Animation09 logo,
School of Computer Science UK Schools Computer Animation Competition 2009

Schools Animation Competition: Frequently Asked Questions

About the competition

Who can enter the competition?

What kind of animation can I submit?

What software can I use?

About Alice

About Scratch

About Adobe Flash

About Greenfoot

What is the purpose of the competition?

The motivation behind the competition is to raise the profile of Computer Science to school children across key stages two, three and four. It has three specific aims:

  • To raise the profile of Computer Science as an important and exciting subject. 
  • To help counter any classroom misperceptions of ICT as a “boring subject”.
  • To provide teachers with a new approach to motivating and enthusing ICT students. 

The competition is aimed not only at ICT and computing teachers but to teachers of other subjects in which computing tools and techniques are increasingly being applied. In doing so we hoped to communicate the way in which computing is increasingly enabling advances in other discipline areas. 

What are the rules for the competition?

These are the full rules of the competition.

What are the prizes?

Please refer to our Prizes page.

What are the categories for entries / prizes?

  • Key Stage 2, Individual
  • Key Stage 2, Team
  • Key Stage 3, Individual
  • Key Stage 3, Team
  • Key Stage 4, Individual
  • Key Stage 4, Team
  • 16-19, Individual
  • 16-19, Team

How do I submit my entry to the competition?

Entries are made using our on-line submissions form which will be available when the competition launches in January 2010. We regret we cannot accept entries submitted by any other method.

How many people can be in a team?

Minimum 2, maximum 4.

I am older than 19 - can I enter?

The 19 limit is meant to ensure that we don't have any mature students entering -- the competition is aimed at young people, not adults. There would be nothing to stop a 19+ student assisting with creating an entry (in the same way that we would not wish to prevent parents or teachers assisting) but we regret that we would not be able to accept an entry from a group which contained a member as being older than 19, nor from an individual whose age was greater than 19.

I am aged 7-19 but not at school - can I enter?

Yes, as long as there is a responsible adult who can register for the competition, and take responsibility for your entry. Examples might include a parent or guardian for a young person educated at home, or a certified Youth Worker for a young person from a Youth Club.

Can I make a film about anything I want?

Your animation can be about anything you want, with one constraint: it must be inspired by material from the National or taught curriculum. It might tell a story, or explain or demonstrate something - the only limit is your imagination!
Below are some examples from KS2, KS3 and KS4 but ANY themes from ANY of these key stages can be chosen.
Key Stage 2 - History:
Local history study
Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain
Britain and the wider world in Tudor times
Victorian Britain
Britain since 1930
A European history study
A world history study
Key Stage 3 - Science:
Key Stage 4 - Higher Mathematics:
Powers and roots

For entrants in the 16+ category any curricula themes from AS/A2, BTEC National Diploma, AVCE, etc. in any subject can be chosen.

How will the judges know whether my film has any relevance to the National or taught curriculum?

We are hoping that teachers will support students in their choice of curriculum theme and use their professional judgement to determine whether the content is educationally relevant.

My film is longer than 1 minute. Will it be considered?

Only the first 60 seconds will be considered. Anything after this will be disregarded.

Can I use copyrighted material such as music or images in an animation?

Sure, as long as you own the copyright to that material i.e. you have obtained a copy legally. If your entry incorporates music or sound samples, or images, or any material you have obtained from some other source, you must own the rights to use that material. If you don't have rights to use the material, then, if you win a prize in our competition, and your work is displayed publically, you may find yourself in breach of copyright. This will cause big problems for you, and for us (The University of Manchester). For ideas about sources of feely-usable music, this article from The Guardian has lots of pointers.ŧ

Can I use any program to make my animation?

We can only accept animations created using Alice, Scratch, Adobe Flash, Serif, or Greenfoot. We regret that animations created using any other system are not eligible for the competition. We have taken this decision in order to create a balance between establishing some consistency between entries, while at the same time allowing for some diversity.

Can I export Flash from any program?

If you submit a Flash .swf file, that file must have been authored using Adobe Flash or Serif. We cannot accept swf files have been created using other authoring systems. If you use Adobe Flash/Serif, it is acceptable to use any other programs to create assets that are later imported into Adobe Flash/Serif, provided that Adobe Flash/Serif is used to structure, compose, and author the final animation in swf format. It is not acceptable to use Adobe Flash/Serif merely as a method of importing and converting a complete pre-existing animation, created using arbitrary other software, into swf format.

Can I submit stop-frame animation?

Animations which comprise 100% stop-frame techniques are not eligible for the Competition. However, it is permissible to use stop-frame techniques if they are used as part of an animation created using other computer animation techniques.

How can I get support from other teachers during the competition?

Registered teachers can use our Competitors' forum (available when the competition opens in January 2010) to discuss issues related to the competition.

Who do I contact if I have a technical problem with competition software?

It is envisaged that the teacher who has entered students for the competition will be the first line of support. The developers respective developers of the competition animation software have online support for their software. A list of FAQs for the ALICE software is available here, as is a when things go wrong troubleshooting section. There is also a list of known bugs.

  • If a teacher still has specific technical queries that cannot be resolved they are free to use the Competitors' forum (available when the competition opens in January 2010), where competition team members (and hopefully other teachers) will respond. We can help with general questions about the competition, but we will not be able to help you debug or make comments about your movies before the submission deadline.

What is Alice?

Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a teaching tool for introductory computing. It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate a more engaging, less frustrating first programming experience.

From where can I download Alice software?

Alice 2.0 : download here
Storytelling Alice : download here

What is the difference between the various versions of Alice?

Alice 2.0 is designed for high school and college students.
Storytelling Alice is designed for younger students. Storytelling Alice was created by Caitlin Kelleher as part of her doctoral work in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Generally speaking, the characters have a wider range of behaviours/emotions than those in Alice 2.0, that might be useful as part of a story.
Alice 3.0 is being developed by the Alice team and Electronic Arts. Students will essentially be working in an environment that looks and feels like The Sims. Characters will look and move like Sims characters and the library of The Sims emotional reaction animations will be integrated into the program. This version has a target release date of sometime in 2010.
Although the developers state that Alice 2.0 and Storytelling Alice are designed for particular age groups, it does not really matter which version is used by which age group. It would probably be wise to try both to see which one would be most useful for a particular animation.

Why doesn't Storytelling Alice do what I want?

Storytelling Alice was created as part of a research project as a spin-off from Alice. The developers of Alice do not support the Storytelling Alice and state this on their web site. There may be elements of Storytelling Alice that are not finished or do not appear to do what they claim to do. The practical solution is to not use those features or find a workaround to achieve the same result.

Can I load Storytelling Alice worlds in Alice 2.0?

No, but you can load Alice 2.0 worlds into Storytelling Alice. For instance, the HeBuilder/SheBuilder is only available in Alice 2.0, so you might want to create some custom characters in Alice 2.0, import them into Storytelling Alice, then continue to develop the film in Storytelling Alice.

We are running into problems running Alice on Windows

The simplest way to load the Alice software on to a Windows computer is to download the file from and extract it to a hard drive, either on a local PC, or on a networked computer. This creates a folder 'Alice' on that drive with all the required files inside.
Running Alice: Run the file Alice.exe from within the Alice folder. For slower computers run SlowAndSteadyAlice.exe

  • Problem: The message "Unable to create the gallery viewer" appears and Alice is unusable except by Administrators. Explanation: This happens because Alice needs to write to the folder 'c:\Documents and Settings\username' on the computer that is attempting to launch Alice. Here, Alice needs to create a folder '.alice' to store a preferences file 'AlicePreferences.xml' and a folder 'webGalleryCache' to store the gallery items.
  • Solution (1): System administrators should make any modifications necessary to their network setup to allow Alice users to store their profiles in 'c:\Documents and Settings\username'.
  • Solution (2): Alice reads the path from the Registry key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\Shell Folders\desktop". You could try changing that path to one that you know Alice users have permissions to write to. This would of course affect any other applications which use this particular Registry key.
  • Solution (3): Install Alice on individual PCs.

What is Scratch?

Scratch is freely-available interactive multimedia educational software from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is intended to teach basic computer programming  concepts using simple manipulations of graphics, images and shapes.

From where can I download Scratch?

What is Flash?

Flash is a popular professional multimedia software from Adobe Systems. Software to view Flash animations is freely available for all web browsers, but software to author Flash animations must be purchased from Adobe Systems (there are several free Flash authoring systems from 3rd parties, but these are not robust).


From where can I download Adobe Flash?

What is Greenfoot?

Greenfoot is Java-based programming environment for novice programmers. It's freely available from the University of Kent.

From where can I download Greenfoot?