Up-and-coming digital creators featured on Times Square billboard

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(BPT) - Visitors to New York City's iconic Times Square are amazed by the dazzling display of light, colors and motion on the famed location’s digital billboards.

Creating innovative motion and images to capture peoples’ attention in this dynamic urban landscape can be challenging even for professional animators and video producers. This holiday season, talented college students are showing how they are up for this task by creating incredible 3D animated artwork to awe passersby as they walk through Times Square.

In the inaugural "Wonderbox Showcase" digital art competition, sponsored by global innovator LG Electronics, students from across the country were invited to submit animations creating their own digital worlds, opening to reveal a moment that invites curiosity, then amazes, engages and delights viewers — taking them to a whole new world of possibilities.

The winning artwork will be displayed on LG's Times Square billboard from mid-December through mid-January. The prizes to be awarded are: first place, $25,000; second place, $10,000 and third place, $5,000. Winners will also receive a 27-inch LG 4K monitor.

After reviewing submissions from students across the country, an expert judging panel selected three finalists:

"Giant Present" by Chloe Ko, School of Visual Arts, New York City. Born and raised in South Korea, Ko specializes in 3D motion graphics and Houdini FX. "Christmas in New York City is amazing," said Ko. "It's the holiday season, so I thought, why not start with a big red gift box? I wanted to give this project a cute, uplifting vibe."

"Rocket Ship" by Evan West, Utah Valley University, and Ashley Johnson, Brigham Young University. West is a motion designer who says he wants to pursue his love for animation and design working at a top-tier motion design studio, and Johnson is an illustrator, textile artist and clothing designer. The married couple used the competition to combine both their talents.

"Our artwork features a rocket on an exciting journey through space," said West. "The theme of space travel represents forward progress in all aspects of life. We want to continually explore uncharted territories, innovate to find solutions to life's problems and share beautiful creations with the world."

"Gnomes" by Sera Mun, Maryland Institute College of Art. Mun is from Seoul, South Korea and moved to Baltimore to study animation. "I produced Gnomes with the intention of prompting happiness and dreams in viewers," said Mun. "What came to mind were vending machines you commonly see in New York, and the animation represents the current situation of society. During COVID-19, many people were trapped in their rooms. This animation is a message of support for those who have suffered or are currently suffering."

The competition judges were three acclaimed creative artists with backgrounds in design and animation:

GMUNK is a visionary who has established himself as one of the top visual design directors in the world. His commercial resume includes campaigns for iconic brands such as Nike, Adidas, Microsoft, Audi, Maserati, Mercedes, Uber, Dolby, Tonal, Hummer, Infiniti and HBO.

Penelope Nederlander is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated digital artist with over 20 years' experience in 3D and 2D motion graphics, VFX, compositing, animation and illustration. She has created animating titles for films like Birds of Prey, The Harder They Fall, Pitch Perfect and Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2, plus VFX supervising and post-production on music videos for The Killers, Dolly Parton and Sean Lennon.

Clinton Jones, noted director and 3D/VFX artist, makes 3D art fun for his audiences through in-depth tutorials, livestreams and massive 3D challenges. His goal is to create detail-oriented, story-driven art and to inspire filmmakers, 3D artists and big dreamers to learn and grow together in creative pursuits.

"It’s always exciting to see how different people interpret a challenge and opportunity like this. This LG corner wrap-around screen is such a fun canvas to play with and all the contestants really explored the space in different and fun ways,” said Nederlander. “Quality of finished product is always high on the checklist when weighing entries for a winner, but for me the 3D tools are just that, tools, to tell a story, as well as how visually interesting a piece might be. I look for a well-rounded approach combining all these aspects.”

Learn more and view the winning entries at LG.com/us/wonderbox.