CDM’s Newest Faculty Brings 20 Years Experience in Digital Media, Gaming & Film
Centre for Digital Media is excited to welcome Jason Elliott as the newest full-time faculty member.
Jason brings his 20+ years of experience in digital media as a game designer, game artist and filmmaker to the CDM and will be teaching in the Master of Digital Media program as well as CDM’s additional programs—IDEA-X, Pre-MDM and TMDM. With his breadth of both industry and teaching experience, he will use his expertise for MDM project teams to enable students to deliver high quality projects that satisfy clients needs.
Jason recently completed the MDM program and was teaching at the Art Institute of Vancouver for 11 years as a senior faculty member in the Game Art & Design program (ranked among the top 10 Undergraduate Schools for Video Game Design in North America by the Princeton Review).
Before that, Jason worked at Radical Entertainment as a Level and Game Designer and is credited on several acclaimed titles including Hulk, Hulk Ultimate Destruction and Simpson’s Hit & Run. He is also a published author and wrote HTML5 Game Development with GameMaker.
CDM is thrilled to have Jason join our impressive team of experienced faculty.
I sat down to talk with Jason about his decision to take the MDM program, his transition from student to teacher and what he’s most excited about in digital media.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been working in digital media for over 20 years. I originally started as a 2D/3D Game Artist at Konami (first in Chicago and then in the Bay Area) doing everything from modeling to cinematics and everything in between. I quickly made my way up in the company and by the time I was 22 I was a Lead Artist. After a couple years I quit and came back to Vancouver, decided to go back to film school and enrolled in Vancouver Film School. I did really well there and was even selected as a finalist for the BC Film Director Internship Program.
But by then I decided that I didn’t want to work in film and, instead, returned to games as a Game Designer at Radical Entertainment. I worked there for several years and then got the opportunity to teach at the Art Institute of Vancouver where I taught for 11 years.
In addition to teaching, I’m also super active in the community. I’m the current president of Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH, I ran an artist community called the Artery, I helped set up the independent game developers group Full Indie and the Vancouver GameMaker User Group.
I still make games as a hobby and my personal blog/portfolio is at jasonleeelliott.com.
2. Before becoming faculty you were a MDM student. What made you decide to take the MDM program?
I’ve been interested in the MDM program since before it was even a program. I was actually an advisor and gave feedback and insights to Dr. Gerri Sinclair during the formative stages of the program’s development. I’ve been watching the program evolve for years.
After teaching for a decade I was ready for something new. I wanted to start working in teams again but not exactly in a job capacity. MDM was a safe place to explore digital media and possibly start my own company.
3. How has the transition been from student to teacher? Explain your new role as faculty member.
It has been a very interesting transition for a variety of reasons. I’ve been teaching for more than a decade in a fairly standard educational setting where I had classes that were completely focused on a single subject matter and the students were focused on the same goal (working in games).
The MDM program is very different because it is much broader in scope and the student body is comprised of people with very different goals.
It is a more collaborative atmosphere here, it’s much more fun.
4. What are you most excited about in digital media?
For me, what excites me most about digital media is the rapidity of its evolution. It is constantly changing and there is always something new and interesting coming down the line. When I started working, it was very expensive and difficult to create anything digital and now it is practically free and easy for everyone to build whatever they want.
As for what I am looking forward to, I’m really interested in what’s going on in Virtual/Augmented Reality and being able to explore 3D space in new ways. I am also fascinated by 3D printing and all of the possible applications that it can be used for. They just printed the first 3D fake meat, for example, and some guy has printed a 3D house—it’s not just plastic anymore.
It’s an exciting time for digital media!
5. Why should students be excited that you’re here?
While my background is in games, I don’t consider myself to be a gamer. I love all aspects of digital media—including games, film, web and app development. I love the challenge of solving problems through design no matter what it is. And I can’t wait to share my passion and experience with the students.
Thanks Jason! For more on Jason, visit his blog at jasonleeelliott.com.