If there was ever a time to get animated, this was it – albeit with a virtual twist.
While COVID-19 may have altered the format for the ceremony, it couldn’t dampen the excitement as studios from across the valley joined Okanagan College this week in recognizing the newest soon-to-be grads from its Animation diploma program.
At the OC Animation department’s second-annual Industry Night on May 13, a group of second-year students on their way to graduation and first-year students who have now crossed the half-way mark of their program were celebrated.
Attendees had a chance to tune in for a livestream of students’ work, hear their presentations and chat with them during breakout sessions hosted on the online meeting tool Blackboard Collaborate. You can watch the recorded livestream and view students’ portfolio websites here.
“While we wished we could all be together to celebrate our students in person, we were so pleased that we could still gather virtually to honour them and showcase their work with industry,” said Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College.
“The efforts invested by our students and faculty are always inspiring, but I particularly want to acknowledge how hard they worked in recent months when COVID-19 forced the shift to online learning mid-semester. Students faced that challenge and uncertainty and went on to produce incredibly creative and polished work. I think that speaks to their talent and work ethic, and is evidence of the very bright future in the animation industry that awaits them.”
Isabel Fabian gave the address on behalf of graduating students during the livestream.
“It was so exciting to be able to see everyone get together, despite all odds,” said Fabian, who has her sights set on becoming a visual effects artist. “It feels unreal to be finished the program.
“Not many people have the privilege to enjoy what they do so much, and I know I will always be excited to go to work. To pursue what has been a lifelong passion for so many of us, in a place as beautiful as the Okanagan, and to have so many opportunities to follow, I’m thankful every day that my classmates and I have ended up where we are.”
Added Fabian: “The program and the support of our teachers have helped shape us into the people and the animators we are. Thank you to all our teachers and mentors for giving us this opportunity, this privilege, to be the future of animation in the Okanagan.”
Jessica Faye moved to Kelowna from Edmonton for the program two years ago. Today, she’s feeling proud to be stepping into an industry that inspires her.
“I really like seeing art come to life. It's amazing what one can create with just their imagination, and I hope that one day I can create characters and stories that people can grow attached to,” said Faye. “I hope to one day become a successful storyboard artist, but honestly, I'd really like to try my hand at any job in the industry and hopefully climb my way up.”
In addition to family, friends and their instructors, the students also had the attention of leaders from more than 20 studios and industry partners throughout the evening.
Todd Ramsay, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Yeti Farm was among those in attendance providing congratulations, encouragement and feedback to students and grads.
“Yeti Farm would like to congratulate the 2020 Okanagan College animation graduates,” said Ramsay. “We currently employee several alumni from the Okanagan College animation program who have quickly become some of our best animators. Their talent, great work ethic and strong understanding of animation fundamentals speaks volumes about the program. We are fortunate to have such a great program right here in Kelowna.
On a personal note, as the founder of Yeti Farm and someone who was born and raised in the Okanagan, it's been very rewarding to witness the growth of the animation industry right here in my hometown. We are excited to watch the industry continue to grow and look forward to meeting the next group of talented grads!”
Trent Noble, Animation Director for Bardel Entertainment said: “Bardel Entertainment is extremely proud to be working closely with Okanagan College in helping develop, and support the animation industry here in the Okanagan. It is always an exciting time for us to be able to participate in the annual graduation ceremonies, and have the opportunity to connect with all the students, and better yet, potential hires. Congratulations to everyone on all their hard work, and the next step in your careers.”
Making connections with industry, peers and mentors was one of the highlights of the program, noted student Austin Scott.
“The best part about the program was definitely the connections I've made,” said Scott. “I've made plenty of great friends and I've also had plenty of help from my teachers who were always doing everything they could to ensure we all succeeded.”
“On behalf of Okanagan College, I want to say a huge congratulations to all of our animation students for your hard work and dedication,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We hope you will stay in touch, as we greatly look forward to hearing about the many contributions you will make to this vital and growing industry in our region.”
“And to all of our industry partners and supporters, thank you for your continued support of our students. We are so proud to be able to provide you with the well-trained graduates your studios need. And we appreciate your input into how we can continue to grow this program and improve upon the world-class education and training our students are receiving at Okanagan College.”
The College will welcome its next intake of students into the Animation diploma program this September. For more information visit okanagan.bc.ca/animation.