Industry News
Ubisoft Toronto Enlist Local Talent for Apprenticeship

By Seán O'Sullivan - May 30th, 2014

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When Ubisoft Toronto was founded in 2009, it had a daunting mission: develop and ship the next installment in one of Ubisoft’s premiere AAA franchises. Making games takes a lot of people, so amassing a workforce of 200 in southern Ontario (which wasn’t exactly a hotspot for AAA development) was no mean feat. Ubisoft Toronto is still actively seeking local talent (as it seeks to grow to 800 strong by 2020), and in service of this goal, they held a competition for students to win an apprenticeship working with the art team on an “exciting project”, where they’ll gain invaluable experience.

The culmination of this competition was an exhibit for the top five finalists at the Toronto studio, where the winner was announced by Scott Lee, the Art Director for Ubisoft Toronto. Of the 7 schools that participated (including Sheridan, Seneca, OCAD, George Brown, Carlton University, and Humber), Brian Zuleta from Max the Mutt Animation College took the top honours.

After reviewing the submissions, Scott Lee has a positive outlook on the talent pool available from the schools in the area. “Our future completely depends on the talent that’s here locally, but the talent on display is utterly amazing – it inspires me.” The process involved Scott and the senior artists at Ubisoft going through all of the submissions, and after selecting their favourites, holding interviews. Other than the raw artistic talent, Scott was also impressed by the interviewees, who were able to demonstrate their passion, and professional potential.

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Obligatory gallery wall shot.

The enthusiasm for the project with the judging panel was apparent on the walls – they were compelled to make room for the people who nearly made the cut. During the opening remarks, Ubisoft Toronto Managing Director Jade Raymond confirmed that they will be making the UbiGallery an annual affair, and from the success of this initiative, it seems likely that other disciplines will be considered for talent-based competitions that cast employment at Ubisoft in an aspirational light.

As Ubisoft Toronto continues towards their goal of increasing their workforce, it seems likely that the cream of the crop from the immediate area would be exhausted by sheer law of numbers, but Scott Lee doesn’t seem to think that. “I saw all the promise of all the people who wanted to work here. The future is so bright for Toronto, Ubisoft Toronto, and Southern Ontario in General. Some of the stuff blew me away – I wanted to steal it and hang it on my wall, it was that good.”

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