Makers and lovers of animated films from all parts of the world are in town for the Ottawa International Animation Festival, but for two Algonquin College grads, the weekend promises to be even more special.
The college will be honouring some graduates at its first "Alumni of Distinction Awards Gala" next Wednesday.
Jerry Popowich, co-founder and chief creative officer at Mercury Filmworks in Ottawa, made the list, along with Trent Correy, a character animator at Walt Disney Studios in California.
The two worked together at Mercury Filmworks. Popowich was Correy's boss there, but says he knew Correy would move on to bigger and better things before long.
"I could tell he was going to go places ... He just really soared really fast. Working on these features then some of them, like working on Olaf from Frozen. That was insane," said Popowich.
Alumni of distinction
Both grads credit Algonquin with laying down a foundation for their careers in animation.
"Back then it was pencil on paper," said Popwich, a graduate of the class of 1992. "It's really changed a lot. Kudos to Algonquin for staying current."
"What I Ioved about Algonquin is that they taught you the fundamentals," said Correy, who graduated in 2009. "You spent the first two years working with the foundations of the mediums so by the time you learned the computer as a tool, you already had this strong understanding of the principles of animation.
His first job at Disney was to work on Olaf, the popular snowman from Frozen. He has also worked on Big Hero 6 and Zootopia, as well as Moana.
Algonquin's program "definitely led to success because many graduates go on to work at Mercury or other studios in Ottawa," said Correy.
For anyone trying to break into animation, Popwich says not to let the naysayers discourage you.
"I graduated high school ... and I wanted to do animation but I was told, 'No. It's not done.' I go, 'I know it's done. I watch it Saturday mornings. I know it's done somewhere,'" he said. "Keep drawing. There's a tonne of jobs. Some really successful people like Trent that have made really successful careers and are going to keep making careers out of it."