Recently, we asked students and grads to send us high-quality, high-res renderings of their artwork, and did you guys deliver! We received many great submissions and have now randomly selected a winner of the first 16 Total Textures CDs, produced by 3D Total (a prize valued at around $1,000).
James Choi,a graduate of the Foundation Visual Art & Design program and current 3D Animation & Visual Effects student, has come a long way to find the career he’s currently pursuing. From studying Chemistry and Nuclear Science to finding his artistic voice at VFS — and now refining his area of interest in 3D Animation & Visual Effects — James’ story is one common example amongst the many different portraits of recent Foundation students.
He shed some light on what made him decide to change career paths, and where he hopes to end up when he graduates next spring.
Q: Can you talk a little about your background before coming to the Foundation program?
A: I was imported from Korea in 1993 at the age of 10. I graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry and Nuclear Science, and then worked in various fields, including environmental science, forensics, research, and business management. I had no training in the fine arts, and I hardly watched films.
Q: What did you discover about yourself during that year in Foundation? Continue reading →
Ben Stern came to the Digital Character Animation program with a little CG experience and a longtime love of acting. “When I was introduced to CG, I immediately saw how my acting experience could come into play in animation,” he says.
In his six months in DCA, followed by a two-month extension on a Festival Scholarship, Ben made Cricket. “The film draws you into a world, tells you a tale, and pleases you by its ending,” says Senior Instructor Greg Berridge. “It has all of the features of good visual storytelling.”
The process wasn’t without hiccups, and Ben actually switched stories at the eleventh hour. “He made some drastic changes late in the program which saw this film come into being,” Greg explains. “He wanted to see his film made no matter what obstacles arose.”
Ben, who now works at Vancouver’s Image Engine, was kind enough to delve into the process from start to finish. But before we get to that, let’s start with the end result:
Where are you from? What drew you to animation?
Germany, but my family is a bit of a traveling circus act, so we have spent time in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Since as long as I can remember, I have loved acting and participated in school plays. When I was introduced to CG, I immediately saw how my acting experience could come into play in animation, so in a sense the desire to animate has been with me since the beginning.
Did you have any previous training before joining VFS?
My previous training consisted of CG introductory courses, combined with work at Studio Aiko, my previous employers – and good friends!
The animation is important, but obviously a great deal of care went into Cricket’s look. Why was that important?
The cartoon-meets-reality style of CG is something I have always wanted to do. I saw many many great shorts online from many different students and studios that truly inspired me and served as reference.
The animation is important, yet I consider myself a very visual guy, so I really wanted the film to have a graphic punch to it. The approach was to keep geometry as basic as possible and let the textures do as much of the work as possible.
Concept sketch by David Sookochoff
Preproduction: I know there were some aspects of preproduction that you skipped or hurried through. Still, the character designs are inspired. Could you describe what you did do at this early stage?
This may sound a bit corny, but almost the entire idea for the story – including the look – was born pretty instantly. It was a daydream that unfolded almost seamlessly, and was accurate down to 90 percent of the shots that I ended up doing.
There were certain things that needed to be refined – the way the army was destroyed is one of them. Originally I thought they would be swept away by a broken dam, but doing water simulations was just a bit much. So initially what I did was look for reference validations. Having seen so many great videos online, I knew where it had to go and I was just refining ideas, gathering references, and had some help doing character sketches from David Sookochoff.
What were some of the important considerations with the design of the story’s hero?
Ichiro was supposed to be cute and approachable, slightly doll- and infant-like. While designing, it was imperative to keep the overall proportions intact with that concept – large head and eyes, small stature, and so forth. In terms of matching the general theme, he adheres to the same design laws as the rest of the characters and objects – hard edges, low-poly, high texture.
Concept sketch by David Sookochoff
The army – Sendo – were supposed to be ghoulish in appearance, half-demon [and] half-metal, and they needed to breathe fire. I played around with several colour options and shapes till I was able to get them to be the way they are now.
While they were initially supposed to be completely black, I quickly realized that it wouldn’t work well and decided to go with a more “natural” approach regarding the materials. The idea for the helmet was a simple stylized skull with horns.
Moving on to the modeling and rigging… You’d worked with CG before. Did you have Maya experience prior to VFS?
I took an introductory course when I first got in to CG, but had since then forgotten almost everything. The only thing I remembered was hitting the space bar to move between windows.
Could you describe the elements of this stage – what you had to do and how you achieved it? Why is this process important to a student pursuing character animation?
Over the last ten years, Classical Animation grad Mike Geiger has gained a lot of valuable experience working for companies like Bardel Entertainment, March Entertainment, and Carbunkle Cartoons (The Ren & Stimpy Show). He recently made the leap into the potentially unstable, but creatively rewarding world of the Independent Animator. For a lot of people, that’s a risky move, but for Mike, it’s one that’s proving to be a very successful choice.
We had a chance to ask him about his career and life, and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Hi, Mike. Thanks for your time. After a quick look at your recent work history, it seems like you must be swamped all the time. How do you balance your life while working as an independent animator?
A: Not very well. I recently tried to solve that problem by getting a studio space to work out of so that when I go home at night, I have no way to work even if I want to. But previous to that, when I was working from my house, there was just no excuse for not being productive, which threw me pretty far off of any sort of work / life balance. I got a lot accomplished during that period, but it was not much of a healthy situation while I was doing it.
Q: What prompted your decision to go out on your own?
Jasmyn Pozzo was a broadcast journalist before enrolling in the Entertainment Business Management program. But with a BA under her belt, she glimpsed the other side – and liked what she saw. So she became a publicist, working closely with the media on behalf of her entertainment industry clients.
But why change sides? That’s what we wanted to know – and Jasmyn was kind enough to answer.
Your background is in broadcast journalism – what sparked the career change?
I have always been very passionate about media, and knew I wanted to work in that industry in one way or another. I had an amazing time throughout my journalism program and learned a lot, but by the end of my four years I had realized that I wanted to be the PR person that the reporters were calling to try to get the interview, and not the actual reporter.
I’m very interested in all aspects of the entertainment industry, so it seemed like a natural transition to work in entertainment in a public relations position. I drew on my communications and journalism background, and built upon that with my Entertainment Business Management education at VFS, to create a solid background in both media and public relations in the entertainment field, which worked out perfectly!
A little under a year ago, we spoke with then-recent Classical Animation grad Pedro Eboli about his VFS films Papercut and A Pug’s Life. It was the culmination of a professional reinvention for Pedro – he’d gone from advertising copywriter in Brazil to animator.
When asked about his short-term hopes for his films, he was pretty specific: “It would especially be a dream to get them in the Anima Mundi Festival in Rio de Janeiro, which I’ve attended for so many years and at which I’ve seen some of my animation heroes on the screen.”
Well, that day has come: Papercut is an official competition selection in the 2009 Anima Mundi Festival! Huge congrats, Pedro!
We’re happy to announce the winners of the Game Design Expo 2009 Scholarship, including the recipient of the first-ever Women In Games Scholarship!
The scholarships were first unveiled at Game Design Expo as an opportunity for aspiring game designers to join Vancouver Film School in its acclaimed one-year Game Design program. Alongside six scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $7,000, the full-tuition Women In Games Scholarship, valued at $30,000, was launched to support and foster talented female game designers.
The generous scholarship sponsors included G4TechTV, EA, Big Fish Games, AnnexPro, Obsidian Entertainment, and Radical Entertainment.
VFS is proud to name the following recipients of the 2009 scholarships:
Shannon Lee, Vancouver, BC, Canada – Women In Games Scholarship
Katharine Craig, Vancouver, BC, Canada – $7,000 G4techTV scholarship Jessica MacGaul, Surrey, BC, Canada – $5,000 EA scholarship Denver Thomas, Parsippany, NJ, USA – $2,800 Big Fish Games scholarship Thi Bao Vo, Hanio, Vietnam – $2,500 Annex Pro scholarship Sara Moore, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – $2,500 Obsidian Entertainment scholarship Bunthita Nijathaworn, Bangkok, Thailand – $2,500 Radical Entertainment scholarship
Women In Games Scholarship Winner Shannon Lee
Shannon, who hails from Vancouver but has been teaching in Japan, already has a BA in English Lit. But she’s also a lifelong gamer looking forward to pursuing Game Design at VFS.
“Returning a few days ago from a volunteer trip in India to my current home in southern Japan to be greeted with this amazing news is completely overwhelming,” she says. “It is an honour to have been chosen, and I am so thankful for this chance to fulfill a long-held dream of mine. I cannot wait to start the Game Design program and to take advantage of the opportunities that the Women in Games scholarship has afforded.”
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all the incredibly talented applicants! If you missed the deadline but are still interested in taking the first step toward a career in games, speak to a VFS Admissions Advisor now.