Monday, October 22, 2007

Landmark Animation Training Ground Celebrates 40th Birthday

The big name animation and arts college that the MSM always talks about is, of course, Cal Arts. Funded by Walt Disney (and others) in the mid sixties, it sits on a hill above Valencia, California turning out animation talent by the truckload. (LasseterBirdMuskerRanftMcEntee, etc)

But there are other animation colleges with claims to fame. And one of them -- Sheridan College -- is just now turning forty.

"Sheridan is synonymous with animation," says Angela Stukator, associate dean, animation (Sheridan has five associate deans), as she hosts a personal tour through the new 37,000-square-foot animation building.

"And the students all have their own light tables," beams Stukator, opening yet another new door in the expansive $9-million wing that still smells of fresh paint.

Remarkably, Sheridan continues to teach invaluable basics on light tables before allowing students to upgrade to digital techniques on state-of-the-art equipment during the three-year animation program...

...Sheridan has always been the avant-garde of animation schools in the country, starting a digital program 15 years ago. "Our most noticeable and significant contribution to the arts is the animation program," Collins continues. "It provides the basis for an animation industry in Canada and gives us a foothold in the U.S."

I visited Sheridan a few years back, working with some Canadian unionists to plant the seeds of union awareness in up-and-coming Canadian talent. I found the students quietly enthusiastic about animation's future, also open to the idea of getting better money and treatment under labor contracts.

Canadians seem to have pretty firm grips on their priorities.


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