Why bother with CG schools?

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  10 October 2003
Why bother with CG schools?

After reading countless posts, I am really wondering why so many people put soooo much weight into going to school for a "degree" in 3D.

After much thought, hiring/firing dozens of aritist, and looking at hundreds of demo reels, I've come to a few conclusions:

1) Most people don't realize that learning at home is cheaper and more efficent. You could buy all the hardware/software you need for cheaper than some schools charge.

2) Maybe some parents put misguided pressure on the students for a "degree" even if it costs more than it is worth, just for the sake of having it. "My son/daughter is no dropout...."

3) Lots of new 3D students aren't hardcore artists, and maybe shouldn't be in this profession. They rather be spoonfed than self proactive. This explains the new pool the weak artists with bad attitudes and horrible work ethics.

4) Peer presure and mis-information from schools create a false sense of what is really needed to susceed in this biz. People like the idea of going to school more than actually learning stuff.

5) and lastly.... Its a good thing that helps some people out with no other way to have acess to technolgy.. (See, I'm not all negative)

I dont mean to rant, or turn this into a flame war, but I just really can't stress enough to people that it is only about the WORK!!! I learned at home, and so did some of the other best guys I know out there. Its all about how dedicated you are, and how much you really want to susceed.

And I'm not saying that school doesn't help lots of people. I'm just saying that people with real talent will do well no matter what. And the ones who can't learn on their own, I think maybe should be doing something else.

No matter how good you are, you are always learning new stuff, sometimes everyday. Its this drive that seperates the minors from the majors.

Your reel is king. Armed with that and a good attitude and a willingness to learn, nothing will stop you.

Dont believe the hype....Do it for yourself....

Last edited by Jackdeth : 10 October 2003 at 07:26 AM.
  10 October 2003
I'm self-taught. And I tell ya, I am ACHING to get to a school. Somewhere I can be around other people who do this stuff and can work with me. Somewhere with TEACHERS who I can ask QUESTIONS. Somewhere that'll fill the gaping holes in what I know.

Sure, you don't need a degree to get work, but honestly it's damn hard to learn this stuff alone.

  10 October 2003
Who said it was easy?

I do agree its great to have other people to bounce ideas off of, but with some digging, books, and web sites...you can survive.

I was 17 learning PowerAnimator version 4.5. I sat in my basement and read the entire manual 2 times before even doing anything in the program. Every page I read, over and over again until it was drilled into my brain. Thats no over-exagearation.

Have you ever read the manuals straight though? Its mostly all there. Then its up to you and your brain power to take all of the tools and make the connections get the results that you want.
  10 October 2003
School is like CgTalk, but with real people. And instead of funny avatars, everybody has disheveled hair and bloodshot eyes.

Schools for computer graphics are very helpful because its the only other place, besides cgtalk, where people will have some idea of what the hell youre talking about. And the best part is, you get responses to your questions immediately. But if you have the drive, and I mean a whole lot of it, then I don't see why someone couldnt successfully do it on their own with books and the internet.
  10 October 2003
Heres the point....

Maybe schools make CG look easy, and lots of the worng people are getting into it. Or maybe they think CG Art is something that can be taught, not grown from an inner talent. Maybe some schools are churning out CG hobbiests, not hardcore CG effects artists.

Maybe people should realize that this is a lifestyle, not just a job.
  10 October 2003
Maybe you should realise that many people learn in many different ways.
If you are self-taught and are good at what you do then I applaud you.
But many others need the motivation and drive that you can only get from a group environment.
Should these types of learners be denied the opportunity to work in this field because they don't have the focus and will power to learn at home in their basement?
Learning to work well with others and in a team environment is something that will happen in the "real world". That is another benefit of learning in a group situation.
Besides, if the school learners don't measure up and are only at a hobbyist level as you claim - then who cares? They won't geta job anyway so no skin off your nose right? It definitely would be cheaper to be self-taught but I know other very talented people at the school I went to who drove me to try harder and excel.
Also, learning in a group environment can help excellerate your skill level. Learning from acheivements and mistakes from others around you instead of drudging through on your own. We're not all 17 living with our parents with little responsibility and all the time in the world.
Leave it up to the individual and how they want to learn. Their choice - their money.

character animator
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  10 October 2003
Yeah, but...

Learning cg isn't about just hardware and software. It's the fundamentals of a few diciplines of art. Composition, perspective, lighting, motion, mood, etc. The list goes on. The better artists are artists, not technicians. The thing that makes CG great is it's artistry. I think alot of schools are missing that. Well, at least they were in my day Schools that can teach that, or who rercuit people with a "good eye" are worth it.

But the true benefit of a school environment is being in a community where you watch Ideas come to realisation. In school I watched people do their work, and It helped me realize that wasnt what I wanted. I watched people's demo reels, and decided how I was going to stand apart. School gave me a point of reference as to the level I wanted to be at, and a style I wanted to pursue. Kind of fueled my drive. It also allowed me access to machines and video decks, as well as school sponsored events. Besides that, I got my first job through a professor of mine. And we all know that first job is the roughest. --or is it the second?

Regardless, there are arguments to be made for both sides of th school issue, but in the end it's really up to your drive and attitude.
  10 October 2003
uh-oh...not another one of these

There was a debate about this not long ago, if you wanna see the pros and cons of going to school, here ya go:

Game Artist's Perspective #7: 5 Good Reasons not to go to College

I think it should actually be a logical choice whether you decide to go to school. If you have a valid reason for not going then don't, but I sure hope it's valid. School isn't for everyone, sure isn't for me, but I made myself do it anyway cuz that's part of the challenge for me. I say do it and get it over with while you're at the most capable point in your life, which is usually right out of high school. It gets to be more and more difficult later. (I've dropped out twice).

I had a very hard time making myself stay in school...for about 2 or so years of college I was learning everything on my own and NOTHING in school, so I figured it was because the school I was going to did not have a challenging enough program. I finally transferred elsewhere (unfortunately 500 miles away). Luckily I had gotten a lot of core classes out of the way and was able to go directly into 3D classes at the most crucial point that I needed something to challenge me. Had I not have transferred, I doubt I would have gotten anywhere beyond an associate's degree. I'd probably still be doing tech support or something, making more money and being much more miserable

IMO, It's just a much more efficient learning process if you have deadlines to meet and teams you have to work with among so many other things. There are so many things to learn besides the technical skills.

Like I said...if you have the opportunity to go to school (especially if you don't have to pay your own way), you don't really have any reason NOT to go. Better to regret something you did do than something you didn't. I rarely EVER hear anyone say they regret having gone to school. (If they do, they usually play scapegoat for their own laziness). I often hear people regret NOT having gone to school though and end up in a situation that makes it too late to go back.

  10 October 2003

hey, im just starting threedy, about a 2 months ago, and i tihnk im on the right track. I do think i want to persue 3d animation for film as a career, but have a few questions.

What kind of post secondary education is best? I've always thought about heading to university, but it seems most 3d schools are colleges, is this the best way to go? Ive heard employers often take university students over college students.

Now is secondary education useful? I probably will go, but the thing is, i am self taught photoshop, and did web design proffesionally, and seeing my art compared to those who have just got out of art schools, i begin to wonder... is it really worth going?
  10 October 2003
Some people need 3d school, some don't. If you have lots of money and think you're one of those that would be better off in 3d school, by all means go for it. If you don't have lots of money, think twice, you'll be paying off that debt for a LONG time... and in any case, whether or not you have lots of money, or plan to go to 3d school - do 1 or 2 years of traditional art school first. Because it's
* Much cheaper
* just as much fun as 3d school, if not more
* will help you a LOT when you start in 3d
* if you weren't all that sure in the first place about 3d, it will give you a good idea of if you should continue or not
  10 October 2003
Quote: Originally posted by polyester
uh-oh...not another one of these

uh-oh... not another one of these "not another one of these" posts.


Quote: Originally posted by Jackdeth
Have you ever read the manuals straight though? Its mostly all there. Then its up to you and your brain power to take all of the tools and make the connections get the results that you want. ------ No matter how good you are, you are always learning new stuff, sometimes everyday. Its this drive that seperates the minors from the majors. ------ Your reel is king. Armed with that and a good attitude and a willingness to learn, nothing will stop you.

This is all so true, IMO.

If you're good at learning things on your own [THIS IS KEY], and you can get a list of the things you'll need to know for your career goal, you can save a lot of time and money by skipping the whole school thing.

Before I became a student at the Art Institute in Chicago 3 years ago, I was already 6 years deep into 3D computer animation. Everyone at school was shocked by the freshman who already knew how to do walk cycles, special effects animation, and so on. I stayed only for the fundamentals classes [design, composition, color theory, life drawing, etc], and then I left.

WARNING: If you do decide to learn everything on your own, start with the basics/fundamentals, try to be as thorough as possible with your research, and always set deadlines for yourself. Setting deadlines will help keep the pressure on, and keep you moving forward. Also, try to set your bar as high as possible, but not too high Ė you donít want to hurt yourself.

Last edited by Cinematography : 10 October 2003 at 01:16 PM.
  10 October 2003
Quote: Originally posted by Cinematography
Art Institute in Chicago

I've been there myself. Those are one of the schools that I feel Jackdeth was indeliberately referring to, IMO; the all-to-common breeding ground for CG "hobbiests". There's a ton of them out there, and it's an accurate estimate that a very low percentage of their graduate students really WANT to work in the field of 3D.

When I was at the said institute, the students seemed to care more about social life and very little about fundamentals, and their excuse was, "I'm gonna be a 3D artist, I don't need this stuff". Lo and behold, when the 3D courses rolled around a year later, the same people were hanging out in front of the building for hours on end, day after day.

In the world of computer graphics, you've gotta move fast and keep up with the buzz. No matter if you go to school or not, you've gotta help yourself.
  10 October 2003
I think people like me who started learning CG at home and are on there way quite well, don't need any CG school. Besides that i think many people doing CG (especially cg animation) think they can make something good because they have the software and hardware.... (correct me when i'm wrong, no offense to anyone)
i've been reading some books and stuff about 2d animation, like the old disney movies...and it's really helpfull when doing your CG. So maybe focus on that first, maybe at a school, and then use it in your cg graphics.
  10 October 2003
I think one of the pros of going to the school is the trouble shooting and pro experience some of the better schools can provide. I know that VFS has a very comprehensive system which includes the art side to cg creation too. I seriously doubt and have seen very little non schooled cg work that can match


so, don't be that eager to knock the schooling system yet. As for the holygrail of getting production experience, come on, its hard to even get the foot in the door and I'm totally not sure or keen on working for free as an intern. That's not to say I don't have drive or desire but this working for free business is NOT on, no matter the industry. Time = money = rent payments, etc
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