3D Schools... a couple questions

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Old 05 May 2003   #1
3D Schools... a couple questions

I am currently 19 looking for a 3d school. My current choice is VFS ( Vancouver Film School). I know they do not teach lightwave, however I have been told by many people this is one of the best 3D school to attend.

From what i have seen there demos are awesome, and there placement is at 89%

There is one set back it is a very intensive year schooling (which im ok with). However, you leave the school with a diploma. Is a diploma from a school like VFS acceptable to the career. I have talked with a counselor there she has told me some time next year they will start offering a masters program for all there past vfs student, which is something cool to look into down the road.

Any thoughts on this?
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Old 05 May 2003   #2
It really depends on what you want to get into. Ive never had any studio ask to see any formal credentials. The purpose of the paper they give you when you finish is to give evidence to a potential employer that you have been trained or at exposed to the subject material. Its more useful in fields where you simply cant prove whether you are knowledgeable or proficient. The great thing about this industry is that a demo reel can tell far more about your skill level then a piece of paper.
The bottom line is that no matter which route you take the common element is going to be practice practice practice. Being lectured to and given assignments is perfected through practice and feedback. Ive been out here in LA for over 3 years. Ive never worked with anyone that I can remember who went to film school . Several ppl I knew did have some art training or schooling but didnt seem to be paid more or less then anyone else who did or didnt have a degree. Your demo reel says it all and what you do on the job.

Last edited by SplineGod : 05 May 2003 at 10:54 PM.
 
Old 05 May 2003   #3
Absolutely, I couldn't agree more with SplineGod.
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Old 05 May 2003   #4
That's really interesting, Larry Lee told me the same thing at the tour.

I'm still trying to decide what to do, I'm probably going to need to stay in state here in Colorado, but I'm looking at two art school or doing a double major of film and computer science at University of Colorado, Boulder. What do you guys think would work best, or would you suggest that I don't go to school and just invest that money in training and software and make a killer demo-reel or animated short over the time? Can you get the same/better education by doing that?
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Old 05 May 2003   #5
Quote: Originally posted by N2ChristTheKing
That's really interesting, Larry Lee told me the same thing at the tour.

I'm still trying to decide what to do, I'm probably going to need to stay in state here in Colorado, but I'm looking at two art school or doing a double major of film and computer science at University of Colorado, Boulder. What do you guys think would work best, or would you suggest that I don't go to school and just invest that money in training and software and make a killer demo-reel or animated short over the time? Can you get the same/better education by doing that?

Its a cost vs benefits issue. Will paying a lot to go to a CGI school get you a better paying job then a talented artist who dropped out of High School but has a great reel? I doubt it.
I think taking classes in traditional art is better then 99% of the 3D animation programs Ive seen at most schools.VFS might be an exception but its very expensive so they better hold your hand when you go to job interviews. Ive seen guys who paid lots of money to go to someplace like Sheridan College but end up doing the same work and getting paid the same as the other guys who were self taught but good.
One thing about sitting in a class is that the slowest person in the group sets the pace. To do well you end up having to work on your own which is basically the same as not going to school and doing it on your own anyways.
These are the same issues that I dealt with when I created my online courses. Give everyone the same lectures and then let them work at their own pace. Rather then give out tests I make sure that the student post their work to have it critiqued. Its easy enough to tell if someone is progressing. Its nice to see how someone is progressing just by looking at the work theyve posted on the various threads on the support forums. Students can view all the critiques which helps to answer questions as well.
Between the hours of lectures on CD, having your work critiqued and questions answered directly and being able to see the same comments on other peoples work you have a tremendous amount of material and feedback that would be very difficult to get at typical school with a 3D program. The cost of my online courses is very cheap compared to what you get or compared to teh typical 3D courses as I mentioned.
 
Old 05 May 2003   #6
Thanks!

If I didn't do college, I think I'd take classes at a local communitie college (who actually offers a class in Lightwave, plus PS, and all the other standards, and lots of trad art). I would also take things like you classes, 3D Buzz, maybe 3D garrage, desktop images plus stuff for Maya, Combustion, Houdini, etc, lots of books.
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Old 05 May 2003   #7
Larry i totally know what you mean although there are advantages to proper schooling..

1 Contacts: A school like VFS has many alumni that still come back to the school, to teach or to lecture, these people are now in big production studios, and is a great way to get exposure to them youll never get.

2 Training: you will get training on things that sure you can learn over the internet, however in this way its down on "paper" and is added to experiance.

3 Placement: VFS has a 89% placement for 3d Animation, this is great because they have many great lasting relationships with big companies, making it easier to pass through the door into the bosses office for an interview.

4 Diploma: Although it may not be a degree is shows to the employer that you have had some kind of proper training along the way, not only that but when it comes down to the line and they have several awesome reels they will look at the applicants background, this is where schooling can help a ton.
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Old 05 May 2003   #8
Looks like they have some pretty intense Maya courses also....

Even the part time courses look like fun.
From basics all the way to full production...

Something tells me there is not going be time for waiting on the "slowest person to set the pace..."
 
Old 05 May 2003   #9
Do you know how many complaints there are against VFS? Living in Vancouver is the best thing of the deal, as it's a world class beautiful city.

Their job placement isn't 89%. There is no way. I have a friend that works for EA, and they get reels from VFS students all the time. They also get reels from people that learned the software on their own. They choose the best reels, interview the person to see if they could work as part of a team and get to know a little more about the person.

Most people that go to intensive 3D schools couldn't give two shits about the piece of paper the school offers. It's all about the reel. You pay the big money for access to the software and lab times. Most people all use the lab as a render farm, and do their work at home.

As was pointed above, it's a lot of money. Think about how long it takes to pay that money back. I've said this before, it's better to buy all the training material you can for the software you use, lock yourself in your house for a year (or preferrably your parents house where you don't have to pay for rent and food), work on a project on your own, try to do a reel. When you hit a snag, ask on CGTalk or take a part-time course at a community college and have the professor trouble shoot there, not worrying about the students that are slower than you.
 
Old 05 May 2003   #11
Quote: Originally posted by Mangled Poly
Larry i totally know what you mean although there are advantages to proper schooling..

1 Contacts: A school like VFS has many alumni that still come back to the school, to teach or to lecture, these people are now in big production studios, and is a great way to get exposure to them youll never get.

2 Training: you will get training on things that sure you can learn over the internet, however in this way its down on "paper" and is added to experiance.

3 Placement: VFS has a 89% placement for 3d Animation, this is great because they have many great lasting relationships with big companies, making it easier to pass through the door into the bosses office for an interview.

4 Diploma: Although it may not be a degree is shows to the employer that you have had some kind of proper training along the way, not only that but when it comes down to the line and they have several awesome reels they will look at the applicants background, this is where schooling can help a ton.


1. Id rather make contacts with people who are already working. I can and still do that for free. Just by being on these forums you have far more access to people working in the business then you would get by paying to go up to VFS. As I said, in the years that Ive been doing this Ive NEVER once ran into anyone that went to VFS. In this country most of the CGI work is done in LA. I have to agree with private. Get all the stuff you need and move down to LA and start building contacts and a reel. Most people I know who are taking classes down here do so part time or in the evenings in areas like figure drawing and so forth. You have far more resources down here then up in vancouver. I know people here who would rent you time on their render farms for cheap or even for free as you build up friends and contacts. Id rather spend my time getting to know people where the studios are for a lot less expenditure then going to canada and spending huge amounts of cash.
2. Once again, I agree with private here. Most of the time you get stuck in groups trying to work on a piece and nobody is helping or its a chaotic mess. You end up working from your apt and using the schools computers as a render farm. There are places in LA to take classes for any software. You can figure out where you need help and get the help locally.
3. I also agree that 89% sounds pretty overblown. I dont know of any studios down here that have any formal releationships with any film schools. Maybe Disney and Cal Arts but then again they set it up originally. I have yet to see student work that couldnt be done by anyone outside of a formal school environment by the use of talent, hard work and determination. There are just so many people down here that are very helpful. Again, there are places here locally to make great contacts with people working at studios who you can befriend and get feedback from. There arent many things that I could think of that you could learn up there for large sums of cash that you couldnt pick up here for a lot less sums of cash. You could pay someone to tutor you personally in any area for less money.
4. Again, most employers in this business could care less about a degree. A degree wont convince an employer to hire you unless you have a reel to back it up. On the other hand, if I have a great reel and no "formal" training they arent going to care because obviously I can do the work. I have seen very few awesome student reels. The reason is the limited amount of time you have plus having to deal with other personalities in the group.
Take your money, move to where the work is being done. Get all the training materials you need and hole up somewhere. Focus on learning what you need to learn and on making contacts. There just isnt anything you could learn by moving hundreds of miles to the north that you couldnt learn down here.
 
Old 05 May 2003   #12
I personally know over 7 people that dropped big money on CG schools, and haven't found a job. You'll find that you go through the courses, and many are too slow. If it's too slow, and you already know the material, then what are you going to do?

Every one of them was disappointment with their experience and are paying off their experience for the next 10 to 15 years.

I know a few people that also got a job, one at EA, and it was just about timing, not about schooling. He was taking the 3D program, but got in on motion capture.

Schools are businesses. Unless a school can provide solid proof that they have 89% placement and say what jobs they got jobs in, I would take that information with a grain of salt.

In addition, VFS holds the rights of all the work you produce at the school during your time there. You're 19. Go to university and get a degree in art and spend the next four years working on a reel. Spend 1/20th of the tuition you would have paid for the CG school and buy the software. Spend another 1/10th and buy learning material. Enjoy your time at university. Send me a 1/10th of the money because I probably just s saved you over $15,000.
 
Old 05 May 2003   #13
One recieves much more than a piece of paper when higher education is pursued. Contacts are established, friends of similar interest are earned, emersion into an envoronment where critical thinking is applied without the stress of finances (as long as tuition and housing are paid), and the freedom to create uninhibited.

If one is to pursue higher education, they should go for free. So the stronger your portfolio, the more aid one may get (perhaps a full ride) Maybe the school will pay you to go to school. This is how I got through Grad school, without financial concerns, and it allowed me to focus on my arts and studies.

When thinking of higher education, try not to think your going because it will get you a job, but instead, that the education will teach you how to learn and be learned. Anyone can get a job, as Larry has point out, yet to often people think it is a solely a career move, and tend to ignore all the other elements of education uninhibited.

I would like to point out that, yes, a porfolio will define your abilities and craft with the softwares, yet it doesn't tell the employer if your can work with other people, or if you can speak the english langauge (or any langauage for that matter) without filling everything with "likes" and "ya knows". Higher education allows a person to develop their vocabulary, just by being in the environment of a university. And it allows a person to develop critical thinking, and the ability to communicate/ articulate their ideas to another person.

Taking the first step into undergraduate school is the hardest move a person can make (especially if they are the first of their family). From there it gets easier.
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Old 05 May 2003   #14
Fellow Colorado Guy

I live in denver and go to the Art Institute. Personally, if you're a really motivated person I don't recommend going here. The program is really slow and geared toward people who may have never seen a 3d program. It gets fairly advanced but that is completely up to you. The big bummer that I'm dealing with is that it's a primarily a 3dmax school. They do have Maya complete on all the workstations but they don't teach it. So, you can rule out any form of real particle work or code writing. Most of the vfx work is taught in combustion here and pretty much adds up to the sprites found in combustion. On the upside, the school has mucho cashola and a really good relationship with HP. The school has rooms full of 2ghz and faster workstations. I do wish that they'd invest in a few key technologies such as a mocap rig and flame seat. Just to get us 'kids' familiar with stuff. I hear that the Universities new animation program hasn't got near the monetary backing that this school has. I would at least tour the school to choose for your self if the $65,000 is worth it. If you want any more info, feel free to email me!
 
Old 05 May 2003   #15
Im sorry but for $65,000 you could pay probably any studio to let you work there as an intern for a year or two. You would learn far more that way.
 
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