About Quickdraw Animation Society
1. What is the Quickdraw Animation Society?
Quickdraw (or QAS) is an artist-run, non-profit charitable organization for independent animators located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We are dedicated to the production, education, appreciation, and dissemination of animation as an art form. What this means is we offer year-round classes and workshops for beginner to advanced animators; provide classrooms, computer labs, studio space, and production resources to animators producing their own films; we buy and maintain a large variety of digital and analog animation equipment and software for in-house use or rental; maintain a huge library of books, films, and reference material for our members to check out; provide screening opportunities for member works throughout the year; and we produce the GIRAF International Festival of Independent Animation every November.
We also host community events and parties, run a couple clubs, and we send animations made at Quickdraw to festivals all over the world!
2. I want to make an animated film! How can I start animating at Quickdraw?
We are a member-driven organization, so anyone looking to use our resources needs to sign up to be a member. You can sign up online via our website, or come in to our offices and sign up for a membership in person.
We have three levels of membership – Associate Members, Producing Members, and QuickKids Members. Memberships are valid for 1 year before needing to be renewed.
Associate Members receive discounts on our classes, workshops and events, and are welcome to drop in our studios during our open hours and use whatever equipment or studios not being used for productions or classes. Associate Members can also receive limited production support or tutorials from our Production Coordinator. If you sign up for a class with us and pay the non-member rate, this includes an Associate Membership.
Producing Members receive the same discounts as Associate Members, but are able to book studio space, rent equipment, take equipment off-site, and sign out keys to access the studios after-hours. Producing Members can also receive more production support from our Production Coordinator to work on their own films, and get priority bookings in our classrooms and studio spaces. If you want to make a film with us or rent equipment, you need to be a Producing Member.
QuickKids Members are our youth membership level, which provides the same benefits as an Associate Membership. We have an option for Junior Producing Members as well, for youth that are very keen on making animations, but that requires parental permission and the signing of a waiver if the youth wants to work here unsupervised.
3. I have never animated before, where should I start? Do I just show up?
Quickdraw offers a number of introductory classes and workshops for people just starting out. We would recommend signing up for our 12 week Animation Fundamentals course! It takes you through the basics of animated movement, theory, software and technical skills, and students should finish the class having completed a short animated film.
For youth and kids we offer our QuickKids Animation, which introduces the concepts of animation in an engaging way and allows kids to work on their own projects over the course of 12 weeks.
We can also organize private paid lessons or tutors for those who may not be able to sign up for our classes. Please contact our Programming Director for more details.
We also run our Chris J Melnychuk Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Animators, an amazing opportunity offered every year to two promising animators to learn how to animate through free classes, mentorship and production support, and to produce their first animated film at Quickdraw. The program is aimed at those just starting out or those who have never animated before. We offer studio space, free equipment, guidance, and will screen the final film at our GIRAF Festival in November in addition to sending it wherever we can to get shown, including international festivals. The application intake for this program is every September.
Unfortunately our staff cannot teach you how to animate outside of our classes, workshops, or private lessons. Our Production Coordinator is available 4 days a week to troubleshoot or offer limited training or technical support. Anything more demanding would be subject to a technician or instructor fee.
Quickdraw maintains a library with tons of resources, instruction manuals, and reference materials for those interested in self-directed study, and drop-in animation stations and light tables for independent work.
4. I have animated before and I understand the basics. What other training opportunities do you offer?
Quickdraw offers a number of intermediate to advanced animation and software courses. While our course offerings vary every term depending on instructor availability and the interest of our membership, we offer 12 week courses such as: Intro to Adobe After Effects; Advanced Projects in Animation; Intro to Toon Boom Studio; 3D CGI with Maya or Blender; Stop-Motion Animation; Experimental and Analog Animation; and more! Keep an eye on our course calendar, we generally run 4 adult courses every term September – April, and run shorter workshops over the summer.
Our Chris J Melnychuk Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Animators is also a great opportunity for those who have animated a little bit before, but want to develop their skills and make a short film with us.
5. Do you offer any off-site or school programs?
Yes! We run our Portable Animation Workshop program consistently throughout the year. This is a fully functional and portable animation studio, separate from our in-house resources, complete with computers, cameras, software and special supplies that can travel to schools, colleges, universities, community centres, offices, reserves, or towns within a reasonable drive from Calgary. Please check the PAW page for more details and pricing.
We also can set up small animation stations for parties, festivals, conventions or special events. Contact us for more details.
6. What is this GIRAF Festival Quickdraw produces?
Every November we present the Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival, or GIRAF for short.
This International Animation Festival presents the best in contemporary independent animation from Calgary animators and around the world through a series of animated shorts packages, feature-length animations, Featured Local and Visiting Artist showcases, animation workshops and special events. We screen some of the coolest stuff coming out of Calgary with the best coming out of the festival circuit, and fly in the coolest independent animators to showcase their work and teach our members some new skills.
We love to include and highlight as much local animation as possible! If you have recently completed a short animation, please please submit it to us through the GIRAF website.
7. Where can I park my car?
Quickdraw does not currently have any available public parking. We have a parking lot, but all the slots are allocated to our neighbors and they have a history of towing cars that park in their spots. You park in our building’s parking lot at your own risk. We recommend parking on the street, or in one of the many parking lots or parkades located near our building.
We are located within walking distance of 2 C-Train stations, we are right on 4th Street SW where many buses regularly run, and we are around the corner from both the North/South and East/West Cycle Tracks. Many of our members walk, take transit, or bike down to Quickdraw!
8. Are you hiring? I need to complete a work study / practicum, can I complete my hours at Quickdraw?
We are a small organization with 3 full-time staff, contract instructors, and various smaller part-time jobs or internships we offer throughout the year. Keep an eye on our News Feed for any advertised positions, we always publicly post any available jobs.
If you are an animator looking for work or to teach a class, please let us know! We are always looking for more instructors. If you have a specific skillset you think you could teach a class in, please send us a class proposal!
If you’re a freelancer and looking to get gigs, please make yourself known to us! We get requests for animators all the time, but we have a limited pool of available animators. If you’re looking for work, we can potentially send gigs your way.
We do take work study or practicum students from the various post-secondary institutions in Calgary. Please contact us about what you want to accomplish, your experience, and timeline. We want to make sure the work will be of benefit to you and your studies.
Animating at Quickdraw
1. I am an animator looking to book a studio or equipment for a production. How do I use Quickdraw’s resources?
First, you need to be a Producing Member with us! Only Producing Members in good standing can rent studios, rent equipment on or off-site, or sign out keys for after-hours access to our computer labs.
Generally, you will be charged a rental fee if you need to book a studio or equipment to the exclusion of other members, or take it off-site. This means, for example, if you need a studio with an iMac, Wacom tablet, Toon Boom and Adobe Creative Cloud for 6 months or a year to work on your animated short, then we will charge you for the booking and equipment. If you want to drop in and use a spare computer to noodle away on some homework for a couple hours, that would be free.
Our current studio and equipment rental rates can be found at our Production page. We keep our rates below-market (i.e. cheaper than renting from a commercial A/V house or buying it yourself) to support our members in their productions.
2. I am a student in your classes and I need to practice animating / do some homework. When and how can I do that?
We generally run 3 evening classes and 2 Saturday classes every term in our main classroom, so the availability of those workstations is limited. Our workstations are usually free and ready to use during the day during our open studio hours, but are unavailable from 6:30pm – 9:30pm most Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. We run our QuickKids classes on Saturday mornings as well in all our spaces, so the workstations are generally unavailable on Saturdays as well.
If there is a certain time you need to work, we would highly encourage contacting us in advance to check availability of our workstations before coming to QAS expecting a computer to be free. We have a lot of programming going on and many members wanting to use our equipment.
If you need to work on a specific night, or need to access the studios outside our office hours, please contact us to arrange key access or to check our availability.
We post studio and classroom schedules outside of every room as well, please check them to see what is booked in any given week.
3. I am applying for a grant and I need a quote for equipment/studios/software! What are your rates?
Our current studio and equipment rental rates can be found at our Production page. We keep our rates below-market (i.e. cheaper than renting from a commercial A/V house or buying it yourself) to support our members in their productions. Please use these numbers for your budgets or grant applications.
4. Your prices are too high, I can’t afford to book a studio or rent the equipment I want! Is there any way we can work out a deal?
We strive to keep our rates affordable for our members and the community at large. Our rates are cheaper than commercial rental houses, and generally cheaper on a monthly or weekly basis than buying it yourself. However, our equipment and studio spaces are not without costs to us – we need to keep our software up-to-date, equipment maintained and functional, spend man-hours administering and preparing the rentals, and we depend on rental revenue to a certain extent.
That being said, we understand the broke artist life (we live it ourselves) and grants only go so far. If you cannot afford what you need, please talk to us! Maybe we can work something out, negotiate a cheaper rate, or offer your project a sponsorship.
We also offer Production Credits in exchange for volunteering at Quickdraw! One Production Credit equals $1 of gear or studio rental. If you volunteer for our events, GIRAF, or help us out around the studio, you can quickly bank a fair amount of credits that you can “spend” on our resources.
5. Can I just use your free computers and get keys to work after-hours without having to pay for a rental?
If you can work around our class schedule and other members who rent or book equipment, sure. But you can’t get salty if we have to kick you off because of a class booking or another member has paid to use those resources.
6. What methods of animation do you support?
We support most methods of animation! We have the resources to help you animate in the following ways:
- 2D traditional paper animation
- 2D digital animation
- Digital capture under camera on our Rostrum/Oxberry Camera stands
- 16mm/35mm analog film shooting on our Rostrum/Oxberry Camera stands
- experimental/cameraless animation
- 3D stop-motion (puppet) animation
- motion graphics
- Toon Boom Studio
- Adobe Creative Suite
- sand or paint on glass
- 3D CGI – Maya, Blender (limited rendering support)
7. Can I hire Quickdraw or one of your animators to work on a project for me?
Please see our freelancing/gigs section of the FAQ below.
8. Does Quickdraw expect anything in return for using their equipment or studios?
We simply ask that you credit us in your film (thanks to / Produced at Quickdraw Animation Society or QAS), pay for your rentals if costs are incurred, and to respect our space, equipment, and fellow members working alongside you.
If you do finish a film, let us know! We’d love to see it, and screen it at our own festival or other screening opportunities if appropriate.
Hiring Quickdraw Animation or Quickdraw Members / Freelancing and Animation Gigs
1. I have an animation project I want to hire an animator to make. How can Quickdraw help me out?
Quickdraw runs a Job Listings and Calls for Submissions page on our website and at our studios. We are more than happy to try to connect you to one of our animators – many of our members are freelance artists who take on gigs as they wish. We cannot guarantee that any of our members will be interested in your project (we are not a for-hire creative agency or talent agent), but we can certainly try to connect you to someone who may have the time and the ability to work with you.
Please note that we won’t share any projects looking for free labour / working for exposure.
Quickdraw also has a limited capacity to make animations in-house in partnership with community groups or other artist-run centres, however it is not in our mandate to directly support commercial work. Quickdraw cannot produce your feature film or TV show – we cannot turn our studio into a dedicated production house for your project.
2. How much does it cost to hire an animator to work on my production?
Animation is a very time-intensive and expensive medium to work in. While it may not seem like a lot of work at first glance, even a couple minutes of animation can involve hundreds if not thousands of drawings, pictures, or movements of material.
While rates can vary wildly depending on the method of animation (i.e. hand-drawn animation is the most involved and therefore the most expensive), current rates for professional animated productions range from $1000 – $15,000 per minute of finished film on the low-end.
Our animators are generally new, just starting out, or not working within the commercial system, but their time and talents are still valuable. We recommend a rate of at least $25 per hour of work, or at least (and this is the bare, bare minimum) $50-100 per finished second of animation.
Expensive, huh? If you consider that a professional animator at Disney, Warner Bros, Dreamworks, etc. is expected to make 3 – 10 seconds of animation per week, and you want to hire one person to make a 3 minute long film, and at the optimistic end they can create 10 seconds of animation per week, you’d need to pay them to work full-time for 18 weeks. At $25 an hour (which is still very cheap), that 3 minute film would cost you $18,000, or about $100 a second.
Here’s a link to a cost breakdown from a recent kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/michelgagne/the-saga-of-rex-the-animated-film-project/posts/338090
There are faster ways of animating that can bring costs down, it really depends what you want the final product to look like. If you just need some text or motion graphics, for example, that would be significantly cheaper.
3. I am looking for an animation student to make me some animations for free / for experience / for exposure / for future shares in a development deal / etc. Can you recommend anyone?
4. Seriously? But my project is such a great opportunity!
Sorry. See answer #2 above. “Artist Dies of Exposure” is a sad truth of being a freelance artist that we refuse to perpetuate. We pay artist fees, screening fees, and wages to all our artists, and we are a charity with an extremely limited budget. If your project is worthwhile you can scrape together some funding to pay an animator something for their work. Many will work for under market rates if it’s a cool opportunity or project, so don’t be discouraged by the Disney-ish rates above! Offering compensation shows us you are serious and not just looking to exploit some poor young artist who doesn’t know any better.
You are more than welcome to become a member of Quickdraw and use our equipment and resources to animate a project yourself for free, if you lack financial resources and really need to get a project done.
5. I have an amazing idea for a kid’s TV show / feature / Cartoon Network pitch / etc. that I am looking to get an artist to work with me on for the pitch / kickstarter materials / promo videos so I can secure financing. How can Quickdraw help?
It depends. We can certainly help to connect you to animators, but it really depends on if you can pay them for their labour or not. You could use our production resources to make your materials if you are a Producing Member with us, but normal rental rates and studio booking procedures would apply. We would love to support a member working away on an Adult Swim pitch (for example) they developed themselves. But if you’re looking for an animator to bring YOUR idea to life, that’s another story.
This question is tricky because it depends on whether you are wanting someone to work “on spec” or not – basically, to work for free in the hopes that the work will result in further paid opportunities. If you are serious about trying to pitch a series or film, there are certain costs associated with developing that pitch, especially if animation is part of your project. Veteran animator Don Bluth (of Rats of NIMH and American Tail fame) recently launched a Kickstarter trying to raise $550,000 USD just to make the animated pitch – not the final film, just to make enough content to show to studios or financiers to get money to make the full production. While there are varying opinions on whether it is a valid use of crowdfunding to secure private financing for a project, what is clear is that animation pitches do cost money to develop. To ask one of our animators to work on YOUR potentially profitable commercial venture, for free, is unrealistic.
There are many grants and programs available to develop pitches for commercial TV and film work in Alberta and Canada. You could apply to the Alberta Media Fund, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, or Telefilm Canada, for starters.
6. I have some money to hire an animator to work on my project. It’s not Disney money, but it’s something. Is that OK? Can you help?
Certainly! Something is better than nothing, and many of our animators can adjust the complexity of their work to match your budget. Email our Production Coordinator with more details of what you’re looking to get made, and what your budget is. We will post it on our website, social media channels, and approach animators we feel would be a good fit for you.
7. I represent a community group / non-profit organization / school and we want to make an animation. Can we commission Quickdraw to make this for us / with us?
Yes! We have created animations with the United Way, the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, Antyx Community Arts, and many more. Some projects have involved us taking our Portable Animation Workshop to a community and working with participants to teach them animation and make a film together; others have involved us subcontracting animators to finish the project at the Quickdraw studios in collaboration with the sponsoring group. Please contact us with your idea and to work out timelines and pricing.