Vancouver Film School brings 3-D animation and visual effects insiders on campus to share secrets of success

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      (This article is sponsored by the Vancouver Film School.)

      Frederick Fassé has come a long way since studying 3-D animation and digital effects at the .

      In his busy 16-year career, the Vancouver artist has worked in animation for feature films, episodic series, video games, a music video, and direct-to-video features.

      In a recent interview, Fassé described his Vancouver Film School class as "very lucky". That's because he and about half of the other students went to work for Mainframe Entertainment.

      Now called Rainmaker Entertainment, it's one of the powerhouses in Vancouver's computer animation and design industry.

      He credited the Vancouver Film School's for opening doors that launched his career. It continues to be a cornerstone of the school's .

      "We actually had access to people who were telling us what it was like working on the Transformers TV series, which for me was super cool," Fassé recalled.

      Watch a video of animation supervisor Frederick Fassé discussing how his Vancouver Film School education launched his career.

      Back then, he noted, there were "literally a handful of companies" in Vancouver where students could find work.

      "You had to choose one of those places or move abroad," Fassé said.

      He's risen to become the animation supervisor for Atomic Cartoons. According to Fassé, this involves "looking at animators' work, making sure it maintains the quality of the animation that it meets what the director is expecting".

      Video: Frederick Fassé enjoys sharing his knowledge with the next generation of animators.

      If you visit the  website of Atomic Cartoons, the homepage carries the message "we're hiring."

      It's not alone in this regard. Many of the 50 local visual effects and animation studios listed on the Vancouver Economic Commission website are also seeking talented artists.

      It's a buoyant local industry chasing artists with the talent to provide content for a global entertainment giants. And Vancouver Film School's 3-D animation and visual effects department provides the training.

      "Now, you have so many choices," Fassé said. "It's actually more difficult for us to find qualified artists without having to compete with another studio."

      Gamers have seen Fassé's work on Ryse: Son of Rome, Spec Ops: The Line, and Dead Rising 2. He's supervised animation on the TV series Beat Bugs and Little Charmers. Other credits include The Smurfs 2, Escape from Planet Earth, and Ratchet & Clank.

      Nowadays, he shares his knowledge and experience with students in the Vancouver Film School's 3-D animation and visual effects program. Back when he was a student, he benefited from the friendships that he developed with his mentors.

      He enjoys doing the same for the next generation of animators and visual-effects artists.

      "I would say if students are looking to prepare themselves for a specific studio, then look at their work and cater your art, your animation, to that," he said.

      Sarah von Fersen, mentorship and industry relations lead at the Vancouver Film School, also enjoys sharing insights that she learned from 17 years in the industry. Like Fassé, she started as an animation artist, never dreaming of becoming an educator.

      But after becoming the character and sets lead at Pixar Canada, she became involved in a variety of areas, including shading, environmental modelling, character modelling, rigging, and set dressing.

      "I was the head of a department, and I focused much more on working with people and helping them get their work finalled and reviewed," von Fersen said. "I really enjoyed the people side, so education was almost a no-brainer. It just seemed to be like the right transition for me."

      Sarah von Fersen ensures Vancouver Film School students meet people working in the 3-D animation and visual effects industry.

      At the Vancouver Film School large animation campus in Gastown, von Fersen oversees career preparation, which involves brings students together with industry mentors on a regular basis.

      The school is modelled on a studio. This means that students work collaborative on projects, learning the importance of working together, so they will transition smoothly into industry upon graduation.

      "We say to them that an artist who shares their knowledge is far more valued than one who might come up with the ideas and hold onto them," she said.

      It's a philosophy embraced not only by von Fersen but also by Fassé, who's eager to share important details about what helped propel his career forward after he graduated from the Vancouver Film School.

      (This article is sponsored by the Vancouver Film School.)