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  03 March 2010
Cal Arts

Hi, I applied to Cal Arts a while back. I submitted my portfolio - late and underspec - and I have completed my financial aid registration. My school registration was late, but they say they are were still accepting them, so I did it anyway.

I have asked many many questions of their staff, and I probably would have asked them the question I'm about to ask here had I thought to do so earlier in the day.

To Cal Arts students: when you applied to the school, did your federal aid pay for all of it? If not, did your scholarships in combination with your federal aid pay for it? And if not... did you have to pull multiple loans and cosign with your parents?

I live in Arkansas, so I will have to fly there on a plane. How much money should I have saved up by now, if I want to get in for the fall? Do I just need money for the plane ticket and food for a while? How did that work out for you?

See, one big thing I'm worried about, is that I'll ditch UALR - the school I currently attend - fly all the way to California... and then get stuck when financial aid and the scholarships doesn't come through, or fail to cover the expenses. My parents are poor with bad credit, and I'm poor with no credit. I'm 23 and I've never earned enough to qualify for a credit card. I recently totaled my car, which I had for only the past year, and even if I don't move, I probably won't be able to buy another for 6 months to a year.

Please tell me if I'm being unrealistic. This whole CG thing... is amazing. I've taught myself many things (visit my website), and lately it seems as though my more traditional school has been holding me back by forcing me to spend time studying things like Astronomy, World Civ (2), Music Appreciation, and Graphic Design (in the GD class, we work with text, lines, and shapes. That's it).

Sometimes, I feel like I'm wasting my time. Either the school is a waste of time, or I'm wasting my time - by even bothering to try getting a job with CG. Sometimes I feel as though I should focus on being more practical and continue my Information Science studies so that I can be a standard issue IT worker.

At my school, no one is interested in CG art. The school has a lab called the Virtual Reality Center... it's part of the Info Science department, and the instructor who runs the CAVE there uses it to visualize data and test user interface ideas. This is where I've been working as a workstudy student for the past few years. Professor Edi and I made a program for it that could display 3d video in the CAVE... but my work always seems out of sync with everything everyone else does.

This industry sometimes feels like a gimmick. Sometimes I feel as though I should buckle down and get a normal job instead... because my chances of getting the kind of job I want seem so remote right now.

Sorry displaying my feelings in this post... but I hope to get some good advice. Thus I think it's useful to include.

Last edited by trancerobot : 03 March 2010 at 04:42 AM.
 
  03 March 2010
I think you have talent actually. I was interested in Cal Arts since I was in the 8th grade Im in Memphis TN so we arent to far from each other. Have some family who work for the razorbacks and etc. But if you dont want to go to Cali and end up right back with nothinh to show I suggest SCAD. I sent my app in for the fall. Its in Savannah and Atlanta(i personally recommend the Savannah one).Its not very far from me and you and is very prestigious. I recommend checking southern options first with are East Tenn State,SCAD,Full Sail(I dont recommend anymore)Ringling College near Miami. Cali is rough and expensive and if you dont have much like my family and you yourself dont have much like me. I say try to find the best thing near you in my opinion SCAD.Plus appliction fee waiver Mondays this Month so check it out. But if you already have a final choice you need to save up for living. If your not a heavy traveler you can get a Bus pass to get to and from classes. But you need enough money to cover your freshman rent An a very unknown tip for college students that I learned apply for food stamps before you go its not actually stamps but a credit card with up to $250 for food alone (250 is my state average pay out) and it goes toward walmart and any store . So I was never hungry and always have a full fridge. ^_^
 
  03 March 2010
Hmm, ok. Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'll wait to hear back from Cal Arts admissions and figure out what to do from there.

If anyone on this forum goes to this school, I'd really like to hear your input about how you paid for it.
 
  03 March 2010
May I ask why you are so set on CalArts in particular? There might be some schools that are able to give you better and cheaper results depending on what facet of CG you really want to explore. From your website, it seems like your main focus is character modeling, in that case I'm not sure if CalArts is the strongest school for that field. I can't really speak about your financial situation, but if you were really going to take the dive and go for it, I would look into Gnomon or VFS if modeling is what you want. Now those schools aren't going to help out your financial situation as they are very expensive, but check out the demo reels from recent grads of the schools you're interested in. Schools like SCAD, AAU, Ringling, among others might be able to offer you a competitive price, depending on scholarships/aid and what not, compared to CalArts, and from the reels that I've seen, would be a better value for your money.
 
  03 March 2010
Hi WeezTheJuice, I chose Cal Arts because it seems to be the best possible place to go to learn animation.

I've done a lot of character modeling work, but I'm a little reluctant to get into the super-hyper-realistic fold with zBrush and whatnot... sculpting pores and such... Also, I'm aware that there seems to be a lot more modelers than there are animators. I feel this may be because modeling is easier to learn for those who are artistically inclined. Modeling seems to be the very first thing anyone does when they get into CG. So I think for an animator, finding work may be a little easier. Also, friends and family find animation easier to appreciate, than a static model on a turntable.

Also, from what little animation I've done, I've enjoyed, and I feel as though that's something I want to learn and make into a career. I can make a character model, but I'm tired of leaving it static and dead... it always feels unfinished. The personality of a character comes out more by how it moves, than simply by how it looks, so I think I'd be happier animating.

At the beginning of the thread, I neglected to mention that I sent a reel, in addition to sending a portfolio. An edited version of that reel is on Youtube, though I haven't posted it on my website yet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkb2PakdFRc

Last edited by trancerobot : 03 March 2010 at 12:58 AM.
 
  03 March 2010
Originally Posted by trancerobot: Hi WeezTheJuice, I chose Cal Arts because it seems to be the best possible place to go to learn animation.

I've done a lot of character modeling work, but I'm a little reluctant to get into the super-hyper-realistic fold with zBrush and whatnot... sculpting pores and such... Also, I'm aware that there seems to be a lot more modelers than there are animators. I feel this may be because modeling is easier to learn for those who are artistically inclined. Modeling seems to be the very first thing anyone does when they get into CG. So I think for an animator, finding work may be a little easier. Also, friends and family find animation easier to appreciate, than a static model on a turntable.

Also, from what little animation I've done, I've enjoyed, and I feel as though that's something I want to learn and make into a career. I can make a character model, but I'm tired of leaving it static and dead... it always feels unfinished. The personality of a character comes out more by how it moves, than simply by how it looks, so I think I'd be happier animating.

At the beginning of the thread, I neglected to mention that I sent a reel, in addition to sending a portfolio. An edited version of that reel is on Youtube, though I haven't posted it on my website yet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkb2PakdFRc


Oh okay, that makes more sense to me now. Well as I said I'm not sure what to tell you exactly about your financial concerns, but if you do find yourself in a bind for money, animationmentor.com could be a great option. I would recommend you finish your degree before pursuing it though, as it is always a good idea to have it, if only to fall back on. It sounds like you're intent on pursuing a 4 year degree in CG which may not be the best option. You could finish your degree if you don't have too much time left there, and while doing so pursue animation more to really be sure that you want to be an animator. Then when you are finished, you could look for schools that offer programs more suited to post grads, some of which are coming from very non-cg backgrounds.

VFS offers both a 6 month and a 1 year animation course (specifically animation, not general 3d) that is very intensive, but short (you can check out a bunch of reels from students on youtube). As I said, animationmentor is also producing some extremely impressive reels and at a very nice price, and its all online so no more moving costs + cost of living in cali. Also, SCAD and AAU offer MFA programs that might suit your needs. I'm not saying that CalArts is not the right choice, I'm just saying that there are other options that might be more practical than paying for another 4 years worth of tuition. Again, just trying to give you some different options in case it turns out you decide that it's not the right move.
 
  03 March 2010
I understand completely.

Quote: As I said, animationmentor is also producing some extremely impressive reels and at a very nice price, and its all online so no more moving costs + cost of living in cali.


I've considered Animation Mentor, but I want to be around other artists. I want to be in the middle of it all, and I'm nolonger afraid to rack up insane debt to do it. I will research my options for school loans, and take any and all that are available. If I don't make it into CalArts this Fall, I will simply try again, and use the time in the interim to make a proper portfolio.

Quote: It sounds like you're intent on pursuing a 4 year degree in CG which may not be the best option.


What I want to learn goes beyond computer graphics. I want to learn animation, and I'm perfectly fine with learning it traditionally. From what I've read, Cal Arts classes are very traditional when it comes to learning animation. I imagine computer graphics classes are reserved for sophomores on up, who have already gotten the basics - as it should be.

Someone sent me a wonderful link to a website called Animated Buzz. Reading the journal there makes me all the more determined.
 
  03 March 2010
Originally Posted by trancerobot: Also, I'm aware that there seems to be a lot more modelers than there are animators.


I'm pretty sure just the opposite is true. Animation schools, unsurprisingly, churn out huge numbers of potential animators, while in fact animation is really just one small corner of the CG industry.
 
  03 March 2010
Originally Posted by trancerobot: I want to be in the middle of it all, and I'm nolonger afraid to rack up insane debt to do it.


I mean no disrespect by this, but please be aware that this is a dumb, dumb statement. It may sound great and idealistic now, but 10 years from now when you're 60 or 80 thousand dollars in loan debt it's going to sound a whole lot less smart. Speaking as someone who has only a bit of school debt left and has friends with a LOT of school debt, be aware that much of debt can and will run your life. Proceed very carefully.
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  03 March 2010
Ok ok. That was a stupid statement, and I went way too far. My apologies.

Still... someone does it, surely the people who go to this school aren't stupid. They can't all be rich kids. Loans are part of the deal, and I just got to accept that.

This thread has fulfilled its purpose. I no longer seek advice. [edit: eh, but we can keep talkin'] Thanks to you all for your help, especially the one who sent me the private message.

Last edited by trancerobot : 03 March 2010 at 08:51 PM.
 
  03 March 2010
Originally Posted by trancerobot: Ok ok. That was a stupid statement, and I went way too far. My apologies..


No apology necessary, just trying to give you a heads up before you make a mistake that a lot of folks regret. Good luck.
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figdigital | @figdigital
 
  03 March 2010
I was wondering this too. All top schools are very expensive, but I seriously doubt everyone who goes there can afford to pay it out of pocket. Having that much debt must be manageable unless everyone who comes out of one of these program struggles heavily afterwards?
 
  03 March 2010
I've read a lot of the top graduates end up working for Disney. I figure if you've got debt from going to Cal Arts, the company that sponsors it... Disney... will take care of you. Also, it may be that the scholarships pay for a lot of it, reducing the necessity of the loans.

(Upon acceptance, Cal Arts automatically registers you for any scholarships you qualify for based on the portfolio you sent.)
 
  03 March 2010
Hi folks. Once again I'd like to thank you all for your advice. After looking over the situation and my finances, I've decided to pull my application. I shouldn't have to 'buy' my way into the industry, and there's no shame in being realistic about it. I will have to get in on merit alone.
 
  03 March 2010
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthr...?f=283&t=861747
i suggest to look at this thread.
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