#switchanimation Archives - Switch VFX & Animation

Inspiring Toronto Students to Animate with xoTO Schools

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Partnering to create opportunities for a career in Animation with Switch Animation, The Animation Lounge & xoTO Schools.



The City of Toronto, in collaboration with the local screen industry established xoTO Schools, a pilot program with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to enable enhanced access for location shooting at TDSB properties. xoTO Schools also created interactive education opportunities for high school students in a variety of areas of the film industry that includes co-op placements and workshops. Pete Denomme, CEO/EP at Switch Animation saw this as an area to pursue with the City of Toronto as his companies guiding principles include animation, education and inspiration. As such, Switch Animation, host and main sponsor of the Animation Lounge is proud to work with xoTO Schools to provide hands-on workshops to inspire students towards a career in Animation.


The first workshop of 2022 will be held March 23, 2022.

Projects of Purpose Shine at Switch

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Decades of passion for animation and visual effects have led us to produce incredible service work for worldwide clients and inventive original IP. Our experience, partnerships and connections have also allowed us the chance to invest our time, money and creative talent into what we consider projects of purpose. Opportunities that as a studio you come across or create that you know are going to make a difference in someone’s world. Our leadership and artists become so inspired by the importance of these projects that we deliver some of our best work – and this passion, creativity and excitement stays in the studio long after the project is completed.


Our most recent impactful production premiered in U.S. theatres in October. KOATI is the story of three unlikely heroes, a free-spirited coati, a fearless monarch butterfly and a hyperactive glass frog who embark on an exciting journey to prevent a wicked coral snake played by Sophia Vergara from destroying their land. This film partnered with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in a united effort to develop a comprehensive and powerful communication and education strategy to promote more sustainable lifestyles. A critical undertaking given that most of the animals and habitats in the film are on the verge of extinction. KOATI’s message is that “together we can save nature, and in turn we will discover that nature will save us”.



The Perfect Project, An Animated Short Film about Autism was adapted from an endearing book of the same name by author, professor, TEDx speaker and award-winning psychologist Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway, PhD. The film expresses to children what autism is in a simple, direct and honest way with the critical underlying themes of understanding and acceptance. The team on the film included voice actors and animators on the autism spectrum as well as a behavior therapist. The lead character Charlie, faces many situations that classmates untouched autism takes for granted – he is portrayed as a “spectrum superhero” as the story highlights his many gifts.



A first of its kind production, the story and characters of ZOUA came directly from the imaginations of an incredible group of children in Switzerland facing the world of cancer. ZOUA is a special boy who lives on a deserted island, and although he is great friends with the local animals, he longs more than anything to live where he can play with other children. Premiering in late 2018 in Porrentruy, Switzerland (where the children reside) during a charity event for the AJAFEC (Association for families with kids battling cancer) the film was used as a tool to raise money for associations affiliated with cancer support and research while raising awareness of childhood cancer. ZOUA went on to play film festivals and events worldwide.


Today, #GivingTuesday we encourage all of you to give in whatever way you feel best serves your passion. We have chosen to inspire, educate and entertain.

Article first appeared on LinkedIn HERE


‘Koati’: Anabella Sosa-Dovarganes & Rodrigo Perez-Castro Discuss Their Charming Latin American Adventure

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This past Friday, U.S. audiences were treated to director Rodrigo Perez-Castro‘s 2D-animated feature Koati, which stars and is exec produced by Sofía Vergara. The colorful family feature tells the story of three unlikely heroes — a free-spirited coati, a fearless monarch butterfly and a hyperactive glass frog — who embark on a journey to stop a wicked coral snake from destroying their beautiful natural homeland. We caught up with Perez-Castro and the film’s creator and producer Anabella Sosa-Dovarganes (owner of animation and post-production studio Upstairs) to find out more about their labor of love, which took eight years to bring to the screen. Here is what they told us:
Anabella Sosa-Dovarganes | Rodrigo Perez-Castro

Animag: Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the movie?

Rodrigo Perez-Castro: Koati started as the brainchild of our producer Anabella Sosa. She had been looking to create an animated project that celebrated the natural world of Latin America, in particular, its very diverse wildlife, which is not as well known in the rest of the world. Anabella zeroed in on a few very specific species that would highlight the project — species that represented different classic archetypes, including our hero the coati. I was approached by Anabella in late 2014 to help create a vision for the film, build a story and help develop these characters and many others that later became intricate parts of what evolved into the movie we have today.


What attracted you to this project?

Rodrigo: By the time Anabella approached me, I had been working as a story artist for many years as well as a head of story for big mainstream projects, many of them sequels for very well-known franchises. I had been offered directing projects before, but I was craving desperately to be part of something original, something new, to help build something from scratch. At the same time, my animation career up until that point had taken place in the U.S. and Canada. I had left my home country of Mexico, when I was 20 to pursue my dreams of working in animated films. because they really didn’t have much of an animation industry back then. But for a while I wanted to give back to my country in some way, to do something that could bring me closer to home. Anabella’s proposal satisfied both my creative need to help create something original and my desire to reconnect with my roots and home land. It was incredible for me to discover that Latin America, and more specifically, Mexico, is now fertile ground for very passionate animation talent. The landscape had changed quite a lot down there since I had left 20 years prior.




Where is the animation produced and how many people worked on the feature?

Anabella Sosa-Dovarganes: The animation company in charge of the production of Koati was Upstairs, with offices in Miami and Mexico. Upstairs had a team of over 1,600 animators and digital artists collaborating from Mexico, U.S.A., Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, France, Denmark, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Spain, Madrid and Honduras.

Since our goal was to make this film as traditionally hand-drawn animated as possible, we literally had to cherry pick the best talent available and create a production pipeline that would enable us to collaborate with each team remotely while still maintaining same quality and consistency in all of our scenes regardless of which team was animating film. The fact that both me and Rodrigo are bilingual made the work much easier because we were able to communicate directly with talent, and therefore have access to a larger pool of amazing talent.


Which animation tools were used to create the animation?

Rodrigo: From the very beginning, Anabella and I had a great desire to make this film as traditionally hand-drawn animated as possible, and we created a very flexible, hybrid pipeline that allowed our creative talent to work with whichever tools they were the most comfortable with.

We had an “artist process first” approach to this that allowed people like our incredible production designer, Simon Varela, who preferred to draw on paper and charcoal, to do his thing as he wanted. Same with the rest of our artists. We let them use whichever program they felt most comfortable with to draw and animate, for some it was TVPaint, for some it was Toon Boom. As long as the final result reflected that unified, hand-crafted vision we were going for, the tools were always secondary.




In your opinion, what are some of the standout qualities of the movie?

Rodrigo: The most obvious one is the look of the film. The fact that it used techniques that create a look that can seem familiar for some of us who grew up with hand-drawn animated films, while also feeling very fresh because of its unique visual language and aesthetic. This look stands out from many animated family films of today, which have a very uniform, computer animated aesthetic.

Tonally, our film also has its own unique flavor. Yes, it is an action-adventure-comedy, but we also pushed for a certain poetic vision in the way we visually portray this world. A magic realism that gives it a very particular Latin American essence. The characters and storyline are inspired by the hopes and dreams, challenges and struggles of us, the Latin American people of today. We touched on power dynamics and social struggles that are very particular to the region, which makes it very authentic. We also didn’t shy away from exploring the darker and bittersweet side of the uncontrollable power of the forces of nature, the cycle of death and rebirth, which are an essential part of any good myth.


Anabella: For me, the animation, production design and art direction of this film is outstanding and very different from any other movie. I think the beauty lies on the fact that we carefully wanted to maintain a 2D look while still capitalizing and maximizing the amazing new digital and post-production tools available to make this film look contemporary and high end while preserving the craftsmanship of 2D hand-drawn animation.

The score and the seven original songs of this movie are incredible. They were produced by Marc Anthony and Julio Reyes Copello and they are a celebration of the Latin rhythms and culture which I think audience will love.




Looking back, what were some of the toughest parts of the experience of bringing a 2D-animated feature to the screen?

Rodrigo: It’s often said that making an animated film is always like running a marathon, and that’s absolutely true. One has to persevere and keep the inspiration alive and pass on that inspiration to your team, and do so for a long period of time. One thing I learned during this process is that making an independent animated film is like running that marathon but with obstacles on the road. Now add a global pandemic into the mix, studios going into lockdown, everyone mostly working from home for the last year of the production — it made for a very challenging scenario. To see our very bare bones operation finding the light at the end of the tunnel after so many challenges it’s incredibly satisfying and a testament to the courage and perseverance of everyone in our team.


Anabella: For me there were three major challenges:

  1. Convincing investors, distributors and commercial partners to do this film in 2D instead of 3D film.
  2. Financing the film was the biggest challenge. We did not have access to big co-production tax incentive programs, nor did we have backing from a big studio.
  3. COVID. We had to re-invent everything; our whole production pipeline so teams could work from home, our distribution strategy.





What do you hope audiences will take away from this family feature?

Rodrigo: The biggest hope is that the audience will fall in love with our characters the way we did. That they will laugh and cry through the journey, while being awestruck by the beauty of their world. Which brings us back to the initial dream Anabella had of exposing worldwide audiences to a fascinating and rich biodiverse world that exists beyond the story on the screen — a world that needs to be protected. Who better to protect it than the children that will watch this film?


Anabella: No matter where you come from, anyone can be a hero of their own story,
Koati is a gift from Latin America to the world. And we hope audiences fall in love with our world with nature and are inspired by our characters.





What are the release plans for the movie?

AnabellaKoati was released in the U.S. on October 15. It will be released in Latin America on November 25 and the first quarter of 2022 in the rest of the word.


What is the best advice you can give animation hopefuls who want to have a rewarding career?

Rodrigo: Take risks and draw inspirations from all sorts of sources. Look beyond animation, look into live action, theatre, opera and literature. Enrich yourselves and, most importantly, enrich your own lives. I always tell students and people starting their career in animation to get out of their shells, fall in love, break your heart, allow yourself to experience joy but also sadness and the sorrows of loss. In other words: live. Only from life can you draw sincere inspiration as a storyteller and as an artist. When you are drawing or creating, turn off your phones. Allow yourself to experience being inside the creative “zone” without looking for “social media likes.” Do it for the fun of it, like you used to when you were a kid.


More information and tickets for participating theaters available at www.koati.com.



Article first appeared in Animation Magazine

Reality is about to get a lot weirder in…The World According to Dave

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Toronto Canada, May 5, 2020 – Pete Denomme, Executive Producer and CEO of Switch Animation announced today the formation of a partnership with Aron Dunn of Treason Media to bring The World According to Dave series, written and developed by Aron Dunn, to animated life. Jyotirmoy Saha of August Media will also join the production after a successful relationship with Switch on George of the Jungle.


In The World According to Dave an overly-imaginative 11-year-old, finds an alien device called the IMAGIN-ATRIX that brings his wildest daydreams to life. Now this pop-culture obsessed kid and his friends take adventures through their favourite comics, video games, movies and more. Each time Dave rewrites the world he faces a new challenge that he must overcome in order to reset the Imagin-Atrix. Reality is never going to be the same again.


The reality-bending adventures of Dave and his friends will leap off the page as a result of this newly announced partnership between Switch Animation and Treason Media. “It is indeed a pleasure to be working with Aron once again on this uniquely creative animated comedy concept,” said Pete Denomme.


“After recently working with Pete and the team at Switch Animation on a short film, I knew they were a perfect partner for Dave,” explains Dunn. “I’m thrilled that they want to be part of this riotous celebration of imagination. Pete’s team of amazing artists will render an eye-popping world that I’m sure audiences will want to leap into and join Dave on his adventures.”


This production is based on an idea by author Sylvia Medina and will be supported by David Wollos, co-founder of Think Tank Emporium.


Pete Denomme – Executive Producer/CEO – Switch VFX & Animation


Pete is CEO/Executive Producer of Switch VFX & Animation an award winning, artist owned, boutique studio whose focus is on service work, co-production and education. Recent credits include Altered Carbon (Netflix), Northern Rescue (Netflix/CBC), The Expanse (Amazon Prime), feature film Jigsaw, animated short Zoua, Welcome to the Wayne webisodes and fan favorite George of the Jungle (Teletoon).


Passions include producing inspiring storylines with collaborative partners like the upcoming animated short, The Perfect Project where a young boy’s autism is portrayed as his superpower. In addition, Pete inspires the next generation of digital artists through investment in the education platform The Animation Lounge and industry scholarships at five Canadian colleges.


Member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Visual Effects Society (VES), Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO), National Academy of Media Arts & Sciences (NAMAS) and the Alliance for Children and Television (ACT)


Aron Dunn – Creative Producer / Writer – Treason Media

An industry vet with nearly two decades of experience, Aron leads his merry band of rebels on their campaign of creativity at Treason Media. When he’s not crafting a killer pitch, or delivering his latest script, he is staying in touch with his “inner kid” by reading the latest comic books or playing the hottest console games. Over the course of his career, Aron has worked with Netflix, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Teletoon, YTV, Treehouse, KiKA, and CBC Kids. He has also contributed scripts to numerous animated comedy series including Cupcake and Dinosaur, Super Wings, Chuck Chicken, Rusty Rivets, Pocoyo, Camp Lakebottom, Justin Time, Trucktown and The Insectibles. Prior to founding Treason Media, Aron held senior development roles with some of Canada’s most prolific and acclaimed producers, including Breakthrough Entertainment and Portfolio Entertainment.



A Lounge for Everyone

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How Sonya Carey and Switch Animation Launched Toronto’s The Animation Lounge

Sonya Carey, owner and instructor at Toronto’s The Animation Lounge has 15 years of experience as head of studio or head of digital on a variety of 2D productions. During that time, she realized that recruiting in Toronto for 2D productions became very difficult due to the increasing number of projects and a shortage of graduates from animation Colleges. “With all studios in Toronto trying to hire the same people, the poaching and competing left us short of staff,” she recalls. “As a result, I took an approach which helped me to never worry about staff.”


Since early in her career, Carey was a Harmony 2D artist/compositor, she knew the software very well, so she decided to train her staff. “All of those I’ve informally trained over the past 15 years have gone on to have very lucrative careers,” she says. “It became clear that a bit of studio style training would go a long way to help our shortage of staff in Toronto, and to help the underemployed artist to become employable.”


Carey says her goals for the Animation Lounge were born for her love for animation. “I want this style of education to be affordable for everyone and I want to keep the art of film alive,” she notes. “I also want to put some power back in the hands of the artists to create on their own films, outside of studio hours and realize that they are truly valuable.”

Switch Lounge


Helping her realize her goal is Pete Denomme, CEO/EP of Switch VFX & Animation, who sees in Carey’s vision an inspired way to compliment his own efforts to advance the animation and VFX communities having started the Switch Scholarship Award at five Canadian colleges in early 2017. “Trusting in my ideas and seeing the long-term positive potential for the Canadian industry, Pete invested his resources and offered his studio to me to help bring the vision to life,” she says. “The collaboration of The Animation Lounge, sponsored by Switch Animation was formally announced in February 2019.”


Industry backing has been overwhelming since launch. After a formal introduction of the Lounge by Pete at Kidscreen 2019 both Toom Boom Animation and the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario came on board to support our curriculum and buttress marketing of our workshops in concert with Switch Animation.


Replicating Studio Life


Carey says her vision for the program was to create a series of day-long workshops offering hands on studio experience. “I replicate a day at work, in a studio so that animation students can see that there are more jobs to be done inside of a studio, not just animating. This allows them to target other jobs and unlock some of the mysteries within a production pipeline. I wanted to encourage education for everyone. They are affordable so that everyone can afford to attend. You can take one workshop, or sign up for all of them if you like.”


During its first year, the Animation Lounge has been very active, holding numerous workshops including 12 Toronto-based programs at the Switch VFX & Animation studio, as well as various global locations including the Ottawa Intl. Animation Festival, Kingstoon Animation Festival in Jamaica, Cartoon Network Studios as encouragement for Black Women in Animation, at the Peel Board of Education Summer High School Co-Op Program, Girls in Technology Workshop introducing animation to girls’ grade 6-8, as well as online workshops for a virtual learning experience for students in the U.S.

In 2020, the program will introduce two day workshops to meet the needs of the trainees and will be adding more specialized workshops on storyboarding, directing, producing, animating and rigging. “We will also be offering more networking events since the Lounge’s end-of-day hangout seems to be a big hit,” says Carey. “It’s where people come and talk and find out about studio life and really get into the industry. The idea I had was to enhance other educational facilities.”


The Animation Lounge has been instrumental in helping students who have been underemployed to build the confidence to apply for all types of positions says Carey. “We don’t job hunt for them, but teach them how to look, and where to look during our networking sessions,” she explains. “We also teach the current software and techniques to keep them moving with the trends in animation. We purposely set this up to be a safe environment where there is no poaching and no hiring on the spot. We want studios to feel comfortable sending their staff in for training.”


To find out more about these innovative workshops, visit theanimationlounge.com.

Animation Lounge Logo


Article first appeared January 27th in Animation Magazine.

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