Green Eggs…but no Ham

After a 5-day delay, the “Ham it Up” contest hosted by Dr. Seuss/Random House in honor of the 50th Anniversary of “Green Eggs and Ham” announced its winner. And sadly, in spite of what WE think was a pretty impressive entry, we were not among the winners.  The contest used a combination of votes and judging, and the voting public apparently was not as impressed with our entry as WE were!

Some interesting lessons learned, however.

1 – There was a very impressive entry by a class of first graders which was “approved” as an entry, but went way beyond the 2-minute limit in the contest rules (as well as breaking the rule in 2, below).  My 12-year-old, without telling us, apparently sent the contest organizers an email pointing this out the night before the originally scheduled announcement of the winner.  I wonder if the first graders had any idea their teacher had missed a couple of details in the rules?  Or are they still scratching their heads after all the work they put in?

2 –  The contest rules stated that “Each person appearing in your Entry must be 13 years of age or older (unless it is your child, who may be under 13 years of age).”  Now, either 3rd graders have gotten a lot older since I went to school, or someone had enough kids to fill an entire classroom.  It does, however, open the window to a whole lot more votes…which I’ll talk about next.

3 – The other tricky part was how the voting worked.  Dr. Seuss had a slick interface whereby when you uploaded your entry, you were offered a variety of ways to publicize your own video and encourage others to vote for it.  It’s basically designed to have you bring others to their web site – using Facebook, Twitter, even an email they generated for you.  But here’s the tricky part:  once a day, people could “vote” for your video by selecting from one to five “green eggs”.  How were the winners determined?  By the NUMBER of votes.  That’s right – 500 “one egg” votes beats 499 “five egg” votes!  Personally, I believe they originally meant “average rating” – when voting closed there were a number of vids with four “eggs” or more.  I suspect, however, that the delayed announcement of the winner came from not being able to narrow it down beyond 4.00, and they thus opted to re-interpret their own ambiguous rules to select winners with the MOST votes (no ties there, I presume).  Here is the para from the contest rules; judge for yourself:

6. Voting to determine eleven (11) Finalists: The public voting to determine eleven (11) Finalists will take place during the Voting Period (as outlined above), by accessing the Website, registering and following the voting instructions. Any votes received before 10:00:01 a.m. ET on October 5, 2010 or after 11:59:59 p.m. ET on November 3, 2010 will not be counted. Individuals may vote only one time per Entry, per day during the Voting Period. The use of robotic or automatic devices for voting is prohibited and Sponsor reserves the right to nullify all such votes and to disqualify from voting the responsible individual. . In the event of a tie during the Voting Period, tied Entries will be judged by the judges based solely on originality.

7. Judging to determine the Grand Prize Winner and First Prize Winners: The Finalists (as determined by Voting in Rule in Paragraph 6 above) will be judged on or about November 15, 2010 by a Sponsor-selected panel of judges based on the following criteria: Originality (25%), creativity (25%), number of votes during the Voting Period (25%), and relevance to the book (25%) to determine one (1) Grand Prize Winner. The remaining ten (10) finalists will be determined First Prize Winners. In the event of a tie during the Judging or after the Entrant’s scores have been tabulated, tied Entries will be judged by the judges based solely on number of votes during the Voting Period.

Call me a sore loser – but I clearly remember a number of the finalists had hordes of votes, but pretty low ratings.  Still, it says “number of votes”.  I believe they originally intended “ratings”, not “number of votes” – or else why would they use number of votes as a tie breaker (last line of the excerpt above)?

Still it was a fun contest that tested my creativity and that of my daughter, as well as some of the technical aspects of DIY moviemaking.  I hope to find some time to describe some of the techniques we used to put our entry together, because here at TAZM Pictures, we specialize in creative, low-budget solutions to try and replicate some of the animation and blue-screening effects we see done by folks with much more impressive budgets.

Our entry, should you wish to see it, is repeated below:

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