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View Full Version : 3D Animation Classes - Opinions?


MattShort
08-23-2009, 05:36 AM
I am 15 (turning 16 if it makes a difference) and I deeply interested in animation. I found several courses I was interested in at The Academy of Art University (http://www.academyart.edu/).

ANM 101: Introduction to Computer Graphics for Animation (http://catalog.academyart.edu/courseCatalog.do?triggerName=displayCourseDetail&lo_referringHit=12949082&lo_semester=57-1092&lo_online=false&lo_info=41-1918)
This course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts and terminology of computer graphics as it is used in film, visual effects, games, and animation. Students will have a better understanding of the different disciplines that collectively make up computer graphics production.


ANM 160: Perspective for Animation (http://catalog.academyart.edu/courseCatalog.do?triggerName=displayCourseDetail&lo_referringHit=12949082&lo_semester=57-1092&lo_online=false&lo_info=41-2968)
This course is designed for beginning Animation students, to develop an understanding of the animated film process. Students will conceptualize quick sketches to completed drawings, and create dramatic storytelling sequences. Students will learn how to create believable environments, while gaining a comprehensive understanding of perspective principles.


ANM 105: Computer Animation Production (http://catalog.academyart.edu/courseCatalog.do?triggerName=displayCourseDetail&lo_referringHit=12949082&lo_semester=57-1092&lo_online=false&lo_info=41-1921)
In this course, students will learn the entire production pipeline from story idea and development to recording animations to tape. The language, processes and equipment of digital animation and its production environment are discussed. The focus of this course is on titling, image processing, compositing and 3D animation.


ANM 104: History and Technology of VFX and Computer Animation (http://catalog.academyart.edu/courseCatalog.do?triggerName=displayCourseDetail&lo_referringHit=12949082&lo_semester=57-1092&lo_online=false&lo_info=41-1937)
This class will analyze the history of special effects techniques and apply that knowledge to contemporary visual effects and animation. Starting with in-camera techniques, topics from traditional stop motion, motion control, matte paintings, models and miniatures, to modern computer-generated visual effects and animation, compositing and production methodology will be covered.
Are these classes I should invest money into or should I learn through a different approach?
Also, if it makes any difference here are a few images of my current work in 3D and 2D. For the 3d I used a rather simple program called google sketchup and to create the 2D I used pencil, paper and a ruler.


This is currently a WIP. I can also provide a wireframe, if it of interest.
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/UNSCShipPic03.png

Underside
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/UNSCShipPic04.png

Ariel View
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/UNSCShipPic02.png

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/UNSCShipPic01.png

Here is a nearly finished map. Its very old though..
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/Picture02.png


Here is a 2D drawing, although it is a little old and was never finished due to personal reasons.
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/Artwork/ProgressUpdate03.jpg

Part of a 3D version
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/Artwork/Train.png

The beginning of a 3D version.
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh191/goblinguy/PerspectiveShot.png



EDIT: Sorry for the spelling errors, I had to write this twice, the first time the internet browser crashed.

Rapsheba555
08-23-2009, 07:11 AM
Well, first off let me say you have excellent abilities. :D All of those sound pretty useful, though you might want to take a class specifically in technical drawing because you seem like you would be quite good at it. If you plan on doing this as a career, all those classes will be useful.

MattShort
08-23-2009, 11:51 PM
Thanks for the advise and comment Rashiba. I have stumbled upon another problem. My parents would prefer online classes if anything at all and would like to be provided with further proof that these classes are worth what they cost. How could I prove to my parents that this would be worth the investment?

Rapsheba555
08-24-2009, 10:00 PM
HMMMM. Weeeellllll, some can be very good, some can be totally useless. It's all about finding the right one. If you go with online, you'll want to look at the local community college to see if the classes there are any good. Most community colleges will offer at least some online courses. However, that may be affected by your location. A bigger city is more likely to have more online courses than the middle of Kansas. A good way to tell if the class is any good for you is to look at the student gallery to see if the work displayed there is what you want to learn.

It depends. You want to learn animation. How far have you gotten? What stage are you at? Have you done actual modeling yet (google sketchup is pretty basic, I'm talking on the level of Wings3D or something like that) or is google sketchup as far as you've gotten? Since you're 15 and a half or so, you've got several years before you have to start worrying about proving to a school that you have talent. Proving you have talent is not showing them that you already know how everything works (though it can't possibly be a turn-off for them) but showing them you have the skill and the drive to learn. First I'd recommend you start by getting a free modeling program such as Wings3D and just start messing around. see what the different buttons do, find out how the setup works. Most (google sketchup isn't really in this category) programs work pretty much like all other similar programs. So by learning something like Wings3D, you learn what you want in a modeling program and what is useless to you. Personally, I know from experience that i don't like a ton of pre-programmed shapes because it makes the modeling too easy and takes the fun out of it. So you should learn what you like and don't like first.

You'll want to get a firm grasp on modeling in whatever program you're using, mainly because if you can't model in it, you can't animate in it. :D But judging from the above pictures, you shouldn't have any problems in this area.

i would hold off on the classes for a little longer and get a bit more experience in a "real" modeling/animating program (there's a good list of free ones right above this thread in this forum :lol: ) before you take a class. However, this is not to discourage you if you think you're ready, because i've only seen a little of what you've done, so I probably don't know your full abilities. :P

Edit: D'oh. *headdesk* I see that that college is in San Fran. My guess is that they'll have at least one or two of those classes online somewhere.

MattShort
08-26-2009, 05:08 AM
Thanks for the advise. As far as modeling goes I took up Wings 3D and found that it wasn't challenging enough. I figured out the controls or interface for the most part and did a tutorial. I'm going to try my hand at Blender, which I've looked into before. Before I start Blender I'm purchasing "The Essential Blender." I got tired of sparcley finding tutorials and information on blender and decided to invest any money I can scrounge into the book.

I hope I didn't misunderstand anything you said. Oh, and thanks!! :D

Rapsheba555
08-26-2009, 09:02 PM
I've never used blender (I use milkshape) so I can't be of any use to you there. :D

MrPositive
08-27-2009, 06:24 AM
Unfortunately, I don't know these instructors and their success rates or commitment to the craft. So unfortunately, it's kind of undiscernible to us. Have you met or spoken with any of the instructors? What's their gallery look like and success rates with students? These are questions where you might begin....
Myself personally, I think people should investigate the instructor moreso than the school. Schools tend to ebb and flow as a whole, but a kick butt instructor is just that.

MattShort
08-28-2009, 03:13 AM
The school offers online chat sessions (preview (http://www.academyart.edu/live_chat.html)). Other than the below questions what would you recommend asking?

What's their gallery look like and success rates with students?
By learning taking animation and game design classes at AAU (Academy of Art University) will career opportunities for becoming a Cinimatic Designer become available?

TyDeL
08-31-2009, 06:46 AM
Hey Matt, I'm currently attending the Academy of Art, wrapping up my last few semesters actually, so I can give you a bit of insight into those classes.

I'm a l little curious exactly what you are looking for though. You're 16, so still a few years before you go off to school, are you just looking to learn a little bit ahead of time, get a head start? Will you be able to attend school full time when you finish High School?

Classes at the Academy certainly aren't cheap, as with all private art schools, and to be honest, some of those classes you listed won't really be worth it unless you are actually working towards a degree.

If you are looking to just expand your skills, and learn new stuff, I'd probably recommend just doing more research on your own, running through tutorials online, maybe getting some Gnomon Workshop DvD's, or Digital Tutor DvD's, work through stuff at your own pace. Try out every aspect, modeling, animation, lighting, rendering. Seems like you are already gravitating towards modeling, but good to get a taste of everything, see what really grabs you.

As for those classes you mentioned.

Intro to Computer Graphics, pretty basic course, nice little introduction, this class is really meant to just give you some back story to the Visual Effects industry, homework is really minimal, you'll do a few trivial projects, I think there was one in Photoshop, one in After Effects, and a demo in Maya. The class felt like kind of a waste of time to me, but I had already immersed myself in the industry terminology the best that I could at the time, it's a nice class to take if you are completely clueless as to how things work in the industry.

Perspective for Animation, I think you could DEFINITELY benefit from this class, I really learned a lot, perspective is a very tricky thing to learn well, yet it really helps your artwork to look more professional, and realistic. The teachers for this class are generally really talented artists, most of which are working professionals that do concept art for movies and games. The teacher I had was extremely passionate, and ruthless, and I learned a lot. However, I couldn't recommend this class online. Taking drawing classes online just doesn't seem right to me, you learn so much more just from watching your instructor to demo's, and have him physically show you what's off with your drawings, and be there to push you to the next level. If you live close by and can take the class on campus, I'd say go for it!

Computer Animation Production, This class is kind of the next step after the Intro class you mentioned first. To be honest, I actually found this to be one of the hardest classes I took at the Academy, but it's mostly because they throw SOOOO much at you early on. It's kind of the equivalent of getting thrown in the Deep End of the pool, you have to learn to swim in those 5 minutes, or you drown. Within those few months you start off making an opening title sequence animation in After Effects for the first 2 weeks. Then you jump straight into modeling a complete house, learn how to match the camera to the photo reference, texture, and composite it into the background image. You have about another 2 or 3 weeks or so to finish that up for Mid Terms, and then you jump straight into creating a Nurbs character, import a preset rig, set up your blend shape animations, and animate him to a 5-10 second sound clip. Class was really intense, but of course you learn a lot, if you can keep up.

History of VFX, Kind of like the first class you mentioned again, though more engrossed in the history. You go over the origin of film, film camera's, projection, all those key players like Muybridge, and Mileas (sp?), through the history of VFX. Fun stuff to know for sure about the industry you are passionate about, but honestly you could probably pick up Special Effects, the History and technique (http://www.amazon.com/Special-Effects-Technique-Richard-Rickitt/dp/0823084086/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251697777&sr=8-1) by Richard Rickitt, and do some online research, and get most of the same knowledge.

Hope this helps you out, feel free to ask more questions, I'll try to check back. ;)

MattShort
08-31-2009, 11:38 PM
Are you just looking to learn a little bit ahead of time, get a head start?
Right now I'm looking to learn as much as I possibly can ahead of time.

Will you be able to attend school full time when you finish High School?
Yes, I will be able to attend school full time when I finish High School, preferably (if not definitely) to acquire a degree at a four year college.


If you are looking to just expand your skills, and learn new stuff, I'd probably recommend just doing more research on your own, running through tutorials online, maybe getting some Gnomon Workshop DvD's, or Digital Tutor DvD's, work through stuff at your own pace. Try out every aspect, modeling, animation, lighting, rendering. Seems like you are already gravitating towards modeling, but good to get a taste of everything, see what really grabs you.


I am trying to develop my skills. I want to learn more about animation and hopefully get a career as an animator or a cinematic animator, what I would really like to do.

Also, this may be irrelevant but I find it much easier to think of an animated scene and the different angles than an image.

Right now I'm stuck on finding a 3d program and learning how to use it. I tried Wings3D but found that it was a little too easy to learn and as such I put my interest back into learning Blender (which I have previously looked at). At the moment I am saving up money for "The Essential Blender." Perhaps I can learn some more on modeling in that too.

BTW thank you very much for the information on the courses. I actually live on the east coast and although it is far away my parents are giving it some thought, me going to San Francisco to learn at AAU for the summer, that is. I would be going there for the pre-college summer program.


So now I have these questions...

Where and or, how can I try out rendering and lighting?
Given this information can you give me any insight on what I should know or be capable of before I take these classes?
What sort of classes would you recommend that I take based on the current information?

Rapsheba555
09-01-2009, 03:28 AM
So now I have these questions...


Where and or, how can I try out rendering and lighting?
Given this information can you give me any insight on what I should know or be capable of before I take these classes?
What sort of classes would you recommend that I take based on the current information?
You might look into VRay or some other render program. They're not cheap though, but you might find a few free ones.

Be willing to do some things that may not be the most interesting things ever to you, because doing a range of things will give you a good wide spectrum to work from later on. You should be at least proficient with the modeling aspect, and at least experimenting in rigging, lighting, etc, but you don't have to be perfect at them yet. You can learn those later on, but if you can't make a model you have nothing to light or rig. :P



Edit: may I ask what is the nearest metropolitan center to you? There is really no reason to go to Cali at this point (though later on it might be worth it when you're looking for a job) because there are many good schools back east (where i live as well :P). If you're in or around DC, try asking George Mason U. If you're near new york, try Pratt. And if you're near florida, Fullsail is your best bet.

MattShort
09-01-2009, 06:41 PM
I don't have long so I will add more information to this later but I believe the nearest metropolitan center is Columbia, SC.

Rapsheba555
09-02-2009, 04:44 AM
ah. Hmmm, I'm not aware of any schools that offer animation around that area...

MattShort
09-02-2009, 09:34 PM
Thats why I went searching elsewhere. The only big universities around here are USC (University of South Carolina) (http://www.sc.edu/) and Clemson University (http://www.clemson.edu/). They are ok, but I also understand that there are much better universities along the east and west coast. I personally have absolutely no interest in going to either of those universities..

Rapsheba555
09-04-2009, 04:38 AM
Well, the ones I know of are: Pratt, I THINK Globe College in NYC has it, George Mason, Carnegie-Mellon, Fullsail, though there must be other smaller ones...

TyDeL
09-04-2009, 07:04 AM
So now I have these questions...


Where and or, how can I try out rendering and lighting?
Given this information can you give me any insight on what I should know or be capable of before I take these classes?
What sort of classes would you recommend that I take based on the current information?



Try out Rendering and Lighting? Well the fundamentals of Lighting you can get from either Jeremy Birns "Lighting and Rendering" or Lanier's "Advanced Maya Texturing and Lighting." I definitely recommend picking up both of those books if you are interesting in lighting and texturing, and such. Most of the classes that teach it are more advanced that you won't be able to take till down the line. Jeremy Birn actually teaches classes through this site for an affordable price, but you'll need to have some general know-how, and Maya at home.


Most of those classes listed really don't take much knowledge beforehand, that's why they are introduction classes. When I took those classes the only experience I had was with Photoshop, and a little After Effects, which is why I struggled a bit with the Caps class. You already have some modeling experience, so you have a leg up, but I'd definitely get roughly comfortable with Autodesk's Maya before taking the CAPs class.


I'm not too familiar with the Summer study program, I'm sure it's probably pretty introductory. I still think your best bet for now is just downloading the student edition of Maya, and running through every tutorial you can find, pick up some books on the subject, maybe get some Gnomon DvD's, etc. Just start getting familiar with the software, the curriculum at AAU is designed to help you along from the introduction to the more advanced stuff. If you get yourself to the point where you feel really confident with the software, and what you are doing, you may be able to skip some of the introductory classes which would allow you more advanced classes down the line.


If you did really want to jump-start your education, just make sure it's the school you want to go to. Not many classes transfer between these private art schools. If you are set on AAU, the Intro to Computer Graphics class is a good place to start, it will educate you on how the industry works, terminology and all that. History of VFX is good to know also, neither of these will touch any programs really though. When you do, it will be mostly using Maya. Even then, the Academy is pretty grounded in traditional art, your first year you probably won't even see a computer, they start you off with a lot of traditional drawing and sculpting classes to make sure you have a strong foundation before you move into the digital realm. So you'll have time to play around on your own even when you get to school, you don't really need to worry that you'll show up at school, and feel lost not knowing the programs. Though anything you learn beforehand will just help with the process.

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