'Mm... wait, what?' they said. 'That's ridiculous.'
'I know!' I said. 'Isn't it great?'
I was brought into Animation Decathlon by Kensington and Chelsea Council to design the way that the event would be experienced by the public and make it fun. Hard to go wrong, really, when you have banks of giant multicoloured game-control drums, but there were a lot of questions to be answered: how long should people play for? What do they do while they're waiting for a turn? What else is going on in the space at the same time?
My answer to 'how do we make it fun?' generally involves 'can we add ribbons and balloons?', and in this case we could - to divide people into brightly-coloured teams when they arrived at the town hall. And since it was a sporting event, surely there should be some atmosphere?
Pom-pom making and cheerleading workshops. Sports bibs. Whistles.
Extreme Chalk Racing. Plus a very enthusiastic coach to keep everyone excited, and two fantastic commentators watching from the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea's balcony - one of whom had come all the way from New York.
There were just two potential problems, and both of them revolved around the event designer's greatest enemy: nature.
Firstly, because the event was aimed mostly at families, we couldn't begin too late in the evening - but the whole event needed to happen when it was dark, or else the projections wouldn't show up. This meant we had to schedule the Decathlon for the week before daylight saving began - even if we weren't quite sure we'd be ready in time.
And secondly, what if it rained? There was nothing we could do about it except check the weather forecast obsessively for days in advance.
In the week before the Decathlon, the forecast for the night in question switched from clear to cloudy to rainy to cloudy to clear again. Of course we made contingency plans, but there's only so much contingency you can plan for; if it's pouring, players won't come out, and if it's really pouring the light from the projectors won't even reach the wall through the sheets of water.
In the end, despite all my bad dreams about trying to erect a leaky tent over the whole of Kensington Town Hall, it didn't rain; players did come out; it got dark at the usual time, instead of staying light until midnight as a result of a freakish shift in the earth's rotational period; and all manner of possible likely and unlikely problems didn't arise. The courtyard was filled with the sound of cheers and frantic drumming.
And at the end of the night, once all the players had gone home and the courtyard was empty, the commentators and programmers and designers and coaches all sat down at the controllers, and we had a go. It turns out I am an embarrassingly poor animation decathlete; but on the plus side, I'm quite good at making pom-poms.
The Animation Decathlon event took place on the 21 March and was the culmination of a year long project working with young people across Kensington and Chelsea to create fantastic 2012 inspired drawings and animations.
The Animation Decathlon game is currently being scaled down and developed as an interactive touring exhibition which will travel around schools, youth and community centres across London. This will provide further opportunities to showcase the work produced by participants in the project, educate young people about career routes into creative industries and inform residents about ways to get involved in and make the most of opportunities arising from London 2012.
We are delighted that the project has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire mark, which recognises outstanding projects and events helping deliver the Games' lasting legacy.
For more information please contact Kensington and Chelsea Council's Arts Service by emailing Arts@rbkc.gov.uk