Thursday, April 24, 2008

Industry Day at Sheridan College

In this neck of the woods, there are two times of the year where there's something resembling a gathering of the clans: the Ottawa International Animation Festival and Sheridan's annual Industry Day, where the graduating students screen their films for studios looking to hire. Lots of friends can be counted on to show up for the screening and this year I had the pleasure of seeing former students who are now working and who came to recruit for their companies.

Several people from the industry told me that they felt this was a very strong year. My own thought is that there were some excellent films and the overall batting average was pretty high. I'm sure that many of these films will show up in festivals and eventually on YouTube and other video sites.

I've got to acknowledge Tony Tarantini as the faculty member who has organized this event for the last two years. Tony has to invite people from all over North America, create printed material to explain procedures and list films, arrange award presentations for the students and make sure that there's enough food and drink to keep everybody happy. Industry Day takes as much preparation as a wedding and Tony makes it look easy.

Finally, congratulations and best wishes to the graduating class of 2008. I hope that the industry provides opportunities for them to grow as artists and to realize their ambitions. If that happens, we can look forward to some wonderful animated films.

Below are some photos of the event.

In the four pictures above, some of the students from the B.A. program display their work for the industry.
Above, the students in the post-graduate cgi program host the industry in their lab space.
Above, Marilyn Friedman of DreamWorks is interviewed for a local newscast.
Above, Director Larry Jacobs is under the rabbit ears and Steve Schnier, whose independent live action film Pubic Lice is nearing completion, stands next to him.
Above at left, Tom Knott of Laika speaks to Evan Spiridellis of JibJab.
Above at left, animator Stephen Barnes listens to cgi program coordinator Mark Simon
Above at left, animator Charlie Bonifacio speaks to retiring instructor Vivien Ludlow. Vivien will return part-time in the fall to help mentor 4th year students during the making of their films.
Above, a display of the set and characters from the stop motion film Crema Suprema by Elenora Ventura. Sheridan will be starting a regular stop motion class starting in September, taught by Chris Walsh, who missed industry day due to the arrival of this little fellow:

Finally, Brock Gallagher, a third year student, has cut together a highlight reel of the films from his year. These films are group projects, made by teams of about a dozen students. Next year, they'll all be making individual films and I'm looking forward to seeing them.


Pete Emslie said...

I'd have to concur that this was a particularly strong year in both the 4th Year personal films and the 3rd Year group films. I may be a bit blunt in my assessment, but I feel that last year's crop of 4th Year films included far too many Flash produced efforts with little more than moving graphics. Many of them were very good in terms of storytelling and filmmaking skills, but were frankly disappointing in terms of character animation.

This year was a pleasant surprise for me, as I feel that the majority of 4th Year students really aspired to more personality based, full character animation. Though there were some very impressive CG films, I'll admit I'm still biased in favour of hand drawn animation and I found much to like this year. The highlights for me were Andrew Ferguson's "The Street Magician" and Matt Kalinauskas' "Two by Two", both of which showed great flair for cartoony design; Melissa Maduro's "A Romance in Graphite" and Marion Coffey's "The Little Colour Thief", both showing simple elegance and charm in their appealing, fluid character animation; and of course, Vlad Kooperman's very impressive "C Block", which I know received a very positive reaction from everyone in the theatre. And these are just a few of the better ones, as there were many other notable films I enjoyed very much.

All in all, a very impressive and entertaining screening yesterday at Sheridan, and I think the graduating students should be very proud of their achievements. I look forward to seeing great work from them onscreen in the years to come and I'll always have fond memories of working with them in my class back in their 2nd Year.

chuck said...


It was a real pleasure to attend this year's student screening.
The overall quality of animation, draftsmanship,design and filmmaking
was outstanding. There were so many
students with great talent I hope I have the pleasure of working with any one of them in the near future. The hard work paid off. Congratulations!
To the staff and students.


Steve Schnier said...

Hi Mark,
Again, another standout year for Sheridan. While the quality of the work was up to its usual high standards - and thanks to Pete Emslie for noting the standout productions (and saving me the effort of checking my notes) - there are some thoughts I'd like to pass along to the students in general - and the students entering 4th year in particular:

"Almost" every film was too long. With the exception of "C Block" and "A Romance in Graphite" (and maybe one or two others) EVERY film should have ran at 1/2 its present running time.

Here's a RULE OF THUMB regarding story -- If it doesn't advance the plot or character... CUT IT!

I would prefer to see a short, finished piece that highlights your ANIMATION skills - rather than story sketches, keys, etc. Sorry guys, there's no excuse for an unfinished film (says the guy who finished HIS student film 19 years after graduating).

And believe me, there isn't a David Lean (director of "Lawrence of Arabia") in this industry. Long, lingering shots just don't cut it - so CUT THEM! Show us animation performance! Make us care about your characters!

Keep it short and sweet. Get in - Wow us - Get out! Period.

It's a tough biz. You are looking for jobs. You have to impress people. We NEED to see solid animation skills.

That said, I had a great time. Loved the films and it was great to see everyone again. Even Larry...

Thad said...

That is some great student work!! When I was at Sheridan's open house about a year ago, I was impressed tremendously with the facilities.

I wish the environment and teachers here were a little more encouraging.

speedline said...

Sheridan had a very successful show of work for the 2008 industry day! For the first time since I've been going to these screenings, and that was when Steve Schnier use to pedal the generator to power the film projector, there was a very large range of art direction/design styles. I can remember years in which every film looked like the same version of generic 'disney' models. The industry has moved on in different directions and it seems that Sheridan is doing the same! I hope to see some of these designers working on new series and giving a fresh look to the "Flash" designed looking shows we've become all to familiar with. Thanks!

axl99 said...

See THIS is how industry day was supposed to be. None of that crowded-in-desk-aisles business last year.

I'd have loved to see the films on the big screen myself, but I'll probably settle for a DVD.

Nancy said...

The reel looked very good.
But I turned off the sound since the chosen track was distracting and irritating (all right, I never liked that song.)
I dislike edited reels since it doesn't show how dialogue and sound are handled.
I look forward to seeing the complete films--this was a very nice sample, at least visually.

Anonymous said...

Hope all the talented graduates can find jobs. The current state of this industry could stand improvement.

RAWLS said...

Hey Mark. This will be an exciting year indeed. I plan on being there to have a look at everyone's final work. A lot of talented young folk... some of which I've already had the pleasure of getting to know. See you there.