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TeamTO and House of Cool Expand L’ECAS Free Animation School Curriculum

Companies plan to broaden scope of French non-profit school’s curriculum with a course on storyboarding; a technical data management course is also planned for 2022.

TeamTO and Canada’s House of Cool are partnering to broaden the scope of L’ECAS, a non-profit free-of-charge animation school established in 2018. The companies will work together to expand the curriculum with a course on Storyboarding; further plans are also underway to expand the 2022 curriculum with a technical training course on data management.

In 2018, TeamTO launched the comprehensive free animation school at the Cartoucherie campus in Bourg-lès-Valence, near one of the company’s own studios. The project was established for students with no prior experience or qualification, who might otherwise not have access to an elite educational program. A key aim is to provide ongoing, expertly trained talent for the robust French production industry, while also providing second-chance career opportunities for a diverse pool of applicants.

House of Cool and TeamTO have developed the curriculum for the ECAS storyboarding class that starts this fall. In-person classes will be taught at the Cartoucherie campus with additional masterclasses taught remotely from House of Cool’s offices in Toronto, Canada. 

Since the launch of L’ECAS, 95 students have attended program; all were offered a placement with TeamTO. 77 are currently working at the studio and eight are employed in the French and international animation industries. Students completing the program have increased France’s national number of character animation graduates by 50%.

Costs are financed by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (ARA) region, the French unemployment administration and TeamTO. Other regional grants cover living expenses for the students who can also participate in TeamTo coaching, counselling, and team-building weekends with company founder Guillaume Hellouin.

“I am deeply proud that ECAS has enabled over 90 students to join the industry by revealing their outstanding potential,” noted Hellouin. “Not only have they found meaningful jobs in our studios, but have performed at an extremely high level, quickly joining the production teams of very sophisticated and demanding shows, like Mighty Mike, Jade Armor, and Presto! School of Magic. By partnering with House of Cool on storyboarding, an area that they master, we can provide even more exciting new opportunities for the school, and the industry.”

“At House of Cool, we are always looking for people who have the talent and the unique voice necessary to tell stories at a very high level,” added House of Cool president Ricardo Curtis. “ECAS has been able to identify and develop talented artists who have traditionally not had access to the animation industry. It was an obvious choice of us to bring our storyboarding expertise on projects like Trollhunters and Rio to a school run by TeamTO. We couldn’t be happier with the potential of this partnership.”

TeamTO SVP development & production and ECAS co-founder Corinne Kouper is also co-president of Les Femmes S’Animent (LFA), an organization devoted to supporting women in the French animation industry. She will speak on the Women in Animation (WIA) panel at Annecy on Alternative Career Paths and Opportunities for Talent, with ECAS providing an excellent blueprint on the subject.

ECAS’ original goal was to offer an 8-month course in 3D animation to 30 students a year (eventually increasing to 50) that would provide the skills required to start a professional career in the cartoon industry. The curriculum covers 3D character design, learning animation software, preparing backgrounds, and working in a creative team, as well as art history classes on the world of animation and its key classical works. 

The training program is offered to candidates with no experience, who are selected based on their natural ability and talent. A simple on-line test, accessible with a browser, smart phone, or tablet, is used to assess the candidates. Top contenders are subject to further testing and a personal interview to ultimately be selected as one of final 30 candidates.

Source: TeamTO