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So that was 2021

A look back on a year full of preparation and anticipation—with more than its share of bright spots along the way

The number 2021 written with sparklers

This last year was not the year we thought it would be. In 2020, we were caught off-guard by a global pandemic. It derailed our plans, and made for a year of improvisation and adaptation. 2021 felt different. It wasn’t so much the rug being pulled out from under us as the finish line being moved backwards, again and again. We were able to take some baby steps back towards normalcy, bringing back some in-person classes and allowing a handful of projects to start working on-site, but more than anything this was a year of anticipation and preparation.

Maybe the most exciting development in terms of our studios was the acquisition and installation of our Animator Cube, a cutting-edge multi-axis camera rig that has instantly upped the potential of stop-motion projects at Quickdraw. As always seems to be the case with new-fangled tech, it took a lot of effort from our production director, Erin, and production assistant Sohfi Janz to get everything working in a way that’ll be safe and straightforward, and the first few tests have been very exciting to see. We’re offering training sessions on the Cube in the new year, and can’t wait to see what projects it’ll help bring to life.

We also spruced up our upstairs studios with newly constructed Hot Desk studios which are a step up from the trial-run cubicles in every way. Along with a handful of tweaks and improvements throughout the space, it’s the best these studios have looked and felt since we moved in, and we’re eager to see them in use.

On the production side, Quickdraw’s members have been busy this year. Our Animation Lockdown in May was one of the strongest we’ve seen yet; our second go of the online format led to over 20 shorts on the theme of “spectrums,” and the amount of care and creativity that went into them is positively mind-blowing. We’ve also been able to support three films-in-progress through our Chris J. Melnychuk scholarship and residency, plus two from our inaugural Intermediate Animator Production Residency, which means 2022 is set to be a banner year for QAS-led productions.

We were also privileged enough to help over a dozen member projects over the past year, in various stages of production. From interactive video and theatre experiments, to sci-fi spectacles, explorations of communication, and personal histories, there are still an incredible variety of animated projects in the works. Like we said—it’s been a year of anticipation.

We’ve already talked too much, and haven’t even mentioned the efforts of our instructors to work with ever-changing requirements to deliver the best online and in-person animation classes we could, or the frankly silly number of amazing artists who let us share their work at GIRAF, or what a treat it’s been to see screenings of our On LGBTQ2S+ Animation pack and Best of GIRAF program with partner organizations in Halifax and Regina. Seeing our programming ripple out into the wider world is a wonderful experience, and one that might not have happened without the relationships we’ve built over the pandemic.

It wasn’t the year we expected, but looking back, 2021 was still a year full of bright spots, new friends, and fantastic art. Whatever the new year brings, we’ll look forward to sharing it with you. Thanks sharing this one with us.