Random Erik

Ramblings on Cartoons, Music, Pop Culture and Whatever

Thomas Jefferson Makes a Decision

(Wow, things can change fast. I’m leaving this one up, but for now, Vancouver is looking to be unworkable. At least for 2007. Family stuff comes up and you make adjustments. I’ll write more on the subject when I know more.)

Principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Founding Father. Third President. Inventor. The guy responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. The guy responsible for my final decision.

Well, folks, it looks as if I’m going to be spending a year in Vancouver, studying animation at VanArts. Barring logistical problems, next June 15th, I’ll start a year of intense study, frustration, excitement and achievement. I’ve wanted to do the full animation course since I attended VanArts in 2001 for a Summer Intensive. This year, I got accepted to the Vancouver Film School’s Classical Animation program, and flew up to Vancouver to meet with the school and get a feel for the program. While there, I also visited with VanArts. For several reasons, the latter school became my choice.

Vancouver Film School was very nice, but to me it seemed too large. Several groups are in various stages of the program at one time, and the sense of community wasn’t strong. One group had decided to curtain off their individual workstations, not an promising sign. VFS also claims ownership of student work, which would mean any characters I created for my projects wouldn’t be mine. That, I think, would really limit my creativity, as I wouldn’t want to give away any ideas I really liked.

VanArts looked like a stronger community. The school was founded specifically for classical animation, though they’ve branched out into 3D and visual effects. They don’t own your projects. Along with some philosophical differences, I felt happier about choosing them.

So I’ve been questioning any industry people I know about the wisdom of doing a year (many thanks to folks such as Aaron Romo of Squirrelworks, Tom Bancroft and Jessica Abel for taking time to really help me). I’ve been moaning and whining to my illustration group about how hard the decision is. I’ve been driving Maggie nuts, though Maggie is cool with the idea as she likes Vancouver and it has a strong stand-up comedy scene.

Back to Thomas Jeffereson. My illustration critique group, their partners and some related friends came over on Thursday to watch Christmas specials and eat junk and drink wine. We did much more of the eating and drinking. Many of the “partners and related friends” contingent kept saying “I hear you’re moving to Vancouver for a year.” News to me, as I was still very much on the fence. But after a while, as the wine took over, the whole party decided that the decision needed to be finalized. Then and there.

So, we decided on a coin flip, best two out of three. Heads I go, tails I stay. With a suave and confident motion, I drew a nickel from my pocket and flipped it. It went wild and landed on the floor. Hello, Thomas Jefferson: his face stared up at me. The second toss managed to bounce off of my skull before rolling to a halt on the floor. (Maggie chose to declare me the least cool person she knew, though I’ve decided not to call the divorce lawyers about that one). Second toss, and the Jefferson Memorial pointed upwards. A third coin toss, preferably one that wouldn’t dent my forehead, was called for.

thatnickel.pngOh, the suspense. I flipped the coin and deftly missed the third catch in a row. When it came to a halt, I put my foot on the nickel. What was it? I knew the decision then: I hoped it was heads. The suspense in the crowd grew to a frenzy of mild curiousity. I lifted my stylish leather Converse One-Star.

Hello Thomas Jefferson.

So, thanks Tom. For one of America’s greatest documents and for overseeing the doubling of United States territory. For being a good President (oh, how we could use him now). And, most importantly, for helping me make an absolutely huge, potentially life-changing decision. What a guy!

By the way, the picture is indeed the actual nickel, which will someday feature prominently in a museum somewhere. Or end up in a parking meter, if I’m not careful. I’ll take donations to help preserve our national heritage.

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