Dr. Alexis Morris Interviewed on CBC Spark

Banner for Alexis Morris' ACE Lab
Friday, May 10, 2019 - 2:00pm

Assistant Professor Alexis Morris, director of ACE Lab and Canada Research Chair in the Internet of Things, has been featured in an interview with CBC Radio's Spark, hosted by Nora Young. The segement, titled "What living in a hyper-connected city means for human beings", explored the critical nature of context awareness when designing smart cities.

Listen to the full segment here: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/what-living-in-a-hyper-connected-city-means-for-human-beings-1.5107888

Dr. Michele Mastroeni Interviewed by Breakfast Television

Dr. Michele Mastroeni appearing on Breakfast Television, pictured here in an interview with the hosts.
Friday, May 10, 2019 - 1:15pm

On April 5th 2019, OCAD U participated in CRAM, a city-wide free event that brought Toronto's universities together to share their research with the public. Assistant Professor Michele Mastroeni spoke at CRAM, delivering a talk on sustainability and consumer culture titled "Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Reversing Our Throwaway Culture" As a result of his successful CRAM talk, Dr. Mastroeni was invited to appear on Breakfast Television (CityTv) in a segment titled "How to stop 'throw away' culture!", where he further discussed strategies for mindful and sustainable consumer habits with hosts Dina Pugliese and Roger Peterson.  

See the full interview here: https://www.bttoronto.ca/videos/how-to-stop-throw-away-culture


Richard Fung’s RE:ORIENTATIONS  brings together a filmmaker, historian, and sociologist to produce a groundbreaking longitudinal documentary film on LGBTQ Asian Canadians covering a 30-year period. It fosters collaborations between community groups and academic institutions and brings critical conversations around sexuality, race, and nation to wider audiences.

RE:ORIENTATIONS (2016) revisits the interview subjects of Richard Fung’s 1985 film Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians, which was the first documentary on diasporic queer Asians in North America. RE:ORIENTATIONS presents seven surviving subjects of the original documentary with raw interview footage from the 1980s, putting them in dialogue with their younger selves. Their reflections on identity, sexuality, racism, activism, and cultural expression are contextualized through conversations with six younger queer and trans activists, scholars, and artists. The project examines continuities and transformations in identities, political discourses, social processes, and legal frameworks as they relate to the intersecting and continually shifting categories of ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘Asian Canadian’.

RE:ORIENTATIONS had its world premiere at Inside Out: Toronto LGBT Film Festival on Saturday May 28, 2016.The film was presented in international LGBT film festivals as well as Asian and Asian diaspora festivals. It has been acquired by university libraries and screened at universities and academic forums. In addition, RE:ORIENTATIONS opened the inaugural Shanghai Queer Film Festival and was the focus of a residency and roundtable at Simon Fraser University, to be published in a peer review journal.

Re:Orientations has produced enriched discourse among, and advocacy on behalf of, LGBTQ and Asian/Asian diaspora/Asian Canadian communities. and provided a pedagogical tool for academic institutions and a resource for research.


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Still from Re:Orientations - Interview subject on a Toronto street, standing before a wall covered in LGBTQ-postive statements
Photograph of a dancer performing. He is lying on the ground, wearing a mask.
Film still: a photograph of a man playing the piano while an elderly man listens in the background.
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 10:15am
Lab Member: 
Richard Fung

Figurative Painter Christina Sealey's work, featured in Combustus Magazine

Christina Sealey, Self-Portrait, Outside
Monday, September 11, 2017 - 10:30am

The Interior Life of the Observer, an interview with Figurative Painter Christina Sealey (CLTA Assistant Professor, Illustration) is now online at combustus.com

This article by Deanna Elaine Piowaty talks about Christina Sealey's painting, her inspiration and the way her visual and audio work influence each other. 



Advice for young animators

Animated GIF showing a silhouette of young girl on a rocky landscape
Headshot of Efehan Elbi

Efehan Elbi is a graduate of OCAD U’s Integrated Media program. He’s an artist and award-winning animator. We caught up with him to chat about his work.

Congrats again on winning Best Animation at the Beverly Hills Film Festival for Rainfall last fall! What have you been up to since then?

Thank you! That was an unexpected joy. Ever since then it’s been about spreading the word and keeping the festival submissions going. The star of Rainfall, Jessica, is one of my main characters, so I’ve (actually, she has) been sorting out where her story goes next.

I tabled at TCAF this year, which is always wonderful, and with our collective Family Contact (my constant collaborators Zak Tatham and Aaron Manczyk, both also OCAD U alums) we screened a ridiculous sci fi-romp feature called Space Breakers at the WTFilm Fest.

I’m a little too interdisciplinary sometimes, so there’s also been poetry, writing and music. And of course day work with Sinking Ship, animating for a CBC show called Bookaboo!


Why do you love animation? What’s it like when something you’ve been working on comes to life?

Animating is so weird, crafting motions for weeks and months (in the case of Rainfall, years). When it finally comes together, and actually tells a story running at full speed — ideally on a theatre screen so I can strictly no longer tinker and edit (because it really is hard to let go) — it is the most amazing thing .

I think animation is a very unique medium. It gives us a chance to tell a visual story filtered entirely through the lens of the artist. There are so many ways to approach any idea or action, so many technologies (or lack thereof) and all of them are changing and shifting year by year. I think I most love that animation can convey life experiences and stories without the burden of physical specificity.

How do you get your work out there? What’s your best advice for young animators just starting out?

I would say: finish it. Finish the thing. Whatever it is, however long, even if it is just a super-rad gif that you’re posting on tumblr, FINISH IT. Because of the minutiae, it’s so easy to get lost in tweaks and the creeping feeling that the work isn’t good enough (the Internet is bad for this). It’s great, call it done. And if it isn’t, finish it, listen to the criticism as best you can, and make another one. This is one of the best things I learned at OCAD U.

Also, love the people around you who make you persevere.  It’s hard to keep creating regularly. The people who do are precious beyond measure, because we keep each other going. Even if you work in the industry and create every day, I truly feel that the passion projects are what glow in the end.

For getting the work out, don’t be afraid to share and forward your work to everyone! The Internet is great for this. Get your animations and demo reels online. My own biggest challenge is trying to promote while also staying creative, because I find the two are such wildly different ways of being.

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Admissions Segment: 

From Bahrain to OCAD U

Portait of Sandra Ibrahim

What's it like to be an international student at OCAD U? We talked to Integrated Media student Sandra Ibrahim. 


What’s your story? Did you study design before coming to OCAD University?

I am originally Egyptian but grew up in Bahrain, where I lived until I was 18. I have always been interested in media and art/design in general — specifically, digital art and design — but I had never studied art properly. I went to a very small French school where art was not taken seriously, and when I moved to a British school I tried taking art. However, because it was all focused on drawing and painting, I ended up dropping it and stuck with information and communication technology, where I was introduced to simple graphic animation and Photoshop.

Why did you choose to move to Canada to attend OCAD U?

The decision to move to Canada initially came about because I have a lot of family here. Through research, we ended up finding great universities for both my sister and me to go to, where we could study exactly what we wanted. If I had stayed in Bahrain, my choices would have been a lot more limited, and moving to Egypt was out of question due to the political issues.

What were the biggest challenges in coming here? What are the best parts?

The biggest challenge was being so far away from where I grew up and where my parents still lived. Also, moving from Bahrain, an extremely small desert island in the Middle East, to such a big city in the West was overwhelming at first, and I had to deal a lot with homesickness because it’s pretty much impossible to travel back and forth very often..

The best part has been this whole new experience: getting to finally study what I love at university, a new city, new people and even more diversity than there is in Bahrain. There are so many things to explore in Toronto, but the most fascinating thing to me, even today, is the nature in Canada. Experiencing the change of seasons every year is always my favourite thing. Also Tim Hortons. God bless you, double double! 


Do you have any advice for students from other countries thinking about coming to OCAD U?

I would just say, do your best not to feel intimidated by change. Embrace it and make the most of it. No matter how difficult it feels in that moment, eventually you WILL adjust to it all and you might even be more knowledgeable than the people who have spent their entire lives in this country. I definitely know a lot more about Toronto than my cousins who were born and raised here. 

Second, and most important, do not compare yourself to other artists around you, especially during first year. No matter what you do, your style, skills and ideas will never be the same. No one is better than another as an artist. One person might be more skilled than you at a certain thing, but that will never make them a better artist as a whole than you are. Everyone is different and unique with their own work, which is what makes OCAD U great! 

Finally, ask questions! Ask for help! There is no shame in that. The more certain you are about something, the better you will do, the more easily you will adjust and, you know, who ever wants to get lost in the city? 

What program are you in? Why do you love doing that?

I am about to start my fourth year of Integrated Media. I am so happy and absolutely love what I do because I keep learning new things. We are in the age of technology, and nothing fascinates me more. I am always excited to learn how to use new technologies and software, and to be able to create art out of them is all the more fun. I also get to practise and improve on my main focus: production and post-production, and how to work professionally on set. Integrated Media allows you to grow as an artist by exploring a broad range of courses, and you can change direction at any time. 

Where’s the best place in Toronto to get food that tastes like home? I’ve got to say, there is nothing that can ever come close to how good the food is back home. But I will say that the closest thing to good Middle Eastern food in Toronto is at the Paramount. I would recommend the tabliyeh saj chicken shawarma (they make the best garlic sauce) or, if you are vegetarian, try the fatteh bi laban. 

As for Egyptian food specifically, I have yet to hunt that down, and Bahraini food is definitely not popular outside of the country. If you can get your hands on karak tea (Bahraini) or koshary (Egyptian), you should definitely try them.

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Admissions Segment: 

Illustrator Profile: Gary Taxali

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - 4:45pm


Illustration Professor Gary Taxali has been featured on the American Illustration/American Photography website. 

Read more about his life, workspace, creative process, challenges and advice for students on his AI-AP's Illustrator Profile.

Most creative ComiCon costumes

Walking around ComiCon is like stepping foot into every fantastical universe imaginable at the same time. They come alive through cosplay, where fans dress up as their favourite characters. Some people even create their cosplays from scratch. The creation of these costumes are an art in itself, taking hours of creativity and craft to bring fiction to life. 


I headed to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to check out some of these cosplayers. As someone who regularly goes to nerd conventions, this year’s ComiCon had some of the best costumes I’ve seen yet. And one thing’s for sure - there’s something so satisfying about watching Batman get a hot dog.


“The entire costume took about a month to finish. My favourite part of it is the Lekku, which is the head piece. I made it out of stretched fabric, leggings to be specific, and stuffed them with cotton. It took a couple tries to get it right.”

Darth Talon, Star Wars comics


Yazawa Nico, Love Life

“It didn’t take long to assemble this, but finding the right material and pieces to put together took some time. I have been searching off and on for a while. Even now, this isn’t completely finished, but I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll always see improvement areas. My boots are definitely the highlight. I made sure the details were almost exactly like Nico’s.”


Lara Croft, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

“I’ve been doing this for a while, and I find that the more you get into this stuff and get better, the more time you tend to spend on completing a piece. This probably took about 100 hours to complete. But, this is also what I’m trying to do professionally too. I want to make cosplay pieces for people. My favourite component is my holsters. They were very simple to construct, and the placement is just right.”


Madara Uchiha, Naruto

“I really like cosplay because it lets me not be in the normal world for a bit, you know? Like I get to pretend I’m a badass ninja this weekend, and not just another student. It’s like Halloween but way better. This all took about a week to do, but most of it was my armour. I got some foam, made it smooth, and painted it red. Then I strung it together, which was such an ordeal.”


Sally, The Nightmare Before Christmas

“My makeup took ages to do, like a couple hours, but I’m super happy with it. All in all, getting into this took over 5 hours. I woke up super early because I wanted to get here right when it opened today. My leggings are a highlight for me. I literally took a needle and thread to it.”


Harley Quinn, Batman Series

“I’m so thrilled about my hammer! It took a whole night to do. Everyone has been asking for a video or picture of me hitting them with it, but it’s less sturdy than it looks! But I guess that’s a good thing. Oh, also I’m happy that the shade of red in the ribbon I used to decorate the hammer is actually the same shade as my outfit. That’s important!”


Batman, Batman Series

“Oh yeah I have like a million variations of my set. I pretty much only do Batman. Sometimes, I just don the Bat-Gear and make random appearances. People love it. I’ll admit, I spent a fair amount since I started seriously doing this. See these shin guards? These are actual hockey guards. Those aren’t cheap! My helmet has got to be my favourite, hands down. I had it custom molded by a specialty shop.”



Katie Liang
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5 questions for digital trailblazer Ana Serrano

Ana Serrano, adjunct professor in OCAD U’s Digital Futures graduate program, has won the Digital Media Trailblazing Award at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards. She is also the Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and Founder of CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned and award-winning institute for interactive storytelling created in 1997.


Congratulations on your Digital Media Trailblazing Award at the Canadian Screen Awards! How does it feel to be recognized like this?

It feels great and a little bit overwhelming. I feel quite honoured.


As Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and founder of the CFC Media Lab, what are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in the past almost-20 years in the Canadian digital media scene?

The biggest change has to do with the adaptability, nimbleness and quick uptake of audiences. I didn’t expect the changes we’ve seen to be so constant.

I’ve also noticed the slowness of the rest of the industry to keep pace in relation to how quickly audiences have adopted to new digital media. 

The third thing that I’m just starting to notice with each new tech platform and perceived tech leapfrog is that there’s an initial stage when we think we’ve created something new, such as virtual reality.  We think we don’t have to look back. It’s true to a certain extent but there’s so much that’s happened in the past that informed it and we forget.


Photo of Ana Serrano


The CFC Media Lab is a partner with OCAD U’s Digital Futures program — why do you think this is an important partnership?

The CFC Media Lab always started with a mandate about talent — how do we help support and incubate the next generation of storytellers using whatever platform of the future. So, it seemed totally a no-brainer that as universities kept pace with changes in digital media that we’d partner with a university that can grant degrees.


Tell us about your IDEABOOST accelerator.

IDEABOOST is a digital entertainment accelerator. As talent, industry and audiences grow, the next phase is working with companies. IDEABOOST is focused on investment seeding and support for tech-based entertainment companies that are changing the face of entertainment in Canada.


What led you to working in digital media and why do you still love it?

I’ve always been interested in humanities and focused on storytelling. My first digital touchpoint was running a fiction and poetry magazine at McGill University. I started publishing the magazine digitally and I started to love the digital medium. I was later hired by Don Tapscott, with whomI learned a lot about the impact of the new medium.

I love digital media because it’s always new. I’m enamoured with taking risks, being first, doing something no one else has done, supporting underdogs and seeing difficult ideas come to life. Digital media is always changing and reinventing itself and I enjoy the complexity of it.





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How to get a job in advertising

What do advertising creative directors look for when hiring new graduates? Here are some answers to questions that all new advertising creatives have.


What is the top quality you look for in junior creatives?

NANCY VONK (co-founder, Swim; former co-creative director, Ogilvy & Mather)

“Passion like, ‘I’m on fire to do this, and it’s 100 per cent what I want to do.’ I think you’d find over and over again, most leaders would say that, strangely enough, talent is not at the top of the list. It really is mindset. It’s a tough industry; if you don’t have real passion for it, you’re not going to make it over all the hurdles. You don’t want somebody who is only part-way in. You want someone that’s all in. And that’s really evident when you interview people. It really comes out quickly.”

DEREK BLAIS (associate creative director, BBDO Toronto)

“Passion. If you’re passionate about cooking, and 90 per cent of the interview is about cooking, that’s amazing. I just want to see that passion towards being creative.”


Work by OCAD U advertising alum Neha Patel Work by OCAD U advertising alum Neha Patel

What do you look for in books (portfolios)?

JANE MURRAY (freelance creative director; former executive creative director, Lowe Roche)

“A breadth of ideas. You’ll have to work on a whole bunch of things, so if someone is just super into cars or apps, or apps for cars, that’s great they’re super focused. But, you might have to sell flowers or a bank. So a voice that can change properly for whatever the task is at hand is important.”

“Simplicity. You want to solve a difficult problem in a very simple way. I’ve had students come in and they’re like, ‘so there’s this video and then it takes you to the microsite’ and so on, and I’m like, ‘I would never do any of this.’ I would never get that far because you haven’t hooked me in with the idea yet. It’s impressive that you can work out how all the technology works, but there’s nothing there.”

NANCY VONK (co-founder, Swim; former co-creative director, Ogilvy & Mather)

“In a really good book, the work would actually solve the client’s problem. So many students will say ‘well, I’m just a student, so I can just show how creative I am.’ The creativity without solving the problem is worth nothing. I think there was a time when people let student books off easier. Now we want someone who is already there and in this business to solve problems. If it is not evident they solved a real problem, then I’m only so impressed by something that made me smile or laugh.

“Another feature of a really good book is that it’s media-neutral. It’s not about how many surfaces or screens you can get it on. The more the thinking shows that it would have transcended any medium and traveled into any space, the more you’ve got a home run. Something that’s never changed from when I started in the business to today is that the idea is king.”

Work by OCAD U advertising alum Anton Mwewa Work by OCAD U advertising alum Anton Mwewa


What is a good way to get your foot in the door?

DEREK BLAIS (associate creative director, BBDO Toronto)

“Get Marketing Magazine or Strategy Magazine and look at specific people that are working at different shops. If you see a campaign that resonates with you, look for that person’s name on LinkedIn and message them there. For me, personally, if I get someone reaching out to me directly, citing a campaign I’ve done, that starts a bit of a dialogue. I think LinkedIn is a great tool to meet people directly, instead of going to the website and emailing HR.”


ALLEN OKE (creative director, Zulu Alpha Kilo)

“Portfolio shows are great. I usually do about three of them. They’re a really great place to meet people. As for your book, be compelling and be yourself.”

Katie Liang
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