’ “This experience really helped me understand how the animation process works,” Spampinato said. “I’m looking forward to my future animations because of it.”

As the rest of the room buzzes with conversation, sophomore Rocco Spampinato sits with headphones on and pencil in hand, his thoughts and ideas transforming into vivid strokes, which are brought to life through his animations.

Spampinato first got involved with the animation team after his older brother, graduate Giovanni Spampinato, had asked him to help make a background for the student-created animation, ‘Lift.’ The project, created by Eliana Hamilton, Michael Soler and the Spampinato brothers, won the Texas UIL Academic Young Filmmakers Championship last spring, and now it’s up for a “Teen Indie Award” at  the All-American High School Film Festival in New York City. Spaminato and other team members will be in King’s Theater in Brooklyn, New York, Oct. 22 to see if their work claims even more recognition.

“A student in my brother’s class was initially going to create the backgrounds using Blender,” Spampinato said. “However he couldn’t since he was too busy with the other parts of the animation. My brother turned to me since I knew a bit of blender as well.”

Spampinato wasn’t initially in the class at the time, so he drew a majority of the scenes at home.

“I would create the building models and download models like cars, elevators, house decor, off-site,” Spampinato said. “My brother would instruct me on what to make for all the scenes.”

Spampinato said working on the background scenes for ‘Lift’ was the most rewarding. He not only created the scenes but animated the camera movement as well.

“To me it made the 3D world and 2D characters really blend and come to life since they interact with the elements in the scene,” Spampinato said. “It was also much more interesting to me than just simple background shots.”

‘Lift’ went on to win first place at the UIL Academic Young Filmmakers Championship in the Traditional Animation Category. The team took home the title of state champions last spring. 

Michael Logan, audio and video productions teacher and leader of the Eagle Production Group, served as adviser to the process of creating the animation. 

“They (the team) had never animated before,” Logan said. “So they had to choose their software and their style, develop the characters, and come up with a story. It was a lot of planning. They used three different softwares to create the animation – Blender for the background, Procreate for the characters, and Premier to edit the scenes together.”

Due to Spampinato not being a student in the class, Logan said the animation took a ‘tremendous’ amount of work outside of school.

“All over Christmas break, they were drawing for about four hours per day,” Logan said. “Rocco also played the voice of the younger brother in the animation.”

Logan said the ‘best’ part of mentoring the team was seeing the final product that was created and their hard work paying off in the form of awards. Following their state win at UIL, the team went on to win the Pegasus Film Festival and is now nominated, as mentioned above, for the All-American High School Film Festival, which Logan said is known as the world’s largest, most prestigious film festival.

“Just seeing the pride that they take in their work is amazing,” Logan said. “It’s really rewarding seeing their success and just knowing that I was able to provide them with the support they needed.”

Tech application teacher Kerry Phillis had Spampinato in her class last year. 

“Rocco was a quiet student in class,” Phillis said. “But he would complete his class work very quickly – then continue to create and edit his own work.”

This experience really helped me understand how the animation process works. It’s really rewarding seeing a world you created come to life.”

— sophomore Rocco Spampinato

Phillis said Rocco’s final products were always unique and something she looked forward to seeing.

“He loves to animate and create new characters and film projects,” Phillis said. “He was always on the computer working on something fun. He’s definitely one of the most dedicated students I’ve had.”

Spampinato is currently working on developing a script and plot for the follow-up animation for ‘Lift.’

“He’s going to be working mostly solo on this,” Logan said. “Although the rest of the team has graduated, they are still working on developing a series for ‘Lift’ and maybe a prequel to explain the world presented in the animation.”

Spampinato said that although the process itself was tedious, the experience in the end was worth it. Along with his current project, he plans to continue making his own animations in the future. 

“I had a lot of fun making this project with an amazing team and winning UIL,” Spampinato said.This experience really helped me understand how the animation process works. It’s really rewarding seeing a world you created come to life.”


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About the Contributor
Anisha Mandem, Assistant Editor
Anisha is a junior, and this is her third year on ENO. She is currently an Assistant Editor and the Editorial Section Editor. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to Texas at the end of 2021 and works for the newspaper as a writer and a videographer. She is also the founder and president of the non-profit NeuroNext Foundation, the PHS Model UN team, and is a part of SNHS. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, running, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
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    Michael LoganOct 13, 2023 at 11:38 pm

    He is such a great guy!