Makeup Achievement Award Winner: April 2011

We’re proud to announce that the latest winner of the Makeup Design for Film & Television program’s Achievement Award is Ellen Chen.

The award recognizes her commitment to learning her craft over an intense year of training at VFS. Previous award-winners have gone on to success in the industry and acclaim at competitions such as the International Make-up Artist Trade Show.

The prize package includes products from MAC and Taut, a one-year subscription to Make-Up Artist Magazine, and a personal letter of reference from Head of Makeup Design, Stan Edmonds, who presented Ellen with the award at her graduation.

“Winning this award is very meaningful to me,” says Ellen. “It took a lot of courage and determination to leave the banking industry to pursue my dream in the makeup industry.”

“At the beginning of the year, the change was full of uncertainty and doubt, but with the great education and experience I received from Vancouver Film School, I am now confident in my abilities and looking forward to a whole new start.”

Congratulations Ellen!

View Ellen Chen's portfolio

VFS Partners with Native Instruments

We’re pleased to announce an official partnership between Vancouver Film School and Native Instruments, the leading manufacturer of software and hardware for computer-based music production and live performance.

The partnership will give students in Sound Design for Visual Media access to Native Instruments unparalleled line-up of digital instruments, samplers, and sequencers, in particular Kontakt, the industry-leading sampler used to create the score for Avatar.

“This partnership really allows us to take advantage of what Native Instruments brings to the table with their products,” says VFS’s Head of Sound Design for Visual Media, Shane Rees. “VFS students will have access to an extensive software collection that gives them a better way to harness their creative powers.”

Find out more about Native Instruments at

Act Out Loud 2011 Summer Camps

Vancouver Film School is once again inviting young actors to Act Out Loud for five days this summer. This is a unique chance for Pre-Teens (ages 9-12) and Teens (13-16) to gain valuable time in front of a camera, while experiencing the VFS Acting for Film & Television program’s approach to the craft.

In a fun and exciting workshop environment lead by top youth acting coaches, Mattie Shisko and Alison James, both groups will work on basic acting fundamentals, audition techniques, improvisation, and much more! Each participant will also receive a DVD of their on-camera work performed during the week.

To find out more about each summer camp and how to register, visit


2011 Summer Intensives Are Coming this July!

Though spring has just sprung, we’re already thinking about the upcoming 2011 Summer Intensives, starting this July!

5 days. 10 intense and fun programs. Your one chance this summer to learn from our top instructors and experience what it’s like to be a full-time student at VFS.

Each program is carefully designed to give you a valuable educational experience, and Summer Intensive fees can be applied toward your VFS tuition if you choose to pursue a full-time program.

Last year, students came from 17 countries to be a part of the Summer Intensives experience. While getting a sneak peek at VFS curriculum, they collaborated and made lasting connections with a global network of like-minded artists all considering the same path.

This year’s week-long programs include Acting, Animation & Visual Effects, Digital Design, Entertainment Business Management, Film Production, Game Design, Makeup Design, Sound Design, Writing, and a special Experience VFS Intensive that allows you to get a taste of everything VFS offers in entertainment arts education.

Seats are very limited and many Intensives sell out quickly every year.

Click here to learn more about the 2011 VFS Summer Intensives and to register.

Grad Takes First Place in Waves Audio Competition

While everyone who enters a contest is, in a way, a winner, only Sound Design for Visual Media grad Toby Hulse is the winner of the Waves Audio Sound Design Competition. Over 250 entries took video assets from the Electronic Arts’ game Need for Speed 2: Unleashed and designed the sound for a trailer. In the end, Toby claimed the top prize, with current Sound Design student Ryan Thompson placing an amazing fourth.

The competition was judged by a panel of industry veterans, whose credits include Hellboy 2, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Of Toby’s winning entry they said, “Grabbed me first time through-rocked.”

“Winning the Waves Sound Design Competition has been huge for me,” says Toby. “It has given me a renewed confidence in my abilities as a sound designer and has directly connected me with numerous industry veterans. It has created a lot of interest in my work and opened the doors to some exciting job opportunities.”

UPDATE: Looks like we missed that Josh Osiris, who placed third, is also a Sound Design grad. Sorry Josh!

Listen to Toby’s winning entry below, and check out Ryan and Josh’s efforts on the contest page. Congratulations!

Sound Design Grad Explores Colourful Side

Mobile gaming has dramatically changed the video game landscape, opening up an entirely different industry for sound designers, 3D artists, and game design graduates. Some have even made the mobile arena their primary focus, turning handheld game design into a career. (If you’re one of the 60,000 people who download Angry Birds every day, you already know this.)

Sound Design for Visual Media alumnus Dustin Bozovich counts himself among these pioneers. Dustin was responsible for both the music and the sound effects on Grumpyface Studio’s Wispin, and his hard work paid off: 50 four-star reviews, and Apple’s Game of the Week for the iPad.

We caught up with Dustin to find out what he’s been doing since graduation, how he got involved in the project, and his advice for aspiring sound designers.

Hey, Dustin. Can you tell us how you came to work on Wispin?

Dustin: Currently I work for a gaming company handling all audio for video slot gaming. The creator of Wispin is an ex-employee with whom I became good friends. After he left he mentioned he was working on an iPhone game, and asked if I would do audio for it. He needed music and I’m not much of a composer, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway. Two months of working on it after my regular job later and we had a pretty good product. It’s been doing well on iTunes and getting a lot of exposure.

Making friends and trying new things seem really important in the industry. Did you have no experience with music, or just with composing? Can you describe a bit of the process behind how you made your decisions?

Dustin: I have been in a couple of bands and played some guitar here and there, but in no way do I consider myself a composer or even a musician for that matter. With my job I have now I sometimes have to make quick jingles or happy little tones, and I realized that music is not as insanely difficult as I made it out to be in my head.

The process was fairly simple. I would look for YouTube videos with some music references, then take all that in and try and put my own twist on it. Once I completed something I thought was decent, my friend and I would collaborate on changes or ideas until we had something we both liked.

Can you just talk a bit about the tools you used (hardware, software)?

Dustin: I have a pretty simple setup at home, nothing too fancy. I use an iMac with a Pro Tools Mini interface and two KRK Systems monitors. I have the Oxygen 8 keyboard, and use Reason 5.0 and Pro Tools for my music creation and audio editing. This particular game had quite a bit of voice work for all the individual characters, so that was a lot of work to nail down each voice.

Did you have an interest in video games before coming onto this project?

Dustin: Absolutely. Before this project I had done a couple iOS games, but nothing compared to the fun and creativity I was able to have on this particular project. Mobile gaming is making it easier for people like me who don’t have AAA games experience but still want to do audio for games and expand their portfolio.

Mobile gaming has really exploded in the last few years – do you think it would be possible for a sound designer to be successful only working on mobile games? If so, is this something you’d consider?

Dustin: I don’t think we’re even close to seeing the tip of the iceberg as far what can can be done on a mobile device, and now we have a flood of tablet computers coming out trying to outdo each other. I have been considering concentrating more on looking into a full time gig doing freelance sound design for mobile games, but the freelance world can be a scary place. I think if you had enough games out there and enough contacts you definitely would be able to earn a living just on the mobile platform.

Can you tell us a little about your experience after graduating – was it hard to break into the industry? How have you gone about finding work?

Dustin: After graduating I moved backed to Arizona and found a gaming studio in town. The company was not hiring at the time, but I just sent my portfolio for future positions. The very next day I received an email to come in for an interview. Long story short I am still here, going on almost two years, and have met a lot of people and have learned a lot of things. Moral of the story: regardless if a company is hiring or not it doesn’t hurt to send in a resume as you never know what might happen.

That sounds like great advice for all grads. Now that you’ve tried your hand at soundtrack work, do you think you’ll try and do more of it? Or is your heart in special effects?

Dustin: Depends on the complexity of what  they want. I am no way ready to take on orchestral scores or epic soundtracks. One day I hope to make stuff like that but until then I’ll stick with short little electronic video game music.

Thanks for checking in Dustin!

You can hear Dustin’s work in the trailer below, and find Wispin on iTunes.

VFS Teams Up with Innovative Artists Agency

Vancouver Film School has struck a strategic alliance with top-tier Hollywood talent agency, Innovative Artists.

The best and most promising VFS students from the Acting for Film & Television, Film Production, and Writing for Film & Television programs will now have the unprecedented opportunity to access major decision-makers through a new initiative spearheaded by Head of Writing, Michael Baser.

The objective is to bring these talented students to the attention of Innovative Artists agents, who may then choose to pursue representation options.

“I am incredibly excited by this new association between Innovative Artists and Vancouver Film School,” says Baser. “I can’t think of any other film school that has an arrangement like this with a major entertainment talent agency. This is a huge opportunity for our students.”

Innovative Artists represents a wide variety of film and television professionals, ranging from Oscar winners and nominees to some of the most prominent rising artists in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. The agency’s interest in emerging talent at VFS represents a competitive advantage for students as they prepare to enter the industry with professional-quality reels, demos, and portfolios.

“Innovative Artists is dedicated to representing the entertainment industry’s most sought-after writers, actors, and directors,” says company President Scott Harris. “We look forward to being exposed to selected students through this exciting first look initiative between our agency and Vancouver Film School’s renowned Acting, Writing, and Film Production programs.”

Good luck to all Acting, Film Production, and Writing students!

Sound Freelancer On the Value of Respect

The last time we mentioned Sound Design for Visual Media grad Allan Levy he was working on the PS3 exclusive ModNation Racers, which Game Chronicles called a “masterpiece” and “the best kart-racing title in the history of gaming.

Allan worked for United Front Games in automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) integration, and now freelances and does sound design for Thought Bubble, a not-for-profit motion graphics studio that promotes social justice, working with clients such as the David Suzuki Foundation.

Allan found time in his schedule to chat with us about his career and his time at VFS.

You’ve done a lot of work in video games. Can you talk about the particular challenges in working with sound in that medium?

Allan: Yes, indeed, video games have been a source of bread and butter since around 2001 when I landed my first gig at Radical Entertainment as a freelance composer on the game Dark Summit, and then again in 2003 when I landed the same role on The Simpsons Hit and Run. Around that time, though, many game studios employed a common practice of having Hollywood film composers do the score. As a musician and composer, I had no real experience in sound design and as such was out of the gaming industry for a few years. This changed once I had graduated from VFS. In fact, the day after my graduation I began working as the Lead Sound Designer on the game Crash: Mind over Mutant at Radical Entertainment.

How so soon, you ask? Well, I was actually freelancing for Radical while attending VFS (I don’t recommend doing this, though … way too stressful) and handled all the dialogue editing and mastering for the game Timeshift while in my third term. It’s true that Radical had its eye on me, but it’s also true that without my experiences at VFS I would not have been able to deliver quality assets and mixing on my first game as a sound designer in a timely and professional manner.

In terms of the challenges, there are many. The biggest perhaps is learning to use proprietary implementation software specific to a particular game studio or game. No school can prepare you for this; however, conceptually, VFS was able to provide exercises that were extremely helpful in getting an understanding of the steps necessary to get your sound effects and or music from a Pro Tools session into an implementation platform.

How did your time in VFS Sound Design help prepare you for your current employment? Did you feel “industry-ready” after graduation?

Allan: VFS was instrumental in my preparation for my current employment. In a workplace with both newcomers and industry veterans, it’s important that we are all speaking the same language. Whether you’re an audio designer, a picture editor, a script writer, a project manager or producer, we must all understand a common language: ADR, DIA, M&E, VO, EDL, stems – to name a few things we speak of in this industry on a daily basis.

Aside from the terminology, though, VFS instructors and curriculum introduced me to industry standard editing, layering, session setups, mixing techniques and deliverable etiquette that I could have only learned by trial and error on the job. But who would have hired me without this understanding in the first place? Quite a gamble in such a fast-paced industry.

What kind of advice would you offer to aspiring sound designers looking to work in that industry?

Allan: The greatest piece of advice I can give anyone looking to work in this industry (or any industry for that matter) is to be respectful of your colleagues and open to advice and criticism from peers. The hotshot attitude usually only makes enemies and alienates those with whom you eventually work. Confidence in your capabilities is one thing…being a jerk is another.

Also, remember it’s a small industry so you’ll inevitably bump into former colleagues in different game studios. Obviously if they are all your friends it makes for an enjoyable workplace!

Thanks, Allan! Readers can follow Allan’s work at and

The Sound of Life Cycles

Are you a fan of biking culture and films? You will be after this trailer.

The project is called Life Cycles and it’s being touted as one of the best films to showcase moutain biking culture since. well, ever.

Sound Design for Visual Media grads Travis Cameron and Leonardo Barragan were brought on to the project to design the sound, from concept to final mix, in surround 5.1 sound.

“When we got the film it had absolutely no audio attached to it aside from the voice over and some temporary music tracks,” says Leonardo. That meant a lot of legwork to get the perfect sounds to match the film, “right down to the bike tires on the trails,” Travis adds.

When Stance Films, the production company behind Life Cycles, mentioned that they also needed of a strong composer to really make things shine, Travis and Leonardo brought in fellow Sound Design grad Ajay Bhattacharyya whose group, Data Romance, created most of the soundtrack — which is now available on iTunes and attracting positive reviews.

Leonardo, who mentions he’s been receiving queries from as far away as Australia to do sound for sports movies now, gives us a bit more info about what went into the sound recording process:

We had the opportunity to do field recording with pro rider Thomas Vanderham on a secluded and very quiet trail in North Vancouver. We got unique sounds of tires in dirt, jumps, bicycle chains, and riding through leaves and rocks that we used for the movie and we probably couldn’t have gotten without a pro rider’s help.”

“There is a big scene in the movie that shows a bike shop mechanic tuning a dirt jumping bike and we used our own Foley sounds to do the entire scene — every part of the mechanical process down to the spokes and changing the oil on the suspension.”

Travis attended the Las Vegas premiere and described for us the frenetic buzz that has been surrounding Life Cycles lately, which is possibly due in part to a glowing write-up on and online fan reviews:

“Throughout the film, the crowd cheered, gasped, and praised some of the incredible shots that these guys captured. This film has already started winning awards [such as Best Film at the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah]. It has played in theatres literally all over the world and close to 100 places in the US and Canada.”

Thanks for sharing, Travis and Leonardo — and congrats to all three of you on an amazing project!

You can visit the Life Cycles website here to learn more about the film and how you can see (and hear!) it all on the big screen, DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes.

Remembering Relic’s Brian Wood with Memorial Internship

Relic's Jonathan Dowdeswell announces the Brian Wood Memorial Internship at Game Design Expo 2011

Game Design Expo‘s Industry Speaker Day went out on a powerful, emotional note this past weekend with the announcement of the Brian Wood Memorial Game Design Internship.

Wood, a longtime Relic Entertainment employee and Lead Game Designer on the Company of Heroes franchise was killed in a tragic traffic accident in September 2010, leaving behind his wife, Erin, and his then-unborn child, who both survived.

Relic General Manager Jonathan Dowdeswell made the announcement of the internship to an audience of nearly 200 game industry professionals and enthusiasts.

To honour and continue Brian’s contribution to the international game community, as well as in memory of his passions in life, each year Relic will award a four-month internship to three graduating students in VFS Game Design who exhibit a similar passion and excellence in game design.

“Relic Entertainment has worked with VFS for a number of years and in the past has had employees who taught classes as part of the Game Design curriculum,” says Dowdeswell. “Continuing this partnership in a meaningful and long lasting effort by introducing the Brian Wood Memorial Game Design Internship was a natural fit for all concerned.”

The inaugural internship will be awarded in February 2011, and the chosen Game Design graduate will have the opportunity to work directly with a team at Relic, pioneering exciting projects that impact the development of titles at the Vancouver-based studio.

“We are honoured and humbled to be a part of carrying on Brian’s legacy with this memorial,” says Dave Warfield, Head of VFS Game Design. “Not only does it represent the values of game design and supporting new designers that were such a big part of his passion, but it allows us to share that with the community that was so affected by his tragic death.”