3D Animation Grad Talks Atomic Cartoons and Beat Bugs

By VFS Web Team, on March 8, 2016

We first met the delightful Fred Fasse at Fresh Meet, an industry night that offers soon-to-be 3D Animation + Visual Effects graduates a chance to showcase their demo reels and mingle with awesome local companies. It’s an event that Fred attends regularly. He is, after all, a proud Vancouver Film School alumnus and an industry professional working at Atomic Cartoons. Not only is Fred an amazing animator, but he’s also got the coolest sneaker collection in town!

We sat down with Fred to talk about his time at VFS, his latest project, and what’s next. Read on!

Where are you from originally? What made you decide to come to VFS?

Fred: I am born and raised right here in Burnaby, BC.

When I was first looking for a 3D school, the VFS program didn't exist so I had very few options. I had tried to apply to another school shortly after graduating from high school, but at that time my portfolio wasn't strong enough. I didn't give up. I continued to work my day job while still working on my traditional skills. Eventually, I heard through the grapevine that VFS had a 3D program, as well as a late night course: “An Introduction to 3D.” I decided to take the intro course. Very quickly, the intro to 3D teacher mentioned how well I was doing and that I should consider taking the full 3D course. Long story short, I applied, I got accepted, and the rest was history. Receiving

What was your time like in the 3D Animation + Visual Effects program? What was the best thing about it? What was the most challenging?

Fred: I really enjoyed my time at VFS even though things got incredibly challenging at the end. I'm not sure anyone truly understands how much effort is involved in completing that student film. There were many all-nighters, and I struggled to deal with artistic blocks and technical hurdles. That being said, my film wouldn't have been completed without the help of all my classmates -- many of whom I still keep in contact with. Sure, we may be scattered all over the world, but thanks to the internet, we're all still connected. We just can't go out as often for a pint!

Truly, the best part about the program was the relationships I built with my teachers, mentors, and classmates.

*I'm the skinny guy in the white shirt in the middle with his mouth wide open. The guy screen left in the light blue is Cedric Lo -- currently at ILM. There's so much talent in this picture it's ridiculous! 

What was your experience like after graduating? Did you find a job right away?

Fred: Our class (3D22) was a unique one. I believe about half of us got hired at Mainframe Entertainment (now Rainmaker) within three weeks of graduating. Back then, there were only a handful of studios. For us, and for VFS, this was a big moment. 

Career highlights – go!

Fred: Seeing my name in the credits for the first time, and when I saw my name on the big screen for my first feature film. Also, walking the blue carpet premiere in Berlin for “Smurfs 2” was pretty cool since I worked on it.

You recently worked on the new animated series “Beat Bugs” as the supervising animator for Atomic Cartoons. What is the show about and where can we see it?

Fred: The show, “Beat Bugs”, is about a group of five friends going on adventures in the backyard of a "Gigant’s" (human) home. They learn about life and about friendship. They also sing incredible songs by the Beatles. I supervised this episode, which I have to say I'm especially proud of. “Black Bird” was sung by the incredibly talented Sia.

Can you take us through a typical day of working at Atomic?

Fred: On a typical day, I will start by chatting with my team and see how everyone is doing before I sit down to work on either the current show, or shows coming up later in production. On the current show, I provide feedback on blocking passes and/or approve shots. Shortly after, I try and spend hands on time with my animators and help them through any notes on shots, or issues they may have to get that shot of theirs approved. When I’m not working directly with my team, I work closely with the director and/or animation director to go over future episodes. Depending on the timeline, I may also spend time reading scripts, providing the client with notes, and I test future models and rigs so that when they reach the animators everything works as intended. 

Who are some of your influences in the world of animation and why?

Fred: I was obsessed with cartoons as a kid, but it wasn't until I got a bit older that I discovered the talent behind the "frame." Phil Tippett was a huge influence in my career. It was his stop motion animation work in “Robocop” and “Robocop 2” that got me interested in animation as a career

At VFS, Claus Pedersen (who was a mentor of mine at VFS) was a huge influence early on in my career and helped me focus on animation. We got to work together again recently on Beat Bugs where our old mentor relationship continued. John Vassallo (the lead on my first feature) was a huge influence in my career and was one of the best leads I have ever worked with. The quality of my animation wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for John!

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Fred: Spend more time observing. You won't believe how much you can learn by just sitting back and observing life. Also, spend less time partying. There's plenty of time for that during wrap parties on animation projects!

What’s next for you?

Fred: I will be travelling to Denmark to teach for a couple of weeks before coming back to Vancouver to work on a new project, which I cannot talk about yet. Shortly after that, I'm hoping to come back to VFS as a mentor. After 100 classes have passed, it's almost poetic that I get to come back to mentor class 3D 122.

Thanks, Fred!