The following was written by Tyler Stahle.

The Television Academy announced the winners of the 41st College Television Awards or “Student Emmy’s” last week and BYU students claimed the top spot in the best animation series and the best commercial.


This year’s animated short story was Stowaway, a hilarious piece about an unsuspecting baby kraken that mistakenly ends up aboard a pirate ship, frightening the pirates. Despite the desperate attempts of the pirates, they can’t seem to rid the boat of the harmless little kraken. BYU animation student Tyler Bitner produced the short film while fellow student Ethan Briscoe served as director and writer.

“I was thinking that you don’t see too many pirates in animated movies. I thought it would be fun to have a swashbuckling adventure,” said Briscoe.

Over 20 students were involved in the creation of the film – skills from animation, design and computer science were required to bring the story to life.

“It’s an easy thing to start a project. It’s a hard thing to finish it,” said BYU animation professor Seth Holladay. “This team was very unified and they made a goal together that this was going to get done. They knew it mattered for their future experience, their future job opportunities, and their future connections. It was such a great team to work with.”

This is the 19th time since 2003 that a BYU animation film has been featured at the Student Emmy’s.

Click here to watch the full animation.


BYU AdLab students also claimed the top spot in the “Best Commercial” category. This year’s commercial was Life’s Journey, a touching story depicting a young man who saves his meager earnings to purchase the convertible of his dreams, a Ford Mustang. As the young man matures he meets a girl and falls in love. The young man then sells the beloved Mustang to purchase an engagement ring for the woman of his dreams. The commercial evokes a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for the journey of life.

The commercial was directed by Tyler Richardson and Asher Huskinson with Rebekah Baker as producer and Campbell George as writer.

AdLab Students in NY
Tyler Richardson, Asher Huskinson, Campbell George and Rebekah Baker (left to right) gather in Richardson’s apartment in New York to watch the College Television Awards.

The idea for the commercial came from Richardson, who says the spot depicts the true story of how his parents, former BYU Advancement Vice President Matthew O. Richardson and his wife, Lisa, fell in love.

“I remember growing up and hearing my dad tell me the story of how he sold his Mustang for my mom’s wedding ring and it amazed me,” said Richardson. “It made me realize that there are more important things than a car. It was such a wonderful, special story that I wanted to re-tell it.”

Baker says that while winning the award is something she and her classmates are grateful for, she’s most proud of the experience she was provided from the BYU AdLab to produce a commercial, something that she now does full-time as a producer for a large agency in New York City.

“It was the toughest shoot I’ve worked on,” said Baker. “Not only did we plan the entire shoot in three weeks in the middle of the pandemic, but there were also some people who questioned whether the idea was even worth investing in. I’m so proud of my team for moving forward in spite of all those challenges. It helped prepare me for the things I do day in and day out for work. You have problems and you have to find creative ways to solve them. That’s what we learned at BYU.”

It’s a sentiment that Richardson shares. “At BYU I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I wanted to major in. I changed my major a bunch of times before I finally found my place. BYU and the AdLab really helped me earn my dreams. It was a great opportunity to be surrounded by so many smart and talented individuals who pushed me to become something better each day.”

Three of the four-team members currently live and work in New York and the group gathered at Richardson’s apartment to watch the award show together. BYU students have won best commercial in the past three Student Emmy competitions.

Click here to watch the full commercial.