View Full Version : Seeking Advice on How to Best Jumpstart My Career as an Animator

12 December 2012, 06:02 AM
Hello there,

Like the title said, I'm asking for advice on trying to be an animator. My situation is this, I am 22 and currently live in Corvallis, OR, I just recently have come to the realization that I want to work in the Animation field. I took one class in California a few years ago working with Bryce and I loved it, but the program was cut from the school and I thought I had other interests. But now I've come back around to believing that this is what I want to do. With everything I have been through in my life I am now ready to kick my life and education into high gear. I am taking a year off of school for two reasons: 1. I currently am on academic suspension from my community school in Texas, long story short I couldn't attend class due to needing money to pay rent. 2. I need to save money for whatever college I attend next year.

I want to be an animator, for movies or games I don't know, but I want to do something in this field, my real dilemma is choosing what school to go to to achieve this. Oregon State University is only a five minute drive from my house, it's close but I feel like their program isn't very big and it feels more broad of a program then anything, and wouldn't help me when I would graduate with finding a job at one of the top companies in the industry. There is the Art Institute at Portland, this is about an hour drive, I think this would be a great school to attend because it allows you to specialize more on working with the animation programs, instead of what OSU might be with. Lastly, I have only just started doing research on it but Full Sail University, a lot of websites say that Full Sail is if not the best school to go to to specialize in animation, I would be of course taking classes online, so one down side I see just on what I've seen would be I wouldn't get the face to face that the other school would give me.

As you can probably tell I haven't done a whole lot of research yet, like I have said earlier I am very new to all of this. I am trying to play catch up and find out as much as I can about everything before starting school back up next fall. I really do want to succeed in this industry, but I feel like if I don't pick the right school to give me the best chance at succeeding. I'll be stuck at a dead end job never getting that chance to achieve what I want to achieve.

I apologize for rambling on and on, and I look forward to reading any replies of advice for me and my situation.
Sincerely, WannabeAnimator723

12 December 2012, 04:30 PM
Start near the end: where would you like to work? Ask your dream employer what they are looking for, from what schools do they get interns or hire graduates, contact these graduates, contact the schools and their students. Be aware that schools usually tell you that they are the exception to the rule that art students usually end up unemployed, and that all studios are fighting to hire their graduates. Do your homework.

In the meantime, work on your drawing skills, start a sketchbook, draw from life, get used to that 'OMGISUCK' feeling that keeps you from drawing, attend life drawing sessions, study perspective, and don't wait for things to happen. Start today.

12 December 2012, 12:39 AM
I am personaly a 3D modeler but every animator I talk to or hear of a great recource talks about this as there go to:

Also I can hear school setting you back Westwood did that for me. There is a great list at the top of this form of possible schools and picking the right one is going to either help or hinder you in the long run. Here are the things I would do no matter what school you think you want to pursue:

Do the leg work and look into these three things no matter the school your thinking off:
1) Instructors that STILL work in the industry they teach and have notable accomplishments. You want people who teach you that actually have done what they are teaching no from theory. For instance I rather learn animation from a professional animator who works for Pixar then some one who just graduated with a Animation degree and found a teaching gig... (Westwood I am looking at you)

2) The school is connected with industry. Don’t take the student placement department word that they have a 99% placement rate and are “in” with the 3D scene. No get a list of 10 students that graduated from the last class names and hunt them down. Ask them if the school helped them land there first gig and what they thought of the school. A un happy customer will tell you if their angry and why there angry without a second thought so use this.

3) Look over the curriculum and post it on some 3D forms for what you want to train in and get other professional opinions don’t take the blank slate that Degree X will make you a 3D character Modeler. Remember that any place you pick needs to have some kind of Portfolio set up in it so that it can get your most important part ready before they boot you out the door.

I read good reviews over Gnomon, Think Tank, Animation Mentor so fare. I would avoid Westwood, Full Sail, and Art Institute as I ran into the most gripes around these schools.

12 December 2012, 05:02 PM
If you want to do character animation look at the online programs like iAnimate, AnimSchool, and Animation Mentor (not Full Sail). I personally think there's a lot of value in a degree, but for the animation side of things you won't find better instruction at a more reasonable rate than online.

12 December 2012, 04:08 AM
Thank you both for the advice and information,

I was doing some more research and I really like animation mentor online program. The mentors seem to have great credentials, some are even still working with the big companies. Also in there Character Animation program that they have they use the animators survival kit, so it's kind of like a win win there.

I did really like what you said Fig about getting a degree, I was thinking about it and I thought that maybe I should get a degree from Oregon State in there New Media Communication program and then take animation mentor towards the end of my degree. Or do you think I should maybe get a degree in another field so that I could have a back up plan sort of thing?
Thanks again for the advice, hope to hear back soon.
Sincerly, WannabeAnimator723
Also I was wondering if you two had any opinions on the Curriculum at Oregon State?
Production BFA Specialty (73–77):
The production specialty is designed to provide a foundation in media aesthetics, story conceptualization and preproduction planning for linear and nonlinear/interactive projects, video production, sound design and 3D modeling and animation. Students are encouraged to explore their own creativity within a carefully constructed curriculum that serves as a basis for independent work and portfolio development. Faculty members include artists, videographers, editors and composers from professional production environments.

Foundation Course Work (48–49)

*ART 101. *Introduction to the Visual Arts (4)
*ART 115. Foundations: 2-D (4)
*ART 120. Foundations: Digital Imaging (3)
*ART 121. Foundations: Computers in Visual Arts (3)
*ART 122. Foundations: 4-D (4)
*ART 131. Foundations: Drawing I (4)
*ART 263. Digital Photography (4)
*NMC XXX. Visual Communication and Graphics (4) [Pending approval]
*NMC 330. The Meaning of Video Games (3)
*TA 242. Visual Principles of Theatre (3)
*TA 346. Scene and Stage Design (3)
*WR 407. Seminar: Screenwriting (3)

One of the following:

*ART 206. Introduction to Art History –Western (3)
*ENG 125. Introduction to Film Studies: 1945–Present (3)
*ENG 265. Films for the Future (4)
*ENG 245. The New American Cinema (4)

Production Course Work (select 8 courses) (24–28)

*MUS 493. Basic Recording Techniques (3)
*MUS 494. Intermediate Recording Techniques (3)
*MUS 495. Advanced Recording Techniques (3)
*MUS 496. Surround Sound Recording and Mastering (2)
*NMC 302. Reporting (3)
*NMC 305. Copyediting (3)
*NMC 380. Pre-Production (3) [Pending approval to 4 credits]
*NMC 382. Studio and Multicamera Production (4)
*NMC 383. Field Production (4)
*NMC 409. Practicum: Portfolio Preparation and Show (Capstone) (1–16)
*NMC 433. New Media Story Telling (3)
*NMC 481. Post Production (4)
*NMC 482. Documentary (4)
*NMC 483. New Media 3D (4)
*NMC 484. New Media Animation (4)

Students interested in character animation are recommended to also take:

*ART 234. Drawing II/Figure (4)
*TA 248. Fundamentals of Acting I (3)

Students pursuing the Digital Communication Arts Production BFA will take a total of approximately 119 total credits from the course work listed above to complete the major. The degree does not require the College of Liberal Arts Core or the college’s BA/BS requirements. The requirements within the major exceed those of the CLA core making it redundant.

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