View Full Version : Aau

07 July 2010, 12:43 AM

It seems Academy of Art University in San Fransisco doesn't have a concentrated thread of thoughts and opinions; everything is scattered around. Anyone have any experience there? Is getting an MFA in 3d animation/vfx over 3 years worth 2 potential years of lost wages? Is it, like many schools i read about, what you make it? Does the longer time there mean more polishing of skills, and more time to network?


07 July 2010, 01:45 AM
I don't go to AAU, but my experience is a bit similar to yours. I could either go to graduate school or work in a contract position for 3 years at a local company. I discussed this pretty heavily with a supervisor there and we weighed the pros and cons of each path. In the end, he convinced me to go the graduate school route and mentioned to get in contact with him next year to set up an interview for a summer internship.

If you can get a job in the industry doing what you want to do, then just go do that and forget the MFA. I think any school is basically what you make of it. You don't need to go to school to polish your skills or even network with people. You can do all that on your own. If you're still bent on getting that MFA, I think you should consider other schools as well.

07 July 2010, 02:49 AM
Thanks for the feedback.. Let's forget about the MFA, does anyone know anything about the school at all, good or bad?

07 July 2010, 08:31 AM
I need to get my masters done and I felt I might as well get a MFA in Animation and Visual Effects. Their program looked intriguing and seemed to stand out from the rest.

I would like to know if the 3 years program is really worth it or not. Yeah, maybe it can help enhance your network, etc but will it aid me in really polishing my skills (both traditional and digital) or learn something that I dont know yet. For example I am starting to learn Zbrush, and since I need to get my masters done anyways then why not get a degree where they will also help develop what you want. errr two birds with one stone :\ Please advise.

07 July 2010, 06:21 AM
The following is just my observation and opinion. Take it for what it is. Hopefully others can respond with their thoughts and/or experiences.

Just went on a tour today, since I was the only one there looking for a MFA, I was able to meet with a Graduate Admissions Advisor for about an hour after the hour-long tour of the Gaming and Animation/VFX Depts.

He answered all my questions honestly, and was even truthful when I asked him about negative things that I have heard about the school, which I thought was a good thing that he was so openly honest. It would be a terrible practice to keep things as a secret or surprise to students so that things wouldn't be as expected, and he certainly did not do that.

For example, one common complaint of the school is that since most of the instructors not only teach but work in the related industry, they are difficult to get ahold of and are not engaging with students. He actually told me this was the case before I even asked about it, and that it was up to the student to actively seek out professors for additional help. This pays off when it's job search time, and your instructor, a valuable contact, remembers you being 'that guy' who went above and beyond and remained persistent in contacting him.

The following may have easily been a salesman pitch by him - but I'm aware of it so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt while taking it with a grain of salt. Doesn't hurt to share information.

I asked him directly what he doesn't like about the school. He said that what he doesn't like is also what he does like - the fact that it is basically open admission. While if I submitted a crappy stick figure drawing as my one piece of portfolio I would surely be put in some foundation courses to get up to speed, their belief is that everyone deserves a chance. So while there may be some weaker students in the pack, what you get out of the school depends on what you put into it - which seems to be the general consensus for most of the schools out there.

He said another thing that caught my attention. They consider their school more like an apprenticeship, that it will prepare you to be able to work in the industry right after graduation. I thought it was a pretty cool way of looking at it.

As for the facilities, they are pretty legit. Small classes sizes, < 20/class in MFA program. I was told up front this can cause a problem with registration since classes fill up quickly, and there is no seniority (seniors don't get precedence over freshmen - first come, first serve) so just register as soon as you are able to and there is no problem. Despite small classroom environment, there is a huge lab of computers so there is never a lack of available equipment. Tour guide said their green screen was one of the largest (2nd largest I think she said but i can't remember for sure) available to students on the west coast. Other neat stuff like that.

I am definitely trying my best to be careful before making a decision - it's certainly a lot of money to go to any good animation/vfx school on the west coast. I really have nothing terrible to say about the place. It also seems pretty good. Good equipment and facilities, qualified teachers. Only gripe is that the classes typically meet once a week, 6 hours a day or so. Not 6 hours of lecture, but 6 hours of actively working, which can be neat, but also a pain in the ass if you are stuck on an assignment and cannot get ahold of your professor until the next week when the assignment is due. But like he said before, actively seek out your professors, and they will be there to help.

Oh, and also, the sample work they show online doesn't do a justice, for some reason, they keep a lot of work off the website, but they show the animated shorts in the buildings, and they are just as good as the student work that comes out of most schools.

I'm looking forward to hearing what anyone else has to say!

07 July 2010, 05:12 AM
My friend is currently doing his BFA there in the same program I think. He won't be doing his MFA there, but instead will be applying to other schools. I can ask him to post his thoughts about the program. He is currently in LA doing his SIGGRAPH volunteer duties. He did mention at one point that there were grad students who were taking the same classes as him.

07 July 2010, 05:26 AM
I'll be there Monday-Wednesday, would you be able to connect us so I could talk to him? PM me and I'll send you my facebook link if he has one.

07 July 2010, 10:44 AM
@Okilo11 - Great insight bro. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing this with us. Going to follow this thread closely.

07 July 2010, 03:03 PM
The "is Acdemy of Art a good school to go to? ( " thread is probably the longest on cgtalk - 115 pages. Start there.

In general, work experience is much more valuable than degrees. But, if you think you can do much better stuff working on your own than you could at the company where you're employed, then doing an MFA and working on your own thesis project there might be a way to jump your demo reel ahead. If you're doing amazing work there, you might get an internship at a better company than the one that employed you, too.

The MFA program is mostly the same as the undergrad, except some of the first-year foundation courses are not requirements, and you have time to work on your thesis. Taking a 3 year MFA program is a faster and more flexible way to complete a degree, but not necessarily any more advanced.


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