GIRAF Animation Festival streaming Canada-wide Nov. 19-28

About Quickdraw

Incorporated in 1984, the Quickdraw Animation Society (QAS) is Calgary’s home for independent animation. We promote the art of animation through courses, workshops, screenings, and production resources.

Our Mission

Quickdraw Animation Society is a member driven not-for-profit that fosters a creative community through resources and opportunities that further animation arts and culture.

Our Vision

A thriving community committed to honouring and developing the medium of animation in new and unimagined directions.

Animation Resources

A Quickdraw member works on a cut-out animation.
  • Rental Library

    Western Canada’s largest animation library, and an exciting foundation of introductory through professional-level film and digital production equipment.

    Learn more

  • Memberships

    For animators and producers who would like to access equipment and studios for animation production outside of Quickdraw's public hours. Contact Quickdraw staff for more information.

    Learn more

  • Courses

    Western Canada’s largest animation library, and an exciting foundation of introductory through professional-level film and digital production equipment.

    Learn more

Meet Our Team

  • Peter Hemminger

    Executive Director

    director@quickdrawanimation.ca

    Peter Hemminger headshot

    Peter Hemminger has spent nearly two decades immersed in Calgary’s arts community, as a freelance journalist, an editor at Fast Forward Weekly, a programmer at the Calgary International Film Festival, a DJ at CJSW 90.9FM and a volunteer at Sled Island, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, the Calgary Underground Film Festival and more. Anything that lets him spend all his time thinking about movies and music, two obsessions he refuses to grow out of.

  • Ryan Von Hagen

    Programming Director

    programming@quickdrawanimation.ca

    Ryan Von Hagen headshot

    Ryan Von Hagen is an animator, editor, filmmaker, sound designer and musician living in Calgary, Alberta. Ryan received a BFA from the Alberta College of Art & Design through the Media Arts and Digital Technology department in 2012. Since then, he has worked on feature length documentaries, AFA-funded short animated films, and theatre productions, and has had his work displayed in Fine Art exhibitions. He has a wide technical background in the world of animation, as he is proficient in stop-motion, hand-drawn, cutout, and rotoscope animation, as well as green screen techniques. Ryan has been teaching animation with Quickdraw for the past 3 years through the Portable Animation Workshop as well as the adult classes.

  • Erin Saunders

    Production Director

    production@quickdrawanimation.ca

    Erin is an animator, illustrator, educator and general maker of things. She’s an alumni of Alberta University of the Arts, graduating with a degree in design and illustration in 2016. She’s been in love with animation since, and has worked as a 3D animator on several films and features, including work for New Machine Studios, Telus Storyhive and the National Film Board. She’s also taught with Quickdraw through the Portable Animation Workshops, as well as the QuickKids and Young Animator courses. She loves to mess around with video games, watch cartoons, make bread and take her dog camping. You can see some stuff she’s drawn at erin-saunders.com!

  • Theresa Pinhey

    Outreach and Education Coordinator

    education@quickdrawanimation.ca

    Theresa Pinhey headshot

    Theresa Pinhey is an animator, an illustrator, and instructor currently residing in Calgary. Her journey with QAS started when she was 12, and moved to Calgary from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She enrolled in QuickKids and has been with Quickdraw through multiple GIRAF festivals, various animation events, and every animation class she could conceivably attend. She graduated from University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in New Media in 2014 and moved to Yamanashi, Japan for 3 years before returning to become an instructor for Quickdraw’s Portable Animation Workshops as well as the lead instructor for Young Animators After School classes. She loves to play video games, snowboard, and crochet when not feverishly animating. Check out her website for her work: theresapinhey.ca.

Board of Directors

As a member-driven artist-run centre, Quickdraw’s direction is set by our board of directors. For questions regarding Quickdraw’s governance, strategic direction and related topics, please email board@quickdrawanimation.ca.

  • Mackenzie Bedford

    President

  • Caro Ging

    Vice President

  • Sage Wheeler

    Secretary

  • Ebony Gooden

    Acting Treasurer

  • Joanne Fisher

    Director

  • K. Lee Kain

    Director

  • Jarett Sitter

    Director

  • Maedeh Mosavarzadeh

    Director

  • Stephen Hobbins 

    Director

Calgary Arts Development logo in grayscale
Canada Council for the Arts logo in grayscale
Alberta Foundation for the Arts logo in grayscale
Calgary Foundation for Community Forever logo in grayscale
Canada logo in grayscale

Frequently Asked Questions

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Quickdraw has two parking spots at the rear of our building, and additional parking is available on the west side of the building, both of which are only accessible through the alley on the east side of the building. It can be a tiny bit confusing the first time you come here, so give yourself an extra couple of minutes.

We are also located just a few blocks west of the Sunalta CTrain station, and very near the route for the #90 bus for anyone who is coming via Calgary Transit.

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

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 Resources 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.

You can contact our Production Coordinator with any inquiries or to book a studio or equipment.

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.

Our current studio and equipment rental rates can be found at our Resources 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.

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.

The public is always welcome at Quickdraw during our normal operating hours, although the computers in our labs may be in use due to classes, and will be first-come first-serve during the day. If you can work around that, you are more than welcome.

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
  • pixellation
  • motion graphics
  • Toon Boom Studio
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • TVPaint
  • sand or paint on glass
  • 3D CGI – Maya, Blender (limited rendering support)

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

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 — our community is full of freelance artists who take on gigs as they wish. We cannot guarantee that any of our them 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.

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.

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.

No.

Sorry. “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 join the Quickdraw community 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.

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, 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 Fundthe Alberta Foundation for the Arts, or Telefilm Canada, for starters.

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.

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.