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Alumni News

Taha Neyestani and Melody Wang

Gearing up for awards season

January 17, 2016

Sheridan is kicking off awards season with a bang this year. As usual, the creative talents of Sheridan alumni are behind many of the productions nominated for Oscars, Canadian Screen Awards and Golden Globe animated feature film winner Inside Out. Sheridan graduates and students have received 12 Annie Award nominations – the animation industry’s top honour. Nominated for Best Student Film are Taha Neyestani and Melody Wang, pictured above. The duo also made the list of TIFF’s Top Ten student shorts of 2015, with Melody taking first prize. Ten students were nominated for an Annie in the Best Student Film category as well. Read their stories in Ovation: Melody Wang, Taha Neyestani and Annie-nominated students

Read the full list of Sheridan alumni Annie Award nominees

Congratulations to the alumni who worked on the films Room and The Revenant, which both received Best Picture Oscar nominations this year. Click here to read about Visual Effects grad Divyansh Mittal who worked on The Revenant.

For The Peanuts Movie animators, the job is its own reward

Dan SeddonDan Seddon, a Character Designer on The Peanuts Movie (pictured), feels lucky to have been part of the team of talented artists who created the animated feature produced by Blue Sky Studios. But he saves special praise for BJ Crawford, who graduated from Sheridan’s animation program in 2000, a decade before Dan. BJ received an Annie Award nomination for his character animation work on The Peanuts Movie. An honour that is richly deserved, according to Dan. 

“The first time I saw BJ’s 2D animations for day dreaming sequences from The Peanuts Movie, I was blown away! He can push poses and expressions in a way that I could never imagine, and he does everything with such a confident, gestural line.”

Dan himself has come far since he graduated six years ago from Sheridan where his love of character design was born. “After my very first Character Design class with Enzo Avolio, I decided that this was what I would focus on for the next four years at Sheridan,” Dan says.

It was the exploratory stage of character design that truly grabbed his attention. “I love working loosely and expressively, so the idea of spitting out a million different versions of the same character was something that was very appealing to me.”

Despite the devotion to his craft, Dan found that doors did not automatically open for him upon graduation. “But the harder it was, the more I wanted it, and the harder I worked,” he recalls. Countless hours were spent on portfolios and studio tests, and hundreds of rejection letters followed before he landed a studio gig after the better part of a year. “Even after I finally got a job at a Toronto studio, I still spent all of my free time updating and improving my portfolio so I would be ready for the next opportunity.”

That’s when Connecticut-based Blue Sky Studios came calling. You never know when that chance will come up, as timing is a big part of the hiring process, no matter how talented you are, says Dan, who joined Blue Sky in late 2012. “So be patient, positive and persistent and continue to work on your portfolio. When the time is right you need to be ready.”

Another way to improve your chances of getting hired is by reaching out to artists you admire, adds Dan. “I'm currently working with a few artists that I contacted as a student for critiques, and I owe it all to them for taking the time to get me ready for where I am today.”

It all requires focus and determination to succeed, says BJ, who came to Sheridan from Green Bay, Wisconsin. “As a young student, it was a struggle for me to grasp the animation principles while also trying stand out artistically. Animation is a difficult medium. But if you want it badly enough, then you'll get it.” The prize is definitely worth the effort, BJ says. “I get to show up to work every day and draw. It's amazing.”

Read more about Dan in The Windsor Star

BJ Crawford

More about BJ Crawford's work (pictured) on The Peanuts Movie in Mashable