Technicolor Creative Studios Academy Supplies Production-Ready Training for Next-Generation of Industry Talent

How the Technicolor Creative Studios Academy students have been using tools such as Maya and ShotGrid.

As demand for artists is at an all-time high, the Technicolor Creative Studios Academy strives to foster new talent and help young creatives prepare for roles at Technicolor Creative Studios’ world-class VFX and animation facilities, including MPC, The Mill, Mikros Animation, and Technicolor Games. The entry-level training and development program helps scale students’ generalist skills and hone their ability to work at a production-level cadence while fine-tuning their technique and creative eye. To help program participants gain experience and advance in their careers, Technicolor Creative Studios Academy is partnering with companies like Autodesk and teaching practical production applications of industry-standard tools, including Maya and ShotGrid.

“Our partnership with Autodesk has provided us with the technical tools and resources to help our program expand with massive growth; this year, we’re on track to have 2,600 students,” shared Ron Edwards, Global Head of Commercial Development, L&D. “We work with partners like Autodesk, as well as with schools, that align with our values for diversity, and we strive to collaborate on programs and initiatives that support our efforts for inclusion. An example is a course we run in Bangalore that is exclusively for women.”

Technicolor Creative Studios Academy caters to a target audience of recent college graduates with a degree in VFX or computer graphics disciplines or similar experience, helping artists become production-ready with a holistic approach to training on industry-standard software and pipelines. Autodesk supported the Academy’s first virtual pilot program in 2020, and today, this has scaled so all courses are remote. While prospective students can apply for courses based in Montreal, Toronto, London, Adelaide, or Bangalore, the program is open to global talent regardless of physical location and has an international student body.

Technicolor Creative Studios Academy currently offers more than 150 eight-week discipline-specific courses, covering the full gamut of animation, modeling, lighting, texturing, environments, matte painting, CFX, and 3D DMPs, among other areas. Core coursework is often in Maya and teaches entry-level production skillsets. Edwards shared, “Maya is industry-standard and what we use at Technicolor Creative Studios, so it’s essential that artists learn and master practical applications of the software’s robust toolset. There are so many different facets within Maya that students can learn and become experts in, so it’s central to our curriculum. Our program focuses on best practices for Maya in production settings, for instance, teaching how to set up playblasts and where to position the shot or frame counter in our animation course.”

All new coursework is added to ShotGrid, and legacy curricula will soon be ported to the platform. Edwards added, “We leverage a ShotGrid-based pipeline to help us securely manage courses, which simplifies the process of reusing and sharing content. ShotGrid offers us a streamlined pipeline for organizing and updating content, helping us continue to grow in terms of the volume of courses that we’re able to offer. Students also access the curriculum via ShotGrid, offering them an introduction to using the platform in a production environment and further preparing them for an entry-level position.”

Each course is a blend of video and document-based instruction paired with coaching, instruction, and evaluation from live trainers. Weekly schedules include lessons, instructions on tips and tricks in Maya, one-on-one coaching sessions, live review sessions, and homework assignments with feedback. Students are provided with virtual workstations, storage, and rendering in the cloud, so they can efficiently complete coursework remotely.

All Technicolor Creative Studios Academy trainers have a minimum of four-years’ worth of production experience – with many over 10 years – and they are eager to get involved to give back to the community as mentors. Prior to getting started, they learn training skills and how to build content for the Academy, such as assets, tutorials, and documentation. Edwards shared, “It’s often a holistic ecosystem where our instructors have gone through the program themselves, graduated to work at one of our facilities, then returned to teach the next generation of talent. For our artists who have become trainers, it helped them in terms of management skills, coaching, and the ability to provide feedback. These skills are necessary for them to advance as artists, and many have been promoted as a result.”

Looking to the future, Technicolor Creative Studios Academy is well-positioned for growth in terms of student capacity and a higher volume of advanced coursework. “We’re planning to continue to expand school partnerships. This will allow schools to use our content to teach courses or entire semesters, helping to attract more young creatives into the industry and prepare them for a career in the field,” added Edwards.

Edwards advised students looking to get started in the industry: “Get acquainted with the VFX industry, learn the tools, and start to become generalists in the field. Look into what specializations excite you and figure out what the requirements are to pursue a career in those roles. Explore which schools have partnerships with studios, like the Academy, so you’ll have access to a strong alumni community and know that the skills they teach will help you become production-ready. Keep learning and persevere!”

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