GridMarkets is a global cloud rendering company that works closely with freelancers and visual effects studios around the world to process high-quality content for the film,  television, and commercial industries. Several months ago, GridMarkets implemented a  student discount program – which attracted a sizable following of students from around the world. The Company recognized that many compelling benefits would  result from connecting its student and professional customers. With this thought in mind, the inaugural 2017 GridMarkets scholarship was established. Its goals were threefold, to:

  1.  identify and promote talented animation students,
  2.  create opportunities for students to engage with industry professionals, and
  3. provide industry professionals with a window into student talent.

Two leading universities participated in this first of its kind scholarship: Brigham Young University and Savannah College of Art and Design. To be considered, students were required to submit an original 90 second animated video created with Houdini. All submissions also included a “breakdown” (i.e. detailed explanation) of how the video was created. The latter required students to articulate the technical and aesthetic judgements used during the creation process – and formed part of the judging criteria.

Judgify made it possible for a virtual panel of distinguished industry judges to evaluate and decide the best of the submissions. Judges evaluated a submission’s aesthetics, technical merits and clarity of the breakdown.

The winning submissions were “Going Down” by Ben Nelson (of Brigham Young University) and “Hope” by Alireza Bidar (of Savannah College of Art and Design). These two submissions showcased the completeness of animated compositions and great artistic communication. The winners were granted $US3000 GridMarkets rendering credits for the academic year, $US500 of tuition support, Houdini Indie licenses (thanks to SideFX), a full SigGraph2017 pass (thanks to Sohonet) and mentorship (thanks to a number of professional VFX artists).

As the scholarship competition was organized for the first time, a range of challenges emerged.

Challenges to address

A location independent system needed to be established for the judging process – as the participating judges spanned the globe. Also, given the demanding schedules of the judges, a responsive and intuitive platform was needed to minimize time-consuming training.

Why did it matter?

Without a user-friendly system for flexible project submission and evaluation, neither judges nor students would have been able to meet the deadlines.

The implementation options considered

The scholarship organizers considered, but hoped to avoid developing a proprietary solution for their scholarship requirements. When the Judgify solution was discovered – it seemed a very good fit.

The failure to select a convenient, reliable and intuitive judging platform would most certainly have derailed the scholarship timing, or even result in the contest’s cancellation. An inability to process submissions within the given timeframe could have been frustrating for hard working judges volunteering time from their busy lives. This would risk the experts calling off their engagement with the program.

Upon testing several software solutions for awards contests, GridMarkets chose Judgify as the most proficient and easy-to-use. The scholarship organizers also found the customer support friendly and approachable which helped them make their final decision.

When it comes to the roles of Judgify, the software was responsible for accepting the submissions from the students and presenting them to the judges as efficiently as possible.

  1. Judigify, So intuitive No training necessary

Due to time zone differences, it would have been very challenging for the GridMarkets 2017 organizers to train judges and contestants on the software. As Judgify’s intuitive interface eliminated any training requirements . . . GridMarkets made a choice to start the contest with minimal guidance. Although approaching the software as inexperienced users, the judges had no issues or questions on its use.

  1. Judging anytime and anywhere

The judges were able to sign in at their convenience and start their evaluation of the submissions anytime. Due to the full integration with mobile devices set in place, there was also no restriction on the means of accessing the platform.

Through the help of customization modules, setting up the judging criteria and evaluating the projects accordingly were simplified considerably.

There were two judging rounds involved. They were easily launched with the feature of setting up an unlimited number of rounds per click. All submissions were open for access to the judges from the centralized dashboard.

The cooperation between Judgify and GridMarkets was win-win. With all objectives met, the software proved to be a good solution for judging from diverse locations around the world.

Minimal training resulted in smooth Judgify use for everyone, which is great proof that the intuitive interface of the software facilitated error-free user performance.

Due to unlimited scaling and the lack of restrictions on uploaded file sizes, the participants had no issues with forwarding their projects to the judges. The only feature that might have enhanced the experiences that the contestants had would be having an URL link or a video embed option in the submission form. Although it was possible to put links into a single line field, the judges still had to copy and paste them.

Given the aggressive timeframes for the judging exercise, GridMarkets organizers concluded that it would have been impossible for judges to complete their evaluations on time without the use of Judgify. With Judgify’s simple judging round and submission setups, time-efficient project evaluation became an integral part of the process.

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