CTN Expo 2013

Another CTN Expo has finally come to a close and that about wraps it up for this year. It does for me, in any case. I’ve had a full calendar that included travel, speaking engagements and book signings. The final event on my 2013 calendar was the CTN Expo. However, I feel it’s time for me to get on my soap box and talk a bit about CTN because I’ve heard my fair share of complaints this year. “It’s too expensive,” some have complained. Or, “it’s too crowded, and what difference does it make anyway? It’s just a bunch of students trying to meet their animation heroes. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

Okay, you might be right, but let me pass on a few things. CTN for me is a celebration of the amazing business we’re in. It’s not about big shot studios or big shot studio executives. It’s not about high profile celebrity appearances or very well paid animation voice actors. Nope. It’s not about any of them. It’s about us. It’s about the artists who create the amazing content that millions consume each year. While it’s true we’re not a part of the glamour, we’re the creators who make it all happen. CTN provides a venue where aspiring young kids can meet their heroes. Where they have the opportunity to gain insight about our amazing industry. It’s an expo where talented young men and woman can learn about the business and where the studio hype is balance with sage advice from studio veterans. Animation professionals who have “paid their dues” and are now willing to share that knowledge with the talented young kids attending the show.

I don’t have stars in my eyes and I know all of these kids are not going to make it. There’s simply not enough studios and enough jobs to employ every one of these passionate and eager young people. However, some of these kids will make it. They’ll find their way through the system and utilizing sheer talent and determination they’ll climb to the top of the heap. In a few years from now we’ll see their names on the big screen and they’ll be directors, art directors and animators. Some will pioneer new technologies and innovate in ways we can’t even imagine.

If you decided to sit out CTN this year because there was nothing in it for you, I’d advise you give it some additional thought. It’s a helluva lot more than nostalgia. While we do meet old pals and colleagues. While we do celebrate our heritage, we also get a glimpse of the future. These eager and talented young kids are our industry’s future and it might be wise to get to know them. If you disagree then you’ve probably forgotten that once you were the starry eyed young kid eager to get into the cartoon business. You’ve forgotten that you wanted to be part of the magic. Magic created with a pencil or a brush.

Yeah, I sometimes appear to be the grouchy old timer who rails against studio management and the morons who run the studios. I mock the nonsensical decisions the bluster of talentless executives eager to gain the limelight while their minions labor in obscurity. Sorry kids, but it’s always been this way. Yep, even back when I began my career and your mom and dad hadn’t even met. That’s the animation business with all its faults. Yet, animation remains the coolest of cool jobs.

CTN Expo, unlike other expos’ and cons puts its focus on the animation professional. I’ll say it again. It puts its focus on the animation professional and dammit, that’s something worth celebrating.