Thursday, May 03, 2007

Industry Day Hearsay...

There's definitely been a reaction to the industry day at Sheridan this year. I expected such, since there was no industry day screening last year and this was the first of the new BA program.

Check out this article on industry day featured in the National Post. It's pretty erroneous (apparently JibJab is a videogame company in Vancouver, according to the article, amongst other humorous little oddities). Check it out anyways, though!

Found this post on the AnimationNation.com message boards - Steve Schnier posts:

I went to the Sheridan Industry Screening today and I have to say that it was a huge success. One of my criticisms in past years was that despite the leaps made in technology, the content - the "thinking" both in design and story, hadn't progressed since my day, Class of '81.

The 2007 Graduating Class, the first since the 4 year, BAA degree was introduced at Sheridan, provided a huge and very pleasant surprise. There were a wide variety of styles, innovative design and some very clever thinking in these student films.

Is it the new program, new staff or a new attitude amongst the students? I don't know - but whatever it is, they're doing something very RIGHT at Sheridan College.


You can read the whole thread here.

Of course, there's the opposite opinion, featured on the blog Nick and Nora's:

As an animation supervisor, I was asked to be one of the representatives of my studio at Sheridan College's Animation Program 'Industry Day'. It was to be a landmark event, since it was also to include final-project screenings of some 68 graduates of Sheridan's new "Bachelors of Animation Arts" degree program. A four-year animation program that - surprise - comes with a bachelor's degree; a rarity in Canada.

Prior to the Bachelor's screening, we sat through roughly 40 other student shorts from graduates of various one-year computer animation, and character animation programs from Sheridan. The results of the one-year programs were mixed, more on that later. However, I expected the outcomes of the four-year program to quantifiably exceed the output of the one-year classes. After all, these students had invested four years of their life and countless thousands of dollars in order to get that elusive BAA. Besides, four years in an average production environment is enough to get most any animator with a hint of talent ready to start entering the big-leagues of the industry. So at the very least, four years of intensive education would be expected to produce passable entry-level talent. Right?

Wrong.

Very, very wrong.

I sat in a daze as the program's administrators ran short after short in an agonizing, head-splitting, intermission-less three hours, as nearly 70 student films unspooled one after another. What I saw upset me, then confused me. I had been sent to keep an eye out for potential talent for the tv series I was working on. I was looking for animation basics. Acting basics. Any basics. And I kept looking in vain for them as short after short played out. Rather than the basics, what we got were orgies of runaway production design, the odd cubist abstraction, a whole lot of half-finished shorts filled with unintelligibly scrawled pencil tests, the occasional bit of incomprehensible 'something or other', and a lot of stuff that was just plain sloppy.


Read post here.

[Update] Discussion's been moved to here. If you've seen the screening this year, please drop a comment by my blog or the above link - good or bad feedback.

[Update X2] Be sure to check out this thread on the AWN.com forums, as well as the comments on Mark Mayerson's post.

I should also take this time to remind everyone to keep the comments clean! No need to attack anyone else or their skills! Just clean debate, please!

21 comments:

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

Also, they didn't have name and company tags.. which was another thing that made them stand out. Wow, must be SOME COMPANY they got there. They really wreaked of ego.. sad, sad little egos.

Randeep Katari 12:00 AM  

Guys, everyone is entitled to their opinion, keep it clean. Al?

-R.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

Lastly, they were very under the radar and whispering alot.. I'm thinking the ballcap was good for concealment. Nick in particular was taking the greatest measures to be low key.

Steve Schnier 3:20 AM  

I think that Nick and Nora are entitled to their opinion. I was there and liked what I saw. They didn't. So what?

As far as I'm concerned it was the best Industry Day showing ever.

Nora 6:23 AM  

LOL! If you check out our blog, you can see that I am NOT in the film industry whatsoever and was no where near Sheridan's industry day. Good try though! And BTW, Nick doesn't wear ball caps ;)

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Having read Nick's article, I find it understandable these (I'm presuming) students are pissed off. Nick paints a bad picture of the whole year because he couldn't find some CG animators to his liking. Well, sorry Nick.

Cooked Art 8:16 AM  

Hey guys, keep it clean.

I'm posting this up not because I agree or disagree with either side, just wanted to show the commentary that was out there. If you have a thoughtful response, please post it - It's not really useful to anyone to yell and call names to someone who didn't like the screening.

Kei Acedera 11:56 AM  

Man, I'd like to see that guy Nick's student film..It better be fuckin incredible.

Steve Schnier 2:35 PM  

You know what I love about the animation industry? If you say something positive like, "Nice weather today..." - there's always someone ready to argue with you.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Wow, lotsa anger. :) Discussion's been moved tho.
http://kinematica.blogspot.com

D 3:23 PM  

I must admit I agree with this article and with a lot of the comments in Nick’s blog. It was written in a cruel way for the students, maybe, but I can’t help and agree with a lot of the things he said.

Students got the worst of it and it was clearly Sheridan's admin fault (IMO) of not providing a decent program, or at least a serious one with a well thought curricula. Professors tried to share their opinions about the program but weren't taken seriously (so I’ve heard from some professor’s mouth).

In defense of the students I think there are 2 good points to take into consideration; one would be the fact that the Sheridan 3D post grad course is for people who are coming from the industry and already have some experience (maybe not always) and already have some kind of degree. Something to take into consideration when comparing both courses work.

Second; you will always have bad, average and good students in a program, is a matter of statistics. Maybe Sheridan students aren’t all that oriented into industry, I guess is here where the school should make up their minds if its going to be more industry oriented or more independent filmmaker oriented. I don’t necessarily find this to be wrong, personally I’m more inclined into the second one since I don’t like TV animations because they always seems to be done in a rush and don’t have the same quality as a big budget animation film (obviously) and I’m a perfectionist and detail oriented maniac. Also, I’m a fine artist graduate and therefore an artsy fartsy fart *yay*.

I left the program after finishing second year because I felt they ripped me off. I was sold the first curricula the BAAA program had, involving a whole year of only 3D animation. Instead, in second year I was forced into a computer class where I was taught Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere and After effects. Programs I already knew and had already 4 years of experience using them!

Yup, ripped off.

I disagreed with the idea of having third year only to do a group film because I thought it was redundant, also because I was sure my story was not going to be chosen for being extremely un-comercial (nor ‘funny’ or cartoony). I had already wasted about 40.000cad and didn’t feel like wasting another 20.000 for a third year that didn’t appeal to me (I don’t want to work in the industry).

I had to analyze my career plans again, at that point I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to keep studding animation and wondered all the time if I was more oriented into film making, even though I love to draw. I’m still debating if going into the 3D post grad (at Seneca, I’ve had it with some particular people in animation faculty and administration) or just going back into fine arts and doing a master.

From my Sheridan experience, and all it’s up and downs, I got to the conclusion it was an extremely unserious (and unreliable) college. Professors where always willing to help, and in many of their faces you could see their disappointment of how things were done with us. But for a 20.000cad year tuition program (international student), I thought it was the most unprofessional institution I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend. Before I did a 5 year bachelor in fine arts at the “Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile”, and in between I did 2 semesters at “Glasgow School of Art”. So yes, I do have a point of comparison. I should have taken that money and buy my self a nice new computer and a wacom tablet (is not like you can’t download Maya tutorials from the internet).

Something I forgot to mention, I never understood the idea of making animation a Bachelor program. Animation is a craft, a technique. Is not Medicine or fine arts or any other course that involves ‘studying’ where there is a considerable amount of the course that involves theory classes. At least those infamous electives should have involved aesthetic classes. The only good elective I remember was animation history with Kyle (who’s experience in animation is worth his weight in gold), then there was the film class and art history class which where famine.

Well I guess I’m being unfair comparying Sheridan to a University, but it makes me nervous to think that Sheridan is aspiring to become a University yet their theory classes (like the English elective we had in second year) are less demanding than the classes I had in high school. A friend of mine who later did a master in pedagogy, went back to teach at our ex university. He is still trying to do a small course in animation (what would be a group of classes, not a whole career), he is still trying to get the class curriculum to get approved. There are so many details that the University will question! If they don’t feel is up to the University’s level, they will not approve it. Yet in Sheridan the idea for the bachelor degrees didn’t even have a clear curriculum when it got approved. In fact, it didn’t even have the space for all the new students! Is just…something I would have never expected to find in a Canadian institution.

I guess the only thing that can prepare you for the industry would be experience and necessity. But the only way to get those is when you are already IN the industry. I don’t see why, if you see a talented half prepared animator that seems to be a hard worker, someone wouldn’t hire him/her. Someone mentioned in Nick’s blog Robin Joseph style as being too illustrative, ironic. Robin had to fight to keep his style while in Sheridan, always being criticized as being impossible to animate. Yet his graduate film was genius! Who cares if it showed if he could animate or not, he still got offers from pixar and DreamWorks. And as one of Sheridan’s professor once told me, one of the most talented students that he has seen pass through Sheridan.

If you read all of the above, you must be more bored than me. To finish, I must say I believe that most of the credit for the student’s films this year belongs to those students and not to the college. With 3 hours of animation class in third year, do you have any doubts many of them taught them selves? I don’t. I wish I could have been at the screening, so I could have a better idea of the over all quality of the films.

Steve Schnier 3:38 PM  

So... You're commenting on the "disappointing" Industry Day, but you weren't there and you haven't seen the films. Nice. Now THAT'S what I call an informed opinion.

D 4:07 PM  

No but I did study 2 years at Sheridan. So yup, I know how it felt to be a guinea pig and see how unorganized the whole thing was.

I don’t remember commenting on the quality of the films, only on how things where managed at Sheridan College.

How could that be uninformed?

D.

Steve Schnier 4:14 PM  

Your opening line: "I must admit I agree with this article and with a lot of the comments in Nick’s blog. "

Nick commented on the quality of the films at the Industry Screening - you agree with him, but you haven't seen the films.

Hey - you're entitled to your opinion, uninformed as it is.

D 7:37 PM  

I might have been unspecific as with what I agreed on Nick’s post, but I didn’t think it was going to be necessary to number them.

I agreed with points in Nick’s posts as well as other peoples reply to his article.

From Nick’s article:

“But what turned this from a rite of passage into a tragedy, was that the school had not done its job.”

I completely agree with that, it was one of the reasons why I left, I felt Sheridan was not doing its job in teaching us properly (or good enough for a 20.000cad tuition program).

“…these kids had simply recieved no guidance to making a sellable reel.”

I completely agree with that, never had a teacher sit beside me and tell me exactly why I got the mark I got in animation class.

“My advice to art students seeking an animation career: Skip Sheridan for the time being, or until they get their act together.”

I’m afraid I feel the same way.

“Perhaps it's Sheridan's recent push toward 'academic' animation, and the initiation of the Bachelor's program”

Agree with that too, although here I had to take the quote out of the whole paragraph. It was questioning as why the last year films weren’t as good, and although I haven’t seen the films, I have seen some of the third year films (from last year). Also, I do know the people that graduated 2007 and I know those people’s work. I know how talented they are, and if the films weren’t as good, I do believe the program is at fault for that. Why? Because there was too much time dedicated to electives that weren’t worth the time of day, the curriculum was not well studied and organised. In second year we were supposed to do the same exercises in animation class as the year before us. But they overloaded the curriculum so much, that they had to take some of them off.

Also, although the professors that have been teaching in Sheridan since the diploma degree are awesome, we did get some new professor in second year that weren’t all that great. Hate to sound ungrateful, but I do remember our first class with one of them. The professor showed us some of his/her work, by the end of the class all the students were questioning the quality of such work, since we had seen grad films that were far better.

Now some of the comments:

“I'm currently in the animation proram now and yes MANY of the teachers are unprepared, unqualified, and the structure of the curriculum itself is almost embarrasing.”

Same opinion as my previous note.


“IMHO, the quality often comes from students with the right eye and feel for Animation to begin with, or those with the right passion. I never judge a school by its student examples - Its often not a full reflection on the schools teachings, its the creative talent of those individuals...”

Agree with that too. Still this is no excuse for Sheridan for having a mediocre program.

“The curriculum here is a total joke. Of course, at 24, you're invincible. A few LONG years on the unemployment line should sober you up”

Yup, agree with that too...a bad joke.

“As well, the amount of problems we had to deal with left many of us feeling like we were being cheated of the animation education we were promised. However, these problems had nothing to do with the students, nor the teachers in many cases. We have a very very rough start with 3D animation, which resulted in many of us not even understanding Maya until the end of our 2nd year. 3rd year we worked on films and were told that we probably shouldn't attempt to make them in 3D, so that’s another year of not using Maya. As for this year, anyone who made a film in 3D I feel I can safely say used their spare time to teach Maya to themselves. I won't get into the details as to why the 3D program for our year went so poorly, but it definitely wasn't the students' fault.”

I also agree with that and I wrote about it in my past post.

“That's why it's troubling when they have yet to develop the skills that would make them hire-able. This is very much a critique of whats going on in the school, not of your own abilities and talents. The message he is trying to send is that whatever may be going on at Sheridan, it is not fair to the students. By your own admission, the school's management was happily pushing students through a highly problematic, underdeveloped, untested curriculum that seems to have been brought into existence so the school can advertise that they offer 'degrees' in their brochures as quickly as possible. In whose interest was this? This is in no way the fault of the student body. Nobody should pay 40 thousand dollars to be any educational administration's guinea pig. What happened to you guys sounds fairly heinous. I suggest you read the article again with less emotion.”

Right on.

Steve Schnier 4:30 AM  

There are some excellent animators/artists who never went to art/animation school. Likewise, there are graduates from prestigious schools who aren't fit to hold a pencil.

Point being, it's not the school, it's the artist. You get out of it, what you put in.

I see that you have a bachelor of arts from a 5 year program in Chile, went to school in Glasgow and attended Sheridan as well - but you're not an animator. You'd think that after nearly a decade in art schools, you'd know what you wanted to do.

Maybe the problem isn't with the courses you're taking...?

ALane 2:38 PM  

I just applied to animation and got in. I've looked at many ppl's works and think everyone has tried hard at what their good at. I think if you really want to learn something you have to not only do it in school but teach yourself outside of school as well because in the industry your not going to have someone hold your hand. I believe Sheridan has had a few shake-ups, but it also prepares people to take the work on their own. It's everyones duty to start looking for jobs because the experience is already there. I went to school with two teachers who use to teach at Sheridan and they are amazing artists. It's not so much the teachers don't know what their doing, it's that every teacher has to do what the school wants them to do. It's not just Sheridan's curriculum, it's Canada's in general. Our cirriculum sucks. But you have got to be the ones to keep learning. In conclusion, Sheridan rocks, keep working hard everyone becuase you never know where you'll end up.

D 2:46 PM  

I agree with you, is not animating* what draws me into the media. My view is much closer to those German expressionist artists who experimented with the media than to a Disney film (although with Disney, I do believe it may be the story what draws me away).

But at the end we all deal with images, be it a "moving" image or a still image. At times I also get very exited by "perceptions" art and all the potential it has, at others I get exited after watching a Miyazaki film.

For me animation is not a career but a technique, a tool or a craft, like photography or printmaking. From the moment I got into Sheridan my goal was to learn how to make animation, 2D and 3D. The same as if I had gone into a sculpture school to learn how to sculpt stone or do bronze "fillings".

But that’s me.

Going back to the Sheridan topic; for me it could have been any school where I could have got to learn the media (both 2D and 3D). Yet what I got at Sheridan was an ever changing curriculum that by the time I was in second year had nothing to do with what I was promised. I regret deeply not going straight into the post grad, since it seems to be a much more stable curriculum.

“Maybe the problem isn't with the courses you're taking...?”

Well the problem isn’t with me, if that is what you want to imply. I haven’t quit the idea of finishing animation, but I did make the decition to change the school into one with a more reliable curriculum (and administration). If I pay for a product I expect to get what I was promised, wouldn’t you agree?

My plans are to finish my third year at Concordia, but I want to go personally to check the program. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. I guess I wont have time to go into film school, I feel like is time to make up my mind and stick with it. I also have to take into consideration I’m a very uncomercial person, so if anything I’ll do fine arts using animation as the media.

* Or what animation is expected to be today, for me is just a sequence of images, figurative or not. Doesn’t have to have a story, doesn’t have to be funny, and doesn’t have to be ‘a cartoon’.

axl99 8:50 PM  

I believe everyone whose films were screened on Industry day still deserve a round of applause for working their asses off to get them done. And those who took time off their films to help others with theirs each deserve a nice big slice of key lime pie.

Regardless of whether films were finished or not, in the end it's really just a big showcase of what students can offer industry reps. And if the overall response is good, BONUS!


The business on a whole I find is all very "chop-chop-make-it-snappy". If some reps find us lacking, I suppose that's fine for them to think that because they need skilled people to work with them.

Personally I'd like to think we could all get better with practice.
It's just finding a time and place to do it [ironically]. Co-op tends to be an intriguing opportunity for that, assuming one isn't making animated shorts on their own time away from school.

It's kind of strange of me to say it like this, but while I am curious to know what each of the reps thought about our films, I'm actually more concerned with them sitting through 2-3 hours of the screening. Those of us who attended the 3rd and 4th year screenings beforehand knew how that felt.

I digress. Maybe a 15 minute intermission might not make a big difference in the overall opinion of the screening, but at least they could stretch their legs and return to the theatre with a relatively clear head.

Cooked Art 9:48 PM  

Anonymous #1 and #2: We have no way of knowing who the originator is, no need to direct slander.

Steve: Thank you for your feedback. I am glad to hear that an industry representative will gladly come out with his name and put his seal of approval on the work of the students. It means a lot. As for animators being opinionated, you betcha. I think it definitely stems from people being incredibly passionate about their craft.

Anonymous #3: I agree with this statement. I find it no surprise that he found more people within the 3d program to his liking.

Kei: No way of really telling, I guess! He claims to have made a lot of mistakes and had an unfocused reel and would like to impart his knowledge so that others will not make the same mistakes.

D: I'm sorry you feel ripped off by Sheridan. I wish you all the best and hope you are successful with whatever endeavours you choose to pursue.

Alane: Thanks for coming by and commenting. Congrats on your acceptance to Sheridan. You're absolutely right - every school has its problems and it's often up to the student to rise above it. Suffice to say Sheridan still attracts talent - meaning you're bound to learn from the people around you.

Jessie: I wholeheartedly agree with the break, especially considering that will have more students (and more films) in next year's screening.

I was told that the open show at Calarts ran 8 hours this year. I'm sure the producers show was significantly shorter. (The open show features all the films, the producers show only juried films which are chosen to be screened to the industry).

Anyways, thanks for your two cents.

S. 3:54 PM  

I agree with axl99. It is absurd to think that the grad students have peaked at their skill level upon leaving the program. I have always felt that animation is a field that you can never stop learning in. There is so much to know and there will always be areas for improvment. And with practice and experience, you get better. I think most of us agree that Sheridan is cutting a lot of corners when it comes to the program, resulting in a less than satisfactory education for the students. But this doesn't mean that with more opportunities to learn, provided by work experience, it won't matter what our films looked like when we graduated. I'm sure most industry professionals would find their grad reels a little embarrassing. So I think it was a little unnecessary for anyone to crit the grad's skill level so harshly at this point. Especially since it is no secret that the school didn't do a whole lot for us.
And Allan, I am sorry about the person who seemed to be ripping into you over on Nick's board. It is childish and cowardly to hide behind the internet just so they can tell you your work is a cheap rip off of Robin Joseph's and that it is garbage. Regardless of what your skill level is now, if you keep drawing and working hard, it will continuously improve. There is also nothing wrong with being inspired by another artist's style. I doubt you want to BE Robin, and through your artistic journey, I'm sure you will develop a strong style that is all your own. This should be expected of any artist who works hard and practices often. So it is completely unnecesary for anyone to bash your work (or anyone elses) like that.
As many people have been saying,everyone is allowed their opinions and they will more than likely post them online (as it is much easier to say something when no one will ever know who you are). However, I still think it is just plain old common courtesy to ask yourself if your opinion will really be all that helpful or meaningful to share. If you are just one person who doesn't like someone's style, then who cares? Keep it to yourself! It can only result in one of two things: making the artist feel bad or making the artist feel like they need to work harder to improve. Because the first reaction is rather common among artists who are told their work is poor, it makes it hard for me to think of any good reason to cut into someone like that, especially if it is just your opinion. Second, if you are trying to give them a crit in the hopes that they will realize they need to improve, then there are so many other better ways of saying things that are less hurtful. If you cannot post something without really believing that what you have to say is helpful or courteous, then don't say it at all, even if you can stay anonymous.

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