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Sharjah Animation Conference to feature masterclasses with Oscar, Emmy and Annie winners


The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) is set to host a first-of-its-kind event in the Middle East, the Sharjah Animation Conference, from May 3-5, 2023, at the Sharjah Expo Center, in partnership with Italy’s Bergamo Animation Days (BAD) festival. The upcoming three-day conference promises to be an enriching experience for anyone with an interest in animation, with a range of masterclasses designed to provide valuable insights and practical tips for industry professionals, aspiring animators, and anime fans alike.

The conference seeks to harmonise the interplay of nostalgia and modernity, inviting both the creators of cherished childhood cartoon characters and contemporary animated personalities to converge in a celebration of this dynamic art form. With an extensive line-up of Oscar, Emmy and Annie winners, the Sharjah Animation Conference is set to give those who attend direct access to experts in the field on a level that has never happened in the region.

The conference boasts a truly comprehensive and immersive experience for animation enthusiasts, artists, animators and publishers. With 12 masterclasses on offer, attendees will have the opportunity to glean valuable insights from a roster of experts in various animation fields, making it an unmissable occasion for those seeking to expand their knowledge and hone their craft in the ever-evolving world of animation.

“The Sharjah Animation Conference is a truly unique event for the region that aims to provide a comprehensive platform for individuals who are passionate about animation to connect with the industry’s best, learn from them, and network with like-minded individuals,” said Khoula Al Mujaini, SAC Executive Director. “Our primary goal is to empower participants and help them develop their skills, and gain valuable insights into the latest trends and techniques of the animation industry. By bringing together enthusiasts and professionals from all over the world, we hope to foster new collaborations and partnerships, and promote innovation and creativity in the industry. Through this event, we hope to inspire the next generation of animators and encourage them to pursue their passions and make a difference in the industry.”

“Our goal for the inaugural Sharjah Animation Conference is to provide attendees with a 360-degree view of the animation world. We’ve invited a truly world-class and diverse group of artists and professionals with different approaches to showcase the various styles and techniques used in animation production.” said: Pietro Pinetti, SAC Artistic Director.

Learn from the best in the business through an extensive range of masterclasses

To kick things off, Oscar winning John Nevarez; a renowned figure in the animation industry with over 25 years of experience at animation giants like Disney, Pixar and Sony Pictures Animation; known for his work on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Astro Boy, and The Emoji Movie, will present the masterclass ‘My Journey In The Animation Industry’. Through this engaging and inspiring presentation, attendees will gain insight into Nevarez’s personal experience, tracing his journey from humble beginnings to notable projects, and learn about his work in various areas, including 2D animation, storyboarding, and concept art. Nevarez will also share his creative process and provide tips and tricks for budding animators and artists.

Sandro Cleuzo, an Annie Award winning 2D animator and character designer, known for such works as Mary Poppins Returns, The Iron Giant, Fantasia 2000 and Tarzan, will present ‘The Art Of Animation’. In this masterclass, he will share his career journey and work experiences, starting in 1985 at just 15-years-old, working at Walt Disney Feature Animation and going on to work at Sony, Paramount and Netflix Animation. Attendees will learn from Cleuzo’s vast knowledge and expertise, including the creative process behind character design, animation techniques, and storytelling.

Takahiro Yoshimatsu, widely considered one of the best anime directors in the world, most famously known for Dragon Ball Z, Overlord, Vampire Hunter D, and Hunter X Hunter, will present ‘Exploring The Creative Process Behind Innovative Anime Projects’. Through his engaging presentation, Yoshimatsu will discuss his experiences working on some of the most innovative and captivating anime projects in the industry, inspiring and providing insights to aspiring animators, seasoned professionals, and anime fans alike.

Behind The Scenes: Creating Award-Winning Tv Series With Blue Zoo’ will be presented by Oli Hyatt, the founder and MD of the BAFTA-winning production house, Blue Zoo. In this masterclass, Hyatt will provide captivating case studies of their latest projects and insights into the creative process behind developing a successful TV series. Oli’s education programs on youtube have been a massive success with over 10 million subscribers and attendees will have the chance to learn first-hand from Blue Zoo’s experience and gain valuable knowledge on the importance of creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

Emmy award-winner, Mario Brioschi, compositor and VFX supervisor for blockbuster hits such as Avengers: Infinity Wars, Wonder Woman and Star Trek: Beyond,  will present ‘House Of The Dragon’, a masterclass focused on the importance of compositing and lighting in creating an immersive viewing experience. Attendees of this masterclass will gain insight into Brioschi’s work on the acclaimed TV series House of the Dragon and learn about his techniques for achieving stunning visual effects.

Mamoru Yokota – My Life’ will feature a world-famous character designer and animation director for Death Note, Naruto Shippuden, One Piece and Macross Frontier to name a few. Through showcasing some of his previous works, including being the animation director for the ‘Blazblue: Continuum Shift II’ arcade game, he will discuss his creative process, techniques, and the challenges he faced during his career, as well as the importance of character design and its impact on storytelling in anime.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn from Pascal Charrue, CEO of Fortiche, during the masterclass ‘Arcane – League of Legends,’ where he will reveal the creative process behind the popular animated series that has scooped up 4 Emmys and 9 Annies to date. Pascal, who’s company has also been instrumental to gaming giants such as Ubisoft, Carbine Studios and Riot Games, will discuss the unique stylistic choices made, the challenges the team faced, and provide valuable insights for those seeking to enter the animation production industry.

For ‘The Invisible Craft of Character Design: Unveiling the Creative Process,’ renowned character designer Wouter Tulp, who started his career as an illustrator for newspapers and children’s books, will share his vast knowledge and experience on the subject of character design. As an expert in the field, working for power-houses like Netflix, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures, this lecture aims to unveil the creative process behind this invaluable craft, allowing attendees to gain a deeper understanding of what goes into creating successful characters for animation, gaming, and other media.

Multiple award-winning author, director and creative director Giorgio Scorza, Co-Founder and CEO of Movimenti Production, will discuss the potential of animation beyond its traditional association with children’s entertainment in ‘The power of animation for adult audiences’ Using the example of their latest collaboration with Netflix for the production of the new upcoming Zerocalcare series “This World Can’t Tear Me Down,” he will emphasise the importance of using animation to speak to a more adult target audience.

For over 25 years, Frank Falcone has been bringing film and television projects to life as an animator, director and executive producer. As the President and Executive Creative Director  of the world-famous Guru Studio, famous for hits such as PAW Patrol, Justin Time and Ever After High, Falcone will provide insights into the creative and business aspects of developing successful children’s shows that resonate with audiences worldwide during ‘How To Build An IP – Case Histories From Guru!’ This industry stalwart will discuss the strategies used to create compelling characters, build a consistent world, and develop engaging storylines, as well as the business side of building an IP, including securing funding, negotiating distribution deals, and expanding the franchise across multiple platforms.

Aaron Gilman, CEO of Steamroller Animation will share his unique personal journey through the Animation Industry during his masterclass “A journey into the career of an animator”. He will explore the timeline of his professional journey, discussing his adventures and the many stories of his inspirational career, from a Junior Animator working on dinosaurs to Animation Supervisor at the famed Weta FX in New Zealand, and currently as the Chief Executive Officer of Steamroller Animation. He has worked for many famous feature films including The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Hobbit:The Battle of the Five Armies, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip, and Godzilla. He’s also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has been nominated for a VES and Annie award.

Finally, Robin Linn, a respected Artist, Director of Animation, Recruiter and most notably, Artist Manager in the industry, will teach participants how to increase their chances of landing a job in animation and gaming studios during the masterclass ‘How To Increase Your Odds Of Landing A Job In Animation & Gaming.’ The class will cover how to create an online presence that showcases one’s skills, experience, and personality, and provide tips on building a personal brand that aligns with career goals. Attendees will also learn how to effectively present their portfolio, craft a resume and cover letter that catches recruiters’ attention, and stand out in today’s competitive job market.

The Sharjah Animation Conference promises to be an exciting and enriching event for animation enthusiasts in the Arab region. Tickets are available for purchase on the newly launched conference website, https://www.sharjahanimation.com/. Those interested in this expanding industry and fans of moving artforms are encouraged to take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect with industry leaders, learn from the best, and engage with like-minded individuals, for this first-of-it-kind conference in the region.

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