Emerging Tech Spotlight - Vancouver Film School

This article is presented by Vancouver Film School, the RGD's Education & Training Sponsor. 

Technology is truly its own ecosystem — one that continues to rapidly evolve. Keeping one’s finger on the pulse in the booming world of tech might seem daunting. But Vancouver Film School, in its mission to provide the most immersive, relevant and transformative education, continues to trailblaze a path for its students in the creative tech industry. 
In the realm of tech, their School of Games and Creative Design offers Diplomas in four disciplines. Here, we examine two of them: Digital Design and VR/AR as well as related industry events and scholarship opportunities available to current and prospective students.
Since opening its doors in 1987, Vancouver Film School has continued to adapt and grow right alongside the technology its industry professionals teach to 1,500 students annually.
VFS boasts that it is “More Than A Film School” and its School of Games and Creative Design is proof. Graduates pursue rewarding careers in countless professions, from Game Artists to Web Developers to UX Designers and beyond.
At the heart of the school is the Digital Design program, where students get to work with real clients to create products for digital platforms, ranging from apps, projection mapping, AR, brand identities and immersive experiences. The curriculum includes lessons in HTML and CSS, Brand Strategy, Compositing and Motion Integration and Interface Design, where students master Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Its alumni have co-founded leading creative studios, including Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite), Ryan Honey (BUCK) and Carter Gilchrist (Unbounce) and graduates are regularly recruited by Microsoft, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple. 
Senior Instructor and Industry Relations Lead, Nida Fatima says “The Digital Design program is the best career accelerator program to start a profession in the creative tech industry. The one-year curriculum covers a range of technical courses alongside design thinking and business strategy, all of which are required for creating digital products — essential tools for any modern-day business.”
VFS introduced a new scholarship initiative in late 2019 to attract young talent to the program. The Frank Palmer Creative Design Scholarship awarded one applicant with a full-tuition scholarship alongside a one-on-one mentorship with iconic advertising pioneer Frank Palmer. Partial scholarship funding was also awarded to shortlisted applicants. Frank personally reviewed all the applicants with VFS, and winners were chosen based on their creative merit, regardless of academic standing.
The newest addition to the School of Games and Design is the VR/AR Design and Development Program, which launched in April 2019. A departure from the traditional VFS model, the two term, eight-month program focuses on a more tech-centric curriculum with courses including ‘Trends in VR/AR Development’, ‘User Experience and Interface Design’ and ‘Data Visualization’ and features industry standard software (Unity and Unreal). This is supplemented by industry guest speakers and a client project, which challenges students to create meaningful VR or AR experiences (past clients include KPMG and UBC’s Faculty of Medicine). 
Expanding the potential of the program, Vancouver Film and Vancouver Community College recently announced a joint diploma program, allowing prospective students to pursue an accelerated sixteen-month diploma in VR/AR Design and Development to address labour shortages in the industry. The cross-institutional program allows students to not only complete a comprehensive work practicum but offers international professionals the eligibility to apply for post-graduation work permits.
VR/AR Program Lead Mary Lim, who developed the program, says “This Program is a community of collaborators and connectors. It is a place where students come to learn as well as connect with like-minded people in their peers, the instructors and the many industry guests we bring in. The curriculum evolves with the industry and is influenced by experts so that our students are ready to work with and for the same people who are teaching them.”
Beyond the Classroom
Vancouver Film School’s commitment to boosting the creative tech economy extends beyond the classroom. The school runs regular online program previews of its Animation and Design programs as well as Digital Design Talks, a series of free online discussions aimed at connecting the community with leading industry professionals. Past guests have included Agency In The Wild founding partner Stuart Amos, 2D/3D Character Animator Rachel Reid and BUCK Creative Director Evan Boehm.
Additionally, in early December of last year, VFS held its inaugural Digital Design Conference, a three-day, online event that gathered some of the brightest creatives worldwide to share ideas and explore new initiatives and breakthroughs in interactive design, motion graphics, visual communication, UX/UI design, gaming, emerging technology, VR/AR, projection mapping and more. The conference featured speakers from Microsoft, Ordinary Folk and Scarab Digital, with a special industry talk feature with Paola Mariselli from Facebook.
As an educational institution, Vancouver Film School remains a key player in the creative tech industry. Year after year, VFS’s production programs continue to usher new talent into the technical and creative workforce, providing them with the tools necessary to not only participate in this growing technological ecosystem, but also to shape its future.