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Local animation school delivers one-of-a-kind instruction
SHARRON HO, Contributor
A boutique computer animation school in North Vancouver is providing industry standard instruction found nowhere else in the world.
Think Tank Training Centre has been training its students on Mari, the texturing computer program that was designed for the mega blockbuster Avatar.
“We’ve been teaching [it] since 2010, and it’s the industry standard. Nobody else in the world is teaching it yet, except us,” said Scott Thompson, Think Tank founder.
“Most students don’t know the difference, but the students that are here do know the difference, and the industry knows the difference. They come and target us because of that reason. They know we’re the only ones that can train a Mari artist.”
With the ever-changing business of design, Thompson said Think Tank upgrades its curriculum every semester to stay on top of the trends.
“You can’t sit on your laurels in this business, it’s always changing,” he said.
Think Tank also provides the entire gamut of training required to work in the different industries, including: visual effects for feature films; animation and effects for video games; environmental and character modelling; television animation; and texturing and lighting.
The school also boasts small class sizes — 12 students per class — and instruction from professionals currently working in the field.
With half of their students coming from around the world, the school has gained a strong reputation in countries like Brazil, India and Mexico thanks to testimonials from alumni.
“I think one of the things that really sets us apart is we love students to stay indefinitely for no extra charge,” Thompson said. “So once they finish their program, most students stay an additional four to six months and we continue to train them for free until they get a job.”
He said the school is invested in their students and aims to propel them towards success.
“I once drove two students to Seattle [for job interviews] and the school paid for it. We put them up in a hotel and paid for their meals, and all that. I call that tuition rebates,” Thompson said.
Having the largest film effects industry in the world, Vancouver is highly saturated with schools that specialize in computer animation. Although Think Tank only opened in 2005, enrolment has been full since 2006 — and usually a year in advance.
Due to the growing popularity of the school from word of mouth, Thompson said competition for the 36 spots that open up every year is steep.
And while the school has a high job placement rate, Thompson said students are told up front about the highly competitive nature of the industry.
“There’s a million people out there that want to be in this business and unfortunately only about five per cent of them have any hope.”
At the moment, Think Tank is in the midst of building a new lab with a crashed-plane-in-a-jungle theme to complement the school’s current “over the top” décor which is designed to foster creativity.
Thompson added while there are no set plans to expand, there may be a possibility of Think Tank going Down Under in the future.
“I mean we might at some stage… build another school in another city,” he said. “One city we talked about the possibility of going to is Sydney, Australia because they do have enough industry to support us and enough job placement.”
For more information, visit tttc.ca.