Why bother with CG schools?

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  10 October 2003
Quote: Originally posted by OlafK
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.

yup...Animator's Survival Kit =

  10 October 2003
What ever you do, don't go take the Computer Arts from University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland.

Take it from someone who knows!
Regards Michael Heilemann
  10 October 2003
Quote: Originally posted by Cinematography
Art Institute in Chicago ]

Quote: Originally posted by peachstapler
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.

Let's think about what is the issue is here. Isn't the issue that you actually have to want to succeed to actually make it?

This applies to both self taught people who aren't going to school, to people who go to Art Institute of Chicago, and people who go to German School of Film.

You are pointing the finger at the wrong direction. It's not schools fault that people are lazy. If you got the drive, you will succeed, and the school can provide a great environment to learn to be professional. I know that in the AI program, for example, there are many courses that can help you polish up your skills and shift your mindset from a dude who likes 3d to a promissing professional.

But unless you are going to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you aren't going to magically turn into a competent professional just by being there. So the real issue is that a lot of the students just don't have the drive. And this goes for people who are trying on their own also. Just look at the number of depressing posts in General section in the past month.

This topic comes up very often it seems, and I still think that unless you are the type of person that is extremely energized about advancing yourself in all the necessary aspects, you will have a hard time making it on your own. School provides structure, and provides an opportunity to learn all you need to know. It provides deadlines, goals and guidance. Whether it works out for the best, is entirely up to the student.
eldar cholich
lighting / compositing / vfx

Any opinions stated within this message are my own, and not of my employer.
  10 October 2003
nice one eldar... you have a good point there
  10 October 2003
Good posts...

One other issue is that who are these people teaching at the schools? Part of me always wonder why if someone was really good, why they would not be in production? I know some schools have "super star guest teachers," but still, is that enough?

When I first started in the late '80s there were no schools at all so it made sense to learn at home. But what I don't like hearing is that SOME teachers are just reading the manual back the students without acutally understanding what the hell they are teaching..

Last edited by Jackdeth : 10 October 2003 at 06:24 PM.
  10 October 2003
i think regardless of whether or not someone goes to a school, without basic skills and concepts it's not going to make a difference. i'm currently a student in college majoring in computer animation and i have numerous people in my classes who saw Shrek or Monsters Inc. and say, "Hey that looks fun!" and decide to major in it. One day I had a computer graphics major state he hates photoshop. I advised he might want to switch majors because he'll be dealing with it for the rest of his life in this field. I'm very motivated and do have a strong background in art. I find at school I'm more motivated being around other people who are similar to me, and having more knowledgeable people around me. Everything comes down to skills, the computer's just a tool. As for a social life, it consists of mainly working on my computer untill 4 in the morning night after night getting ahead on projects. All time spent outside of that is class, sleeping, eating or watching movies. Not a big partier and I don't drink or do drugs so i think the main thing is is that I'm at school for the education, not the degree. If I could get hired and leave school early, I would do so in a heartbeat. Forget the degree I'll let the work speak for itself.


Last edited by AdamantiumKnot : 10 October 2003 at 09:16 PM.
  10 October 2003
Anzovin Studios:
decent 3d house

crappy teachers
Visit my blog at http://nevergreenstories.blogspot.com
  10 October 2003
I honestly can't imaging a greater waste of time and money than going to school to learn CG. I think it's mostly for spoiled rich kids. What you need is a broader BA degree in arts or sciences. Studying art is good, but make sure you go to a real university that will teach you a broad range of subjects and skills. Don't waste you time going to some button pushing school.
  10 October 2003
Re: Why bother with CG schools?

Quote: Originally posted by Jackdeth
I learned at home

I can't help but suspect that if you had studied CG then you'd have a very different view on this. People usually get on a soapbox and proclaim that their own experience is the best solution - it's human nature

However, I do agree with some of what you say

There are way too many lazy people out there who think that going to college and being spoonfed will somehow make them into these brilliant CG artists with minimal effort on their part.

I think that in most CG classes, the majority of students have skills that are mediocre to moderate, with only a handful being exceptionally good - and these top few are usually always the ones who did a lot of work on their own as well. But I think that in the group of people that learn by themselves at home, the same statistic applies - there is only a handful amongst them that have great skills. In all walks of life, you get the majority that are mediocre to moderately good at things, with a handful that are amazing and a handful that are not good at all.

So in light of this, perhaps it's a combination of studying at school and diligence and self discipline at home that make good CG artists. As you even said, it's about the work - how they choose to get there is really their own choice.

Aside from that, I do honestly feel that there are many schools out there that are a waste of time. Lots of insititutions try and cash in on new trends by hiring inexperienced instructors who are cheap, and who consequently make a hash of the teaching, resulting in students graduating who are really not particularly good, but sadly don't realise it. I think this is a real shame because they have spent a lot of money on their course, and deserve to get their moneys worth.

I think in the end it really comes down to the individual and their requirements. Some people prefer learning on their own while others crave instruction (as many people here have mentioned, they like to have someone to answer questions, etc). That is perfectly understandable, and I don't think that there is anything wrong with either approach - it's up to the artist in question to ensure that they give in enough dedication, hard work and innovation to develop and improve their skills, regardless of whether they are teaching themselves or studying through a school.

Quote: And the ones who can't learn on their own, I think maybe should be doing something else.

I don't see anything wrong with people who prefer to have a coach. There is a big difference between a person who craves a mentor and a person who expects to be spoonfed. I think there are a lot of people who are trying to get into this field who would probably be better off doing something else, but hey, that's their choice. I applaud them for their tenacity
You ever hear the phrase "where there is a will, there is a way"? I believe that if their determination is strong enough, they will succeed eventually. It might just take them a little longer.

So, all in all, I say: if you can afford it, and you want to - hey, go to school. Choose your school wisely, work hard at it, and you'll be happy - nothing learned is ever a waste.
On the other hand, if you can't afford it, or if you are unsure about schooling then by all means go ahead and buy some programs and hardware, and some good books and learn for yourself. There are plenty of forums like this one where you can get help and advice.
Both paths require hard work, innovation, and a proactive attitude, and neither one is easy.

Just to expand a little on the subject of there being too many people entering this field that are lazy and have bad work ethics - isn't that found in EVERY industry on this planet?
CG being the relatively new industry that it is (in the grander scheme of things) was going to see an influx of this sooner or later, as does any industry.
Let's face it, a lot of people out there do only the bare minimum to get by, and it was really only a matter of time before these people found their way into this field. It's simply a fact of life.
  10 October 2003
Quote: Originally posted by Jackdeth
Good posts...

One other issue is that who are these people teaching at the schools? Part of me always wonder why if someone was really good, why they would not be in production? I know some schools have "super star guest teachers," but still, is that enough?

When I first started in the late '80s there were no schools at all so it made sense to learn at home. But what I don't like hearing is that SOME teachers are just reading the manual back the students without acutally understanding what the hell they are teaching..

I have to agree w/you Jackdeth...and this is coming from experience as I'm currently studying 3d animation here in Chi-town. Had it not been for all the money and time that I invested into college, I would've dropped out and concentrated on learning on my own, as most of my 3d skills are self-taught. To this day, I have yet to be impressed by any of my school's instructors. Funny thing is that last semester I blew away my instructor with my final animation for the class. Poor guy shouldn't even be allowed to teach that course. Half the time during lectures he'd be trying to figure out how to do certain things in Maya that he supposedly knew how to do. My advice, self-taught is the way to go.
  10 October 2003
1. I am beginning to completely agree, considering there are no instate CG schools, between travelling and the courses, I am looking at more than 10000 dollars at least. And for over a 1000 I can purchase the gnomon complete library, which seems very powerful, not to mention there are quite a few online video classes for free. Not to mention experimentation could be considered more powerful than being taught. So you can find new ways to do things.

2. Yea, I am stuck here... When I dropped out of high school because I had Social Anxiety Disorder my grandma had a heart attack almost saying "everyone is going to think I am a complete failure"

3. I agree again, some people in my Photoshop class which is for a specific degree, don't do any extra work... And they will fail in the real world with their lazy attitudes.

4. Well not me, I have always loved self teaching rather than schooling. I hate listening to people talk hours on end when I could have figured it out much quicker usually.

Even though I agree a lot, If possible I would like to have a schooling in this. If not for enjoyment, for tacking onto my resume.
  10 October 2003
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.

I believe you are correct. Most people DON’T realize one could learn this stuff at home. I sure didn’t – chalk it up to experience. I believe CG is such a different field than anything else, people don’t realize how much they can accomplish without going to school. In contrast, you have to go to school to become a doctor, lawyer, architect, dentist, truck driver, chef, etc… People are very ignorant/naïve about the CG field. (more on this at the bottom).

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...."

If the parents are like that, then usually the parents can afford to pay for the schooling

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.

Like some other people mentioned, bad attitudes and work ethics have nothing to do with being an artist. I am not an artist, but I have (and make an effort to have) a good work ethic. Some artistic and creative aspects take me much longer to grasp and improve at. Conversely, I am great at picking up the technical things.

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.

True – misinformation from schools is probably a huge issue. But no one should assume that completing a program will ensure success in the field. Peer pressure? None of my friends have a clue as to how I do what I do. I got into this business by my own accord.

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.

A few things I loved about school is being able to ask questions, getting feedback on the spot, bouncing ideas off other students and teachers, and learning from the experience of my teacher.

BTW: My teacher was amazing. He freelances, so he taught at the school for a few semesters, and then went back to work in production environments.

You bring up some very valid points, but I think that CG is still such a new field that too many people (myself included when I started) are unaware of the various aspects of creating CG animation: concepts, model sheets, color palettes, modeling texturing, lighting, animation, compositing… Yes, people should inform themselves, but more often than not, if you want to learn to gear yourself towards a profession, school is the place to go. People see movies and video games, know some of what is computer generated, and want to do it. Simple as that.

EDIT: The CG community also has message boards a forums where people can post their frustration and gripes about the CG industry and we can all read about it! Other professions have people in the same situations, we just don't hear about it
In other fields too, people who can't seem to hack it should just get out. Happens all the time.

Last edited by markbones : 10 October 2003 at 01:53 AM.
  10 October 2003
I can't agree more that a background in traditional art will make you a better cg artist. I've been drawing and painting since I was three.

But I have to say that some people like myself still benefit greatly from the addition of school rather than drive and creativity alone.

I read a lot of computer books but I still learn and comprehend much much faster by watching somebody who knows what they are doing first.

I learned how to rig a character in one 5 hour class. If I have to learn that from a book or tutorials it would have taken weeks and I still wouldn't know if I was doing it correctly.

I find that books often tell you HOW to do something, but not WHY you do something. You can ask a teacher why? and I think that helps immensly.
"Have you ever just stared at it.......Marveled at its bee yooty?"
  10 October 2003
hey Jackdeth, you bring up some good points, but being as im one of those people who will be applying to 3d schools this year let me tell you why im doing it,

1 well i do have the technology thanks to student editions and i can learn the software on my own, places like ringling dont focus on teaching you the software but on teaching you animation, although not allot of schools teach you more then just the software, so im acc being rather picky to where i apply for this reason

2 you are right in my family it is expected to go to college, so if im sposed to make the most of my edjucation why not do it having the best possible time and preparing my for my goal of getting to do this for a living.

3 dont think this really applys to me

4 sure i like the idea of going to school, but ive also seen the progress some of the students make at the these schools and and that exictes me just as much to know that i could do the same thing

5 your right thats a positive, it open up new resources to people
  10 October 2003
"I learned how to rig a character in one 5 hour class. If I have to learn that from a book or tutorials it would have taken weeks and I still wouldn't know if I was doing it correctly."

How do you know this? have you ever tried......
Id say you now know 1 way of rigging a character, can you make 2 other rig designs in 5 hrs?
What Im getting at is that you could learn more by getting through the problem on your own.... when you get stuck, ask for help here... or elswhere, but it means you tackled the problem, not someone else and will understand it much better..

A lot of people dont realise that working in the cg industry demands alot of problem solving, and people wont be on hand to answer your questions (not because they dont know, but because they are far too busy already) which is why most fx houses employ people who have experiance. You need to be able to hit the ground running, and If you learn on your own, you are improving your problem solving skills...

Im sure if you spent the time understanding how to rig, from a book or maunual, you can work out your own system, which may be better that what is taught at your school.....

The school issue, well If you are surrounded by 90% of people who want to be in cg because of a movie they saw last night, but not because of their background, ability and preivious education... then maybey its not for you, because that would be a hack cg school... who pack them in with no real interest in the student...

For me, learning on your own has its draw backs... but when I learned there were no cg forums, you had 1 book.... and had to make it work... so I can say I learned that book.. instead of asking people questions. And it benifited the way I work. Maybey its not the same for you... but I ask just this...

Why do you want to be in the cg industry.... because you already know you can do this stuff, or do you want to be in it because you just think you can do this stuff?

I was in the first group...
*(GOZER)-During the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, it chose the form of a giant SLOAR...

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