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CDM Bids Farewell to Director Richard Smith, Welcomes New Director Larry Bafia

May 05, 2020 By Crissy Campbell

After nine years as MDM Program Director, Dr. Richard Smith is moving on to a new phase in his career.

Smith came into the program back in June 2011, just as construction began on the current Centre for Digital Media building. As the MDM program’s longest serving Director, he spearheaded some significant changes to the MDM program and brought stability, distinction and increased awareness of the MDM within academia and the greater local and international community.

He helped to grow student numbers and improved MDM scholarships, which increased over 500% during his time as Director. At the CDM, Smith fully embraced the guiding principle "what’s best for the students?" and used this guiding principle for all decision making for the program (a principle which he credits to former Associate Director Jeannette Kopak).

Smith also built significant ties to CDM’s partner institutions and, thanks to his work, we now have courses and electives cross offered at our partner schools.

Richard Smith Accepting EA Donation

Richard Smith CDM Building Construction

Richard Smith with studens at convocation

Before he joined the CDM, Dr. Smith was a professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Communication for over 15 years and Director of SFU's Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST) for 10 of those years. Smith was also actively engaged with local, national and international media on issues related to his research into technology, social media and public surveillance. His service to the university through public affairs and media relations earned Dr. Smith the 2009 SFU President’s Award.

In an article saying goodbye to the program, Smith states:

Long ago I learned that the MDM was a program that transformed students. That by helping students become leaders of teams in the production of digital media through experiential learning was a transformative process. Little did I realize that it would transform me. But it has. It has been my honour and privilege to be here while the staff and faculty of the MDM made this magic with ten cohorts.”

Dr. Richard Smith was an amazing leader for students, alumni and everyone involved in the MDM program and his dedication to the program will not be forgotten. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours!

We’re excited to welcome Larry Bafia as the new Director of the MDM program.

Larry Bafia New Director

Larry Bafia joined the MDM program in 2009 as a full-time faculty member. He is a valued mentor to students and alumni and has worked on exciting projects such as his involvement with SIGGRAPH, his work with the French Consulate and building industry relationships between the MDM program and international programs and companies. as well as his work with students on their projects, He has supervised over 30 industry projects during his time with the MDM program.

Bafia’s ties with cultural centres and museums has led to some amazing projects like the Maritime Museum’s award-winning Wheelhouse project.

Larry Bafia with a MDM student team

Bafia started his career in stop motion and claymation with the Will Vinton Studios working on projects such as the California Raisins, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and The Globeheads.

He moved on to work in CGI as the Commercial Animation Director at PDI/Dreamworks. He directed commercials for Coca-Cola, Sega, Intel, Kraft and Target. Larry was a Sequence Lead Animator for the movies Antz and Batman & Robin, and was also on the effects team for Mission Impossible II and Forces of Nature. Soon after Larry moved to Warner Brothers, where he was the Lead Animator for the Stop Motion Division on the development of Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks.

He began his  teaching career as the Department Head of Animation and Visual Effects at the Vancouver Film School from 2003 to 2009, and then joined the MDM program in 2009.

As he enters into his new role, Larry states:

Stepping into the Director’s position at MDM certainly requires ‘filling some very big shoes.’  Dr. Richard Smith’s leadership and passion have set a high bar for this program.  I have had the great fortune of collaborating with Dr. Smith throughout the past nine years. I strive to sustain the momentum, vision and solidarity he has created and guide the MDM program through these challenging times. Best wishes from all of the staff and faculty that appreciate all of his efforts to make the MDM program a great place to learn and work."

We are excited to welcome Larry Bafia to the role!