Each year the senior cohorts of CAT’s animation programs make the pilgrimage to Vancouver. The goal is to tour studios, network with industry professionals/alumni and to be exposed to the city itself over a 3-day period. This year was our 14th annual ‘Studio Crawl’ and was vocally considered a rousing success by all who attended. Due to the larger numbers, 2D and 3D students are split up and divided into separate tours, therefore allowing us to target studios that focus entirely on their program production and artistic aspirations. For the 2D students, the itinerary involved visiting Titmouse, Slap Happy Cartoons, Atomic Cartoons, and Kickstart Entertainment. The 3D students toured EA, Sony Imageworks, Bron Animation and Atomic Cartoons. Together both 2D and 3D toured DHX Media.
“I really enjoyed being able to visit the studios first hand and being able to get a feel for the different atmospheres and communities that the studios have,” says Brooke Mitchell, AGFVE student. “Having that experience helped me decide exactly what I’m looking for in a studio when applying for positions.”
Thrown into the mix is a networking social, held at a local eating and drinking establishment on the first night of the trip. Many of our alumni working in Vancouver, coupled with former colleagues of Sean Ridgway, the Animation Department Head, attend this event and are paired up with students whose industry goals match theirs. We’ve found students who come prepared to show some work can make some serious connections for once they’re closer to graduation and searching for that all-important first job.
“My favorite part of the trip was the networking event that was set up for us,” agrees Brooke. “Making those connections was probably one of the most important things about the trip. I have kept those connections since then and have received helpful feedback and critique while wrapping up my final projects and completing my portfolio.”
The second night consists of going to watch an animated feature (Toy Story 4 this year) and allowing the students to relax and explore the city without any mandated itinerary. The last day of the trip consists of the students breaking off into groups and, with a CATO staff team leader, explores living in the city. This includes exposing them to the transit system, rental areas, different communities and artistic venues that hopefully remove any trepidation about living and working in Vancouver. All in all a jam-packed 3 days and a great experience.
“I’d say the connections I made are the most important thing I took away from the trip,” says Brooke. “The second most important is that I am more confident, and in turn more excited, about moving to Vancouver to start my career.”
‘Visiting Vancouver, where it’s near impossible to throw something and not hit an animator, is invaluable to exposing our students to all the possibilities that the city provides from both a career and personal perspective,” says Ridgway. “The people we meet and studios we visit echo the students training at CATO and provide much-needed motivation and direction for these, soon to be, young professionals.”