Humber’s Matthew Redwood strikes gold at Skills Ontario

May 17, 2024 | Campus News, Headlines, News

Matthew Redwood’s earliest memories of being drawn to art go back to when he visited Disney World as a 10-year-old.

“I really gravitated towards the artistic magic that was displayed there,” he said. “At an early age, I fell in love with drawing, and years later I grew a passion for 3D visual effects.”

Now 19, Redwood, a second-year 3D animation student at Humber, won the gold medal in the 3D Digital Game Art category at the Skills Ontario Career Exploration Showcase on May 7 at the Toronto Congress Centre.

“It felt great to take a win home for Team Humber, and for myself after hours of hard work leading up to the competition,” he said.

The regional competition involved creating a 3D robot from a blueprint to the final product.

“It was an intense competition. We had to create a mechanical 3D robot in eight hours from concept to a final product. There were 14 competitors in total from different colleges and universities,” Redwood said.

He competed in 2023, too, and won the bronze medal.

“Last year’s competition was hard but a great experience, as it was my first year of college,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going into, however, I had the privilege to train with my teammate who was a third-year student, along with my 3D professor as our mentor.

“Going through the competition last year helped to better prepare me and improve my weak areas before this year’s competition,” Redwood said.

Cory Avery, program coordinator for Animation 3D, at Humber College has been involved with Skills Ontario for over a decade. He has also been involved in mentoring students for this competition.

“A couple of years before the pandemic, Skills [Ontario] was adding a new test contest at the national level which was the 3D Game Art,” Avery said.

He said in that debut year, a third-year student, Rushi Patel, went on to win the Nationals.

Matthew Redwood will represent Ontario at the Skills Canada competition in Quebec City after winning gold in the provincials.

Matthew Redwood will represent Ontario at the Skills Canada competition in Quebec City after winning gold in the 3D Digital Game Art category at the Skills Ontario Career Exploration Showcase. Photo credit: Courtesy/Cory Avery

“The test contest went well so they decided to make it an official part of the regionals. We have had around eight to ten students compete over the last few years from Humber. We have won the competition three times now,” Avery said.

Redwood’s nomination last year was also the first time a first-year student was entered for the contest.

“My thought there was that it would allow them to experience the contest and have the opportunity to go back and compete multiple times,” Avery said.

In terms of nominating Redwood, Avery knew he had the makings of a good competitor.

“He is a strong, driven student. He is a self-starter. He is there for every class and takes that knowledge from the classroom further,” he said. “That’s the reason why as a first-year student, we nominated him because we could see that he had that kind of mindset and that not only leads to being a good student but also a good competitor.”

Redwood will now be representing Team Ontario at Skills Canada in Quebec City at the Nationals at the end of this month.

“I feel good with the support I have from Humber and my program faculty. I am just keeping my head down, focusing on trying to do my best work for the competition,” Redwood said.

But it is not all fun and games. Redwood has been training rigorously and studying hard for the nationals.

“I’ve had to study the new scope and look at what the process for the competition will be from start to finish. In my training sessions, I worked many hours simulating the competition,” he said. “Mentally, it’s about knowing you are going up against talented 3D artists and that you must keep your head down and push for your best work during the competition.”

For the nationals, Redwood is focusing on utilizing the skills and experience that he gained from participating in the regionals.

“It’s not about improving my skills. It’s about how I will use them to execute this next 3D game art. It’s a longer competition stretching over two days, six hours both days, so I’m mentally preparing for the time that I will be competing,” Redwood said.

Avery will be accompanying Redwood as his “cheering squad.”

His advice for Redwood is not to overthink and keep doing what he knows.

“Don’t burn yourself out. Make sure you get a lot of sleep and rest. If you need a break, take it. But become confident in the skills that you already have that have got you here,” Avery said.

He said Redwood still has an advantage as he is only in his second year and can always return to the competition next year.

“I want him to treat this national experience kind of like he treated his regionals last year,” Avery said. “I know he is capable of winning now, but if he doesn’t win, he can compete again next year.

“And if he wins, then he can come back next year and hopefully defend his title. If he can pull that off, it’ll be a first,” he said.

For Redwood, the Disney story didn’t end with that first visit almost a decade back. He plans to work for the studio someday.

“I want to try and possibly work at Disney, for example, Industrial Light and Magic,” Redwood said.