Parent Coming in Peace

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  03 March 2011
Parent Coming in Peace

So, working with son going through the arduous process of picking a post high school college. This site is awesome by the way.

Live near Austin, TX. Son goes to Art focused high school. Loves art/animation and he wants to pursue that. For his senior project decided to create a game trailer using Maya. Boy was he in for a surprise. He has logged over 100 off school hours teaching himself maya. He really enjoys it...

Anyway. One of his teachers is graduate of SCAD, and several of his peers from last year (1 grade ahead of him) chose to go to SCAD.

As a parent I am getting a bad feeling. Their admin dept is very un-organized, the cost of each class seems pretty high. The are slow to respond to questions. I understand from searching your website that the classes are generally good as well as the teachers. But its hard to stomach paying $3,000 for required general ed classes. Plus forum searches reveal more bad comments than good. We will be visting in a couple of weeks.

My son indicated he may want to go to Austin Community College first, take general ed (plus they have a new game development track where he can learn maya, mudbox, etc). Seems like a good plan, but I dont want him to be left behind. After all, your industry is very compettive. Another thought was to go to one of the local universities he has been accepted to and take maya/etc at austin community college (the local univcities offer traditional art majors not animation/etc).

He is firm in his desire to pursue digital art as a career (animation, effects, concept, etc).

Any thoughts would be appreciate.

We will of course continue to search this great site. Jordan has posted Maya questions and the CGSociety community has been so fast to respond. much appreciated.

  03 March 2011
First thing I would say to do is to find out what area of CG he wants to get into. A good school for animation could be terrible for modeling. I would suggest getting a subscription to Digital Tutors while maybe taking some courses at a local college. After doing some of their videos I'm sure he will have a better idea on which area he is interested in.

Some schools the check out.

Vancouver Film School
Art Center
DAVE School
Animation Mentor
Think Tank
Lost Boys

Thats most of the decent schools I can think of off the top of my head. You can also look into the self taught choice as well.

Edit: If you do end up picking a school that requires general education classes, try to take them at a community college. Math at Ringling is the same as math at (insert school).

Edit again: Stay away from any school that doesn't require a portfolio. Also look into the instructors. The biggest thing for a school is how recent the instructors have worked. Schools like Full Sail or Academy of Art, are no goes.
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

Time To Answer A Question: 15 Minutes
Time To Thank Someone For An Answer: 30 Seconds

Post of Wisdom

Last edited by MrConterno : 03 March 2011 at 02:40 AM.
  03 March 2011

Thanks a lot for the response. Maybe I need to go back to school given the spelling contained in my post. Or I need to get glasses.. Or a bigger monitor!!

Are there industry standards titles for the various positions within CG (such as modeler, animation, landscape, etc).
  03 March 2011
Depending on your sons work ethic you may or may not take comfort in this fact:

At least 50% of the value your son gets out of whatever college he attends will be a direct function of how much work he does that goes over and above the course requirements.
It's possible to pass the degree with reasonable marks and be completely unhirable at the end.
On the other hand, if he is genuinely driven and motivated and puts in 120% every time, he'll do well even if the college turns out to be a dud.

  03 March 2011
I truely believe the best thing to do is to be 1 year self taught before entering a college.

1. The better information is on the internet ANYWAY

2. When assignments start for school he will have an edge on his classmates

3. This industry requires you to teach yourself anyway, might as well build these skills early

4. Your child can figure out if 3d is really what he wants to do BEFORE forking over a fortune.

my 2 cents.
  03 March 2011
One thing I would add is to be very carefull when evaluating comments about schools on the internet. This is a generalization, but you will likely be able to find more bad comments than good on almost ANY art/design/3d related college. This is largely because, as someone else mentioned, most of your success in this field comes from your own hard work and extra hours spent outside of class or work. Many people think that school = job. They don't put in the extra work and end up with an average to below average portfolio in an over-saturated market and then blame the school. So like I said, evaluate those comments carefully.

Also, when looking at a curriculum, compare what they are teaching to what industry companies are requesting in their job ads. Make sure the school is teaching a process and not just a program. For example, this is how you box model vs this is how you work in Maya.

Like others, I would also recomend allowing your son to spend some time studying on his own and talking to people to make sure this is what he really wants. Learning at home is amazingly easy these days and there's no reason not to try that out first.
  03 March 2011
thank you very much for the insightful comments. I wish was growing up in this time. So much invaluable info can be found on this site and others like it. Quite incredible. We are going to visit scad and ringling, but are really leaning towards a local school/work/continue to teach himself and expand using whats available online.. will give you my impressions of scad/ringling when we return.
  03 March 2011
Originally Posted by Gut40k: thank you very much for the insightful comments. I wish was growing up in this time. So much invaluable info can be found on this site and others like it. Quite incredible. We are going to visit scad and ringling, but are really leaning towards a local school/work/continue to teach himself and expand using whats available online.. will give you my impressions of scad/ringling when we return.

Just want to quickly comment on Ringling because I lived in Sarasota for 10+ years. Ringling is right next to the ghetto of Sarasota (meaning it's on the same street). That being said, their security is good and they haven't had any issues on campus. The rest of Sarasota is a wonderful place. You are a 5 minuet drive from a beautiful marina, 15 minuet drive from one of the best beaches in the world (Siesta Key), over all not a bad place. It can be a tad expensive but other than that it really is a great place. Just wanted to give you a tad bit of forewarning and let you know what the city is like from someone who has lived recently (just moved 2 months ago).

Have fun looking at schools
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

Time To Answer A Question: 15 Minutes
Time To Thank Someone For An Answer: 30 Seconds

Post of Wisdom
  03 March 2011
If your son is dedicated and is willing to work his butt off. THEN SVA ALL THE WAY.

I'm a student here now and I love this department.

Here's some of my favorite student work.

One went to Pixar the other works for Crystal Dynamics
These guys both work at a NYC commercial studio Psyop.

These students work at Framestore NYC
Works at Psyop LA as an animator
Freelance at Framestore NYC

I can name a bunch more but you should just check out the site!
  03 March 2011
Depending on his focus, computer software should be the last step of studying, and is just as effective and cheaper to learn at home.

Traditional art skills will serve a budding artist far greater, and will give him a significant advantage in both school and the job market.

I say this because, the traditional art skills will teach the fundamentals of creating quality work without the learning curve of a computer.

Such skills as composition, focal point, concepts, and what makes a good image are all easily neglected when the focus is on the software.
: my website :
  03 March 2011
Fact from me, better to learn nutz an boltz from web, cheaper and just as fast.,

Fact from me: better to go to community college where you can learn figure drawing, composition, colour theory as traditional knowledge very usefull in our century.

Fact from me: 3000 is nothing when you look to 75000 at other institutions.

Fact from me: if he loves it, it will work.

Fact from me: I have high opinion of my opinion so is no fact, also I have small monitor
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys
  03 March 2011

Also, check the "free learning link" in Kanga's siggy.
  03 March 2011
maybe its better for him to just start up with things and do some art to see where his true passion is because these days art schools can be expensive and a good portfolio can win over a degree anytime, and even if he chooses to attend a school he already has found his foundation and what direction he would wanna go to.
  03 March 2011
I recently graduated from the Visual Effects department at SCAD, so hopefully I can provide some insight that's actually useful and comes from someone who is very familiar with the situation/school and financial reality.

The first thing I tell ANYONE about degrees in this field is that you don't need one and nothing is worth being $100k+ in debt (whether it's your debt, his debt or both.)

SCAD has an excellent program for Visual Effects, one of very few that specialize in VSFX specifically (others will have "Digital Arts/Media" programs with 'tracks.') SCAD is very much a good school and has excellent professors (for VSFX anyway) and great industry connections. While he can learn the software and techniques at home or at state/community college, there is no replacement for the intense immersion, industry connections, and peer networking a VSFX dedicated program will provide.

This is the track I always recommend for attending SCAD:
1. Go ahead and apply to SCAD. He will probably get accepted (it's not hard at all.)
2. Know that SCAD is by far and away the easiest art school to get a hefty scholarship to. There is NO REASON to go without one, they literally hand them out like candy. The key to getting these is TRADITIONAL ART. If he can't draw, get him into some art/drawing classes at community/state college to build up a portfolio - he will have to learn eventually anyway and this has many added benefits: it can be used as a portfolio, it may transfer to SCAD, and if he has to retake the classes at SCAD he won't make D's and lose his scholarship (happens a lot.) When I applied (may have changed) you could resubmit your portfolio over and over again until you got the money you wanted. Scholarships in the 10-15k/year range are not difficult to come by with some effort. Last I checked, students who take their first class at SCAD before their 21st birthday will lose 30% of their scholarship by living off campus. Make him wait if this is still the case, you will literally save thousands living off campus.
3. Do not pay to take foundations/gen eds at SCAD if you can avoid it. If he applies to SCAD and is accepted, he can defer enrollment X number of months (not sure how long it is now) and SCAD will pre-approve courses for transfer based on their syllabus. This means you can know that SCAD will accept credits for math, english, gen ed electives, etc before you ever take the classes elsewhere. Art classes (Drawing I, Color Theory, etc) will be harder to transfer because SCAD will need to see portfolio work from these classes. If they are even halfway decent they should transfer (if they don't transfer, they are still very beneficial.) SCAD also allows concurrent enrollment at other colleges, so he can take gen eds when he is home for summer (or during SCAD's long winter break.) Also, UGA offers distance learning classes that have a set fee for non-UGA students who do not want a degree from UGA - I used this to take my math and english electives for about $700 each while enrolled in classes full time at SCAD.
4. Only let him go to SCAD once he's literally taken every single class he can take NOT at SCAD and tried as hard as humanly possible for some of that sweet scholarship money. (Note that SCAD also offers combined or academic based scholarships for getting certain SAT/ACT scores so this may be easier for the non-artistic.)

In the event that he can't get any scholarships and you/he are still considering shouldering the debt for training at a big name school, find out which one is THE BEST for whatever he wants to do. If you are going to shell out the big bucks make it worth it. Some schools will have better programs for VSFX, some better for Ainmation, some better for Illustration/Concept art, etc. Don't get caught up in having him end up with a degree if you are going this route - non-traditional schools like Animation Mentor and Gnomon offer some of the best educations for the money. Be especially wary of general "digital media" programs with 'tracks' as these tend to result in students who don't know how to do any one thing particularly well.

Also if he does end up going to community or state college for his entire degree and doing self-taught for Maya, I highly recommend taking as many computer science and traditional art classes as possible. These will open a lot of doors that people who simply know a 3D package will not be able to open. Memberships to tutorial sites like Gnomon, Digital Tutors, and Lynda will be invaluable (also maybe something like fxphd.) And do WHATEVER you can to help him make connections with peers and industry professionals, because that will be the biggest thing he will miss out on not going to a school like SCAD or SVA. (For example, student volunteering at SIGGRAPH is definitely worth the money for the hotel/flight out/etc.)

Feel free to PM/email me if you have any other specific questions about SCAD.
  03 March 2011
Well we just got back from our visit to scad.. long A(* ride from texas!!! visited both the atlanta and savannah campuses. we figured jordan would prefer savannah, but he did not. As a matter of fact all of us preferred the Atlanta campus!! Of course a tour will not tell you the whole story. We tried to talk with as many people as possible. facilities were very nice (should be for the tuition they charge!!!). We are getting scholarships, but the cost is still very high. Jordan decided it made more sense to take gen ed locally (save $$$$).

my family agrees on one thing. Huge debt out of college is a no go. wont happen.

Almaghest, do you know if there is a big difference instructor wise btwn the campuses?
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