Tuesday, December 15, 2020

'A Balanced Breakfast' | Miami Dade College MAGIC x Nickelodeon

For the past five years, Nickelodeon has worked closely with Miami Dade College MAGIC to encourage their students to create and produce bespoke animated short films, through the college's MAGIC (Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex) program. Check out this year's amazing video, A Balanced Breakfast, presented below in English, Spanish and Portuguese below!:

Follow A Balanced Breakfast on Instagram and Facebook!

A Balanced Breakfast is created by Brenna Verner; Produced by Yesenia Grisales & Anthony Leon-Delgado; Original Music Composition by Nicolas Velasquez & Javier Albornoz (NWSA); Character Voices by Isabel Tucen, Isabella Stevens, Dani Vazquez, John Mazuelos & Hailey Hafer (NWSA). Faculty: Renata Ballo and Erwin Santacruz Animation and Game Development Chairperson: Mauricio Ferrazza.

Desayuno Balanceado (en Español):

Desde hace 5 años, trabajamos de la mano con Miami Dade College MAGIC para incentivar a sus estudiantes a crear y producir cortos animados, a través del programa MAGIC. ¡Echen un vistazo al increíble video elegido este año, "Desayuno Balanceado", de @flavorkingdom!

Café da manhã equilibrado (em Português):

Há 5 anos começamos uma parceria de sucesso com a Miami Dade College para incentivar seus estudantes a criar e produzir curtas animados através do programa MAGIC! Dá uma olhadinha no vídeo incrível que ganhou esse ano, "Café da manhã equilibrado", da @flavorkingdom!

Official Miami Dade College press release:

MDC Student Creates Animated Film Currently Airing on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. Across Latin America

MIAMI, Oct. 15, 2020, – Brenna Verner, a two-time graduate of Miami Dade College (MDC), has just seen a long-cherished dream come to life on the screens of ViacomCBS’ Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. television networks as her animated short film, A Balanced Breakfast premiered across Latin America last week.

“I am filled to the brim with overwhelming joy and gratitude. This represents nothing short of my lifelong dream. It is all I ever hoped and worked for,” Verner said. “I’m proud of myself and my team for not giving up and seeing it through despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. It was all worth it to bring this idea to life and it means the world to me to see people enjoying my creations on an international scale.”

Verner, 29, is a proud alumna of MDC’s Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC), a state-of-the-art animation and gaming facility at the Wolfson Campus launched in 2015 to strengthen and better position Miami as the new hub for the animation and game development industries.  

Created by Verner and produced by a team of MAGIC students, A Balanced Breakfast is a 2-minute short film featuring a trio of flavorful sister princesses — Sweet, Salty, and Sour — who argue over what to make their parents for their anniversary breakfast.  As all of the girls have “different tastes,” it winds up being a funny recipe for disaster. The 2D animation was created using Toon Boom Harmony, an animation software which serves as the industry standard and boasts big name productions such as Spongebob Squarepants and The Simpsons.

Verner and team were mentored and guided by MDC faculty and professionals from ViacomCBS Networks Americas (parent company of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.) through a partnership with MAGIC to mentor students and showcase their best work.

“We are very proud of the work Brenna created together with all the students who participated in this animated film production with Nickelodeon,” said Mauricio Ferrazza, MAGIC chairperson. “Our partnership with ViacomCBS embodies the essence of the MAGIC program, working with industry partners to guide students and teach valuable skills targeting the animation industry.”

 Verner first enrolled at MDC in 2009 as the only animation major in the honors program, when the curriculum was limited to 3D classes. After graduating with an associate degree in computer arts and animation, she earned a bachelor’s degree in film, video, and new media from Florida Atlantic University, where she graduated magna cum laude.

In 2015, she returned to MDC to participate in the MIA Animation Conference’s first Indie Game Design competition, in which she won first place. Her winning video game design featured 12 original characters including a candy-coated girl named Dulcia, who she would later develop into Princess Sweet and eventually created the entire Flavor Kingdom, now featured in A Balanced Breakfast.

Impressed by what she saw at MAGIC, Verner became an MDC student again in 2018 and earned an Associate in Science in animation and game art.

Born and raised in Miami, she is the oldest of three siblings raised by a single Cuban mother, which taught Verner about resourcefulness and self-sufficiency.

“Coming from a low-income family, I knew it was entirely dependent on me to earn enough to afford my college education,” she said.

While studying hard and working full-time, she maintained a 4.0 GPA, saved money, and continued to dream of animation, a passion she discovered as a child when she picked up her first crayon. Now she is the first in her family to graduate from college and pursue a professional career.

She also uses her skills and talent to bring out the best in children with and without learning disabilities, or “different abilities,” as an animation teacher with Danimation Entertainment, Arts 4 Learning, and Varsity Tutors.

“My dream, besides creating my own cartoon series and working in a studio like Nickelodeon, is to continue teaching animation to kids,” she said. “I love to empower students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to be themselves and chase their dreams. I help my students all over the world to build both their animation skills and their self-esteem, and in doing so, it feels I am fostering the next generation of artists and changing the world.”


With facilities that mimic the production pipeline from PIXAR Studios, and located at MDC’s Wolfson Campus, the Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) offers students an intensive, hands-on two-year program to develop skills in modeling, lighting, motion, sound, and storytelling. The program also provides an opportunity to gain command of the technical skills required in today’s highly competitive animation industry. MAGIC bridges the gap in affordability and accessibility, providing quality programming and the very best facilities at a fraction of the cost compared to private competitors.  For more information, visit www.magic.mdc.edu.

For more information about MAGIC, please contact Mauricio Ferrazza at 305-237-7852, mferrazz@mdc.edu.

Follow Brenna Verner on Instagram at @flavorkingdom.


Animated Short Film By MDC Student Airs On Nickelodeon In Latin America

A Nickelodeon Smile: Brenna Verner's animated short film, A Balanced Breakfast, aired on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in Latin America in October. ANNABELLA GOMEZ / THE REPORTER

Many kids dream of becoming cartoon artists and seeing their drawings come to life on television. That dream became a reality for Brenna Verner.

Verner’s animated short film, A Balanced Breakfast, premiered across Latin America on the screens of Viacom CBS’ Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. television networks in October.

“I remember I would get in trouble in school because I would pass around my comics in class,” said Verner, a Wolfson Campus student. “My classmates would always ask me ‘Yo! When is the next chapter coming out?’ and that kept me super motivated. I am glad I never gave up.” 

The two-minute film stars three sisters—Salty, Sour and Sweet— who are princesses from the Flavor Kingdom arguing about what to make their parents for breakfast on their wedding anniversary. When they have different opinions on what to make, it winds up being a recipe for disaster. 

Verner, 29, started at Miami Dade College in the Honors College at Wolfson Campus in 2009. Two years later, she earned an associate’s degree in computer arts and animation before transferring to Florida Atlantic University where got a bachelor’s degree in film, video and new media in 2013.

She returned to MDC in 2015 to participate in the MIA Animation Conference’s first Indie Game Design competition. Verner won.

Her winning video game design featured twelve original characters including a candy-coated girl named Dulcia, who she would later turn into Princess Sweet and became the basis for the Flavor Kingdom seen in A Balanced Breakfast.

But Verner did more than win. She left impressed by what she saw at MDC’s Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (better known as MAGIC). In 2018, she enrolled in the program to work toward an associate in science degree in animation and game art. 

“My passion is more geared toward visual development, character design, concept art and storyboarding—the actual creation of the ideas and the characters in the story,” Verner said. “I feel like MAGIC gave me the opportunity to pursue 2D animation and my dream.”

Verner originally created A Balanced Breakfast as her final capstone project, where some contestants got a chance to pitch their idea to executives and professionals partnering with MAGIC at the time. After being selected by the judges, Verner made her pitch to this year’s partner—Nickelodeon.

The crew that brought A Balanced Breakfast to life includes Verner, producers Yesenia Grisales and Anthony Leon-Delgado, music composers Nicolas Velasquez and Javier Albornoz from the New World School of Arts, and character voicers Isabel Tucen, Isabella Stevens, Dani Vazquez, John Mazuelos and Hailey Hafer. Among contributing faculty: Renata Ballo, Erwin Santacruz, and MAGIC chairperson Mauricio Ferrazza.

“We are very proud of the work Brenna created together with all the students who participated in this animated film production with Nickelodeon,” Ferrazza said. “Our partnership with Viacom CBS embodies the essence of the MAGIC program, working with industry partners to guide students and teach valuable skills targeting the animation industry.”

Production for the short film began last spring but the team ran into a few issues. No one knew how to use Toon Boom Harmony—an animation software that serves as the industry standard. 

When they figured it out, the team was hit with a bigger obstacle: the pandemic. That prevented them from accessing the equipment at MAGIC’s computer lab and made collaboration harder.

But they adjusted by working longer hours to make the project happen. 

Aside from creating video games and short films, Verner teaches animation for DaniMation Entertainment, an autistic talent development company based out of Los Angeles. The program features students of all ages. They learn how to design and animate cartoons using industry-standard software. 

“I feel like this is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have done in my life,” Verner said. “A lot of my students have disabilities such as autism. They give students the opportunity to learn animation and train them to be assistants and employees, which is great because I get to help all these kids create their own cartoons and movies.”

She also works at Arts 4 Learning, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing arts education in her community, and Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with professional personalized instruction. 

In the future, Verner, who is scheduled to graduate from MDC at the end of the spring semester, hopes to make A Balanced Breakfast into a cartoon series.

“I have a bunch of little flavorful adventures that I am cooking up for the girls,” Verner said. “I do want to share that little by little on Instagram. This has the potential to be a full-blown series.”


More Nick: Nickelodeon Launches Animation 'Intergalactic Shorts Program'!

Originally published: Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

Additional source: Miami's Community Newspapers.

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