I’m interested in opening a discussion on how successful schools have been (or not) in getting students jobs in the industry. I’d like to hear from all sides so it’s not limited to just students or graduates. Also I would like to keep the focus on art specifically and not animation or programming though technical artists would be good.
Note: I realize things are a bit of a wild card lately with the economy, studio closings, etc…
So far what I’ve read on most forums, including here, is focus on the portfolio. Just having the degree is not enough or sometimes not needed at all. I agree with this. I was self taught and continue to do so. CGTalk has been an incredible source. I think sites like CGTalk should be included resources in teaching. Where better to draw knowledge then those in the trenches. Teachers should have students involved in the community.
I’ve done some research on courses offered by schools and for some like Cogswell the focus is too general. I know a couple of students who have come out and done well but I think a student coming out of school at best will have a good understanding of a bunch of things but not a focus in an area that will land them a job working on a particular field. Most student portfolios reflect this.
If a student is not sure of what route they want to take in the industry I can see the benefit of more generalized studies initially but once a path has been chosen specilization needs to happen. Also having basic foundation knowledge (ie. color theory) should be a staple of any education.
I believe things can be greatly improved on. I’d like to see students given the tools to come out to be more successful and not waste time and money. For now I think a lot of these schools are running with blinders on.
I’m not usually a massive advocate of polls, but in this case maybe a poll for those in industry on whether they went to school or not before acquiring a position (2D or 3D) might be of better service. I believe this was done before on the site, but it was over 5 years ago. And if they did go to school, maybe they can list their respective school and surmise a bit of their educational experience and overall benefit for hiring potential. Shrug.
Interesting thread you have hear. I don't post much, but I felt like dropping you a few lines. I was in your position 2 years ago around this time, not sure if school was right for me. The reason why I chose to attend an institute was because I wanted to learn the fundamentals of 3D and be taught step by step from experienced people in this field. Any one can try to teach themselves 3D, but how far can one get without the fundamentals and principles of Maya, or your particular 3d program. I attended DMAC in boca raton Florida. I must say the curriculum was quite basic. At the time I was a bit discouraged because I was comparing my work and progress to industry standard, which in reality I was silly because it was nearly an impossible goal to accomplish. I got to the level I am at now, and was fortunate to land a job in the industry right out of school, because I pushed myself and slept every other night. What I am trying to say is, it's up to the student, not the curriculum. The school can only teach you so much. Then it's up to the students to take it to the next level. The environment, tutoring, classmates, accessibility to numerous programs, are irreplaceable. One person could not achieve this by themselves. I believe school is a no brainer. Plus without school, how could I fork up enough money to purchase liscences needed to become a great artist. I rather spend the money on tuition. I tell current aspiring artists, that they should certainly follow thier heart and passion. If school is not for you , then maybe it's not for you. Just if you do decide to attend one, make sure your are comfortable with the curriculum. I could of gone to Vancouver and be surrounded by incredible talent, but I felt it was important for me to attend a school where I knew the classes where small, and I would be able to get quiet time with the professors. It all depends on the variables and conditions you want to learn under. Regarding being a generalist, I would recommend students to become generalists. My trade and specialty is dynamics, but I forced myself to be very efficient in modeling, lighting, texturing, and animation. Just incase that task was put on me. (I totally suck at rigging). I continue to try to improve everyday. I think back sometimes and wonder, would I have landed this job, if I just focussed on my favorite and best craft which is dynamics? Prolly not. Currently here at MPC, the team is not massively big, but 90 percent of the artists are generalists. We do have a few specialists, but stability is what companies need. If you can knock out a shot by yourself, knowing how to light, texture, model and animate...all on a high level. Not only does the company save money, but it's more money for you. Don't get me wrong though....it's quite important to be great and specialize in something, but one should never stop there. The industry is evolving. There are more and more generalists now chewing up hours in the industry here in Cali. I see it on a day to day basis. It's incredible. So if your a great animator, start learning how to light. If your an wonderful vfx artist, learn how to model. Pick up some texturing DVD's. There is an economic decline like you said. So artistis need to think outside the box. "How can I help make a company money?" Not myself. If students have this mindset. The rates and money will come. They will find themselves very successful in the industry.
Take care bud
I also attended DMAC after getting and IT degree in NY, Ive seen your work on their reel and i have to say that is the best work ive seen come out of that school, really nice stuff man. When i first got there in the begging of 2005 (undergrad) i loved it, really small classes, everyone seemed to be knowledgeable and helpfull. They changed alot of faculty and even the whole program when they were accredited and its a long story but it really made a mess. I think that it gave me a good kick in the right direction but ive spent more time learning from DVD’s and sites like this than in any classroom. I must say i regret the fact that i had to work soo much to be able to pay my way down here it really hurt me when it came to networking with other students, i didnt have alot of time to spend sitting at the school and i did all my work from home (two monitors, motion controller, 5 networked systems for rendering) I definately lack good critique and that i think is one of the most important aspects of making you a better artist. I have just finished up down here and am looking to break into the industry. It seems impossible sometimes but i work tirelessly every day, and i believe i am talented, all these all nighters have to pay off sometime.
I really wish i would have went to vancouver or ringling where i could have lived on the campus and really immersed myself in all of the talent at those schools. I feel it would have been a better education and environment for about the same price
I think that the key is really motivation , if you know your the kind of person that needs a more structured environment to progress and meet deadlines. School will force you to learn and complete alot of work, which sometimes needs to be worked on furthur after graduation to make it demo reel ready.
If you are the kind of person that is self motivated and really has a passion, there is enough information out there to teach you anything.
Im gald to hear you got a job, keep up the awesome work I want to see more!!!