Oregon’s Vibrant Animation Industry


CTE and STEAM Programs Prepare the Next Generation of Stop-Motion Animators in Oregon

SALEM — Governor Kate Brown accepted a unique gift this month: a puppet. Of herself.

Creators and artists from House Special in Portland commissioned the special puppet to commemorate “Oregon Industry Day.” They spent over 550 hours to design and fabricate the puppet, as well as animate and record a 20-second stop-motion animation video.

Sketches of Governor Brown used for the puppet and animation video.

More than just a quirky gift, the puppet symbolizes Oregon’s connection to a burgeoning industry. Oregon is leading the world in stop-motion animation, with Portland second only to London. The unique industry brings not only economic diversity, but a trove of talented artists, creators, and fabricators to the state.

Rosemary Colliver from Shadow Machine studio remarked how talent gravitates to Portland because all of the great work everyone is doing, and “once you come here you kind of want to stay here.”

Attracting Industry

The industry has also attracted quite a bit of attention. Already, Netflix and Saturday Night Live’s Film and Movie Division have announced partnerships with Oregon’s industry. It’s also attracted giants like Coca-Cola and Mars Company.

However, the growing industry is in desperate need of talent.

Industry leaders remarked how it is hard for them to recruit talent from Oregon. They say many of their artists come from out of state, like California. However, the industry has been partnering with schools and leaders across the state to invest in technical education.

Governor Brown, the Legislature, and schools across the state have been investing in Career Technical Education (CTE) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs to better equip Oregons’ students with the skills they need to find careers in industries just like this one.  

Education Investments

For example, a recent $900,000 investment from the Mid-Valley Regional Solutions Advisory Committee to fund CTE is helping equip schools to develop this workforce. The funding is dedicated to the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) Center in Salem; a program connected to the Oregon Film and Video Agency that provides industry know-how to students, along with internship opportunities to get real-world experience in the industry.

“Never seen an intersection so perfect to define STEAM than stop-motion animation”

Rosemary Colliver of Shadow Machine Studio

Rosemary Colliver remarks how she has “never seen an intersection so perfect to define STEAM than stop-motion animation” she explains “with all the intricate handiwork from the artists, the designers, the fabricators and engineers” STEAM is well represented in the industry.

Stop-motion animation is the epitome of “storytelling through STEAM” says Rosemary.

Industry Growth in Oregon

“I am inspired by Governor Brown’s ability to see the multi-layered benefits that this industry brings; it builds a workforce, and it builds community” says Rosemary.

The industry started small and has slowly grown over time, but as more film, movie, and advertising leaders see the value in stop-motion animation, it’s been thriving in Portland. With it, it is investing and supporting a new generation of talent from STEAM and CTE education across the state. Investments that will continue to be made with The Student Success Act.

So the next time you watch an M&Ms commercial, or see a stop-motion video play on SNL, you may just be watching the talent and hard work of your Oregonian neighbors.

About Author

Efren Zamudio is a Strategic Communications Specialist in the Office of Governor Kate Brown.

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