View Full Version : Anyone familiar with Depaul University's animation program?

01 January 2012, 12:52 PM
My daughter was looking at Depaul for their MFA in animation. It looked great, and even has courses that I have not seen elsewhere such as on Forensic Animation. However I rarely see it mentioned on forums. Anyone familiar with their program? Also, it is a Roman Catholic school but does try for diversity. However, how out of place would a non-catholic feel?

01 January 2012, 04:40 PM
Thanks for actually bringing this up. I was unaware that DePaul had a MFA program for animation. I too would also be interested if anyone has experience with their program. The Forensic Aniamtion courses offered that you mentioned is rather unique and welcoming. I enjoy that type of animation too - it kind of lets people know that there are many different areas where animation can be of use instead of the classics that everyone just thinks about. I might have to go ahead and request some information from them myself.

In addition, I wouldn't really worry about what type of religious school they denote themselves as, I know a couple of people that went to DePaul, and they never said anything positive or negative about it. If it does concern you, I would recommened calling their addmissions department and ask to speak to them about it to see if there are any required courses that need to be taken.

01 January 2012, 05:32 PM
As a grad student, my daughter isn't worried about taking any required religious courses since there are no requirements like this. However, I do wonder what it would be like to not be Catholic attending a primarily Catholic oriented school. Would there be a lot of discrimination by the students, as an example?

Also, as you noted, you are unaware of their MFA program. If it isn't listed in any CG Forum, is it because it isn't known to the animation studios?> If so, it might have fewer connections for contacts too.

01 January 2012, 05:48 PM
I didn't mean to suggest that she was worried - I just meant I dont think it is something that would alter my decision necessarily. I know that some colleges require that you take courses that reflect their views - if DePaul has none, then that might suggest that they aren't too heavy on that. The people I know who went there never said anything about it, so based on that, I would assume that there is most likely a non-influence put on students...I guess you could always just go and visit the campus and see how the student life is in person, and maybe your daughter could talk to some students and see what they say and make a decision based on that.

As for the MFA, just because I never knew about it, I don't want her to persuade a decision based on that - I put my MFA thoughts on hold for a while so I wasn't really looking recently. However, having a college that is close that does offer an MFA in Animation is nice as well. You could ask admissions to see what the job placement rate in the field of study is, and to what compaines have some of the students went on to work for. An MFA in animation is rare to find, so it might be newer at some colleges. DePaul is a very large and reputable college - if they are offereing this, it might be also good to see where some of their teachers used to work. Some colleges will pay good money to bring over talent especially if a program might be newer.

Please keep us posted on any findings that you may come across.

01 January 2012, 09:38 PM
I would be much less concerned about the Catholic roots of DePaul and more about the faculty (how much industry experience?), the quality and number of classes, and the post-graduation employment support (including placement rates for internships, jobs, etc.). Location is important, too; Chicago is not a major hub for 3D work and if you want a gig in games, for example, there are a limited number of studios in the area. Day 1 was recently hit with a ton of layoffs and I know people were scrambling -- their options are limited unless they want to move. The local industry size also has an effect on what kind of teachers and internship opportunities are available.

Edit: Did your daughter major in animation or art? Is she interested in a particular aspect of 3D animation? Or more fine-art focused?

01 January 2012, 11:47 PM
My daughter's main interest is in movie animation and commercials and maybe even forensic stuff, but she won't turn down a gaming gig. Gaming is not her top priority, however.

Her background is in digital design,which is mainly interactive and web design, although she did have some basic training in animation and motion. She also took an 8 month program through Boston University here in Wash DC that covers the full gamut of the animation pipeline ,which included animation, zbrush training, 3d modeling, rigging, lighting, texturing etc.

She also has studied a few of the Gnomon online videos as part of her BU training.

My feeling is that she got a lot of what Gnomon would teach but not in the same depth.

This is why I asked about Depaul. Although their program looked strong, I don't know anything about their faculty and contacts etc.

01 January 2012, 12:12 AM
I met a couple of profs from DePaul at the GDC last year and I have visited the campus in the past. They appear to have a solid math, physics, AI, and programming education, but I don't know anything about their animation or arts program.

The "industry experience" of faculty that is often brought up about schools (at least in the U.S.) must be tempered with the realities of accredited educational degrees. Teaching at a college or university requires a minimum of a master's degree (and often even a Ph.D.). The number of people with an MA or higher and industry experience is more limited than you might think. For-profit schools (with no accreditation or trade accreditation) have more leeway to hire people with "industry experience," but that is not a good predictor of success for a program. Professors with solid math, physics, AI, programming, etc. education and experience in their field is more important than industry experience at a university. I have seen instructors with solid industry experience that are horrible teachers and I have seen Ph.D.s that are horrible teachers. Finding someone that has a higher degree, industry experience, and good teaching skills is a rare find indeed. Also, the "industry experience" is often a focused set of skills and thus it will be an extremely rare case to have a program staffed by enough teachers with focused industry skills in all areas of the program.

If the school has a solid reputation (for math, computer science, etc.) then students that want to learn will learn. In my experience, good education is not about "high tech," but more about "high touch" (the passion of the teacher, the desire of the student, and a supporting atmosphere). You will likely find that teachers with passion also "know their stuff."

You often hear "those who can't teach," but that pejorative comment also applies in equal measure to industry experience (those who can can't teach). Getting an education costs a lot of money these days and personally visiting a campus, meeting profs and students, and doing your homework is vital before choosing a school.

01 January 2012, 03:29 AM
I actually graduated from DePaul's undergrad animation program, and I can tell you a few things.

1) DePaul may be a Catholic school on paper, but it definitely doesn't feel like it. Most of the time I didn't even realize I was at a Catholic school. Also, the animation dept is in downtown Chicago, which DEFINITELY doesn't feel catholic.

2) There are two programs at DePaul. The 'computer graphics and animation' program is the older program. The animation/digital cinema animation program is the newer one.

2) The (new) animation program at DePaul is budding, but showing promise. The director of the animation program is very passionate about the concept/art side of computer animation and has been pushing the program to become better every year.
There are student-run groups who get together just to make animation, visiting artists (such as Yuri Norstein), in-industry professors (mostly from gaming), and school production events (game jam, weekend animation collaborations). The school also has an animation-centric newsletter that keeps tabs on events around Chicago, including showings.

3) There are a lot of course in the Master's program that are re-labeled undergrad courses. I was in several of these classes - the master's students simply get a larger workload and more expectations.

4) The (new) animation program works VERY closely with the game dev program.

5) I didn't even know we had a forensics animation class.

It's definitely a school that has a lot of opportunities for someone with the initiative to find them. I wish the school had been what it is today when I attended.

02 February 2012, 04:24 AM
I'm currently finishing my Junior year at DePaul majoring in Animation and going on for my MA in Animation specifically in 3D design. I have taken classes in animation and game development at other colleges and as such I have a bit more background with other schools before I transferred to DePaul halfway through my sophomore year.
DePaul has some really great and insightful professors who, not only know their materials and how it all applies, but know how to motivate a student into doing their best work and pushing their capabilities beyond what they thought they could do. It is largely a "you get out what you put in" kind of deal but in all honesty, what in life isn't? If you don't go to class or don't do the assignments you miss out on valuable hands-on experience and professor guidance.
All of the teachers I've had at DePaul have had their own personal work to show me and are still active in the field creating with other animators and movie-makers. These professors, and advisers, are always bringing in animators and having events to boost interest and creativity. An internship or study abroad program is required to graduate, which is an incredible opportunity in my opinion, not only to gain experience but also to get your foot in the door with a company. The advisers were more than happy to help me look for internships and figure out my class schedule and offer tutoring and materials when needed. I am not sure how it all holds up to places like Gnomon, but I have had a tremendous experience with DePaul thus far and am excited about continuing on for either my MA or my MFA with them. One of the two internships I got is in LA working with DreamWorks and it is all thanks to DePaul's LA Quarter internship program.
Needless to say, I think it is worth your time and effort to consider DePaul. As for the Catholic part, I never really noticed and I'm not Catholic myself. You are required to take two religion classes as an undergrad but the list of classes is huge and Catholicism is only one or two classes out of many you get to choose from. I know there is a Muslim club and a Catholic club and there are probably others I've simply never bothered to look at. Not being a Catholic, shouldn't be a problem at all, especially since it's in downtown Chicago or Lincoln Park.

02 February 2012, 09:38 AM
hey guys thanks for the info... i have been thinking of applying for Depaul university as well for the MFA program... but hence these information are shared here... now i kinda know where i am applying for... hence i will consider some other schools like SCAD and Columbia University as well...

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