There was no shortage of things to see at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre during FanExpo, which is touted as the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming event in Canada. Amongst the rows upon rows of merchandise, comic books, costumes, artwork, and displays showcasing the latest games, films and technology to hit the market, Sheridan’s booth caught the attention of many passersby who stopped to get up close with our students’ work.
Recent grads of Advanced Special Effects Makeup, Prosthetics and Props displayed three ‘Sheridan monsters’ created during a Project Production course in the final semester of the one-year program. Twenty students worked on the “Mantis Tall Boy” stationary creature and the wearable costumes that resembled an alien anglerfish and an ogre, which took a combined 14 weeks to build.
Many selfies were taken with these creatures and for the students who helped staff the booth, it was a rewarding experience to witness such positive responses. “Every time someone takes a photo with Mantis I think to myself, I helped make that!” says Kelly Wildfang. “The enthusiasm from people about these displays has been fantastic. Working on Mantis definitely made me realize that I love to build things and will be looking for work in a fabrication setting or a prop shop.”
The process of creating the Bmovie-inspired creatures was highly collaborative and required the use of a variety of skills acquired during the first two semesters of the program. “To start off we made a base structure, which was a skeleton made out of piping,” explains Kyle Mccullough, another recent grad who worked on Mantis. “We 3D-printed his upper torso and arms, blocked it out to determine where strengths and supports were needed and then got into the details: sculpting with Apoxy, molding, and adding layers of paint by hand to create depth and texture.” It’s a project that he proudly showcased in his portfolio, which helped him secure his new role at Henchmen Studios.
Throughout the event, Sheridan faculty members took the costumes for a spin on the show floor, which caught the attention of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art Matters blog. In its post, Sheridan’s monsters are referred to as a “wow moment…which literally stopped traffic.”
Another display of collaborative work at Sheridan’s booth was featured on screens. Five games – Chronos, Crimson, Lumen, Ross and Terraformers – created for capstone projects in the Game Level Design and Game Development – Advanced Programming post-graduate programs debuted at Fan Expo.
Students from these programs worked in groups of five over the course of four months to bring a game from concept to a ‘vertical slice’. “It’s a way to show a game’s main assets – the important elements and themes – without the expanded storyline,” says Ethan Frankel of the Lumen team.
Lumen features a character named Lucia who is trying to restore the world’s only source of light through her crystal sword, which absorbs different light sources when her enemies are defeated. Alex Hulsmeier pitched the idea to his team that also included Nazar Herman, Ethan Frankel, and Rachel Zheng. Together, they interviewed and hired fourth-year Bachelor of Animation student Katelyn Pellow to work on the artistic elements and all of the 3D modeling rigging and animation. They drew inspiration from the popular, classic games Zelda and Transistor as well as James Cameron’s Avatar – World of Pandora.
William Barry, Coordinator of Game Development – Advanced Programming, describes this project as comparable to the experience of working in a professional studio. “Students learn the hard skills of programming and design as well as soft skills like teamwork and project management, all of which they’ll encounter in the industry,” he says.
Ethan notes that “countless hours and some sleepless nights” went into getting the game to its current state, but it’s a product that the team feels confident showing to prospective employers. And watching people of all ages play-test Lumen at FanExpo was fulfilling. “We’ve received positive feedback about the gameplay with the swords and overall level design, and everyone is impressed with the artwork,” he says.
Chantal Élise and April Espinal also from the Advanced Special Effects Makeup, Prosthetics and Props program were on hand to do a live prosthetic makeup application demo. A volunteer sat patiently as they applied layers of makeup to accentuate her brows and cheekbones. She completed her vampire getup with fanged teeth and a wig and proudly walked around the Convention Centre with her new look.
— Sheridan College (@sheridancollege) September 1, 2017
Pictured at top of page: Kyle Mccullough and Kelly Wildfang of the Advanced Special Effects Makeup, Prosthetics and Props program at FanExpo 2017.
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.