Computer Animation Alumna Lorena Salas Enjoys Film Festival Success

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Lorena Salas exemplifies the success that can be achieved by artists who have graduated from Sheridan’s Computer Animation program. Two films that Lorena produced at Sheridan this past year – The Snow Spirit and The Tale of Baku – have both have been shown locally at the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival (Official selection 2013) and at the CNE in August, 2013, for Teen Day (organized by the Toronto Youth Cabinet). They have also been recognized on the international circuit: both films were selected for Short Cuts fest in Mexico, and The Snow Spirit won Best Animation at Film North, 2013.

The Snow Spirit was Lorena’s first film, about “a young girl who finds a shaman crown that enables her to see the spirits that reside in the snow covered mountains,” she explained. “It is an illustration in motion, about seeing everything as being alive, and realizing that we are one with the environment.” Lorena took a lot of her inspiration from the snow that covered Oakville in the winter term when she started production. She also drew from work by Lawren Harris, of Canada’s Group of Seven.

You can view The Snow Spirit here.

The Tale of Baku was Lorena’s second film. “It is based on the Japanese myth of ‘Baku’, a nightmare-eating monster that acts as a night vigilante, protecting dreams while looking for his dinner.”

You can view The Tale of Baku here.

Before coming to study Computer Animation at Sheridan College, Lorena previously worked as a 2D animator at a Latin American company. “Seeing the industry trends, it was inevitable to realize that learning 3D animation was very important,” Lorena said. “That’s when I decided to attend Sheridan’s post-grad in Computer Animation, just because I needed to upgrade my skills. However, never in a million years would I have been able to imagine how important my experience at Sheridan would be. It went beyond a simple skill upgrade.”

During Lorena’s time at Sheridan, she exercised her passion for story telling, and learned that CG animation was her favourite medium, despite the great amount of work needed to produce a film on her own, to the exacting quality standards of Sheridan Animation faculty.

“My first year at Sheridan was one of the hardest experiences in my life, but in a good way! That taught me that the more you put yourself into it, the better the results.”

Lorena attributes a lot of her success to the Sheridan faculty and technologists who helped develop her skills, including (Computer Animation program coordinator) Mark Simon, Ken Walker, Stephen Barnes, Jim Sayers and Kris Howald. “Mark is a great animator and mentor because has the magic animator’s eye and sees things in life locomotion that usually people miss. The best lesson I’ve got out of him is to keep pushing forward, there’s always a chance to improve.”

Lorena credited Sheridan technologist Ken Walker with keeping her technically savvy and on top of all the latest trends, while Stephen Barnes taught her how to bring stories to life. Jim brought in professionals who helped Lorena understand the industry better, and Kris encouraged her to keep innovating and trying “cool stuff” to keep developing as an artist. “I also learned a lot from my classmates from Computer Animation,” Lorena said. “It was a team effort to put on a good show for Industry Day,” when industry leaders visit Sheridan each year to view films and interview students.

Lorena developed her familiarity with the workings of the Animation industry through producing her films at Sheridan. “When you’re working in a production environment, you’re usually assigned to one task but you’ve got to understand that you are also part of a whole, bigger thing. You have to keep in mind that even though you might not see immediate results because of the nature of the pipeline studios must follow, you always have to do your best and on time, so you don’t lag production. Studio environments are like a well-oiled machine; everybody has to work their part when their turn is up.” She added that working on these solo projects still involved a lot of give and take from faculty and students in the studio.

Lorena serves as a great example of the joy and success that can come from going back to school to upgrade your skills in the arts.  As Lorena put it: “I strongly believe that once you discover what you really love to do, and you do something about it, you’re on the path to success!”

To learn more about Sheridan’s programs in Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design, click here.

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