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View Full Version : Advice for finding a "good" Art/Animation school


AleksZawadzki
02-10-2013, 03:19 AM
Hey there. :) I'm currently 16 and living in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. 3D design/Animation is my passion and I will be expanding to drawing and sketching as soon as i pick up my Wacom Intuos5 Tablet. Basically i made this thread because i aspire to turn this passion into a career. I've been searching for schools around the area but all i'm seeing are harsh reviews. I have also researched schools out of the city such as Gnomon in California, although i much rather stay within Vancouver and the tuition is quite expensive. Could anybody give me some advice on finding a good school that would suit my needs and preferably located in Vancouver. Thankyou!

- Aleks

Andrewty07
02-11-2013, 06:12 PM
Don't wait on technology to draw, start now and it will help on the long run. When I was searching for a school I made a list and compared everything I could between them. Look at instructor backgrounds, costs are very important to track as well and plan how you will pay for them. Schools may have fees and charges not directly mentioned online as well like lab fees, materials, books, etc.

You can take your research a step further and look up specific courses on youtube or vimeo to possibly find some student work. I was able to find quite a few postings for courses I was interested in and saw w.i.p, and final output of individual courses to see what they learned and what was being covered. The best input could be talking to students attending as well since they will have a better view of the school to take in.

AleksZawadzki
02-12-2013, 05:19 AM
Wow thank you! I have followed what you said and while doing so i stumbled apon "ThinkTankTrainingCentre", I've looked into this school a lot now and it seems like a great place to go. instructors that value your learning and best of all its located in Vancouver! I've read a- lot of good reviews about the school now so it seems like a great place to get more involved in. Thanks again for the reply! You have helped a great deal!

taxguy
02-13-2013, 10:00 PM
If you read over the course descriptions for programs like Think Tank, you would think, "this is great, especially when coupled with faculty that have strong backgrounds." However, I urge you to reconsider!

My daughter attended a one-year intensive program. Did she learn a lot? Yes;however, the program was far too short to really instill top quality skills. In addition, most of these one- year programs don't have any admission standards to speak of; thus, the quality and motivation of the average student is poor.

My daughter than went to a two year grad program and found out what an extended program with high admission standards means. It was a night and day difference. As she, herself, would tell you, a one-year intensive program is fine for those that have a good background in the area and might be a great basis for admission and to obtain advanced training.. If you don't, it won't generally provide exceptional skill training. You are much better off getting a bachelors degree or , if you have a bachelors, get a masters in 3d or animation. Alternatively, you can go to a multi- year certificate program similar to what Sheridan has, which is three, one-year programs.

By the way, another problem with these intensive programs such as Think Tank , Dave School or even Full Sail is that they aren't really designed for the average person. You really have to be a specially motivated "cat" to benefit. Most people can't maintain that degree of intensity either physically or mentally. Again, studying at a slightly more leisurely pace would be much more beneficial and applicable to the vast majority of students. My daughter, who is in an MFA program in computer art/animation, works very hard putting in several all- nighters a week, and this is a more leisurely program than what is required by the one-year programs! I can't even imagine how anyone can really put in the hours required by these programs to really benefit from the intense curriculum.

AleksZawadzki
02-14-2013, 02:28 AM
Hmm, i had no idea it would be that much of an intense course. Thank you for you insight on this topic, however i feel that with still years ahead of me and no plans to stop I will be able to build a professional understanding of the art. If maybe you still think this isn't the place to go even with years of history behind me i would love to hear you insight. I do love 3D art and animation ALOT but i really much rather not go to a school outside of Vancouver, i guess that is why i found this school to sounds so great. Once again I thank you tremendously for your help!

taxguy
02-14-2013, 03:50 AM
Aleks, Sheridan has a four year program in animation. I am sure that there are other top schools that have this as well. Pick a four year program and NOT a one-year program for the reasons given in my post above.

leigh
02-14-2013, 05:09 AM
Nothing wrong with a one year program if you're the kind of person who wants to learn at an accelerated rate, and is able to keep up with it. When I was a student I did a one year intensive diploma course and even though I had to pull a lot of late nights, I graduated top of my class and stared working in the industry almost immediately afterwards. It was great for me as I wanted to get into the field as quickly as possible.

taxguy
02-14-2013, 03:17 PM
Leigh, I certainly applaud your accomplishment,but even you have to admit that a very intensive program is NOT for everyone. You have to be a very motivated, "special cat" to be able to max the benefits out of such as program.

Also, do you have a bachelors or master degree in order to compare with your one-year intensive program? My daughter does have this type of experience to make a comparison. She felt that the intensive program, as good as it was, wasn't equal to a two year masters program with tough admission standards.

leigh
02-14-2013, 03:30 PM
No, I don't have any degrees, so no other courses to compare it to; but considering I learned enough to start doing CG professionally within weeks of graduating, it doesn't really matter, as I accomplished what I set out to do. I do think that perhaps more people are suited to intensive courses than you might think - while I totally agree that they're not suitable for everyone, I think they're nevertheless still suitable to a sizeable chunk of prospective students, provided they're sufficiently motivated, and indeed many are. Like me, a lot of people get bored quickly if they're not constantly challenged, and this was something I was specifically looking for in a college.

Also, I feel the intense pace of my course prepared me well for the actual studio environment where deadlines are often short and intense.

AleksZawadzki
02-15-2013, 06:30 AM
Thank you both for you input on this topic. You both make very good points and i am taking them both into account. I think I am still leaning towards ThinkTank for the fact that i very much enjoy being challenged by due dates and criteria. I still have a few more years of high school to go and i am taking all of the Digital Media classes i can get. taxguy, it is obvious to me that these intensive programs require serious motivation and talent, but with 3+ years ahead of me i feel that i will have the time to build a good understanding and a good amount of skill for me to succeed.

Coming from you Leigh who has gone through an intensive program like this and is now successful in the industry your points are hard to argue with. What school did you attend? (if you don't mind me asking) and what was is like once completed? How has it been working in the industry?

Thanks to all once again. All feedback is very much appreciated!

leigh
02-15-2013, 02:23 PM
Coming from you Leigh who has gone through an intensive program like this and is now successful in the industry your points are hard to argue with. What school did you attend? (if you don't mind me asking) and what was is like once completed? How has it been working in the industry?


You would never have heard of the school as it was a small college in South Africa and I don't even think it exists anymore. It also wasn't an animation course but a graphic design one which included a four month module on 3ds Max (which is why I did the course, as it was the only place around that was offering any kind of 3D - this was way back in 1999).

How has it been working in the industry? Well I've been in the field now for 13 years so that's a pretty big question. It's had its ups and downs, but on the whole I've been pretty fortunate for the most part and have been able to work in a couple of different countries. The industry at the moment isn't doing too well though (I work in VFX) so who knows how things are going to be from here on...

AJ1
02-17-2013, 09:44 AM
Hey man,

I know this sounds harsh, but you should really check out some of your local public universities. They might not have 3D specific classes or degree programs, but you might still build better connections and acquire a wider skill base. All of these DDC programs are really cheap nowadays, and plenty of cheap learning materials can be had. There's no need to pay someone thousands of dollars to walk you through a 35 dollar book.

I did one of these super intense 2 year VFX programs when I was 17, and I thought it was fun at the time. I took classes in film, animation, creative writing, and compositing. It was around 18K per year. I was able to make a few connections there, and wound up with about 2 years of product viz work after I graduated. But that eventually dried up, and I found my education was pretty worthless outside of the 3D art world.

I'm currently studying Computer Science at a local community college. My tuition is $1500 per semester, and all my credits transfer to Purdue University. I'm taking classes in advanced mathematics, physics, programming, and foreign language, and I find around 10 hours a week to do 3D art stuff. Purdue CS grads have worked at Pixar, ILM, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and the Purdue career fair is a who's who in technology. Hopefully ill be able to build a few connections and fare a little better than I did when I got out of art school.

-AJ

patrickrowan
02-17-2013, 11:40 AM
Hey man,

I know this sounds harsh, but you should really check out some of your local public universities. They might not have 3D specific classes or degree programs, but you might still build better connections and acquire a wider skill base. All of these DDC programs are really cheap nowadays, and plenty of cheap learning materials can be had. There's no need to pay someone thousands of dollars to walk you through a 35 dollar book.

I did one of these super intense 2 year VFX programs when I was 17, and I thought it was fun at the time. I took classes in film, animation, creative writing, and compositing. It was around 18K per year. I was able to make a few connections there, and wound up with about 2 years of product viz work after I graduated. But that eventually dried up, and I found my education was pretty worthless outside of the 3D art world.

I'm currently studying Computer Science at a local community college. My tuition is $1500 per semester, and all my credits transfer to Purdue University. I'm taking classes in advanced mathematics, physics, programming, and foreign language, and I find around 10 hours a week to do 3D art stuff. Purdue CS grads have worked at Pixar, ILM, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and the Purdue career fair is a who's who in technology. Hopefully ill be able to build a few connections and fare a little better than I did when I got out of art school.

-AJ

If I was too do it all again that's what I would do. Try get a degree that will transfer over to other professions. Basically when you've followed your dreams and older/ jaded of VFX u got an out card. Computer science, illustration etc. Learn cg on the side. Fxphd has plenty of great content for your reel and I know a lot of people who got jobs after a few terms. If your gonna go down an expensive degree path I wouldn't study VFX.

herobix
02-18-2013, 06:23 AM
Hey man,

I know this sounds harsh, but you should really check out some of your local public universities. They might not have 3D specific classes or degree programs, but you might still build better connections and acquire a wider skill base. All of these DDC programs are really cheap nowadays, and plenty of cheap learning materials can be had. There's no need to pay someone thousands of dollars to walk you through a 35 dollar book.

I did one of these super intense 2 year VFX programs when I was 17, and I thought it was fun at the time. I took classes in film, animation, creative writing, and compositing. It was around 18K per year. I was able to make a few connections there, and wound up with about 2 years of product viz work after I graduated. But that eventually dried up, and I found my education was pretty worthless outside of the 3D art world.

I'm currently studying Computer Science at a local community college. My tuition is $1500 per semester, and all my credits transfer to Purdue University. I'm taking classes in advanced mathematics, physics, programming, and foreign language, and I find around 10 hours a week to do 3D art stuff. Purdue CS grads have worked at Pixar, ILM, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and the Purdue career fair is a who's who in technology. Hopefully ill be able to build a few connections and fare a little better than I did when I got out of art school.

-AJ

I don't know, I'm currently attending Vancouver Film School and I'm having a blast. I'm currently doing there Entertainment Business Management course and sure, nothing is perfect, but I really enjoy it. It's great instructors who are from the industry them self and are also great in teaching to the students. The school is all about business, but they want to keep there reputation, which means they are listening to there students, if a instructors comes in and he is no good, he disappears within 2-4months time.

I have a lot of friends who are attending there 3D animation and visual effects course, same thing there, the instructors are from the industry and/or they know people from the industry and have high standards.

A warning! The 3D course is VFS popularity course and is one of the most expensive one as well. But! the school is a business, use the school, talk to people and start building connections, that's how you get your connections and that's how you make your intuition worth the time to pay it back. And god damn it, it's only one year, if you have someone giving you a hard time, family or friends, tell them to back of, since you paid A LOT of money to create your future and you don't want someone pushing you down.

AND you are paying for VFS reputation, what I hear at some places here in Vancouver that all the people from VFS ends on top of the pile of people searching for a job.

and if you are interesting in 3D, not specific Visual Effects, then consider Think Tank
http://www.tttc.ca/

Small classes, great location, good instructors, they work more as an family and really take care of there students. Even had an instructor from VFS telling that Think Tank is a good school. It cost less then VFS, specially for me who is from Sweden.

hope it helps =)

rownd
02-18-2013, 03:29 PM
This is all great info! I do have one comment or more of a story. My son likes to draw but it is not his strong point. When he tried to get into the local art school the drawing/illustration/concept art teacher did not think he had the skill to go in that direction. Problem is it turned him off to the whole experience and he ended up dropping out. If your just now starting to draw I would think about heading into a direction in the SG industry where that is not as important as other aspects.

I mean I see some fantastic 3d artist here but when I go to they're website the first place I go is (if they have it) the drawing stuff. Most times I see it's not that great.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let that slow you down.

herobix
02-18-2013, 05:08 PM
if he has a passion for drawing, he should just continue drawing, my drawing teacher said, everyone has about 1000 bad drawings, just keep on drawing to get them out =)

Don't like when people tells someone that your not good enough, say what to work on and welcome them back for next year =)

VFS has drawing classes, specially Foundation and Classical (sure, classical is all about drawing)

rownd
02-18-2013, 07:08 PM
Yes by all means if he has the passion to draw. He will get better.

AJ1
02-19-2013, 04:40 AM
AND you are paying for VFS reputation, what I hear at some places here in Vancouver that all the people from VFS ends on top of the pile of people searching for a job.

53K is pretty steep price though. That's more than Stanford Med school. USC film school is 43K. In fact, I cant find another school that's more expensive.

UC Berkeley is only 12K. I can't image under any circumstances a VFS graduate getting hired over a Berkeley grad.

I guess most people have more money than me, and 53K is no big deal. I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but I wish someone had drilled this into my teenage head before I blew 36K on that school I attended.

-AJ

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