Photo: Megan Winters, 2D animation graduate, Herzing College Ottawa
Wondering what it's like to take an 2D animation course? Have questions about breaking into the animation industry?
Megan Winters is the perfect person to talk to.
She got into 2D animation a bit later in life, after putting several years into an office job. She tried out some different animation schools but struggled to find the right fit.
She even landed a few animation gigs, but needed more advanced software skills to really get her career off the ground.
Fast-forward a few years and Megan's just about finished the 2D animation course at Herzing. The best part? She has already been hired by a major Ottawa animation studio.
We interviewed Megan to get her opinion of the 2D program, and learn more about her career plans after graduation.
Find out what to expect in class and if this training might be right for you.
Q: Let's start with some background. Why did you decided to go back to school?
Megan: I was working for years at an office. I reached a point when I really wanted a change. I first went to Algonquin for animation, but then the strike happened and I left.
After that, I had the opportunity to work on 3 shows at an animation studio. The studio I worked at was actually Big Jump Entertainment—where we do our internship for Herzing.
One of the shows I worked on was season 3 of Animals. You can see my name on IMDb for the show, which is really cool, and something I'm really proud of.
Side note: It's true. We found Megan's credits for Animals, and her IMDb page...check it out!
Q: So, what made you choose Herzing's 2D animation course?
Megan: I chose Herzing because I wanted more training on software called Toon Boom Harmony. This is a really popular program in the industry, and I wanted to learn it.
With other 2D animation courses, you have to wait longer to get your hands on the software. There's a lot more theory, the training is longer, and sometimes there's a greater focus on 3D animation techniques.
I didn't want to wait. I wanted to learn Harmony right away, so I could get to work faster. Knowing this software is key to getting hired in the animation industry.
Example of the work Megan did in class with Toon Boom Harmony
Q: Why do you love 2D animation? What inspires you?
Megan: Well, I've always loved art and drawing. But when I was 16 years old, I went on a co-op placement at a local animation studio.
I watched them all work on a show, and immediately knew this is where I wanted to be. I'm a huge fan of the old Disney cartoons, and I'm really inspired by that work. I love that 2D style because it's faster and easier to work with
The stuff you can do with Toon Boom Harmony is insane!
Q: Tell us how the 2D course is going so far. How are you liking it? What's the vibe like in class?
Megan: I absolutely love it. I'm actually really close to the end of the training. I start the final project next week. We get 7 weeks to make a highly polished character and storyboard...we go through every step of the process.
Seeing something you made move on the page is amazing!
Overall, it's a fast-paced, exciting, intense program. We focus on real animating using the Harmony software. You get tons of practice, everyone shares their work, and we all help each other improve.
Even people who started with zero experience really caught up and advanced throughout the course.
I think the best thing about Herzing's 2D Animation program is the positive environment. At other schools, there's a lot of competition, stress, and anxiety around performance. People won't even share their projects, or talk about what they're working on!
At Herzing, the classroom is designed like a real studio setting. There's a family feeling. Everyone helps each other, we hang out and have fun. No stress.
Example of Megan's animation work
Q: Can you describe some of the skills you're developing?
Megan: The 3 biggest skills I've learned are 1) the core principles of animation; 2) polish on the animation; and 3) a critical eye for animation, where I'm able to pick out small details and really have a feel for things.
I'm really developing an ability to notice these elements quicker—which will help me work more quickly, and ultimately, get better jobs and make more money.
I'm learning so much about Harmony, it's insane! After this program, you could actually get certified by Toon Boom and teach the program to other animators.
That's what the creator of our program, A.J. Cote does. He travels all over the world, teaching people how to use the software. This is a great career path for people who are more tech-based.
Q: What's the toughest thing you've learned so far? The biggest challenge?
Megan: For me, the only challenge would be all the options you have with the Harmony software. There are so many options!
On day one of the program, it felt a bit overwhelming. But as we learned, it became less intimidating.
Once you start actually doing it, it gets much easier. Plus, they start you off with the easy stuff so you gain confidence quickly.
Example of a character Megan created
Q: What's been the most fun part of training?
Megan: Everything! The group and the environment have been so great. Watching everyone's work evolve, and seeing all the different personalities come through in the assignments we share—it's been awesome.
Q: How is the instructor and your classmates? What backgrounds do they come from?
Megan: My classmates come from all over. We have people of all ages and all backgrounds. There's an illustrator looking to transition into animation. There are kids right out of high school. There are moms....people from all walks.
We have two groups. There are 12 in my group and 6 or 7 in the other. We help each other out, critique each other's work. Basically, you come in, put your headphones on, and just work away—exactly like a real animation studio.
Gabriel Choquette is the instructor, and he's awesome. He has a lot of knowledge and professional experience. He's really calm, never gets upset, and is super supportive. He's the best person to review your work and give feedback.
He's ok with us contacting him on Facebook to chat and ask questions. He helped me with class work over the break, even though it was his time off!
Example of work Megan did for class at Herzing
Q: So, Big Jump Entertainment is Herzing's official industry partner for the 2D animation course. Did you get to work with them?
Megan: Big Jump has been extremely helpful and welcoming. We can go into their studio at any time, to sit with them and get advice.
We can contact them if there's an assignment we're having trouble with. We can just go and sit and work in their studio.
Class at Herzing is from 1-5 pm, so we can go to Big Jump early in the morning, to get help with our work, and talk with the professional animators. They have desks we can use and it's a really nice space.
Plus, we get to do our internship there. I can't wait!
A long pose life drawing by Megan
Q: What kind of animation work would you love to do after graduation? What are your career goals?
Megan: I'm really interested in adult humour. So, The Trailer Park Boys is a show I'd love to work on—and Big Jump has worked on that. F is for Family is another show I love. These are the kinds of projects I'd like to be involved with.
Q: I heard you actually got a job offer already? Can you share the details?
Megan: So, Big Jump will offer jobs to students who do well in Herzing's 2D animation course. They're really great at giving new animators a chance. I've done some work for them in the past, and just found out they'll be hiring me again!
I'm so happy I'll get the chance to work there again. I love the founders, Cory and Rick Morrison...I'm a total fan girl around these guys. I can't wait to get started.
Q: What qualities does someone need to succeed in 2D animation training?
Megan: It takes dedication and hard work. You have to push yourself and keep striving for improvement. Also, animation is so detail focused, you really need that eye for detail and patience.
You need good problem-solving skills, and the ability to take your time and work through things until you get it right.
In general, it helps to have some acting skills, or an understanding of acting and expression and movement.
If you have these basic traits, you'll do well in the program. We haven't lost a single student from our group! Everyone has done really well, even though we all started out at different levels of ability and experience.
The most important thing? Don't take yourself too seriously! Just laugh and have fun with it...that's what animation is all about.
Thanks, Megan for taking the time to talk with us! And huge congratulations for getting hired by Big Jump before you even finished your training.
Learn more about Herzing's 2D animation course
Herzing College offers an accelerated 12-month 2D Animation course. Training includes a 6-week internship at Big Jump Entertainment—a leading Ottawa animation studio.
Our students get to immerse themselves in the Big Jump studio. They get mentored by professional animators, and have the chance to get hired at Big Jump after completing the program.
There's no other 2D animation program like it in Ottawa. Click below to browse courses, request free information, or chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!