By: Meggie Sylvester

Animation student Brian Blanchard draws using Toon Boom. The developer honoured the college Sept. 27.


Landing a job before graduation isn’t common for most college students, but for those in the animation program, it’s just an extracurricular activity.

Third year animation student Brian Blanchard currently works for Big Jump Studios in Kanata, where he designs material for Country Music Television’s Bounty Hunters.

“Because the program at the college teaches us Toon Boom software, I was able to land a job earlier than graduation,” said Blanchard.

That advantage was recognized Sept. 27 when president and CEO of Toon Boom Inc. Joan Vogelesang came to the college to unveil the program’s distinction as a “Toon Boom Centre of Excellence,” the first of its kind in Canada.

“We are extremely honoured to receive this special designation, and are proud to be fostering a strong and productive partnership to support new learning opportunities,” said Claude Brulé, vice president academic.

But the relationship between the college and Toon Boom Inc. runs much deeper than just a collaborative effort.

“We share a passion for animation,” said Vogelesang, “and students here graduate with the knowledge of how to do the job.”

Third-year animation student Rebecca Loerts describes her experience in the program as a bit of a journey.

“I started off wanting to go into game development,” Loerts said “but it was a lot of programming and not really my thing.”

“I was always very artistic as a child, and eventually found the pre-animation program at Algonquin.”

Rebecca and her classmate Danielle Klassen now work together at Kratt Brothers Studio in Ottawa where they design material for Wild Kratts, a show on PBS and TVO.

According to Toon Boom’s president, the job market requires adequately trained professionals to enter the workforce because companies cannot find time to provide significant training.

Production studios also want material to hit the screens as soon as possible, and Algonquin is described as the first college in Canada to understand that.

“Why is it that we are so impressed with the program at Algonquin?” Vogelesang asked.  “It’s because students actually graduate with the knowledge of how to do the job, and are one-hundred per cent functional when they hit the job market.”

Toon Boom’s “Centre of Excellence” plaque can be found in J305, along with the animation tablets designed by the company.

Beginning next fall, students will have their own Toon Boom software.

“That way,” says Brulé, “students can stay home and sleep sometimes.”

In collaboration with Toon Boom Inc., the animation program at Algonquin is sure to reach even higher levels of achievement.

“As technology evolves,” said Brulé, “we will continue to learn together.”