Ottawa International Animation Festival 2016

Students in the PhilaU Animation Class of 2017 recently visited this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival from September 23-25. As this year was the festival’s […]

Students in the PhilaU Animation Class of 2017 recently visited this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival from September 23-25. As this year was the festival’s 40th anniversary, there were many screenings of Grand Prize winners from the past, but the festival still kept its usual feature and short film screenings, behind-the-scenes talks with animators, directors, and producers, and fun networking opportunities.

OIAF wasn’t the only one with a special anniversary this year; Laika’s 10th anniversary celebration took place Friday night in a tent outside of the Canada and the World Pavilion. Mark Shapiro, Laika’s Marketing and Brand Manager, led the event with behind-the-scenes videos of production on Coraline and Paranorman. Shapiro even brought the actual puppet armature used for main character Norman in Paranorman. After an insightful Q&A session, the night proceeded with a screening of Coraline, which was the studio’s first production under the name Laika.


As usual, Saturday’s Professional Development Day provided students with an opportunity to network with several animation studios (mostly Canada-based) in the Career Fair. In the morning, recruiters from Disney, Nickelodeon, Jam Filled and 9 Story Media Group gave their advice to budding animators about how to best present yourself when applying for jobs in the panel Getting the Perfect Gig.

Throughout the rest of the day, festivalgoers were treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at popular shorts, including Pixar’s Piper and Disney’s Inner Workings. Julia Pott, whose short Summer Camp Island was created as a part of Cartoon Network’s Shorts Program, also spoke about her previous and most current work.

Of course, attending the usual screenings of short films created by professionals and students around the world prove to be a great learning experience for the PhilaU students currently working on their thesis films. Animation senior Rob Orapallo said, “I was inspired by [the films], because just like those animators, I’m going to create something that I find interesting… What makes great animation is a great story; if you don’t have a great story, then your animation will fall flat.”

Narratives find their place inside interactive animations as well. OIAF had several virtual reality experiences on display over the course of the festival. One of these, Pearl, can be found online as a 360-degree interactive video. Giving the viewer a seat in the front of the car, Pearl follows the story of a father and daughter travelling across the country and through life.

Additionally, at Saturday’s NIGHTOWL festivities, a few other opportunities were available to experience more interactive software for both VR and collaborative animation. A Canadian company called Brinx held a demo of their MasterpieceVR software. With MasterpieceVR, the user dons the usual VR headset and wields a remote that allows the user to either draw or even model geometry in a 3D environment.

A collaborative software called Lines was also on display at NIGHTOWL. Two tables with about five Cintiq tablets sat facing a wall, where the work-in-progress animation was projected as a constant loop and updating in real time. Each animator could see on their own screens as the others around them drew inside of the frames. Animators could – and were even encouraged to – manipulate what others had already drawn, including erasing and drawing over pieces of other animations. Several PhilaU students and alumni who attended the festival had the chance to try out the software. Their animations can be seen among the mass of drawings in the video below.




Exciting advances in the field of animation are being made every year. Since 1976, the Ottawa International Animation Festival has been celebrating innovation in both new and traditional animation styles. Congratulations to OIAF on forty great years – we can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for us next year!

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