Vancouver Film School embraces hybrid model to ensure students don't put careers on hold

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      One day, this pandemic will be over. But in the meantime, there's tremendous—or shall we say insatiable?—demand for digital media.

      With so many people staying at home, there have never been more video games played and films streamed in history.

      And this demand for content presents opportunities for those who want to work in 3D animation, visual effects, filmmaking, television, virtual and augmented reality, visual and art design, or the gaming sector.

      For 33 years, the has been educating content creators in its intensive, immersive, and results-oriented one-year programs.

      Alumni, including Oscar and Emmy Award winners, have worked on entertainment properties grossing more than $19 billion.

      In the face of a public-health crisis, VFS continues to deliver its high-calibre curriculum through a hybrid model.

      Anyone can start online. In addition to the one-year program, there are also shorter .

      With more people staying at home, video games are more popular than ever before.

      Game Design students interact with industry experts

      In fact, VFS's head of school for creative technologies, Christopher Mitchell, was able to transition Game Design to virtual learning within a week of the pandemic's impact being felt in Vancouver's postsecondary sector.

      According to Evan Biswanger, VFS creative director and head of marketing, all of the Game Design students' work, including collaborative projects, is being conducted remotely.

      He pointed out that students are submitting "as high-calibre a final product as we have ever seen".

      "With the help of Zoom groups and Teradici, Game Design has become an online jewel for VFS," Biswanger declared.

      Game Design students even held their Pitch + Play Industry Showcase online on August 13. People from the digital industry attended on Hopin—an online venue for virtual events—to interact with students and observe the games that they had created.

      For many years, VFS has been bringing industry people together with students on campus. This, however, marked the first time that such an event was held digitally on such a large scale in the Game Design program.

      VFS is ensuring proper protocols are being followed for students who need to be on campus.

      VFS follows health protocols

      Some other VFS programs require in-person instruction, such as Makeup Design for Film and Television and Acting for Film and Television.

      To ensure that this happens safely, VFS is ensuring that it's of public-health officials.

      "We are working on doing this for all programs as soon as VFS is responsibly allowed to welcome more students back to campus," Biswanger explained.

      "Learning will be and is being set up online when possible, but for the ‘in-production’ know-how, being in-person can be mandatory and VFS is facilitating this the best we can."

      That means mandatory masking and maintaining appropriate physical distancing. 

      "If face masks are not an option, then the two-metre rule is necessary," Biswanger stated. "We strongly encourage students and staff to wash and sanitize their hands frequently. We have distancing and directional markers in our campuses. We, of course, make it mandatory to stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms or feel unwell."

      Vancouver Film School students are inspired by a long wall of movie posters, showing which films employed graduates.

      Committee created to enhance safety

      This is the first time that VFS has embraced a hybrid learning model.

      As part of health protocols, it's urging students coming from abroad to stay away from work or school for 14 days after arriving in Canada.

      In a message on its website, VFS assures prospective students, as well as their parents and guardians, that it has established a COVID-19 committee.

      This included members from all departments.

      In addition, VFS is reviewing daily updates from the World Health Organization and the B.C. and federal governments.

      This enables it to pivot quickly to maintain proper procedures, best practices, and up-to-date communications to the VFS community.

      The VFS's ultra-modern Gastown campus was created out of a short-lived tourist attraction, Storyeum, that showcased B.C. history.