Digital Entertainment 2023

Stories worth sharing

 October 20-21, in Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver Animation School logo


Michel Gagne
Animation and VFX Director
Gagne International
Chris Woods
Animation Director
Mainframe Studios
Francine Delgado
Art Director / Comic Book Artist
Bardel Entertainment
Jimmy Ockey
Talent Acquisition Specialist
Bardel Entertainment
Jinnie Pak
Head of Production Vancouver
Adrian E
Sr. Concept Artist
Jennifer Jue-Steuck
Co-chapter Head
Harvardwood Vancouver-Seattle
Freddy Chávez Olmos
Artificial Intelligence Creative Director
Boxel Studios
Heather Bell
Immigration Consultant
Bell Alliance
Wolfgang Hamann
Koolhaus Games
Calvin Leduc
VANAS Faculty
Walt Disney Feature Animation
Heather Renney
Supervising Producer
Atomic Cartoons
Mario Pochat
Shuchi Singhal
Lead Animator
Nadine Westerbarkey
Studio Creative Director
Atomic Cartoons
Allison Graham
Executive Consultant, Author
Elevate Biz
Tony Wu
Sr. Game Designer
Button Check  LLC
Katharine Montagu
Writer and Producer
Vivaswan Venkat
VFX Associate Producer
Skye R. Regan
Director, Writer, and Producer
Vishal Punwani
Ross McCabe
VFX Supervisor
Dani Duck
12x12's Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee
Lindsay Maizel
Kris Krüg
Photographer & Creative Director
Call for Speakers

The schedule, speakers, and topics are subject to change.


Friday, October 20
Day 1: Registration and Welcome
The VANAS Conference is in the works, with a lineup of world-class speakers to be announced soon. Stay tuned for updates on the topics and schedule, and get ready to take your skills to the next level in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games.
Building a Personal Brand
Jimmy Ockey, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Bardel Entertainment
This presentation will focus on three benefits of a strong personal brand and some practical tips for achieving them. These benefits include: identifying strengths, improving recognition, and creating trust.

We work in a project-based industry where the needs of a studio are changing. As a recruiter, I have found that building a personal brand not only allows you to make a memorable impression on a future employer, but allows the studio to know what to expect from you
The Stress Illusion: A Fresh Way to Feel Less Overwhelmed Even when there's too much to do, too little time and too few resources!
Allison Graham, Executive Consultant, Author
Elevate Biz
The way most of us learned to manage stress isn't working - if it did, stress levels would not be on the rise nor would burnout rates and stress leaves be at all-time highs. Allison Graham believes that it’s time to stop managing stress and instead, stop creating so much of it in the first place. Her system will show you how to do that so that you can perform at your best and stop feeling overwhelmed even when the challenges won’t stop.

In this keynote, you'll discover three illusions of stress and three ways to better navigate it! Allison will challenge your thinking about stress and share fresh insights that you can apply right away.
Staying Motivated! A Veteran Animator’s Perspective on What Makes for a Thriving Career.
Chris Woods, Animation Director, Mainframe Studios
Chris will share insights on what fuels his passion to remain dedicated to pushing the creative envelope as an animator and director even after 20 years in the biz!
Painting A Future With AI: Panel Presentation to Discuss Pitfalls & Potential For Your Creative Life.
Moderator: Jennifer Jue-Steuck, Co-chapter Head, Harvardwood. Panelists: Katharine Montagu, Writer and Producer; Skye R. Regan, Director, Writer, Producer; Vishal Punwani, CEO SoWork; Dani Duck, Illustratorl; Lindsay Maizel, Producer; Kris Krüg, Photographer & Creative Director.
This session brings together guest speakers to discuss their collective thoughts on the future of AI technology in media and entertainment, including the pros and cons, pitfalls and potential, of using AI for virtual productions, art, animation, film / TV, XR & Xverse spaces. How will we use AI ten years from now, and beyond, in media and entertainment? Join us and bring your ideas to the discussion!
THE AI EFFECT: A New Era of Opportunities in Film, VFX and Animation.
Freddy Chávez Olmos. Artificial Intelligence Creative Director, Boxel Studios
In this talk, Freddy will share insights on his adaptation journey to this new technological landscape, highlighting the creation of exciting opportunities along the way. From leveraging AI tools to unlock boundless creativity and efficiency to harnessing the power of machine learning for innovative storytelling, participants will explore how AI tools have revolutionized creative processes, empowering artists and storytellers to push boundaries and embrace new forms of expression.
Digital Artists Living and Working Abroad
Francine Delgado, Art Director, Bardel Entertainment
Whether chasing a dream job in animation, visual effects, or video game companies, leaving home and starting a new life in a different country with a different culture and weather can present significant challenges and rewards.

Understanding and relating to other people's struggles and determination to become industry professionals in these fields can offer valuable perspective on the powerful concepts of identification and representation in our lives.
End of Day 1
Saturday, October 21
Day 2: Continued
The VANAS Conference is in the works, with a lineup of world-class speakers to be announced soon. Stay tuned for updates on the topics and schedule, and get ready to take your skills to the next level in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games.
Canada’s Search for Talent: How Canadian Immigration aims to Attract and Retain Foreign Talent.
Heather Bell, Immigration Consultant specializing in Tech / Digital Entertainment Industry
In recent years, federal and provincial immigration programs have supported the growth of tech and digital entertainment industries by creating specific programs and priority streams that facilitate the temporary entry of foreign talent and often fast-tracks permanent residency.

This presentation will provide an overview of the avenues available to studios to hire and retain foreign talent, while addressing some of the challenges with immigration and how best to overcome these. It will also cover options for international students in Canada and foreign talent currently employed by Canadian studios to stay in Canada longer as temporary residents or obtain permanent residency.
My Saga Animating a Hand Drawn 2D Film Single-handedly
Michel Gagne, Animation and VFX Director
Gagne International
I have a very interesting path I've followed in the animation industry, with over two dozens feature films, books, comics and graphic novels, etc. I am an artist constantly challenging myself and my latest endeavor is my most ambitious challenge yet, and one I believe the audience will love to hear about.

Lunch Break / Networking
Drawing Competition
Adrian Enciso, VANAS Concept Art Faculty
Calling all artists and visionaries! It's time to pick up those pencils, brushes, or digital styluses and let your imagination run wild in our thrilling drawing competition. Whether you're an established artist or just starting to explore the world of art, this competition welcomes creators of all levels.
Enhancing VFX Workflow Efficiency between Supervisors, Artists, and Production
Moderator: Jinnie Pak, Head of Production  | Panelists: Ross McCabe, VFX Supervisor; Viv Venkat, VFX Associate; Shuchi Singhal, Lead Animator. Framestore Vancouver, Canada.
This panel explores best practices for fostering effective collaboration between VFX artists and production teams to streamline workflows, foster greater creative collaboration and improve final outputs.

The insights from this panel will help elevate artists' understanding of their roles within the broader creative ecosystem, ultimately leading to more efficient, effective, and rewarding collaboration in the VFX industry.
Career Opportunities in the Video Game Industry.
Wolfgang Hamann, CEO Koolhouse Games
This presentation will provide an overview of the process from the perspective of career opportunities available to aspiring artists, programmers, and sound designers. The video game industry is the only entertainment industry form that has seen consistent positive growth over the past several decades and is projected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.
Tony Wu, Sr. Game Designer, Button Check.
What happens after you get the dreaded rejection letter from a studio?

In this panel, Tony shares insights from his experience dealing with rejections and how to utilize and gain valuable lessons from failure.

Failure is something that people need to talk about in the open. This topic hopes to connect audiences with an experience that everyone has and how to move forward and learn from it.
Creative and Production, a powerful duo that works together.
Heather Renney & Nadine Westerbarkey, Atomic Cartoons
Creative and Production roles have very different responsibilities but are so closely linked together, how can both work together in the best possible way, how to create collaboration between departments. We will look at the workflow throughout different departments and the different responsibilities through a creative and production lens.

End of Day 2

The schedule, speakers, and topics are subject to change.

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Art Competition


Details coming soon


• Goal: To find the most attractive and original designs.

• Medium: 2D Drawing

• Format: Group art battle tournament

• Judges: Audience voting and VANAS Faculty

•Timeframe: The competition will run in the afternoon for an hour (2 pm - 3 pm *)

Introduction (10 mins)

• The students receive instructions on how the competition works

• The students will split into four (4) groups (A total of 16 students*)

Round 1 (15 mins)

• All students are given a verbal description of a character (i.e. a dinosaur with angel wings).

• Students have 10 mins. to complete their conceptual art drawings

• Judges have 5 mins. to vote for the two (2) best designs from each group

• A new team of 4 students is created from the two (2) winners of each group from the last round

Round 2 ( 15 mins)

• Students receive new descriptions to draw (i.e. a wizard with magical fire powers)

• Students have 10 mins. to complete their conceptual art drawings

• Judges have 5 mins. to vote for the single best design from each group

• At this point, there are only two (2) students remaining in the competition

Round 3 (15 mins)

• The two (2) winners receive the final description (i.e. a half-human, half-robot, cyborg)

• The two (2) finalists have 10 mins. to draw.

• Judges have 5 mins. to vote for the single best design from each group

The remaining 10 minutes are allocated as a buffer in between the rounds

*Students in high school, 16 years of age or older. A professional artist is a different category.

*Subject to change due to the number of students participating

*Students competing should purchase a regular ticket

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UBC - 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A7