Animation College began as part of Freelance Animators Ltd, founded in 1989 by American, John Ewing – a former Disney animator, and design studio owner, Barry Pearce.

John_Ewing.jpgAnimation College began as part of Freelance Animators Ltd, founded in 1989 by American John Ewing – a former Disney animator – and design studio owner Barry Pearce.

John trained as an animator at Disney Studios in the '50s and '60s, the golden years of the studio, where he helped craft classic features including Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book.

In 1967 he moved to New Zealand where he turned his skills to classic commercials including Ches'n'Dale for Chesdale Cheese, Jungle Juice, the Marley Duck and the TV Kiwi.

In the ‘80s, Freelance Animators were the first dedicated NZ animation studio to carry out contract work for Disney and Warner Bros, including the animated series Tiny Toons for none other than Steven Spielberg.

The next step for John and Barry was to begin teaching others as there was no formal animation training in NZ at this time. 


In the decade that followed John trained dozens of animators, many of whom went on to work at Weta in NZ, Blue Sky Studios in New York, Passion Pictures in London and ILM in San Francisco. 

Ultimately, the training scheme grew into Freelance Animation School and branched out into modern animation techniques such as 3D animation. In 2012, the school was renamed Animation College.

Animation College is registered as a Private Training Establishment (PTE) with the New Zealand Ministry of Education and was the institute that prepared the first New Zealand unit standards in Character Animation with the Film and Electronic Media (FaEM) Industry Training Organisation.

Animation College is committed to excellent outcomes and operates under systems that meet national and international quality standards. We consult with the animation industry on a regular basis and are governed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Our own localised unit standards enable us to make ongoing improvements to courses, meaning that we not only meet NZQA standards but also ensure that the curriculum we deliver is current and meets the changing needs of the industry. 

Radio NZ interview with John Ewing


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