Education overkill or higher failure potential?

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  11 November 2012

You have a four-year degree and thus know how to study and learn hopefully. Check out some Gnomon Workshop DVDs (in area that you want to focus) as well as eat3D, 3D Motive, etc. There are workshops here on CG Society as well as other sites. Gnomon is a good school, but you can post work and get feedback here and other sites as well as take a workshop and get critiques. There are at least six video game/CG developers (and even an animation studio in West Burlington that relocated from California) in Iowa (and a couple in Omaha, NE). The Indie scene is growing in the Midwest (much lower cost of living, less congestion, and other reasons). I'm aware of a couple of Midwest business incubator programs for CG/VFX related growth that will hopefully help build some smaller and Indie firms. If you like the Midwest there are possibilities (and a $150,000 house in Iowa with lots of land would skyrocket to $750,000 to over $1,000,000 in California and the taxes and cost of living there are outrageous. You need entertainment/social life? You can fly once a month or more to other areas and still save a ton of money (and escape the crowd when you leave)). Check out the cost of living in LA before you decide on Gnomon also.

Good luck
  11 November 2012
Online Schools and the midwest

I am hoping they don't approve my previous post because I don't want to sound like an advertisement. I have gone to 2 online schools for animation. I can give you more specifics if you'd like but I just want to say that one of the benefits is that the instructors at a lot of these online schools are either working or have worked in the industry. So you would be networking with industry professionals even if you live in the midwest. I live in Ohio and have met people from Blue Sky, Laika, Reel F/X, Weta, Dreamworks, Sony, Disney and Nickelodeon. All from the comfort of my couch! Good luck with the next steps of you journey.
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by leigh: I don't want to sound overly cynical, but I'm mildly suspicious about the fact that two people have posted within a short space of time essentially promoting the same course, especially since both of you have previous posts promoting this particular school. Please note that we do not allow course advertising in this particular forum. If someone asks about a specific school that's fine, but when students or staff come along and suggest courses or schools out of the blue, it looks rather suspiciously like advertising.

My intention wasn't to spam the topic. I talk about the school because it helped me in a frustrating situation and wanted to spread the word to others going through the same, like Vanessa. I apologize for that.

Going back to the topic, Frank is right, stay in touch with forums, specially the ones focused on what you want to do, feedback and practice are always the best way to improve, even while at school.
  11 November 2012
Thanks a ton for the the help every one. I am starting to consider online courses, but I am not very knowledgeable on the topic so I definitely need more research into it before any commitments are made.

Since my original post I have been on a roller coaster of decision making. the people in my life are pressuring for the move, for example my parents are under the impression that I will suddenly be in an environment with other artists...even though I will still have to work out of my home to produce the portfolio. I feel like I will have to work more hours at a dead end job to stay afloat in LA, which would give me less time to develop my portfolio. I honestly can't get a foot hold with the situation.
  11 November 2012
Stay where you are. Post work online. Get feedback. Work to improve. Make a reel that's good enough to actually compete for a position in a studio.

Then move.

  11 November 2012
School is a good option for many reasons. You can't ask questions of a DVD. A Youtube video doesn't have industry connections that can leaad you to a job. That being said, going to a school is no employment guarentee. But you can gain valuable skills and contacts with the right school. Look into one of the community colleges in the area. After gaining CA residence they are very in-expensive (about $45 a credit or about $135 dollars per class). Many have excellent classes and facilities. And many employ people in the industry just like Gnomon.
Jeffrey Baker
Department Chair, Animation
College of the Canyons
Santa Clarita, CA
  11 November 2012
Its definitely a tricky situation and unfortunately I feel as though it is a gamble where you have to go with your gut feeling. Sometimes, you wait looking for a job when you could have at least got 2 years more academic experience during that time. My advice? Set yourself a time limit to find a job and really dedicate yourself to the search (many people kid themselves they tried their best and really could have put more effort in when they look back) and if by the time you reach your time period you don't have a job then sign up for the course. Student debts are the 'best' out of all the debts to have and I don't think you should worry about paying them off as most people are in the same boat. Do what you know you will have the most fun and enjoyment doing, the rest will fall into place!
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by leigh: "97% placement rate" is meaningless marketing speak. Placement rate where, exactly? Technically speaking, a placement could be a two week internship at some studio nobody has ever heard of, rotoing frames for a 3D conversion. It's absolutely not a "guarantee" of a placement in a "dream job". Be wary of the promises that specialised schools make - and this is particularly true considering the current climate of the VFX industry, especially in the States. Lots of my friends in California can't even find work, and they've all generally got more than a decade of experience behind them.

I'm telling you a fact that most schools will not tell you: most studios do not care about your schooling. They really don't. I've never, ever in my entire career (which has lasted over a decade and been spent at numerous studios across three continents) ever been asked about my education by a studio; employers want to see your reel and that's it. Education only really becomes a factor if you're looking to relocate to another country, and considering you already have a degree, you already have that covered.

Learn any way you wish, whether it's online courses, DVD tutorials, books, whatever. Just sit down and focus on your work and get really good at it. I'm assuming that since you wanted to go to Gnomon, you probably want to work in VFX. Well VFX studios, especially the bigger ones, tend to hire mostly specialists so it would be a good idea to choose a discipline you enjoy the most and focus on that once you've got a good mastery of the fundamentals of everything.


Read again if in doubt.

Cesar M.
__________________ - The Online Portfolio Development School
  12 December 2012
Originally Posted by leigh: Stay where you are. Post work online. Get feedback. Work to improve. Make a reel that's good enough to actually compete for a position in a studio.

Then move.


This. I will offer you my life as a example:
1) Went to Westwood for a degree in Game Art and Design (Not a great school I stay away from it)
2) Moved to San Francisco Bay Area with out a portfolio ready to get in the industry but a lot more jobs here then Colorado...

I spend my nights working on 3D models and watching DVD on acquiring new skills. Long story short stay were you are, make amazing portfolio that will get you a job THEN move to the place that has the most job saturation of what you want to do. Being there ahead of time has done me nothing other then let me network with more artist but I could of done that online. In reality if I could do it all over I would of stayed in Colorado and worked on a portfolio till I had something that was hire worthy then moved out here.

I personally learn faster in a school environment so I have registered for Gnomon and I know this is going to put me 100k+ in debt but that was my decision because of how I learn and because I had the funds available. Either way school can not promos you a job EVER and your work will speak the most of your skills to get your first job.
  12 December 2012
I just wanted to go against the grain here and say that moving to LA before you have a job is honestly not as crazy as it sounds.

After I graduated, I thought I had a pretty solid portfolio, but the only responses I got were along the lines of "Hit us up if you're ever in LA!" (at the time I didn't know that summer is a notoriously slow time for VSFX regardless.)

Frustrated, I saved up just enough money to move out to LA. When my move was done I had $200 to my name and a job that paid $8/h. I managed to live that way in LA for 8 months (and I don't mean in "the Valley" or Sherman Oaks or whatever - I had a legit LA address on nearly minimum wage with zero savings.) I've now been at one of the large VSFX facilities for over a year and I doubt they would have given me the light of day had I not happened to already be in LA when they were hiring.

My roommate moved to LA in February for similar reasons and has survived this long with no legitimate job. It is scary and insane seeming, but doable, and definitely not as insane as piling on 80k in debt. It only takes a $100 Greyhound ticket to call it a day and move back home if you truly have to.

Also, if you come out here (or for anyone who does) - GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR HOWEVER YOU CAN. I cannot emphasize this enough! Apply for anything and everything you are remotely qualified for that is even vaguely related to what you want to really do. It is amazing what a small world it is once you're out here.

Last edited by Almaghest : 12 December 2012 at 04:47 AM.
  12 December 2012
Hi guys, I just joined the forum specifically to ask this same question Except I would be piling on the debt AND quitting a job I like to spend $40k/1 year on animation school in Vancouver (or $13k/year if I stay in Toronto). I'm a junior graphic designer...but I guess you could say I'm having a mid (or third :P) -life crisis, where I feel if I don't go back to my first love of animation I will never do it. So I'm learning a lot online for free, now I'm looking at the Digital Tutors or Gnomon Workshops while I keep working. And next Sept I've decided to go to the cheaper schools because of your advice.

Question: I have a 3 year advanced diploma in Graphic Design...would this prevent me from working in the U.S. (I'm Canadian)? Should I take an additional 2 years to convert this into a degree, or just continue with working and learning animation?

Thanks everyone for your advice, sorry to thread hijack but it seems like people have a lot of experience with chasing your dreams
  12 December 2012
A degree ultimately doesn't matter. I just landed my first big industry gig, and I'm half way through my 4 year degree. What I did have was a kick-ass portfolio, with the right connections.
  01 January 2013
Question MFA Degree or Certificate for Professor Job..?

Hi to everyone. I have made my research and narrowed everything to GNOMON and AAU. There is just something that I would like to know if someone here can share some insight or anything. Its already clear that in the industry what really matters is the portfolio, demo reel and experience. As i see it I can even learn almost everything by myself online. From what Ive seen i like more GNOMON (Certificate) than AAU (MFA Degree/Diploma). In the I may like to work as a professor in an university, and I would like to know if an university would take more in consideration a (MFA Degree) than a (Certificate) even if you have a great portfolio and experience for a Professor position or it is in like the industry as I mentioned above that the portfolio and experience is more appealing.?

Any piece of advise or info will be welcome.!
Have a Great Day..!!!

Last edited by csq3D : 01 January 2013 at 06:47 AM.
  01 January 2013
Depends where you want to teach. I have had many instructors who don't have a degree. In most cases, you would need a masters degree.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by narenn: Depends where you want to teach. I have had many instructors who don't have a degree. In most cases, you would need a masters degree.

Thanks for the fast reply.! Umm those instructors were like entirely self taught and great portfolio or reel or did they have some certificate like one from Gnomon for example?

Could you give me some examples of universities or/and tell other people or place that I could ask this same question?

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