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Sketch a career in animation with new Okanagan College diploma

Steff Farrar May 2017Aspiring animators will be able to bring their passion for drawing to life this fall with animation industry veteran Steff Farrar at the helm of a new two-year diploma at Okanagan College. 

“It’s exciting to be able to offer a program suited to an industry that has a lot of buzz right here in the Okanagan,” says Farrar, who recently moved to Kelowna in order to chair the Animation diploma program. She brings with her 25 years’ industry and training experience.

The College will be hosting a series of open house information sessions in its new animation lab in the Okanagan Centre for Innovation every Saturday in June to meet with prospective students and those interested in a career in animation. Farrar will be on site to answer questions and encourages potential applicants to bring their portfolios along. 

“Candidates might think their body of work has to be polished, coloured and poster ready, but to be honest, I’d rather see something loose and rough that shows good form,” she says. “That will tell me more about their skills and readiness to join and thrive in the program.”

With the animation entertainment industry experiencing exponential growth in the valley, graduates of the program will help to meet the local industry demands.

“All eyes are on Kelowna,” says Chris Derochie, Kelowna Supervising Animation Director at Bardel Entertainment. He explains that the lower Canadian dollar has helped the trend of big productions looking north. With the Vancouver sector exceeding capacity and the high cost of living there, it is creating opportunities within many studios in the Okanagan.

“We don’t necessarily want to have to search abroad for our talent, we need it to be close at hand,” says Derochie. “By hiring locally we can get the individuals into the studios quicker, and in turn those employees want to stay in the region where they have established family and life roots.”

Bardel’s Kelowna office started with four employees in 2013, today they have 82 employees and a target of getting to 120 by the end of 2017. It is this type of growth that has spurred the development of the College’s program.

Yeti Farm Creative echoes the same sentiments. 

“The industry is saturated with work and there are simply not enough qualified and skilled animators, designers, storyboard artists, FX artists, to fulfill current industry demands,” says Ashley Ramsay, Partner and CEO at Yeti Farm Creative. “The industry shows no signs of slowing down and Okanagan College graduates will be fortunate to have their pick of local opportunities should they wish to stay in Kelowna upon graduation.” 

Farrar is working in concert with local studios to ensure that an engaging curriculum responds to the changing needs of the industry, providing critical skills students need to fast track into being job-ready. The program focuses on drawing, design, and the principles and techniques of traditional and digital character animation in 2D, digital 2D and 3D animation. Skills will be developed in: visualization, animation software (Toon Boom Harmony), storyboarding, life drawing, and character design among others.

Students will learn in state-of-the-art classrooms at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation. A hub for creative digital arts and the tech sector, the Centre is newly opened in downtown Kelowna, placing students at the epicenter of top Okanagan animation studios including Bardel Entertainment, Disney Interactive and Yeti Farm Creative.

To assist with program costs, Okanagan College is providing $6,000 of financial support per program year to each enrolled domestic student ($12,000 total).

The free open house sessions will be held each Saturday in June (3, 10, 17 and 24) at the Okanagan Centre for Innovation (460 Doyle Avenue, Kelowna). The hour-long sessions will be offered twice each day: 10 a.m. and noon.

To find out more about the program visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/animation.