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mjtrickster
11-08-2012, 05:43 PM
This is a very frustrating position. Go to school for 2 more years, 70k in debt with paid living expenses through student loans and a guaranteed position in my dream career, or... attempting to bump myself to the next level by taking individual courses, a part time job and no field placement?

Here is some context to my question. I graduated with a bachelors in fine arts a year ago only to discover that I lack some industry skills to land the job. After spending a year trying to self educate and build a better portfolio I have found myself in this desperate situation of sink or swim. At this point I know I need to get out of the midwest where I reside currently, and with that comes the above dilemma.

My grand scheme revolves around attending Gnomen, which is a dream come true, but with it comes some major down falls. Anything under a 2 year commitment with them and you get little to no support with money or placement. There are A LOT more short term financial risks surrounding my second option, independently financing to survive in LA seems daunting, failing and moving back home being a potential outcome. On the other hand I also feel as though the first option is way overkill considering I already have 4 years of art education already under my belt.

So CGSociety, what am I missing here? are there other options?

leigh
11-08-2012, 06:12 PM
Go to school for 2 more years, 70k in debt with paid living expenses through student loans and a guaranteed position in my dream career

Going to school is not a guarantee of a job. Whoever told you that is a liar. You already have your degree; frankly I think it's not worth getting into more debt. Spend more time on your own developing your portfolio, because it's that which will get you a job, not another two years and a mountain of debt.

mjtrickster
11-08-2012, 06:33 PM
Fair enough, Gnomen advertises 97% placement rate. I would also like to think that 6 years of schooling would eventually do the trick, especially considering 2 of those years would be full time at a specialized school. Maybe both are false, but if the second one is... then god help me, I would rather not entertain that idea or else I would give up entirely.

I totally see your line of thinking though, I have been doing it for a year now. Maybe all I need is the move, but otherwise keep on course? Maybe online courses?

leigh
11-08-2012, 07:13 PM
"97% placement rate" is meaningless marketing speak. Placement rate where, exactly? Technically speaking, a placement could be a two week internship at some studio nobody has ever heard of, rotoing frames for a 3D conversion. It's absolutely not a "guarantee" of a placement in a "dream job". Be wary of the promises that specialised schools make - and this is particularly true considering the current climate of the VFX industry, especially in the States. Lots of my friends in California can't even find work, and they've all generally got more than a decade of experience behind them.

I'm telling you a fact that most schools will not tell you: most studios do not care about your schooling. They really don't. I've never, ever in my entire career (which has lasted over a decade and been spent at numerous studios across three continents) ever been asked about my education by a studio; employers want to see your reel and that's it. Education only really becomes a factor if you're looking to relocate to another country, and considering you already have a degree, you already have that covered.

Learn any way you wish, whether it's online courses, DVD tutorials, books, whatever. Just sit down and focus on your work and get really good at it. I'm assuming that since you wanted to go to Gnomon, you probably want to work in VFX. Well VFX studios, especially the bigger ones, tend to hire mostly specialists so it would be a good idea to choose a discipline you enjoy the most and focus on that once you've got a good mastery of the fundamentals of everything.

mjtrickster
11-08-2012, 08:13 PM
Thanks a ton for your responses, it is helping out considerably. Just thought I would clarify a bit, my intent with schooling wasn't to have credentials or anything, I was under the impression that it would be the most beneficial way in acquiring skills. For the sake of argument, if I switch gears to online courses and more portfolio development that would leave me with no real destination for my move. I feel as though I have a disadvantage geographically speaking when it comes to networking, is this an illusion? I am feeling very isolated where I am right now and do not know how to change that.

leigh
11-08-2012, 08:22 PM
It depends on how you prefer to learn. Some people definitely learn better in a structured, organised learning environment like a school, while others learn better in their own. Only you know for sure which type you are; having said that, if you do fall into the former category, that doesn't mean you should dash out and take a $70k loan. It's a bit hard to give you more advice in this regard though as I've not seen your work, and therefore have no idea as to what stage you're currently at.

Your location does play a role though. It definitely helps to live where the work is, and conspiring that, it probably would be beneficial for you to move. However, there'd be no point in moving until you're at a point where you'd be attractive to employers, otherwise you'll move out there and still be jobless.

chien
11-08-2012, 08:25 PM
Going to school is not a guarantee of a job. Whoever told you that is a liar. You already have your degree; frankly I think it's not worth getting into more debt. Spend more time on your own developing your portfolio, because it's that which will get you a job

mjtrickster : hi i relyl agree wit leigh point of view, just from experince i can tell you i spend 1 year as international student overseas study advanced 3d animation, specialize in character animation, overseas education esepcially is very expensive besides study locally and apply for student loan, deal wit visa's, tuition fee, i graduated and tried to find myself job overseas for animation was told i get placement but tat relly was a trick, i never got any job after tat so i 'm carefull to of that from now on. i dun think you want to deal with burden of how much loan you want to pay back, but if you want to study vfx, i kind of agree wit wat leigh said, other than online course and focus on your reel.

mjtrickster
11-08-2012, 09:09 PM
I would say I fall in the middle of that spectrum. I enjoy adventuring off on my own and would like to think I can problem solve well, but I also don't feel like I have the luxury of time to go searching for "answers". Some sort of structure and/or dialogue would accelerate the process I would assume.

Right now I am rebooting in a sense. I came out of a fine arts education thinking I was to move forward with more and more complex material. It was not until fairly recently that I realized that I was lacking in a thorough understanding of core industry concepts like lighting and perspective principles. I was never introduced to that way of thinking, so I have decided to take a step back to re evaluate my foundation skills and strengthening them considerably. Beyond that I am a little lost as to where to go, like at what point will I be attractive to employers? I suppose CGS could help me with that I don't know, I have little to no contacts with like minded individuals.

leigh
11-08-2012, 09:48 PM
Well I think the first step you need to take is to post your work on some forums and start getting some feedback from people.

mjtrickster
11-08-2012, 10:18 PM
Definitely, at this point I will be putting much more effort into communication with forums. I'm guessing that's about as good as it gets as far as resources go isn't it?

leigh
11-08-2012, 10:22 PM
Well, kinda. I mean, you could always email people whose work you like and ask them for critique on your own work. Of course, not everyone will reply and I wouldn't advise emailing people out of the blue and spamming their inbox with 20mb worth of images, but it's definitely something to consider.

joevkidd
11-08-2012, 11:41 PM
You should take a look at cgspectrum.com. I am currently enrolled in their animation program and it is outstanding. The prices are more than reasonable for what you get. If you have any questions then let me know.

nkr10
11-08-2012, 11:45 PM
I think it all comes down to the basics of real life, which makes me agree with leigh that going to school doesnt secure a job. Look at it this way:

A studio needs people capable of doing the job, whatever it is; animation, vfx, modelling, rigging, cleaning, anything. They don't care if you can write a response to a Roland Barthes essay, which of course would be nice to have culturally and intellectually prepared people, but the core of what they look for is 'skills to complete and compete in the industry they are in'

Taking that in consideration look into your options. A school, no matter how much you pay will be as good as their instructors plus the students they accept, because in the end its a two way contract: you get what you put in, and what the people around you can offer.
I think your situation is actually pretty good, you already have the academic training, which puts you in a good curriculum position, now you just need to get the right skills to get that job you want. You can definitely learn by yourself, but it will always be way better to have somebody by your side who knows what they are talking about. Take a look at different schools who offer focused skill sets, don't go for a generalist school since you already have an arts degree, find what you really want.
One of my top recommendations would be CG Spectrum, it's an online CG school with a new philosophy and method that I think is very amazing. I'm an animation student there myself, and I honestly have learned more in 6 months with them than in three years of art school (talking about industry skills). They assign you a mentor per semester, with classes no bigger than 5 people, so you get space and time to have personalized training while at the same time you are constantly being reviewed by your peers, and also critiquing other people's work. Plus it's a great networking experience because you are talking live with people from all around the world, right from your home.
The program is very focused and taken seriously. I'm animating pretty much every day, and whenever I need some input I either get it from my classmates or I email my mentor directly who will take a look at my software file and give me a critique and advice on how he would attack the problem. The great side about this is that they are all industry professionals, who have worked on projects like Avatar, Rango, Tin Tin, The Hobbit, etc. and you have all of this people constantly reviewing your work and feeding you with industry oriented tips and workflow. The program is very focused on industry standards, but the artistic side of things is always on top, since this is an art, they also encourage personal expression a lot; they never try to force you to work the way the do.

The program is just one year, and you finish with a high level demo reel and a set of industry contacts to start connecting with studios around the world. Plus friends from different places that will also become your contacts and colleages for life.

Take a look at their programs:
http://cgspectrum.com/

They offer full time programs and scholarships, and have different cool other categories like Rent-A-Mentor which is basically a pay-as-you-go program where you pay for a one time lesson with any mentor, you check the lesson, do the assignment and get a critique from your mentor when you are done, after that you decide when you want to continue with the next lesson.
From what you say I would go for the full program though, since it will get you ready faster and you can take advantage of your art background to make it a better experience.

About the placement rate, this goes back to what I said first. No matter what school you go to it will always come down to whatever you put in. High level students will do great anywhere, although it is a huge advantage to also have instructors that can take your talent and motivation to the next level.

Hope it helps, and good luck on your career!

VanessaRossi
11-09-2012, 12:05 AM
I'm currently pursuing my bachelors degree in animation in a university in Vancouver and couldn't be more frustrated. You waste a LOT of time on academic courses and papers and the animation becomes secondary. It's sad. After a year and a half I noticed I would never get a job as an animator after university for the simple reason: I wasn't learning animation! So I looked up for online education and am now taking the animation program at CG Spectrum. Couldn't be happier.
And I'll tell you more: about a month ago i was trying to put a reel together and only ONE out of the 7 or 8 pieces I chose for the reel was done at the university. As someone wrote above: no one cares what school I attended, they care about my reel and that's it. And I wouldn't even have a reel if I hadn't look for hands on training.

leigh
11-09-2012, 12:30 AM
I don't want to sound overly cynical, but I'm mildly suspicious about the fact that two people have posted within a short space of time essentially promoting the same course, especially since both of you have previous posts promoting this particular school. Please note that we do not allow course advertising in this particular forum. If someone asks about a specific school that's fine, but when students or staff come along and suggest courses or schools out of the blue, it looks rather suspiciously like advertising.

FrankIowa
11-09-2012, 01:13 AM
Matthew:

You have a four-year degree and thus know how to study and learn hopefully. Check out some Gnomon Workshop DVDs (in area that you want to focus) as well as eat3D, 3D Motive, etc. There are workshops here on CG Society as well as other sites. Gnomon is a good school, but you can post work and get feedback here and other sites as well as take a workshop and get critiques. There are at least six video game/CG developers (and even an animation studio in West Burlington that relocated from California) in Iowa (and a couple in Omaha, NE). The Indie scene is growing in the Midwest (much lower cost of living, less congestion, and other reasons). I'm aware of a couple of Midwest business incubator programs for CG/VFX related growth that will hopefully help build some smaller and Indie firms. If you like the Midwest there are possibilities (and a $150,000 house in Iowa with lots of land would skyrocket to $750,000 to over $1,000,000 in California and the taxes and cost of living there are outrageous. You need entertainment/social life? You can fly once a month or more to other areas and still save a ton of money (and escape the crowd when you leave)). Check out the cost of living in LA before you decide on Gnomon also.

Good luck

joevkidd
11-09-2012, 01:21 AM
I am hoping they don't approve my previous post because I don't want to sound like an advertisement. I have gone to 2 online schools for animation. I can give you more specifics if you'd like but I just want to say that one of the benefits is that the instructors at a lot of these online schools are either working or have worked in the industry. So you would be networking with industry professionals even if you live in the midwest. I live in Ohio and have met people from Blue Sky, Laika, Reel F/X, Weta, Dreamworks, Sony, Disney and Nickelodeon. All from the comfort of my couch! Good luck with the next steps of you journey.

nkr10
11-10-2012, 03:54 PM
I don't want to sound overly cynical, but I'm mildly suspicious about the fact that two people have posted within a short space of time essentially promoting the same course, especially since both of you have previous posts promoting this particular school. Please note that we do not allow course advertising in this particular forum. If someone asks about a specific school that's fine, but when students or staff come along and suggest courses or schools out of the blue, it looks rather suspiciously like advertising.


My intention wasn't to spam the topic. I talk about the school because it helped me in a frustrating situation and wanted to spread the word to others going through the same, like Vanessa. I apologize for that.


Going back to the topic, Frank is right, stay in touch with forums, specially the ones focused on what you want to do, feedback and practice are always the best way to improve, even while at school.

mjtrickster
11-12-2012, 09:57 PM
Thanks a ton for the the help every one. I am starting to consider online courses, but I am not very knowledgeable on the topic so I definitely need more research into it before any commitments are made.

Since my original post I have been on a roller coaster of decision making. the people in my life are pressuring for the move, for example my parents are under the impression that I will suddenly be in an environment with other artists...even though I will still have to work out of my home to produce the portfolio. I feel like I will have to work more hours at a dead end job to stay afloat in LA, which would give me less time to develop my portfolio. I honestly can't get a foot hold with the situation.

leigh
11-13-2012, 04:35 AM
Stay where you are. Post work online. Get feedback. Work to improve. Make a reel that's good enough to actually compete for a position in a studio.

Then move.

Simple.

JeffB
11-22-2012, 04:18 AM
School is a good option for many reasons. You can't ask questions of a DVD. A Youtube video doesn't have industry connections that can leaad you to a job. That being said, going to a school is no employment guarentee. But you can gain valuable skills and contacts with the right school. Look into one of the community colleges in the area. After gaining CA residence they are very in-expensive (about $45 a credit or about $135 dollars per class). Many have excellent classes and facilities. And many employ people in the industry just like Gnomon.

cgkid123
11-28-2012, 03:15 PM
Its definitely a tricky situation and unfortunately I feel as though it is a gamble where you have to go with your gut feeling. Sometimes, you wait looking for a job when you could have at least got 2 years more academic experience during that time. My advice? Set yourself a time limit to find a job and really dedicate yourself to the search (many people kid themselves they tried their best and really could have put more effort in when they look back) and if by the time you reach your time period you don't have a job then sign up for the course. Student debts are the 'best' out of all the debts to have and I don't think you should worry about paying them off as most people are in the same boat. Do what you know you will have the most fun and enjoyment doing, the rest will fall into place!

artzolio
11-29-2012, 07:28 AM
"97% placement rate" is meaningless marketing speak. Placement rate where, exactly? Technically speaking, a placement could be a two week internship at some studio nobody has ever heard of, rotoing frames for a 3D conversion. It's absolutely not a "guarantee" of a placement in a "dream job". Be wary of the promises that specialised schools make - and this is particularly true considering the current climate of the VFX industry, especially in the States. Lots of my friends in California can't even find work, and they've all generally got more than a decade of experience behind them.

I'm telling you a fact that most schools will not tell you: most studios do not care about your schooling. They really don't. I've never, ever in my entire career (which has lasted over a decade and been spent at numerous studios across three continents) ever been asked about my education by a studio; employers want to see your reel and that's it. Education only really becomes a factor if you're looking to relocate to another country, and considering you already have a degree, you already have that covered.

Learn any way you wish, whether it's online courses, DVD tutorials, books, whatever. Just sit down and focus on your work and get really good at it. I'm assuming that since you wanted to go to Gnomon, you probably want to work in VFX. Well VFX studios, especially the bigger ones, tend to hire mostly specialists so it would be a good idea to choose a discipline you enjoy the most and focus on that once you've got a good mastery of the fundamentals of everything.

Amen!

Read again if in doubt.

Cesar M.

Deo85
12-05-2012, 12:06 AM
Stay where you are. Post work online. Get feedback. Work to improve. Make a reel that's good enough to actually compete for a position in a studio.

Then move.

Simple.


This. I will offer you my life as a example:
1) Went to Westwood for a degree in Game Art and Design (Not a great school I stay away from it)
2) Moved to San Francisco Bay Area with out a portfolio ready to get in the industry but a lot more jobs here then Colorado...

I spend my nights working on 3D models and watching DVD on acquiring new skills. Long story short stay were you are, make amazing portfolio that will get you a job THEN move to the place that has the most job saturation of what you want to do. Being there ahead of time has done me nothing other then let me network with more artist but I could of done that online. In reality if I could do it all over I would of stayed in Colorado and worked on a portfolio till I had something that was hire worthy then moved out here.

I personally learn faster in a school environment so I have registered for Gnomon and I know this is going to put me 100k+ in debt but that was my decision because of how I learn and because I had the funds available. Either way school can not promos you a job EVER and your work will speak the most of your skills to get your first job.

Almaghest
12-08-2012, 03:43 AM
I just wanted to go against the grain here and say that moving to LA before you have a job is honestly not as crazy as it sounds.

After I graduated, I thought I had a pretty solid portfolio, but the only responses I got were along the lines of "Hit us up if you're ever in LA!" (at the time I didn't know that summer is a notoriously slow time for VSFX regardless.)

Frustrated, I saved up just enough money to move out to LA. When my move was done I had $200 to my name and a job that paid $8/h. I managed to live that way in LA for 8 months (and I don't mean in "the Valley" or Sherman Oaks or whatever - I had a legit LA address on nearly minimum wage with zero savings.) I've now been at one of the large VSFX facilities for over a year and I doubt they would have given me the light of day had I not happened to already be in LA when they were hiring.

My roommate moved to LA in February for similar reasons and has survived this long with no legitimate job. It is scary and insane seeming, but doable, and definitely not as insane as piling on 80k in debt. It only takes a $100 Greyhound ticket to call it a day and move back home if you truly have to.

Also, if you come out here (or for anyone who does) - GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR HOWEVER YOU CAN. I cannot emphasize this enough! Apply for anything and everything you are remotely qualified for that is even vaguely related to what you want to really do. It is amazing what a small world it is once you're out here.

laptopninja
12-21-2012, 05:12 AM
Hi guys, I just joined the forum specifically to ask this same question :hmm: Except I would be piling on the debt AND quitting a job I like to spend $40k/1 year on animation school in Vancouver (or $13k/year if I stay in Toronto). I'm a junior graphic designer...but I guess you could say I'm having a mid (or third :P) -life crisis, where I feel if I don't go back to my first love of animation I will never do it. So I'm learning a lot online for free, now I'm looking at the Digital Tutors or Gnomon Workshops while I keep working. And next Sept I've decided to go to the cheaper schools because of your advice.

Question: I have a 3 year advanced diploma in Graphic Design...would this prevent me from working in the U.S. (I'm Canadian)? Should I take an additional 2 years to convert this into a degree, or just continue with working and learning animation?

Thanks everyone for your advice, sorry to thread hijack but it seems like people have a lot of experience with chasing your dreams :D

narenn
12-29-2012, 06:47 PM
A degree ultimately doesn't matter. I just landed my first big industry gig, and I'm half way through my 4 year degree. What I did have was a kick-ass portfolio, with the right connections.

csq3D
01-08-2013, 05:35 AM
Hi to everyone. I have made my research and narrowed everything to GNOMON and AAU. There is just something that I would like to know if someone here can share some insight or anything. Its already clear that in the industry what really matters is the portfolio, demo reel and experience. As i see it I can even learn almost everything by myself online. From what Ive seen i like more GNOMON (Certificate) than AAU (MFA Degree/Diploma). In the I may like to work as a professor in an university, and I would like to know if an university would take more in consideration a (MFA Degree) than a (Certificate) even if you have a great portfolio and experience for a Professor position or it is in like the industry as I mentioned above that the portfolio and experience is more appealing.?

Any piece of advise or info will be welcome.!
Have a Great Day..!!!

narenn
01-08-2013, 05:39 AM
Depends where you want to teach. I have had many instructors who don't have a degree. In most cases, you would need a masters degree.

csq3D
01-08-2013, 05:59 AM
Depends where you want to teach. I have had many instructors who don't have a degree. In most cases, you would need a masters degree.

Thanks for the fast reply.! Umm those instructors were like entirely self taught and great portfolio or reel or did they have some certificate like one from Gnomon for example?

Could you give me some examples of universities or/and tell other people or place that I could ask this same question?

Thanks!

csq3D
01-08-2013, 06:12 AM
To tell the truth Im a little scared of the ups and down of the industry for what Ive reading. Im just looking for other kind of related jobs when the projects are over or there are no jobs available in the industry or something like that so I can keep working and making money.

narenn
01-08-2013, 06:23 AM
Thanks for the fast reply.! Umm those instructors were like entirely self taught and great portfolio or reel or did they have some certificate like one from Gnomon for example?

Could you give me some examples of universities or/and tell other people or place that I could ask this same question?

Thanks!

Almost every instructor is different. One thing to keep in mind is that any experienced professional/instructor, entered this industry at a different time. A top notch reel that a student can make at home today, would shame those from the largest companies that long ago.

For example I've had a mix of teachers who worked on one major film 6 years ago, to 12+ year veterans from ILM. Typically though, it seemed artists were picked up through some connection, and learned everything on the job. Today it is far more competitive. The internet is filled with tutorials and trial versions of the highest end software. If you want to give yourself an edge, do whatever it takes to learn as much as you can.

narenn
01-08-2013, 06:26 AM
To tell the truth Im a little scared of the ups and down of the industry for what Ive reading. Im just looking for other kind of related jobs when the projects are over or there are no jobs available in the industry or something like that so I can keep working and making money.

Everyone is nervous. I saw somewhere that out of the 1000+ employees at Weta, only 6 or so are staffed positions, there rest are all contract based. If you are truly passionate, you will find a way to make it work.

csq3D
01-08-2013, 06:33 AM
Thanks for the answer Naren..! I just dont know why some place like Gnomon is so poor in accreditations compared to other places when in fact is the best or one of the best places to learn VFX.

narenn
01-08-2013, 06:59 AM
Thanks for the answer Naren..! I just dont know why some place like Gnomon is so poor in accreditations compared to other places when in fact is the best or one of the best places to learn VFX.

Due take notice, that one the biggest reasons why Gnomon, AAU, NYU, SCAD, USC, etc... are successful in job placements, is not only because of the program, but the people you meet. There is no one better to learn from than a current working professional.

Panupat
01-08-2013, 08:24 AM
Thanks for the answer Naren..! I just dont know why some place like Gnomon is so poor in accreditations compared to other places when in fact is the best or one of the best places to learn VFX.
I've been to AAU and have met quite a few people graduated from Gnomon. These places only give you the opportunity to learn and make connection. Which only makes up 10% of the equation. The rest are entirely up to you: how hard you work, how good your reel is, and etc. It's just like fine art, all you can do is keep working. And working and working and working to get good at it.

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