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TCCC07 Preview: The Studio competition

By ali_raza_shaikh
TopCoder Member

Competition Overview:

For the very first time in TopCoder Collegiate Challenge history, a competitor will compete to become a Studio Design Champion. The Studio Design competition was already a part of TCO07 and turned out to be a big success. Studio Design, along with Marathon Matches, are brand new tracks for TCCC this year.

Inspiration, Uniqueness, Creativity and Perspective are the main focus of TopCoder Studio. It challenges top creative minds around the world to present their best graphics and web design concepts. The members are required to take their imagination to the next level to design Web Interfaces, Visualizations, Prototypes, T-Shirts, Storyboards, Programs and Presentations.

The format of the TCCC Studio Competition qualifying round is similar to that used during the TCO qualification round. This time the online portion of the tournament consisted of 10 individual design competitions, and here are some statistics:

TCCC Challenge Name Submissions Submissions
REPOST: TSM Presentation Challenge 4 1 1 1
TCCC07 Program Design Challenge 24 7 12 6
TopCoder CPP Storyboard Design Challenge 7 6 7 6
TCCC07 T-Shirt Design Challenge 42 32 21 21
Equitrader EAPTS Prototype Challenge 8 2 2 2
REPOST: ESD Prototype Design Challenge 0 0 0 0
Historical Stock Performance Visualization Competition 15 8 8 6
World Stock Markets Visualization Competition 28 6 11 4
TCCC '07 Invitation Design Challenge 35 17 11 10
Thyche Corporation Plan Library Redesign Challenge 7 1 3 1

As Nickolas already discussed about the submission procedure and how rating works for the Studio design competitions, a member could be given points for multiple similar submissions. Everything remains same, except now points were awarded up to 7 top designs as follows:

  • 1st Place - 17 points
  • 2nd Place - 15 points
  • 3rd Place - 12 points
  • 4th Place - 10 points
  • 5th Place - 7 points
  • 6th Place - 5 points
  • 7th Place - 4 points
  • 8th Place (and lower) - 0 points

One thing I'd like to mention is that now we have a Studio Design Review Board and Studio competitions have improved a lot since its inception. This was something not implemented for the TCO. The process follows the Component Design and Development guidelines to make the process crystal clear. How does it work? After the submission phase, a design is screened to see whether it meets the client requirements; if it does then it is ready for Online Review. The review board is composed of three experienced designers who review the design and in the end three scores from the review board are averaged to produce the competitor's final score. Can you keep the top Studio members away from review? No chance, Studio Admins looked for reviewers from the current Studio member base who can give excellent feedback and fair reviews. So, congratulations to oton & foxyhu as the first reviewers in Studio!

Here are some more TCCC facts:

  • This year a total of 69 competitors registered for the Studio Design Competition.
  • Out of 69 competitors, 42 registered for at least 1 contest.
  • There were 10 challenges in total that fell under TCCC07.
  • 170 submissions were made by 76 unique submitters.
  • A total of 80 submissions passed screening out of 170. So, the success rate is less than 50%, which makes screening one of the deadly phases.
  • 69 competitors represented 24 countries, which makes Studio participation very diverse.
  • 20% of the participants represent Indonesia, which clearly shows why we have 3 Finalist from Indonesia. Are we going to see a champion from Indonesia?
  • 5 of the current finalists already competed with each other during TCO07 onsite finals: amiune, Maraqja, oton, SIGCHLD, and Tricia_Tjia. Time to take some revenge. :-)
  • SIGCHLD and vlad_D are the sole registrants from Italy and Romania who are able to make it to the onsite finals.
  • Are we going to see a Female Champion? Perhaps, since 3 of the 8 finalists are female.

Here are the top eight countries, ranked in order by number of competitors:

Indonesia 14
India 10
United States 9
China 6
Ukraine 6
Argentina 3
Philippines 3
Poland 2

The remaining 16 countries have one competitor each: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Italy, Jordon, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.

The Finals and the Finalists

We already know, competitors with the highest scores will be invited to attend the onsite finals in Orlando, Florida. Highest score? Who said that? You also need a visa, so visa problems continued this year, with broken hearts for some while others enjoyed a trip they weren't expecting. That brings an interesting question to my mind: should TopCoder tournaments be held outside the USA? What do you people think? My vote goes to Dubai, maybe China.

So, just like TCO07, Finalists competing onsite will be presented with their final design challenge during the welcome reception of the tournament. They will receive a packet of information describing the challenge in detail and will have 36 hours to define their approach before the 8 hour challenge during the day of competition.

We are still a few days away for finding the Studio Design Champion. So, what are they thinking now? Let's have them onboard!

So, when did you start participating in Studio challenges? How did you get involved?

vlad_D: After I turned 18. I wanted to participate earlier, but I had to wait until 18.

Maraqja: I knew about TopCoder from my friend. I signed up in May 2005 to participate in logo challenges for big tournaments. Over a year later, TopCoder launched Studio, and I felt that it would be a perfect place for me. I started to participate in several challenges and I liked it so much that I participate nowadays and I'll surely participate in future!


Tell us about your designing background and experience. Do you have any professional training or are you just a hobbyist?

CoralBlue: I haven't had any professional training yet, it started out as a hobby. From traditional artwork on paper, I moved on to graphic design. I've always been torn between my technical and creative aspirations, so digital art seemed to make room for both. I do intend to make it a profession eventually.

oton: At first, I was just a programmer. Then, there was a project that required design skills. I tried it and did it successfully. Since then, I have been in love with design projects.

What are your other interests?

SIGCHLD: I like doing sports, in particular swimming. In the last period, I'm also trying to use my spare time to learn some new basic algorithms that I didn't study at university.

amiune: Well, programming. I'm working on some games and on a e-learning website right now, but I'm really passionate about sports, especially tennis and soccer.

Why did you think that you should participate in the TCCC07?

CoralBlue: I had been participating in TCCC-eligible challenges and seeing the TCCC logo everywhere I decided why not just register for it. And after that point I didn't give it much thought, I just continued participating in challenges as always.

Tricia_Tjia: It's good for my experience because I haven't been there (Orlando) before, so I think this is my chance. Besides, it's so interesting to see a lot of talented people there. That's great. :)


How much time do you usually spend on Studio challenges?

SIGCHLD: It depends mostly on the kind of challenges that are posted in a specific week. I usually take part in storyboard and print challenges. For sure, designing a web page takes many more hours than designing a t-shirt.

Maraqja: It's hard to tell... I participated in about 4-5 challenges but in some of them I didn't pass the screening and in the others I didn't manage to submit my work before the deadline. In total it was a little more than one week.

Has this affected your studies?

Tricia_Tjia: This is the easiest question because I'll definitely say yes, but I think in a positive way: I learn a lot of things from Studio.

Maraqja: No, it hasn't


What type of challenges do you like the most? Why?

SIGCHLD: In general I like web page design challenges. I believe it is the kind of challenge where my creativity is really put to the test. There are many more elements that I have to design than in other competitions and I haven't so many constraints to take in consideration.

amiune: T-shirt design because that is where I can be more creative.

What type of challenges do you like the least? Why?

CoralBlue: Anything involving prototyping, because my code never seems to render properly in Internet Explorer.

Maraqja: I don't like prototypes because they are very time consuming and work is done rather from the backside and you can't see the visual effect of it very well.


Did you ask your friends to participate? Any help provided by your college?

amiune: I always invite my colleagues to try these challenges at TopCoder.

oton: Yes, one is very successful: dktrooper. He came from my high school too.


Your favorite software?

CoralBlue: Adobe Photoshop, always! Starting to get the hang of Illustrator; and Dreamweaver and/or ImageReady+Notepad for prototyping.

SIGCHLD: I love traveling, so when I can't I like using Google Earth to visit new places.

Where do you do most of your design work? Home? College?

amiune: At home when I have a free time, sometimes on the bus.

oton: Home

Did you expect to get onsite?

vlad_D: No, because I didn't score so well, because of my laziness.

Tricia_Tjia: Nope, other competitors are too good... :P


Who do you think will win? Who are your Top 3?

CoralBlue: I'm not sure, since I haven't had a chance to look at the other participants' designs. But the Top 3 would be The Best, The Second Best and the Third Best. =)

vlad_D: Tough question. We will see.

SIGCHLD: I think abedavera and Tricia_Tjia are the favorites.

amiune: If you see the leader board, abedavera is the big favorite but I met the other guys and girls at the TCO and they are amazing: Tricia_Tjia won the logo contest, oton is unbeatable on prototype challenges and web design, Maraqja is an incredible designer and you must see her amazing work as a photographer, and SIGCHLD has a natural talent. So the winner will depend very much on the challenge type.

Tricia_Tjia: My top 3 are abedavera, oton, and SIGCHLD

Maraqja: Hmm... in the interview for TCO07 I wrote that yiming will win and he did. So this time I'll write that I will win and I hope I will. :) Top 3... I'll stand for the ladies so Maraqja, Tricia_Tjia and CoralBlue ;)

oton: I don't know. All competitors seem very creative. I think the challenge will be very challenging.


Any advice for other Studio Members?

CoralBlue: Live life to the fullest, and keep up the good work!

vlad_D: Studio Members: don't be lazy.

SIGCHLD: Just continuing to do what you are doing. You are great.

Maraqja: From the beginning of Studio there have been so many improvements made that all I have to say is: Keep up the GREAT work :)

oton: Keep up your good work :-)