Animation career potential a bright spot

There’s plenty of room for working film animators in the Kelowna job market.

  • Nov. 15, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Local filmmaker will speak in Kelowna this month.

There’s plenty of room for working film animators in the Kelowna job market with some motivation, says Jeff Chiba Stearns.

The successful local animator, who grew up in Kelowna and taught for four years at the Centre for Arts and Technology, will be back to give a guest lecture at CATO next week.

And while he’s ultimately had to relocate to Vancouver, where’s he’s carved a niche in television commercials, Chiba Stearns sees plenty of opportunity on the horizon for those interested in spending a career drawing locally.

“We have Club Penguin, Lizard Brain are doing stuff for the BBC and I’ve heard Bardel (Entertainment) are moving a shop to Kelowna,” he said. “…Some of the students I taught are even fairly high up the food chain at Club Penguin.”

Chiba Stearns documented his family’s experience living in Kelowna with the feature film One Big Hapa Family.

Now running Meditating Bunny Studio Inc., he’s done commercial work for clients like 3M, Sharpie, and Generali, with commercials running in prime time slots like during the Grammys.

“I balance my time working on commercial projects and animation,” he said, explaining he left CATO upon realizing he could never dedicate enough time to filmmaking when he was teaching.

“Teaching is great, but instructors put a lot of their own energy into their job,” he added.

“Kelowna’s a good place, but I needed to make the leap.”

Since making the move to Vancouver, the animation scene has only continued to grow—both here and on the coast where Pixar recently moved a studio to town.

In addition to Pixar, Electronic Arts is still in hiring mode and Chiba Stearns can only see the industry growing.

The future is bright for places like Kelowna as well, the young filmmaker said, noting that there’s significant tax incentives for companies willing to relocate or create satellite offices in smaller centres.

The lecture will include a basic animation exercise—to be conducted as a group—and a few good stories from his own adventures and misadventures in the land of cartoon creation.

“Animation is one of the most misunderstood art forms,” he said.

“We’re trying to create movement. The magic is in seeing it all played back; its the illusion of life and that’s hard to do.”

Chiba Stearns will be in town Thursday Nov. 24th, from 6:30-9:30 pm.

The cost of the lecture and workshop is $60, to register call the Centre for Arts and Technology at 250-860-2787 or register online at



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