KPU adds video game development, visual FX and animation programs

Mon, Feb 7, 2022

Opportunities to learn the skills needed to enter the video game development, visual effects and animation industry will be expanded and enhanced by a new collaboration between Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and the Centre for Entertainment Arts (CEA).

The collaboration will see KPU offer four diploma programs and a foundation certificate from dedicated computer labs at the university’s Richmond campus.

“Bringing the entertainment arts programs to Kwantlen Polytechnic University opens up a world of opportunity for students, for industry and for Richmond,” says Diane Purvey, KPU provost and vice president academic.

“At KPU, students will benefit from the vibrancy and diversity of our polytechnic offering, potentially inspiring amazing collaborative experiences between their digital creativity and programs such as fashion design and creative writing. In addition, as these are credit-bearing courses, students taking entertainment arts programs will have the opportunity to progress from their certificate or diploma studies into full degrees.”

Using CEA’s services, KPU will initially offer:

  • a diploma in advanced 3D animation and 3D modelling,
  • a diploma in advanced VFX (virtual production), and
  • a diploma in advanced game development.

A certificate in foundation in entertainment arts will be available for students needing to build a portfolio to apply for one of the diploma programs. In September 2023, KPU intends to add a diploma in advanced 2D digital animation production.

“The Centre for Entertainment Arts' goal is to work with strong academic partners, such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University, to provide the best learning environment for students,” says Stuart McIlmoyle, chief operations officer, CEA.

“Our partnership includes KPU faculty delivering custom-designed curriculum, providing the latest industry software, and ensuring that students graduate with job-ready skill sets that are desired by top studios in the entertainment arts industry.”

The entertainment arts programs moving to KPU are currently at Langara College. Approximately 300 students are eligible to transfer to KPU in May. The university aims to steadily increase the number of seats it can offer, increasing the number of people skilled to enter Metro Vancouver’s growing video game development, virtual effects and animation industries.

British Columbia is already home to the world’s largest animation and visual effects cluster, accounting for more than 70,000 full time equivalent jobs and more than $3 billion in annual income, and it is expected to continue growing, according the BC Chamber of Commerce.

Mohsen Mousavi, an Emmy-winning visual effects supervisor with Vancouver-based Scanline VFX, first met CEA when they were setting up in 2019.

“They were putting together a team with serious industry credentials to help transform the way students prepare for a career in the visual effects, animation, and gaming industries,” he says. “Fast forward to 2022 and CEA alumni are landing jobs at major studios, in some cases even before they graduate. The CEA alumni we have at Scanline VFX are contributing far beyond what was expected. Congratulations to CEA and KPU, our industry will benefit greatly from this new alliance.”

The move to KPU Richmond will enhance the campus’ position as a creative centre in the Lower Mainland. The entertainment arts computer labs will occupy refurbished space previously home to the Wilson School of Design before it moved to a new building on the campus in 2018.

“The City of Richmond prides itself on embracing innovation and technology, and the consolidation of digital and animation programs to the Richmond campus reflects that vision and supports a rapidly growing industry,” says Mayor Malcolm Brodie, City of Richmond.

“Richmond’s KPU campus is an important learning hub offering unique multi-faceted curriculum not just to students who call Richmond home, but for its graduates who have gone on to work, establish businesses and relocate to our community. We look forward to the continued growth this new program will bring.”

Students transferring to KPU will start their studies in May 2022. The university is in the process of filling the remaining spaces in May and will welcome new applicants into the program in September 2022.

Additional quotes

Greg Millard, interim dean of the Faculty of Arts at KPU

“The Faculty of Arts is very excited that CEA and entertainment arts students will be joining us. We look forward to an exhilarating interplay between our existing programs, with our deep commitment to both academic rigour and values of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and this outstanding suite of entertainment and digital arts diplomas. This is a wonderful opportunity for all concerned.


Melissa Best, CEA vice president of education, Americas

“Early in 2020 we launched our student work initiative program to help students gain experience with real productions in local studios. It quickly became evident that our students were up to the challenge. Students began to share their experiences and wisdom, and this inspired others to push harder in class and elevate their own professional development so they would have the same opportunities. We now have students in over 25 studios and CEA alumni are contributing to major projects across the industry. The powerful resources that our new partnership with KPU provides will allow us to continue our mission to help artists build incredible and rewarding careers by providing them with the knowledge skills and confidence required to be successful.”


Wilson Miao, MP for Richmond Centre

“Congratulations to Kwantlen Polytechnic University for collaborating with the Centre for Entertainment Arts, to support new initiatives at the Richmond campus. These programs will offer students the opportunity to study game development, visual effects and animation! British Columbia is home to the largest animation, visual arts industry accounting for 70,000 and growing, and now KPU Richmond will be part of this!”


Teresa Wat, MLA for Richmond North Centre

“This is an incredible achievement for KPU, CEA, the community of Richmond, and all students in the Metro Vancouver area who want to fulfill their dreams of a career in the film, video game, virtual effects and animation industries. Richmond, together with Metro Vancouver, has shaped itself as one of the leading global hubs for arts and entertainment. It is an incredible achievement to see such an amazing program come to KPU so that we can continue to train and produce artists and industry leaders of the highest caliber right here in our own backyard and continue to grow our arts industries that have become a staple of Vancouver’s cultural and economic identity. Congratulations to the students and faculty at KPU and Creative Arts Entertainment!”


Qinzhou (Kent) Dai, CEA advanced VFX alumni

“I was lucky to have some relevant career experience coming into the advanced visual effects program at CEA. The missing piece of the puzzle was the industry connections and the technical skills I needed to be successful. My instructors and industry mentors provided me with critical guidance and helped me zero in on a solid career direction. Now that my experience at the CEA is in the rear view mirror, I can say with confidence that the program and the people delivered on the promise and helped me more than I could have ever imagined.”