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Okanagan College launches new animation program

Interested in a career in animation? Okanagan College could be the place for you!

A brand new animation program is being launched at the OC this fall that could equip students who have a passion for drawing and design with the necessary skills to get a career in the animation industry.

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The new two-year diploma will be run by Steff Farrar, a veteran of the animation industry who recently moved to Kelowna in order to chair the new program.

“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.

The program will focus on drawing, design, and the principles and techniques of traditional and digital character animation in 2D, digital 2D and 3D animation. Students can expect to develop skills in the areas of visualization, animation software, storyboarding, life drawing, and character design among others.

Every Saturday beginning in June, the College will host open house information sessions in its new animation lab in the Okanagan Centre for Innovation. These sessions will give prospective students and those interested in a potential career in animation an opportunity to find out all they need to know as well as share their portfolios with Farrar who will be present.

“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,” said Farrar. “That will tell me more about their skills and readiness to join and thrive in the program.”

<who> Contributed </who> Steff Farrar

Currently, Farrar is working closely 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.

According to Ashley Ramsay, Partner and CEO at Yeti Farm Creative, the program will likely offer OC graduates many local opportunities in animation given that the industry needs more people.

“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,” said Ramsay. “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.”

According to Chris Derochie, Kelowna Supervising Animation Director at Bardel Entertainment, exponential growth in the animation entertainment industry means graduates of the program will help meet the local demands.

The growth has been in part caused by a lower Canadian dollar, which has helped the trend of big productions looking north. With the Vancouver sector exceeding capacity and increasingly high costs of living, more opportunities have become available within a number of studios in the Okanagan.

Students of the program 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 college is hoping that, with the animation entertainment industry experiencing exponential growth in the valley, graduates of the program will help to meet the local industry demands.

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.

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