By Megan Mahoney, USA Rice
SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Copious research. Tedious work. Contemporary thinking. It's a winning combination both for rice production and for the National Rice Month Scholarship Contest grand prize entry.
Jared Fitton, winner of the 2017 Dow AgroSciences-sponsored scholarship, received a $4,000 scholarship and a trip for two to the awards ceremony at the 2017 USA Rice Outlook Conference here Monday.
This year's competition was fierce with 68 entries - more than three-fold over last year - from all six rice producing states. Fitton's winning entry was a stop-motion video created to help promote, and increase awareness of, U.S.-grown rice.
"I wanted to think outside the box and be interesting and entertaining," says Fitton, a self-proclaimed computer science nerd, who attends Santa Barbara High School Computer Science Academy in Santa Barbara, California. "I decided that a stop-motion video would help show the versatility of rice by changing shapes created out of grains to tell the story."
Stop-motion is an animation technique to make static objects, in this case rice, appear as though they are moving. To create the video, Fitton made a camera mount in his garage so he could shoot pictures directly over a table covered with a black paper backdrop. From there, he slowly moved the rice around the table into different images, capturing every small movement with a picture and repeating the process.
"It took around seven hours, but my little brother helped out and kept me entertained," he says. "It was a good bonding experience."
The pictures then went into a program that greatly increases the speed at which the images are viewed to give the illusion of movement, and Fitton recorded voiceover that paired with the video.
"National Rice Month is a time to celebrate the hard work that rice farmers put into making one of American's favorite grains," Fitton says in the video introduction. And to truly appreciate rice, he helped viewers understand how rice is produced, harvested, and milled; the environmental benefits of rice; and, the positive economic impacts of rice.
Fitton's personal takeaway from the project is the positive impact rice contributes to his home state.
"To put it into perspective for the average teenager, with the $500 million rice contributes to California's economy, you could buy 1,113,585,000 chicken nuggets," Fitton says.
Go to thinkrice.com/scholarship for more information on USA Rice and the scholarship sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and to view Fitton's video, titled Rice in Motion.
This year, Olivia Davis of Shreveport, Louisiana, was awarded second place and a $3,000 scholarship for her video, Celebrate Rice! The third place award of $1,500 went to Jessa Goodeaux of Lonsdale, Arkansas for her video, Rice Unites Us!