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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Ido Gondelman's animated tale

By Aprille Janes
Special to The Toronto Sun

In today's film industry, animation brings impossible dreams to life. But few of us get to follow those dreams to Los Angeles to work in the movie industry. Ido Gondelman, a graduate of Sheridan College and The Academy of Design and Technology has managed to do just that.

Gondelman's parents encouraged his artistic bent from an early age. "When I was 12, we moved to Toronto from Israel. I was enrolled at West Minister Elementary School. In the evenings I took Life Drawing classes. I remember being the youngest in the class and had to have my mom sign some letter saying it was OK for me to see nude people so I could draw them."

But it was a co-op placement in Grade 12 that ignited his passion.

"I was placed at Light Box Animation. At the time they were getting ready to do a pilot show for Warner Brothers. I was given training in pen and ink, how to ink animation cells and how to make smooth strokes with the lines," he says. "Then I moved into painting the cells. A few weeks later they thought I might be able to do some animation exercises. I was hooked. It was probably the worst animation I have done to date...but I was hooked nevertheless.

"One of the guys working at LBA told me that if I wanted to learn, Sheridan was the place for me."

After graduating from Sheridan's Illustration program, Gondelman went on to complete The International Academy of Design's Computer Animation program. Now he just needed his first break if his dreams were to come true.

"Every summer, the effects and animation industry have a convention called SIGRAPH, where they showcase all the latest technology, tools and movies. My plan was to go to SIGRAPH and get a job.

"I graduated from the academy with just enough time to put the best of my work together on a VHS tape. My mission was to do the rounds and drop off my reel at every booth. In the course of a week, I had 11 interviews, among them Dreamworks SKG, BlueSky, PDI, ILM, Disney and VIFX.

Before the week's end, I had a solid job offer and three return interviews in LA."

Gondelman accepted a position with VIFX and, along with three Sheridan friends, moved to L.A. He worked on a few films for VIFX and then the company was bought out. As he puts it, "I was fortunate to be one of those who was let go."

Now, with professional experience on his resume and the motivation to stay in L.A., he updated his demo tape and, within a week, landed a new position with Digital Domain.

"At the time, the company was owned by James Cameron, Stan Winston and Scott Ross. This place was one of the hippest places I had ever seen." Gondelman helped finish the film Titanic and joined the character animation team.

In his three years at DD he worked on films such as What Dreams May Come, Red Planet and The Grinch, videos for Janet Jackson and Busta Rhymes and award-winning commercials.

After leaving Digital Domain, he started to explore other creative outlets, including art directoring for a movie and being the lead character animator for Centropolis FX.

This year, he's taking the summer off to spend time with his fiance and savour life. But his phone is ringing all the time. Gondelman no longer has to make the rounds -- they come looking for him.

As he puts it, "Not too bad for a dreamer who's still dreaming most days."

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