A Lounge for Every­one

How Sonya Carey and Switch An­i­ma­tion Launched Toronto’s The An­i­ma­tion Lounge

Animation Magazine - - ADVERTORIA­L -

Sonya Carey, owner and in­struc­tor at Toronto’s The An­i­ma­tion Lounge has 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as head of stu­dio or head of dig­i­tal on a va­ri­ety of 2D pro­duc­tions. Dur­ing that time, she re­al­ized that re­cruit­ing in Toronto for 2D pro­duc­tions be­came very dif­fi­cult due to the in­creas­ing num­ber of projects and a short­age of grad­u­ates from an­i­ma­tion Col­leges. “With all stu­dios in Toronto try­ing to hire the same peo­ple, the poach­ing and com­pet­ing left us short of staff,” she recalls. “As a re­sult, I took an ap­proach which helped me to never worry about staff.” Since early in her ca­reer, Carey was a Har­mony 2D artist/com­pos­i­tor, she knew the soft­ware very well, so she de­cided to train her staff. “All of those I’ve in­for­mally trained over the past 15 years have gone on to have very lu­cra­tive ca­reers,” she says. “It be­came clear that a bit of stu­dio style train­ing would go a long way to help our short­age of staff in Toronto, and to help the un­der­em­ployed artist to be­come em­ploy­able.” Carey says her goals for the An­i­ma­tion Lounge were born for her love for an­i­ma­tion. “I want this style of ed­u­ca­tion to be affordable for every­one and I want to keep the art of film alive,” she notes. “I also want to put some power back in the hands of the artists to cre­ate on their own films, out­side of stu­dio hours and re­al­ize that they are truly valu­able.” Help­ing her re­al­ize her goal is Pete Denomme, CEO/EP of Switch VFX & An­i­ma­tion, who sees in Carey’s vision an in­spired way to com­pli­ment his own ef­forts to ad­vance the an­i­ma­tion and VFX com­mu­ni­ties hav­ing started the Switch Schol­ar­ship Award at five Cana­dian col­leges in early 2017. “Trust­ing in my ideas and see­ing the long-term pos­i­tive po­ten­tial for the Cana­dian in­dus­try, Pete in­vested his re­sources and of­fered his stu­dio to me to help bring the vision to life,” she says. “The col­lab­o­ra­tion of The An­i­ma­tion Lounge, spon­sored by Switch An­i­ma­tion was for­mally an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary 2019.” In­dus­try back­ing has been over­whelm­ing since launch. Af­ter a for­mal in­tro­duc­tion of the Lounge by Pete at Kid­screen 2019 both Toom Boom An­i­ma­tion and the Com­puter An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios of On­tario came on board to sup­port our cur­ricu­lum and but­tress mar­ket­ing of our work­shops in con­cert with Switch An­i­ma­tion. Repli­cat­ing Stu­dio Life Carey says her vision for the pro­gram was to cre­ate a se­ries of day-long work­shops of­fer­ing hands on stu­dio ex­pe­ri­ence. “I repli­cate a day at work, in a stu­dio so that an­i­ma­tion stu­dents can see that there are more jobs to be done in­side of a stu­dio, not just an­i­mat­ing. This al­lows them to tar­get other jobs and un­lock some of the mys­ter­ies within a pro­duc­tion pipe­line. I wanted to en­cour­age ed­u­ca­tion for every­one. They are affordable so that every­one can af­ford to at­tend. You can take one work­shop, or sign up for all of them if you like.” Dur­ing its first year, the An­i­ma­tion Lounge has been very ac­tive, hold­ing nu­mer­ous work­shops in­clud­ing 12 Toronto-based pro­grams at the Switch VFX & An­i­ma­tion stu­dio, as well as var­i­ous global lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing the Ot­tawa Intl. An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val, Kingstoon An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val in Ja­maica, Cartoon Net­work Stu­dios as en­cour­age­ment for Black Women in An­i­ma­tion, at the Peel Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mer High School Co-Op Pro­gram, Girls in Tech­nol­ogy Work­shop in­tro­duc­ing an­i­ma­tion to girls’ grade 6-8, as well as on­line work­shops for a virtual learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for stu­dents in the U.S. In 2020, the pro­gram will in­tro­duce two­day work­shops to meet the needs of the trainees and will be adding more spe­cial­ized work­shops on sto­ry­board­ing, di­rect­ing, pro­duc­ing, an­i­mat­ing and rig­ging. “We will also be of­fer­ing more net­work­ing events since the Lounge’s end-of-day hang­out seems to be a big hit,” says Carey. “It’s where peo­ple come and talk and find out about stu­dio life and re­ally get into the in­dus­try. The idea I had was to en­hance other ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties.” The An­i­ma­tion Lounge has been in­stru­men­tal in help­ing stu­dents who have been un­der­em­ployed to build the con­fi­dence to ap­ply for all types of po­si­tions says Carey. “We don’t job hunt for them, but teach them how to look, and where to look dur­ing our net­work­ing ses­sions,” she ex­plains. “We also teach the cur­rent soft­ware and tech­niques to keep them mov­ing with the trends in an­i­ma­tion. We pur­posely set this up to be a safe en­vi­ron­ment where there is no poach­ing and no hir­ing on the spot. We want stu­dios to feel com­fort­able send­ing their staff in for train­ing.” To find out more about these in­no­va­tive work­shops, visit thean­i­ma­tion­lounge.com.

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