CAT Animation’s Department Head Sean Ridgway talks us through a great workshop opportunity he set up this past term to multi-train recent grads for current industry gaps.
One of my motto’s as Animation Department Head at Centre for Arts and Technology is that we won’t rest until your career is kick-started. I believe that – as a graduate of CAT 2D Animation– you will always find success if you want it badly enough. Many are fortunate to find it right away; some need to display the three ‘P’s’ (Persistence, Patience and Perseverance) coupled with that all-important deep-seated Passion to land that first opportunity.
In September 2018, we had an awesomely talented group of CG students graduating with great portfolios. Unfortunately, their timing for entering the animation market place was a rare perfect storm of studio closures and layoffs here in BC. First in Vancouver, you had two major Japanese game companies (Capcom and Bandai Namco) close their doors in September and November, putting hundreds of seasoned artists on the market. Then in Kelowna, you had Disney Interactive pull the plug on their long beloved Club Penguin property and Bardel Entertainment enter into their first hiatus between projects. Again, you find hundreds of experienced artists suddenly searching for new opportunities. Pile onto this an already competitive market for junior artists.
Move ahead to 2019 and some good news: Yeti Farm Creative in Kelowna announced two major animated television series they were ramping up on and indicated an approximate need for 60-80 new 2D artists, primarily animators skilled in using ToonBoom Harmony. I saw an opportunity here to get these great grads a foot in the proverbial door It’s important to note these students graduated with a CG diploma, but the curriculum in their two-year program placed a lot of additional emphasis on 2D Animation and design as part of their overall training. My thinking was why not approach Yeti and determine if someone on their staff would be interested in leading a Bootcamp that would focus on converting these CG grads into hirable 2D Harmony animators. Yeti was very open to this and put me in touch with Logan McMillan, a current Harmony supervisor and 2007 alumni of the CG program at CAT. This was ideal because I wanted someone with previous CG experience, who themselves had been converted to animating in a 2D pipeline. I felt this individual would have a better way of communicating and drawing the parallels between a CG software like Autodesk Maya with Toon Boom Harmony.
So fast forward. I put the word out to our grads that – at absolutely no cost to them – we were offering this excellent opportunity on site at CAT. We instantly had 14 seats filled. I anticipated needing a total of 24 intense hours of workshop time. Combined with Logan’s expertise and his creation of studio pipeline asset exercises, we were pretty certain to pull this off. The preferred outcome would, hopefully, be landing an animation test and interview with Yeti. All in all, Logan took these grads from A-Z in terms of software proficiency over a three- weekend period. We provided full access to the CAT animation facilities along the way to support their goals in landing a job with Yeti at the start of June. To date, five graduates have successfully tested, interviewed and landed a contract with Yeti. The CAT Animation Department couldn’t be happier for those who grabbed this excellent opportunity, embraced it and excelled. I write this because it’s a testament to our never- ending encouragement, support and outside the box thinking that we at CAT bring to ‘the table’. In keeping with that metaphor, it’s up to our grads to trust the chef, eat up what’s being served, memorize the recipe, and then serve that dish yourself.
LOGAN McMILLAN |Animator, Yeti Farm Creative, and Harmony Bootcamp Instructor
“I was impressed with how well the 3D graduates adapted to Toon Boom Harmony. Helping students start their animation careers was a truly rewarding experience! Now the CATO 3D graduates are working on one of our Harmony productions; thrown directly into the fire, and have adapted well. Their superb attitudes and willingness to learn has been key.”
TREW LENTZ | Harmony Bootcamp Attendee and CAT Alumnus
“As an alumnus, being told about CAT’s Harmony Bootcamp was not only a great opportunity for myself to broaden my skill set, but to also give me an opportunity at another avenue to break into the industry. Along with the help from the instructors that work currently in the animation industry taking the Bootcamp not only taught me how to animate in a program that I had previously never used before, but it also gave me the extra step I needed to get into the industry with my first job resulting from the Harmony Bootcamp. Any and all instructors are and always have been willing to go above and beyond to help current and graduated students from CAT with a plethora of opportunities and even just checking up or letting you know about possible jobs for young artists to pursue. The Harmony Bootcamp that CAT held and executed was one of the many opportunities that the school continues to offer the students that strive to succeed!”