Guide to the OIAF for Animation Students

Why OIAF?

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is one of the world’s leading animation events providing screenings, exhibits, workshops and entertainment since 1976. Attracting artists, producers, students and animation fans from around the globe, the OIAF brings together art and industry to experience world-class animated works.

This world-class event is the place for animation students to get inspired and hired.

At OIAF, students can:

  • Experience films by the best animators from around the world
  • Meet their favourite animators and make friends for a lifetime
  • Learn from professional development talks from top artists and industry leaders

Just watch!

Video: Ben Compton
Footage: Petr Maur and Keith Bennett

When and where is the OIAF?

When?

The OIAF takes over downtown Ottawa in late September every year for five days. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, September 24 – Sunday, September 29, 2024!

Where?

You’ll find the OIAF in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It’s the nation’s capital, located between Toronto and Montreal.

You can get here by plane, train, or automobile!

Animation Students from colleges and universities across North America travel to Ottawa every September to take in world-class animation and join an incredible animation community.

On your way or already here? Check out our Venues page to see exactly where you’ll be watching, learning, and partying in September.

Who comes to OIAF?

The OIAF attracts 30,000 attendees each year, with over 1800 animators, filmmakers, and students attending! Mix and mingle with fellow students at parties, bump into your favourite animator while waiting in line, and talk to studios looking to hire students like you at the Career Fair.

Previous VIP guests include:

  • Kris Wimberly, Director, Firebuds, Elena of Avalor, Spongebob SquarePants, and Teen Titans Go!
  • Trent Correy, Director, Once Upon a Studio, Zootopia+, Animation Supervisor, Frozen 2
  • Dan Abraham, Director, Once Upon a Studio, Baymax!, Story Artist, Encanto
  • Masaaki Yuasa, Creator, Mind Game, Night is Short and Walk on Girl
  • Hisko Hulsing, Director, Montage of Heck, Undone, and Sandman
  • Luke Pearson, Creator, Hilda 
  • Nick Bruno, Director, Nimona
  • Troy Quane, Director, Nimona
  • David Silverman, Producer, Simpsons

What happens at OIAF?

Animation students won’t want to miss these events.

Friday Morning: Art + Biz Day
A full morning of programming focused on helping all creators find their career paths. Open to all TAC and AnimaPass holders, you can participate in ‘Meet a Mentor’ sessions (pre-registration required), connect with industry professionals one-on-one, and catch the talks designed to further your professional development.

Friday Afternoon: The Animators’ Picnic
Sharpen your pumpkin carving skills for Spooky Season in our annual contest. No need to BYOP, we supply the pumpkins! This afternoon outdoor party is a refreshing way to socialize with studio reps and fellow animators over lunch and drinks. Located outside of downtown, you can get there in a 20-minute walk or grab one of our shuttles running all afternoon.

Friday Night Student Party
This one’s for you! Meet OIAF pass holders from across the country (and from around the world) while enjoying special guest DJs, dancing, and making memories.

Saturday: Animation Exposé
Animation Exposé is a day of artist talks, recruiting opportunities, and animation activities curated to enhance your experience and understanding of the world of animation. Check the Animation Exposé page to see this year’s line-up.

Saturday Night: OIAF @ Pique
This forward-thinking, artist-driven Ottawa event features eclectic musical, visual, and multimedia artists. The OIAF adds our ever-popular Drink & Draw event: join fellow animators with their pencils and sketch pads to draw cosplay models posing to music from an extraordinary vinyl DJ!

Everyday: Screenings
The reason we’re all here: the films! Catch competition screenings of shorts and features, panorama screenings, and special screenings. See them all on the Screenings page.

How do I get to OIAF?

OIAF will not be offering a private Toronto to Ottawa coach bus service this year. However! There are plenty of public transport options within Ontario (and Quebec!) for students to use what works best. 

  • Bus: Large public coach buses which routinely run between Toronto and Ottawa
  • Rideshare: These services allow you to book a seat in a van or shuttle bus on its way between Ottawa and Toronto.
  • Air: Regional flights from Toronto to Ottawa can be fast and easy if you are short on time
    • Air Canada – use “Q3XRK7G1” for 5% off standard fares, 10% on flex fares and higher.
    • West Jet – use “8K2X9FL” for 5% off Econo* and 10% off EconoFlex and Premium fares
    • Porter Airlines – use “OIAF24” for 10% off base fares

Where can I stay?

Reserve ASAP
Booking early will allow the best choice as accommodations in Ottawa tend to sell out during the beautiful autumn season.

Hotels
We highly recommend reserving your hotel accommodations as early as possible to avoid disappointment; please see our partner hotel page here

Hostels
These backpacker-style budget hotels are all great economic options and walking distance of Festival venues:
Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel
Ottawa Backpackers Inn
Barefoot Hostel 

Some other hotels we’d recommend that are close to OIAF venues and are reasonably priced:
The Business Inn. (Currently around $175/night on Expedia)
Holiday Inn Express on King Edward (Currently around $180/night on Expedia) OIAF’s first choice for attending filmmakers.  Breakfast included.
Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa East (Currently around $200/night on Expedia) Super nice new hotel is right on the LRT or a 5-minute Uber.
Comfort Inn East (Currently around $200/night on Expedia) Right on the LRT next to the St. Laurent Mall or a 5-minute Uber.  Breakfast included.

Tips to save money on accommodations:  

  • Stay up to four people in a room with two beds. Some hotels don’t charge extra for additional people.
  • Book early! Prices go up the longer you wait.
  • Consider staying near public transit routes, like the LRT, for quick and easy access to the downtown area. Two areas with reasonably priced hotels are around the Ottawa Via Rail station and close to the St. Laurent Shopping Centre.
  • Hostels are a budget-conscious way to stay with a group of people, whether you’re looking to meet new people or are travelling solo.
  • Airbnb is a good place to look for alternative places to stay. Read the reviews and contact the accommodation directly with any questions. 
  • The main neighbourhoods to consider staying in are called Sandy Hill, Lowertown, ByWard Market, and Centretown. Other neighbourhoods like New Edinburgh and Vanier are budget-friendly but further away; they’re about a 15-minute bus ride or 30-minute walk from the Festival venues.

How do I get my OIAF pass?

Find a student pass or discount option that fits your budget.

Early bird pricing is currently in effect! Get your pass ASAP!

Student AnimaPass

Early bird: $200 CAD
Regular: $215 CAD

Wednesday, September 25 – Sunday, September 29

Proof of enrolment in post-secondary school is required (ie. a student ID card).

Entrance to:

  • OIAF screenings and talks
  • Opening Night Party
  • Salon Des Refusés Party
  • Animators’ Picnic
  • Friday Night Party
  • Animation Exposé talks and Career Fair
  • Awards Ceremony
  • OIAF@Pique Saturday Night Party

Other benefits:

  • OIAF Delegate Bag
  • Digital Program Book
  • listing in the online Artist Gallery

Excludes:

  • TAC events on Wednesday and Thursday

*Discounts:

  • $180 (early bird) for Canadian students

Ready to order? Follow these instructions!

 

Weekend Pass (Student Discount)

Early bird: $100 CAD
Regular: $115 CAD

Friday, September 27, 3:00 pm – Sunday, September 29

Entrance:

  • all OIAF screenings, talks, and parties from Friday, September 27, 3:00 pm to Sunday, September 29, including:
  • Friday Night Party
  • Animation Exposé talks and Career Fair
  • Awards Ceremony
  • OIAF@Pique Saturday Night Party
  • Closing Night party

Other benefits:

  • OIAF Delegate Bag
  • Digital program book
  • listing in the online Artist Gallery

Excludes:

  • TAC events (Wed. – Fri.)
  • Animators’ Picnic (Friday, 12pm – 4pm)

Ready to order? Follow these instructions!

See all pass options on the Box Office page.

What do others say about OIAF?

Don’t just take our word for it- people love the OIAF!

“I love this festival, it is the highlight of my year. It is so creative and fun and you are surrounded by like minded animators and watching amazing, beautiful art that you can’t access elsewhere.”

Julie

Attendee, OIAF 2023

“Mind-blowing culture and art experience. Attend for a few days but reflect on for years to come!”

Alice

Attendee, OIAF 2022

“The exposure of the festival is so key for students. After we come back their films get better. It’s a really eye-opening experience for them.” 

Meaghann

School Coordinator, OIAF 2023

“The Animator’s picnic and Nelvana party were both excellent! The quality networking that happened at both was unmatched elsewhere.”

Karen

Attendee, OIAF 2023

“If you are quirky, eccentric, nerdy, geeky, love animation, and love open and welcoming people you have found a home.”

Taylor

Attendee, OIAF 2022

“I tell my students to not board or work on their films until after they’ve come back from the OIAF.”

Lowell

Animation Professor, Attendee, OIAF 2021

Top FAQs from Students going to OIAF 

What should I bring?
Stay hydrated! Bring a refillable water bottle and pocket-sized snacks

I’m just happy to be here, what does my pass get me?
Your Student AnimaPass gets you access to all OIAF screenings, talks and parties.

Hello, I’m new here! Where is everyone hanging out?
In your hotel lobby, at Chez Ani or the Aniboutique, Filmmaker Lounge, in line for screenings, everywhere!

How do I start networking?
Shoot your shot! Say hello and introduce yourself. Bring a business card with your contact details or have a QR code ready to show off your portfolio or socials. 

Help! I have more questions!
Check out our Staff Recommendation webpage or
email us.

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