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Alumni Profiles

Di He

Di He

Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Year of Graduation: 2005
Program: Animation - Digital Visual Effects

Bringing the Past to the Future

I grew up in China, a country with thousands years of history and culture which have been implanted in my blood. I believe this to be the most precious treasure I have. There are so many interesting stories to tell. The challenge, however, lies in telling these traditional tales using modern technology in a way that will satisfy sophisticated audiences worldwide. 

This is what I strived to do in my 2010 animated short film, The Birthday Gift. Set in China in the late 1970s following the Cultural Revolution, The Birthday Gift is a story about a little boy who sacrifices his favourite toy and works to pay for glasses for his grandmother. I used traditional Chinese brush strokes and colors to create a backdrop of misty mountains, ancient architecture and realistic-looking characters. The film won the Best Animated Short Film prize at the First China International New Media Movie Television Animation Festival, and I was named Best Animated Short Film Director. Since then, the film been selected for screening at several other festivals, including the Chicago International Children's Film Festival and the SIGGRAPH Asia 2010 Animation Theatre. 

Working on The Birthday Gift has proven to be my most memorable job experience to date. Leading the team at AIVFX (Authentic Illusion Visual Effects) to produce the film, I had to focus not only on the technology and art, but also on team and time management, as well as budget control, basically all aspects of producing a film from beginning to end. 

I have been a Technical Director at AIVFX and Intelligent Creatures in Toronto for the past two years, and have recently joined Topix Animation/FX/Design. My past experience includes stints at Elliott Animation and C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto. 

The combination of computer technology and art has changed my life. I vividly recall the first time I watched the movie Terminator 2, and how eager I was to learn how it was made. With an animation program dating back to the 1980s, Sheridan was the go-to school for me with the most comprehensive courses and experienced faculty. I still remember inspirational conversations I had with instructors Richard Cohen and Robin King. Although several years have gone by since then, I continue to be amazed and inspired by the unlimited possibilities of digital special effects.