Some would call it luck, others fortune, but when her father, Dr. Keith Roscoe, accepted a position with the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge in 1996, an entirely new world of possibilities opened up for Catherine Roscoe Barr (BSc '02) and her future husband, Aaron Barr (BFA '02).
Aaron, now a technical artist for Pixar Canada, and Catherine, a freelance writer, first met in Grade 7 in Grande Prairie but their friendship was cut short when Aaron's family moved to Lethbridge. With her father's new position at the University, Catherine was able to rekindle a friendship with Aaron in her final year of high school. After graduation, she enrolled at the University in the pre-vet program then quickly switched to pre-med studies.
"I realized I really didn't like physics so I switched to neuroscience. It was awesome," explains Catherine. "I had three favourite professors: Drs. Gail Michener, Peter Dibble and Glen Prusky. They communicated the material, which was often very complicated, in such a way that was fascinating and easy to understand."
While Catherine concentrated on the sciences, Aaron enrolled in fine arts. He loved to draw and had a great interest in computer graphics and animation, but he was unsure about the reality of an artist making a living in the world of computer graphics, so he entered the U of L with plans to pursue a career in architecture. When the University created the multimedia program in Aaron's second year, however, he quickly applied.
"There were college programs offering similar type programs but I really wanted the more universal experience I got at the University," says Aaron, who was among the first to graduate from the program.
During one of his classes, Aaron had the opportunity to interview John Kahrs, a senior animator for Pixar, regarding Kahrs' work on the animated film Monsters Inc.
"I loved what he was doing and how passionate he was. I decided then that I wanted to abandon architecture and pursue my interest in film. I thought it was just a shot in the dark but he said go for it, you'll get there," remembers Aaron, who recently ran into John at Pixar. "I told him how I had met him at the University and how he had inspired me. At Pixar, I build characters, sets, props, paint texture onto them, and add surface qualities and hair, anything involving the look of the character or object."
Catherine too had a life-changing moment while she was a student at the U of L. As a teenager she was always quite active but with her studies taking up so much time, her activity level dropped and she found herself eating a lot of unhealthy cafeteria food. One of her roommates in residence encouraged her to get a personal trainer.
"It changed the course of my life," she says. "I had wanted to become a doctor but I found that fitness was a proactive way to help people. I started taking fitness classes and got my fitness instructor certificate. The year after I graduated I got my personal trainer certification."
In July 2000, the couple was engaged, and in August 2002, just a few months after graduating, they married. A move to Toronto followed, where Catherine started her own business working as a personal trainer and teaching fitness classes at Sheridan College. Aaron earned a diploma in digital character animation at the college, and then began working for C.O.R.E. Feature Animation. Several career moves later, Aaron was given the opportunity to work on the movie, Legends of the Guardians, in Australia in 2009. It was a move that would affect Catherine's career as well.
"About three days after we moved to Australia, I was walking in downtown Sydney. I walked by this beautiful building, with all these beautiful people. I didn't know what it was but I knew I had to be a part of it. I went home and Googled the address. It was ACP Magazines, an enormous magazine publisher," says Catherine, who subsequently spent the next five months there as an intern.
She has since developed a successful career writing about her passions: fitness, health, food and travel. In May 2011, Aaron landed his dream job with Pixar Canada.
"Working for Pixar has been a long-time goal; they always put quality first and are determined to create original, compelling stories," says Aaron. "I said to Aaron the other day that if I won the lotto I would keep doing exactly what I am doing," says Catherine. "I feel so blessed."
GET THE FACTS
· Catherine writes for publications such as the Vancouver Sun, The Province, BC Home and Garden, Homes and Living, Western Living, Real Weddings, TV Week and BCLiving.ca
· Catherine's writings and adventures can be found at: thelifedeliciousblog.com
· Catherine recently returned from Jamaica where she ran the Reggae Marathon 10K
· Aaron's career path has seen him work for C.O.R.E. Feature Animation, Rainmaker Animation, Animal Logic, Image Engine Design Inc. and Pixar
· Aaron's major projects include: Partysaurus Rex, Legend of the Guardians, The Thing, The Wild, The Ant Bully and Escape from Planet Earth
This story first appeared in the January 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.