Putting In The Work | Gabriel Vignola’s Video Game Design & Animation Story

Hard work and initiative ­– those were the two keys to Gabriel Vignola’s success in the Video Game Design & Animation Diploma at Toronto Film School.


“The most important thing that I learned at TFS is that you must be willing to put in countless hours of work if you want to improve. Only by practicing will someone become better,” said the 25-year-old fantasy fiction and anime fan from New Brunswick.

“You cannot expect someone to hold you by the hand and show you how to do things. You have to be willing to take those extra risks and get out of your comfort zone.”


For Vignola, who was recently named valedictorian of his graduating class, his first big leap of faith came with the decision to leave his military training at the Royal Military College of Canada behind to pursue another path.


“As a young boy, I always thought video games were cool and that it would be awesome to be involved in the creation of one. But it wasn’t until I tried out several other jobs that my little boy’s dream came back to mind,” he said of his journey to TFS.


“I had a very supportive family, who encouraged me to do something that I really wanted to do. So, I took that leap of faith and pursued this unknown territory.”


Vignola said he opted for the Video Game Design & Animation Diploma at TFS because he’s drawn to the visual aspect of games, and was kept motivated in his studies by the program’s capstone project, in which student teams are tasked with designing and developing a video game from start to finish.


“I was really looking forward to applying all the things that I learned and incorporating it in our game,” he said of the capstone, noting that he most enjoyed creating art assets and seeing them in-game once the project was completed.


“I had the chance to work with some great people and learn from them. Having a healthy group relationship made the world of a difference. It really reflected on our game and we were able to deliver something that we were all very proud of.”


Since completing his studies at TFS, Vignola has since taken on the challenge of competing in the Ubisoft NEXT modelling competition, while also looking for new opportunities and working on his own personal projects.


He credits his time at TFS for teaching him the ability to learn several things at once, and instilling in him the initiative to seek out self-improvement on his own ­– both lessons he urged prospective students to keep in mind as they consider enrolling in TFS’ Video Game Design & Animation Diploma.


“The biggest piece of advice that I can offer to an incoming student is simple enough, they need to put in the work,” he said.


“I saw a lot of people not working hard enough and it reflected on their art and grades. Many people were not able to graduate with us, because they did not take the program seriously enough.”