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View Full Version : Ex'pression college? good or not?


waisengleong
08-04-2010, 03:49 AM
I am interested in the Animation program which can be finished within 2 and a half years in Ex'pression college. Does anyone know if the school is good or not?

Lyr
08-07-2010, 12:58 AM
What do you think? is animation something you can be "accelerated" through in a condensed 2 1/2 year BFA program?

If you already have a professional level portfolio and just need a degree so you can land a visa then yeah Ex'pression (hate that name) might be good for you, if not I'd stay away.

rmelville
08-07-2010, 04:10 AM
I graduated from Expression about a year ago, and my experience there was a mixed bag. There are great individual faculty members there that truly care about your progression as an artist, and you will receive a solid CG "generalist" education.

However, the Animation & VFX curriculum is extremely rigid. Students do not have the option to construct a curriculum tailored for them. For example, I was primarily interested in character modeling and texturing, but due to the rigid curriculum, I had to spend a great deal of my time and money taking multiple animation, compositing, and mo-cap classes. When you only have 2 1/2 years to build up a quality portfolio, this lack of options makes it extremely difficult for those who want to specialize in a particular field, i.e. character animation.

Another huge downside is that the school has virtually no admission standards. This means that many of your classmates don't have the work ethic, interest ,drive, not to mention talent, to break into the VFX industry. When many of your peers are constantly sitting in lab playing World of Warcraft or browsing Facebook, it just makes for an extremely discouraging and frustrating environment where most of your peers will not push you to become a better artist.

Unlike Gnomon, Expression College is not run by artists. I've found that all the talk you hear from their recruiters and PR folks is very hollow compared to their results (their career placement numbers are heavily inflated by the people trying to get you in the door). It's an expensive school, (I think around $70 - 80k now), and in retrospect, I think I could have invested my money (now debt) much more wisely.

As I said, there are good people at this institution who will teach you a great deal and help you get your foot in the door after graduation. However, I would strongly recommend doing further research and looking into schools like VFS, Gnomon, Ringling and Animation Mentor, or even consider utilizing all the free knowledge and resources out there before making a decision. Also keep in mind that in this industry, a degree is not nearly as important as the quality of your portfolio. Feel free to pm me if you have further questions.

Hope this helps!

waisengleong
08-08-2010, 02:47 AM
I graduated from Expression about a year ago, and my experience there was a mixed bag. There are great individual faculty members there that truly care about your progression as an artist, and you will receive a solid CG "generalist" education.

However, the Animation & VFX curriculum is extremely rigid. Students do not have the option to construct a curriculum tailored for them. For example, I was primarily interested in character modeling and texturing, but due to the rigid curriculum, I had to spend a great deal of my time and money taking multiple animation, compositing, and mo-cap classes. When you only have 2 1/2 years to build up a quality portfolio, this lack of options makes it extremely difficult for those who want to specialize in a particular field, i.e. character animation.

Another huge downside is that the school has virtually no admission standards. This means that many of your classmates don't have the work ethic, interest ,drive, not to mention talent, to break into the VFX industry. When many of your peers are constantly sitting in lab playing World of Warcraft or browsing Facebook, it just makes for an extremely discouraging and frustrating environment where most of your peers will not push you to become a better artist.

Unlike Gnomon, Expression College is not run by artists. I've found that all the talk you hear from their recruiters and PR folks is very hollow compared to their results (their career placement numbers are heavily inflated by the people trying to get you in the door). It's an expensive school, (I think around $70 - 80k now), and in retrospect, I think I could have invested my money (now debt) much more wisely.

As I said, there are good people at this institution who will teach you a great deal and help you get your foot in the door after graduation. However, I would strongly recommend doing further research and looking into schools like VFS, Gnomon, Ringling and Animation Mentor, or even consider utilizing all the free knowledge and resources out there before making a decision. Also keep in mind that in this industry, a degree is not nearly as important as the quality of your portfolio. Feel free to pm me if you have further questions.

Hope this helps!

Hey, man, your comments are really detailed and helpful!!
Another question I have is that the curriculum in Gnomon and Expression is more or less the same, it is very diverse. So you think the time frame is so rigid that the students wont have time to build up a portfolio specific in a particular focus?

And do you suggest Academy of Art or CCA? Both offer MFA degree. I checked CCA and the curriculum is very animation-based which I don't really like. In the academy of art, there are four categories ;2D, 3D, modeling and visual effects. But I checked that the reviews for this school are quite negative. Is it a good idea to choose an area to study in Academy of Art rather than the rigid curriculum in Expression?

waisengleong
08-08-2010, 02:48 AM
Hey, man, your comments are really detailed and helpful!!
Another question I have is that the curriculum in Gnomon and Expression is more or less the same, it is very diverse. So you think the time frame is so rigid that the students wont have time to build up a portfolio specific in a particular focus?

And do you suggest Academy of Art or CCA? Both offer MFA degree. I checked CCA and the curriculum is very animation-based which I don't really like. In the academy of art, there are four categories ;2D, 3D, modeling and visual effects. But I checked that the reviews for this school are quite negative. Is it a good idea to choose an area to study in Academy of Art rather than the rigid curriculum in Expression?

Meloncov
08-08-2010, 05:06 AM
I checked CCA and the curriculum is very animation-based which I don't really like.

I'm going to CCA with the intent of being a modeler or texture artist, and I'm pretty satisfied. You can graduate from the program with only three semesters of actual animation (as opposed to modeling, texturing, ect.) if you want to. Yes, the variety of TD related classes is pretty limited, but they are expanding rapidly and the department head can add new classes to fit the interests of even relatively small groups of student (if you can find eight people who want to take a class in a subject, he'll make it happen). Further, and more importantly, every single animation teacher at CCA would be a superstar at another institution. A few years ago, Academy had the Pixar Classes, which less than one in ten animation students would be able to take. Every single CCA student gets classes from the exact same instructors (well, two out of three of them; one has moved to Florida to work at Ringling).

Plus, the other departments at the school are also strong, which I think is important. If you want to be, say, a character modeler, strong life drawing, illustration, and anatomy classes are vital.

gawl126
08-08-2010, 06:44 AM
Have you tried looking at SJSU's Animation program? It's a well respected program which has received funding from DreamWorks Animation. And that school is a whole lot cheaper.

waisengleong
08-09-2010, 03:31 AM
I'm going to CCA with the intent of being a modeler or texture artist, and I'm pretty satisfied. You can graduate from the program with only three semesters of actual animation (as opposed to modeling, texturing, ect.) if you want to. Yes, the variety of TD related classes is pretty limited, but they are expanding rapidly and the department head can add new classes to fit the interests of even relatively small groups of student (if you can find eight people who want to take a class in a subject, he'll make it happen). Further, and more importantly, every single animation teacher at CCA would be a superstar at another institution. A few years ago, Academy had the Pixar Classes, which less than one in ten animation students would be able to take. Every single CCA student gets classes from the exact same instructors (well, two out of three of them; one has moved to Florida to work at Ringling).

Plus, the other departments at the school are also strong, which I think is important. If you want to be, say, a character modeler, strong life drawing, illustration, and anatomy classes are vital.

Did some one graduate by using just 3 semesters in CCA? Is that possible?
I checked the curriculum and there are 75 units studio requirements.

Meloncov
08-09-2010, 04:05 AM
Did some one graduate by using just 3 semesters in CCA? Is that possible?
I checked the curriculum and there are 75 units studio requirements.

Err, maybe if someone transferred in a whole ton of credits. You can do up to eighteen credits a semester (really not fun, though, especially if they're all studio classes), plus another six or so during the summer.

rmelville
08-09-2010, 04:48 AM
Hey, man, your comments are really detailed and helpful!!
Another question I have is that the curriculum in Gnomon and Expression is more or less the same, it is very diverse. So you think the time frame is so rigid that the students wont have time to build up a portfolio specific in a particular focus?

And do you suggest Academy of Art or CCA? Both offer MFA degree. I checked CCA and the curriculum is very animation-based which I don't really like. In the academy of art, there are four categories ;2D, 3D, modeling and visual effects. But I checked that the reviews for this school are quite negative. Is it a good idea to choose an area to study in Academy of Art rather than the rigid curriculum in Expression?

It depends on what you want to specialize in, but in general, I think the "accelerated" 2 1/2 year program is in many ways a marketing gimmick. The fact is you just can't learn this stuff overnight. If you already have a solid traditional art background, then 2 1/2 years may be a more reasonable timeframe, but otherwise I think they're selling you a pipedream when the recruiters say stuff like "get in, get out in 30 months, and get a job in the VFX industry". It just doesn't work that way. There are very few student success stories that have come out of Expression over the last couple years (in fairness, the state of the economy is a significant contributor) The most talented student character animators I knew from Expression are still trying to find work over a year after graduation or have already pursued different career paths.

I can't give you an opinion on CCA. I've heard mixed reviews on Academy of Art. I know they have a stronger focus on traditional art, which I believe is a good thing. You'll spend a boat load there as well, especially if you choose to live in SF.

I've also heard good things about SJSU's animation program.

I can tell you that my experience with Gnomon tutorials and instructional DVDs has been outstanding. Although I've never met or been in a classroom with them, I consider Gnomon artists and contributors like Alex Alvarez, Zach Petroc, Scott Patton, Ian Joyner and Ryan Kingslien to be some of my best teachers. These are all true industry pros who have made me a much better artist and technician, for a fraction of the price of tuition at schools like Expression or Academy of Art.

Keep in mind that any school is ultimately what you make of it. If I had an opportunity to do it all over again, I would take some traditional art classes (figure drawing, animation, painting...whatever) at a community college for cheap. You can also easily take advantage of free online forums and tutorials to learn software apps like Maya, ZBrush, etc. After that, you'll have a much better idea of what exactly you want to pursue, and then you can make a decision on whether or not you want to invest a small fortune on a pricy Visual FX school.

Again, I'll reiterate that very few people in this industry give two cents about whether you have a BFA or MFA or whatever. It's meaningless if you don't have a high quality portfolio to back it up, and they only way you get that is through a ton of hard work, dedication, humility, and sacrifice.

Hope this is useful!

waisengleong
08-10-2010, 09:21 AM
It depends on what you want to specialize in, but in general, I think the "accelerated" 2 1/2 year program is in many ways a marketing gimmick. The fact is you just can't learn this stuff overnight. If you already have a solid traditional art background, then 2 1/2 years may be a more reasonable timeframe, but otherwise I think they're selling you a pipedream when the recruiters say stuff like "get in, get out in 30 months, and get a job in the VFX industry". It just doesn't work that way. There are very few student success stories that have come out of Expression over the last couple years (in fairness, the state of the economy is a significant contributor) The most talented student character animators I knew from Expression are still trying to find work over a year after graduation or have already pursued different career paths.

I can't give you an opinion on CCA. I've heard mixed reviews on Academy of Art. I know they have a stronger focus on traditional art, which I believe is a good thing. You'll spend a boat load there as well, especially if you choose to live in SF.

I've also heard good things about SJSU's animation program.

I can tell you that my experience with Gnomon tutorials and instructional DVDs has been outstanding. Although I've never met or been in a classroom with them, I consider Gnomon artists and contributors like Alex Alvarez, Zach Petroc, Scott Patton, Ian Joyner and Ryan Kingslien to be some of my best teachers. These are all true industry pros who have made me a much better artist and technician, for a fraction of the price of tuition at schools like Expression or Academy of Art.

Keep in mind that any school is ultimately what you make of it. If I had an opportunity to do it all over again, I would take some traditional art classes (figure drawing, animation, painting...whatever) at a community college for cheap. You can also easily take advantage of free online forums and tutorials to learn software apps like Maya, ZBrush, etc. After that, you'll have a much better idea of what exactly you want to pursue, and then you can make a decision on whether or not you want to invest a small fortune on a pricy Visual FX school.

Again, I'll reiterate that very few people in this industry give two cents about whether you have a BFA or MFA or whatever. It's meaningless if you don't have a high quality portfolio to back it up, and they only way you get that is through a ton of hard work, dedication, humility, and sacrifice.

Hope this is useful!

So even the most talented students can't find a job? I guess there is career assistance in the college... I don't know how efficient the assistance is though.

I think you are already pretty good in traditional art. ( I checked your demo reel in the college website, it is impressive!) I did take some art and design classes in college and will be taking two more animation classes in the university. I am planning to ask the advisor if I can waive the art classes and the Intro to animation class, and of course the GE classes as well.

helios0684
09-25-2010, 08:02 AM
I went to the school and found the experience fairly negative as a whole. Some of the students whom were in my cohort tended to be err on extremely immature. One got nailed for looking at porn and just got a slap on the wrist, then proceeded to stalk and harass people in the class about who 'ratted' on him rather than realized he got off lucky and clean up his act, though he did get a more 'official' punishment, but at ECDA, that means nothing if you can cough up the tuition money.

Others engaged in pointless bullying over really silly stuff (like over the one girl in the class -- yea, like you are going to get any while you go there...), while more had very little discernable talent and just did not put in the work. I learned some things before I left -- really did great in my fine art classes, but I have some innate talent with art despite the fact I was relatively uninitiated when I started.

Learning from experience too, criticizing the administration or instructors for anything, regardless of how petty, often resulted in -you- being punished, regardless of who was at fault. Student disputes were often seemed to be settled by who had the most money as well. I also felt that some of my classes were taught straight from a tech manual I could have easily purchased at B&N for about one hundreth of the cost of the class. The teachers, however, who were really on the ball, were awesome and I can't say enough good things about them.

My experience with my fellow students, who were either never truly punished for egregious misbehavior, instructors and students building petty fiefdoms rather than working out differences, pity passing students to pump them for more money rather than doing the 'right and merciful thing (failing them) just led me to leave in disgust. I'd say stay away from Ex'pression. I've heard that ever since the founder passed away, the place has been in a general downhill slide. Which is really sad, because I heard the place used to be fairly good. But I double the sentiment that you can't learn this stuff in 2.5 years. If I were in a different class or around a different group of people, who knows -- I might have finished. Your mileage may really vary, but my general stance? Stay away, especially since there are no admissions standards beyond a pulse and a line of credit/checkbook.

waisengleong
09-25-2010, 09:36 AM
What program did you enroll? Do you know the situation in Animation program?
Are the students really that bad??
So there are bullying and sexual harassment happening in the school?
That shocks me...
But are the teachers good?
I used to hear that the students are not serious with their classes...

I went to the school and found the experience fairly negative as a whole. Some of the students whom were in my cohort tended to be err on extremely immature. One got nailed for looking at porn and just got a slap on the wrist, then proceeded to stalk and harass people in the class about who 'ratted' on him rather than realized he got off lucky and clean up his act, though he did get a more 'official' punishment, but at ECDA, that means nothing if you can cough up the tuition money.

Others engaged in pointless bullying over really silly stuff (like over the one girl in the class -- yea, like you are going to get any while you go there...), while more had very little discernable talent and just did not put in the work. I learned some things before I left -- really did great in my fine art classes, but I have some innate talent with art despite the fact I was relatively uninitiated when I started.

Learning from experience too, criticizing the administration or instructors for anything, regardless of how petty, often resulted in -you- being punished, regardless of who was at fault. Student disputes were often seemed to be settled by who had the most money as well. I also felt that some of my classes were taught straight from a tech manual I could have easily purchased at B&N for about one hundreth of the cost of the class. The teachers, however, who were really on the ball, were awesome and I can't say enough good things about them.

My experience with my fellow students, who were either never truly punished for egregious misbehavior, instructors and students building petty fiefdoms rather than working out differences, pity passing students to pump them for more money rather than doing the 'right and merciful thing (failing them) just led me to leave in disgust. I'd say stay away from Ex'pression. I've heard that ever since the founder passed away, the place has been in a general downhill slide. Which is really sad, because I heard the place used to be fairly good. But I double the sentiment that you can't learn this stuff in 2.5 years. If I were in a different class or around a different group of people, who knows -- I might have finished. Your mileage may really vary, but my general stance? Stay away, especially since there are no admissions standards beyond a pulse and a line of credit/checkbook.

helios0684
09-25-2010, 06:05 PM
What program did you enroll? Do you know the situation in Animation program?
Are the students really that bad??
So there are bullying and sexual harassment happening in the school?
That shocks me...
But are the teachers good?
I used to hear that the students are not serious with their classes...

@Wai: I said your mileage may vary, but I found a lot of the students to be fairly immature. Ranging from anything including bragging about drug experiences to chauvinistic commentary to outright bullying for any number of petty reasons. The same student who looked at porn in class also drew on the work of another student in the class on a regular basis, though the victim was a poor artist at best. I was always confounded by his utter lack of drive to improve himself and using the excuse of 'artists vision' to console himself, even though he did the minimal work and just ran home to play games after the school day was over. However, students like him tend to get 'pity-passes', because the instructors become so infuriated (or may be instructed to pass, based on the fact that the student's parents might give a lot of money?) that they simply give said student the minimum passing grade just to get them -out- of their class.

As far as sexual harassment goes: A lot of guys tend to congregate around the one or two girls in the class, especially if they fall into the physically attractive mode. Objectification occurs a lot.

Animation program is decent, but I've heard from a number of people that stuff is no longer industry current, thus causing issues when you get your portfolio out there. Furthermore, is 5 weeks REALLY enough time to get your game down in one subject before they immediately shuttle you off to the next, and totally unrelated subject? No. Teachers? Hit and miss.

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