As a student in Sheridan’s Graphic Design and Computer Graphics programs in the late eighties, Ken Walker was studying at a time when computers were beginning to change the face of art and design. Hired as a technologist at Sheridan shortly after graduating, he would become part of navigating those changes in the field. Now heading into his 28th year in the same role, Walker’s career continues to be a fresh and exciting learning experience, paralleling remarkable advances in the technology with which he works.
“It isn’t a good day unless you’ve learned something,” said Walker. “That’s what I tell my students.” Today he works in the Computer Animation program and is responsible for keeping all of the technology available to faculty and students up-to-date and the network running smoothly. With a variety of computer programs and applications used in the program, troubleshooting and resolving glitches is part of Walker’s day-to-day work. “I’m the grease on the wheel,” he explained. “If something isn’t working properly I’m running around trying to fix it.”
“I’m the grease on the wheel. If something isn’t working properly I’m running around trying to fix it” – Ken Walker
Keeping students connected with the most up-to-date software and hardware is something Walker recognizes as essential to their success. As industry standards change, classroom infrastructure must follow suit. “We haven’t stayed still since the program started. We are always tinkering with it,” he said. To remain at the forefront of industry trends Walker attends the annual SIGGRAPH conference where software updates are released and new software is launched. He also attends sessions with Disney and Pixar to ensure Sheridan’s curriculum is in line with the direction of world-leading animation studios.
Walker has taught a first-year Computer Animation Technology course part-time. He describes it as a “nuts and bolts” program that is necessary to teach students about tools they will be using to create their animations. “For my students, as artists, the computer is their paintbrush,” he explained. “They need to know the functioning of a computer as well as a painter would know each of the paints and brushes that they work with.”
With his training as an artist and his experiences working in the entertainment industry, Walker is a helpful resource for students in the program looking for feedback. His industry experience includes working as a compositing and roto-scoping artist on two television series and on feature films such as Blade 2 and Lucky Number Slevin. He has also consulted for Rune Entertainment, 2 Presidents Productions and Main Frame Entertainment. With his connections to the industry, he has helped organize lecture series and studio tours for students.
“They [the students] need to know the functioning of a computer as well as a painter would know each of the paints and brushes that they work with” – Ken Walker
“Time flies,” said Walker of his experiences at Sheridan. “The students and faculty make it a great place to work. We rely on each other to do our jobs well and we are all pulling in the same direction.” That direction has been influenced by his breadth of institutional and industry knowledge, and he has contributed to Sheridan’s reputation as a world-leading school of animation.
Pictured at top of page: Sheridan Animation Technologist Ken Walker. Photo by Owen Colborne, Photography Technologist at Sheridan.
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.