Getting Up Close and Personal at the CTN Animation Expo

by Ana Felce

If you’re interested in working in the world of animation, there’s no better place to start your career than in the Los Angeles area.

Studying animation near L.A. provides students access to the hands-on experiences necessary to be successful in the industry. Not only will you learn from professors experienced in the field, but you’ll be close to the action at the CTN Animation Expo.

In fact, schools like Azusa Pacific University offer their Animation and Visual Effects students the chance to participate in this annual event. Attending the expo is a great opportunity to extend beyond the classroom and learn how to break into the industry. “When I was a young animator there was no place to go to make industry, professional-level connections,” says Tony Bancroft, program director of Animation and Visual Effects at Azusa Pacific, and seasoned animator with credits including The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. “I tell students all the time that they need to make an effort to attend at least one year of the expo because it can be so impactful and inspiring.”

Learn New Skills

Attendees of the animation expo can choose to sign up for workshops and demonstrations that teach specific skill sets that are likely to prove useful as you work toward building your career. In the workshops, you’ll have the chance to learn firsthand the specific techniques of industry professionals—and how they create the art we see on the screen.

If you want to see how animators do their jobs every day, check out the live demonstrations. Participants can observe animation experts as they use their craft, step-by-step, to carry out the animation process. They can also watch professionals display their talents in various areas of animation, such as character design or vehicle concepts.

Best of all, many of the expo events offer attendees the chance to learn from top-studio legends. Outside of demonstrations and practical workshops, the expo also offers presentations, uninstructed drawings, discussion panels, book signings, and more.

Meet Legendary Animators

In addition to seeing animators demonstrate their creative process, expo attendees can converse with creators and animators from studios such as Nickelodeon and Pixar. Other opportunities to meet legendary animators include the Conversations with Creators and Breakfast with the Pros sessions.

At these events, you’ll meet and chat with professionals in a more exclusive setting, with the chance to make real connections. Breakfast with the Pros is a casual experience that allows participants to have a relaxed conversation with professionals in the industry. Although Conversations with Creators is more formal, you’ll still have the opportunity to ask questions, show your work, and even exchange contact information.

If you’re serious about working in animation, you don’t want to miss these events. Not only do they provide a space to network and have important discussions with successful animators, but you can immediately apply what you learn to your own career.

Get Feedback on Your Portfolio

Probably the biggest benefit of the animation expo for students is the chance to have your portfolio reviewed by a top industry professional. Each person who signs up will have a one-on-one meeting with a professional from the fields of animation, visual design, or video game design.

“Most of the animation studios in Hollywood are represented and looking at student and professional portfolios all weekend—that’s free criticism from multiple major studios all in one weekend,” says Bancroft. “Many artists have even been hired by those same studios, just because they showed their work!”

Learning in college isn’t just limited to classroom lessons. It’s beneficial to take supplementary workshops and attend off-campus events to round out your learning experience. Events such as the CTN Animation Expo not only give students a 360-degree view of what working in the field is really like, but it allows students to step out of the comforts of the classroom and start preparing for their future.