The Think Tank Story

Think Tank was born out of a combination of events and past experiences. Scott Thompson has been an Entrepreneur his whole life. He started his first business in 1979 at 19, running and Sportfishing Camp for 17 years in the wilder part of British Columbia. He added a waterfront bar and restaurant at 22. A couple of more businesses followed but something was missing. A creative outlet. In 1993 the CG world was still in it’s infancy. Then Jurassic Park was released. Just as Star Wars IV had redefined FX and Sci-fi in 1977, Jurassic Park set a new standard. Pixar followed up with Toy Story in 1995 and the ball was officially rolling. CG was the outlet Scott had been waiting for.

So he went back to school at a small college in Vancouver called CDIS, Class 2. The school was not yet equipped to train well but had the bare essentials. Small Silicon Graphics workstations, Softimage, and a few enthusiastic students. There really was no internet yet so everything was much harder to do. He trained as a 3D Character Animator and was picked up by Mainframe Entertainment who was enjoying the success of the world’s first all CG Television series, Reboot. In the next 7 years he worked on 10 different series as an Animator, CG Animation Supervisor and Lighting Supervisor. In 1997 CDIS asked him to return and teach the new crop of budding stars in the evenings. This is where the teaching component began.

Meanwhile in rural Southern Alberta, Joseph Bullock was pondering a career in Programming. After a short stint in school there he realized he also wanted something more creative. So he packed up and moved to Vancouver and a year at CDIS. Joseph had a natural artistic flair and easy understanding of all things 3D.

He and Scott crossed paths at CDIS and he soon found himself also at Mainframe working with Scott in the Lighting Department working on Hotwheels for Mattel. The two became fast friends. During their daily commute Joe mentioned he had accepted a new position in Marseille, France, working on an all CG Feature. Scott couldn’t resist and got himself hired too. Just prior to leaving for France, during their drive to work Joe asked Scott where he’d like to work upon returning to Canada. He said, “I don’t know, but it won’t be back in the CG Production Industry”. “What then?” asked Joe. “Not sure. Lemme think on it.”

A few weeks later Joe asked again and Scott, having thought about it, began describing a school he would like to open. Something better! Better because it was primarily focused on developing great talent and not a school about making money. Joe thought about it for about ten seconds and said, “do you need a partner?”, and Scott replied, “Yes, someone like you”.

From that day forward Scott and Joe lived and breathed Think Tank. Although it didn’t have a name for the longest time. It was just “the school”. They began the long road of building something from nothing. Everything had to be designed, written, planned, built. Little by little the website came into being. Brochures. Our famous “Brain in the Jar” logo. Created by Joe with Scott sending input for each iteration. It took numerous re-designs before they were both happy with it.

Upon returning to Canada in early 2005 after the gig in Marseille finished they set about planning the actual build of the school space and recruiting students for their first Semester. They looked at lots of possible spaces before someone pointed them to an amazing space in the bottom half of a 100 year old building in Lower Lonsdale that had been the home of the first ever Keg (and Cleaver) restaurant. Scott remembers going there with his family as a child.

We started with the lower floor and three classrooms and a theatre. Then in 2009 and we took over the middle floor and started building our very cool Jules Verne themed space. The trouble was, they needed larger Classrooms but there were pillars everywhere holding up the building, how inconvenient. Then Joe had an epiphany. After explaining his floorplan scheme to Scott they set about taping out the walls with masking tape and imagining how it all might look. Each detail was carefully planned and built by the guys as they couldn’t afford professionals and they wouldn’t have got it right anyway. Students pitched in and the space slowly evolved into the incredible experience that it is now.

Think Tank is always evolving. We have been doing really great with not much of an effort for marketing. The growth has been happening through referrals and organically. Our program is often sold out, so we had do something to be able to share the knowledge with more people and as a result Think Tank Online has been born. As of June 2017 Think Tank Training Centre will be offering training live, for more information please check this page out.

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