All it took were those two films to direct the young boy into
a career of computer animation.
Now years later, he's just finished a four-year degree program at
Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and today [Saturday]
finds out if his two-minute, 3-D digital animated short wins the Electronic
Arts Canada Great Canadian Art Competition.
The competition was developed this year to support graphic arts
education and promote young talent in the thriving industry. After a year of
ironing out details, the competition - Canada's largest prize payout for
students and universities - was launched on Dec. 1.
It was open to graduating, post-secondary students, requiring them to
submit a five minute, 3-D digital animation that's judged by EAC staff. The
deadline for submissions was April 1 and the top 25 finalists were flown to
Burnaby on Thursday.
The finalists experience a behind-the-scenes look at how
video games are created. They're subjected to individual, final
judging by a panel of experts giving them criticism, praise and tips. And
today, at the evening gala presentation, the grand prize winner will be
The grand prize winner receives $20,000 cash with a matching grant
given to the winner's school.
"What would I do with the $20,000? Gee, I just don't know," Hilliard
said, sitting in front of his computer screen Wednesday afternoon.
Three first place winners receive $3,000, three second place winners
receive $1,500 and three third place winners get $500.
Hilliard believes he's got a good shot at winning it all.
He's been working on the short since September for his final school
project and describes it as being a little bit of everything.
"I wanted to try everything so I could see what I like to do," he
said, admitting the action is his favourite.
"You can almost tell I kind of
focussed the most on the action clips. At one point I had to hold myself back
and stop messing around with the action scenes, because there were others I
had to focus on too."
The animated story is a somewhat of an autobiography that features a
graphic artist trying to decide what kind of film to produce. Hilliard uses
10-second clips to ask his audience what they would like to see.
"How about a scary movie?" the character asks, and then the lights in
the studio go off and suddenly a monster appears. Car chases,
blood-splattering shoot outs and more were also created.
Fifteen years ago, a computer-animation career was almost
unheard of. But then the industry skyrocketed with theatres welcoming computer
brilliance from such movies as The Matrix, Tomb Raider, The Mummy and not to
mention cartoon masterpieces that include Pixar's Toy Story, A Bugs Life and
Shrek. Now it's the career to have, and Hilliard is sure he'll be one of the
He was already offered a job with EAC prior to the
competition, but couldn't accept as he hadn't yet finished school.
And then on Wednesday, EAC staff called again for another interview.
"I think I've got a job there," he said with a smirk on his face.
"The industry's huge here - there's tons to choose from."
Eventually he'd like to become an art director for strictly cartoon
productions similar to those of Pixar. But after a year of hours and hours
logged in front of his computer screen, he'll first be taking a much-deserved