Leading European content creator TeamTO and Canada’s House of Cool will partner together to broaden the scope of L’ECAS, a non-profit free-of-charge animation school established by TeamTO in 2018. After three successful years training promising French students in the field of CG animation, TeamTO and House of Cool will expand the curriculum to include a course on Storyboarding.
“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. ECAS has been able to identify and develop talented artists who have traditionally not had access to the animation industry,” said Ricardo Curtis, President, House of Cool. “It was an obvious choice for 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.”
France’s first ever comprehensive free animation school, L’ECAS launched at the world-renowned Cartoucherie campus in Bourg-lès-Valence, near one of TeamTO’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 extremely 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 starting this fall. The classes will be taught in-person at the Cartoucherie campus as well as by master classes taught remotely from House of Cool’s offices in Toronto, Canada.
Since 2018, 95 students have attended the three courses, all of whom were offered a placement with TeamTO. Seventy-seven are currently working at TeamTO and a further eight are actively employed in the French and international animation industries. ECAS’ output of 30 graduates a year has increased France’s national number of character animation graduates by an impressive 50%.
The cost for each student is approximately 8,000 euros, financed by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (ARA) region, the French unemployment administration and TeamTO, with lodging and food expenses covered by regional grants. Students also benefit from coaching, counselling and team-building weekends with TeamTO Founder & President Guillaume Hellouin, cultural exhibits and, in partnership with La Poudrière, lectures on animation history, free tickets to the cinema, theater and other artistic events.
A technical training course on data management will be added to the curriculum in 2022 and will take place in TeamTO’s Paris studios.
“I am deeply proud that ECAS has enabled over 90 students to join the industry by revealing their outstanding potential. 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,” said Hellouin. “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.”
ECAS’ original remit was to offer an eight-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 animation industry. The curriculum covered 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 was open to candidates with no previous qualifications or experience, selected entirely on the basis of their natural ability and talent, assessed through a simple online test accessible with a browser, smartphone or tablet. The top 100 contenders were subjected to further, more sophisticated testing and a personal interview to select the final 30 candidates.
Corinne Kouper, SVP Development & Production of TeamTO and Co-Founder of ECAS, commented on the impact this program has had on individual lives: “Many of these students’ stories are very touching, some had never even moved from their hometown. Because of their social origins many of these young women and men would not have had the means to go to this kind of school, learn this skill and thrive in an exciting, creative new profession. We are very happy to have provided fresh opportunities for many deserving young people, and also to have added such talented artists to our studio, and the industry.”
As Co-President of Les Femmes S’Animent (LFA), an organization devoted to supporting women in the French animation industry, Corinne 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.
Learn more about the training program at www.ecas.fr.