What kind of schooling do you professionals recommend?


I’ve done lots of research into this and I’ve come up more or less empty handed. I’m hoping that some of you who have jobs in the 3d animation field can shed your personal light on my situation.

I’m currently in college now for my two-year, general education degree (it’s a long story as to why I didn’t chose animation before, so just trust me for now :slight_smile: ). I want to land a job in the 3d animation field, preferably (in the long run) making movies, as opposed to game creation.

I’ve read interviews before like this one: http://www.3dfestival.com/story.php?story_id=434 where professionals are interviewed and they talk about what it takes to land a good job in this market. The problem is that out of all of the interviews I’ve read, none really seem to say what kind of education (if any at all) is needed to get a good job. Some places say that a good demo reel is all that you need, while some say you need some sort of schooling for it. What this means though is that I have the options of either going through the 4 month crash-course at The Renaissance Center (http://www.rcenter.org/), getting a 2-yr degree in animation somewhere, or going through another 4 years of school getting my Bachelor’s in animation. That’s a difference of 4 months - 48 months, and $6500 (for the Maya course at the Ren. Center) to upwards of $70,000 (at a four year school).

I’ve also been told to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art since it’s sort of the foundation for any art job.

Now granted, I want the best education I can get, so I don’t want to go to a college that won’t get me my money’s worth, but if I don’t have to go to school for another 4 years and can instead go for 4 months, I think I’d chose the 4 months. But I don’t know what people in the industry are REALLY looking for. This is a huge decision, and I don’t want to make the wrong one and screw myself over in the long run.

Please shed some light on my dillemma. I tried searching these forums, and many others as well, but I didn’t find anything useful. Thanks in advance.


Hi there,

I’m in a similar situation as you, so I’ll try and give you any advice I can from the experiences I’ve had.

I’m 19 and just finished up my second year at my 4 year university, going after a B.F.A. in Digital Arts and Animation.

I’d reccommend you go with the B.F.A. route.

You said that you’re currently earning a 2 year General Education degree (A.A.? A.S.?), so that should really help you out in transfering to a 4 year school since General Education degrees seem to transfer the best. That would mean that after you got the 2 year degree, you could transfer your credits to a 4 year school and only have 2 more years left towards earning the B.F.A.

Then just spend the remainer of your time (while earning the B.F.A.) to hone your 3D skills and develop a respectible portfolio/demo reel.

Those n-Month courses just dont have the same value as an actual degree from a university… etc.

Hope that helped,


That definitely did help, and I very much value your opinion. Thank you for the advice.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a school that offers a animation B.F.A. that will let me transfer in my A.A. degree and let me start out as a Junior. All of the schools that I can find that have a half-reputable program (or even ones that just HAVE a animation program) are four full years of art classes, not two of general education and two of art. So it would seem that to get my B.F.A. I would have to go through another four years of school (essentially starting from scratch).

Honestly, I would definitely want to get a Bachelor’s above anything else. But since it seems that all animation programs are four years of art, that would make me 26 when I graduated from there (if all goes well), and that’s pretty late to start a career where some people are getting in at 21. :frowning: Not to mention that I don’t want to be in school my entire life - I’d like to be out there making some art!

Thanks for the advice. If anyone has any further advice, please let me know.


No offence, but these “which school” threads are popping up to frequently…:shame:


No offense taken, but I’m not asking what school to go for. I’m asking what people who are hiring 3d animators are looking for in their potential employees. I can find a school on my own, but knowing what’s going on in their heads is something I can only get by asking them.

If there is a more appropriate place for this thread, then please move it.


Re: LordPhobos.

Well, you see, this “General Discussion” thread is usually Leigh’s hunting ground! She is a moderator and gets really annoyed with the reoccuring threads…

My advice is to do a search which can be located under the banner at the top of the page.:beer:


Forgive me, but I’m not that dumb. I’ve done searches before and I never find anything useful. The threads that are constantly repeated are the “I want to go to <xxxxx> school, is it any good?” threads. I’ve been looking for quite awhile and have yet to find anything substantial. And seeing as how I can’t wait around forever, I figured I would start a thread hoping to answer this question.

Now if I’m just that dumb and I missed the page where professionals gives their opinions, then please let me know and I will gladly be on my way. But again, all of the threads I find on this and any board have just been “What school do you recommend?” not “Is schooling needed?”

So if this thread needs to get shut down, then so be it, but I don’t feel that my question has really been answered anywhere before. If it has, please point out my mistake. Thanks.


Well, you see, this “General Discussion” thread is usually Leigh’s hunting ground! She is a moderator and gets really annoyed with the reoccuring threads…

LOL Why do I get singled out?? :scream:


Originally posted by Leigh
LOL Why do I get singled out?? :scream:

You know we all luv yuh, leigh :love:



I think this topic is really hard to answer since CG is still “new” in terms of gaining foothold in formal education. I would think most of these professionals are self-taught geniuses who had lots of time to tinker with 3D and that’s what they do even to this very day. Really, you pros, programmers, and TDs need to give yourself a pat on the back for coming up with some amazing solutions. For up and coming n00bs like us to ask, “Is school necessary?” I would imagine would be quite difficult to answer. For someone to spill out years of trial and error and relentless pioneering will take awhile. Plus, CG holds a mountain of information that would almost be impossible to address each topic if you self-taught yourself. For me, school was the only answer. There’s no way I would have done this on my own. Just looking around, I think most would say that you find a school that can bolster your traditional skills while developing your technical skills. It all comes back to the paper and pencil.

As for those individuals upset about these sort of threads, please understand that there are schools out there willing to teach, and those that are there to prey on ambitious CG artists to be. A specialized education like this takes a lot of money and a lot of time, and neither can be blown on a poor decision. That’s why you see so many of these school thread, and unfortunately some turn into flame wars. Ultimately, for those of us who did make up our mind to go to school and study our arses off, we’d like to become major contributors in a media that we dearly love. Please don’t get mad at us when all we want is some answers that will help us get us in a position to work side by side with the pros and create these phenomenal works of art.

LordPhobos, it appears that you have a good head between your shoulders. Use it wisely.




Originally posted by LordPhobos
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a school that offers a animation B.F.A. that will let me transfer in my A.A. degree and let me start out as a Junior.

Take a good look at ANY schools around you with a solid arts program that will accept your credits… they doesn’t nessicarially need to have an Animation program.

CG is still a VERY new industry, and about 90% of what you learn will probably be on your own.

Its OK if you get a BFA that isn’t Animaton related.
Practically the only reason I’m even in a university is just so I can put down BFA on my resume… I’m not really learning anything new here, all of the CG experience I have is pretty much self taught.

And some companies may even see a traditional arts background as a very big plus in addition to your CG experience.

Just do anything you can to make sure your A.A. doesn’t go to waste.



Huh? Leigh??:eek:

Damn! She’s found us already! See LordPhobos? I told you so!!!:scream:



LordPhobos I’m in the same boat as you. I’m looking to build up my traditional art background because well…I have none. In fact it’s going to hurt me more because I can hardly draw. But what I have learned from people in the industry is that some companies don’t even care if you can draw as long as your demo reel demonstrates that you and do the work and do it well. The companies that do look for and art background aren’t necessarily looking for a BFA or a degree but the fact that you can demonstrate your artistic skill. Just from reading these “what school…” posts a lot of people got jobs and never finished getting a BFA. So the main thing I have picked up is that as long as you can demonstrate you have the skill you should do fine.


Yes, another one in the same boat… I was wondering the same exact thing, LordPhobos! What do the pros want?? I am having a hard time balancing my schedule between work and school and am thinking of dropping out and learning on my own. There are loads of training dvds, forums (ahem), etc… I just don’t know what to do… (currently I am in the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, getting my BS in animation)

Can a professional out there please give us some input?? Is a BA, BS, AA, AS, BFA… needed?? Or are you just looking for demo reels??? Do you think it is so much more difficult for a smart and motivated person to get the same skill level working on his own as he would getting schooling???

Help please!!!


Since no one commented on your original idea of the renaissence center i’d have to say it’s a great way to go.

I took the four weeks class in december and I’m going to go back again for the 4 months class (by begging them to make it a max one again :P) but yes, it is definitely worth your money and everything you can think of. You’ll learn A LOT, i swear :wink:

You could go post on 3dbuzz.com and ask what people thought about the classes held over there, I don’t think you’d receive a negative comment about it.

(i miss the center :cry: )


I’d say it all depends on what your goals are. if you want to be an animator, go for the long term education, as the depth of education you get will be invaluable. If you are thinking along the lines of a TD, I would still say to go for the 2 year option.

A 4 month course, no matter how well designed, will not give you adequate preparation for landing a decent job. You will have to work your way up by entering as a runner/assistant and can expect to be doing that kind of work for a couple of years, so it’s not really the quick option that it might seem to be at first glance. The only time I can see that it might be useful is if you already have traditional art skills and are looking for an introduction to the technical side.

Think carefully and be wary of the ‘easy’ options, as they can be more harmful in the long run.


Do you have a show reel?
Do you have connects (atleast good friends who are into 3d and are good at that)?
How well do you know animation (i’m going to guess not much)?
Do you know people who can look at your work and give you constructive critisium?

You gotta ask yourself those questions (and others I cant think of right now)

If your only asking because you want to know if going to school will mean a job for you, well then, you should know the answer. you should know that all that counts is how good you are. No one cares if you went to school at what ever collage or uni. That wont help you produce High Quality work. Only you can. How them a great reel and you will get a job. The advantage of going to a school is meeting people. Its all about networking baby. Companies will look at 100’s of reels. KNowing someone in the company will help.

If you think that you can work on your own, try it for a while see how it goes, I have but its taken me no-where. So now i’m looking for a school.

I’m no pro, but I have read many interviews and mags and forums etc, and it seems that geting yourself known, is very important when getting a job.

I hope I didnt bable on to much, if i have, slap me.

Heres a link which might help:
Cheers3d pros take a poll on if they did formal education or were self taught


Amidst a premature midlife crisis, I’m also finding myself in this predicament. And, never one to step on anyone’s toes, not intentionally anyways, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking, however redundent; better to ask and be pointed in the right direction than stay muted and not know.

Well, I’ve been drudging along for a number of years doing menial support work, but CG has whet my curiousity and forced me to take a new path in life. As for advice, if you can financially afford the Maya workshop, definately take up on it. At the very worse case scenario, you have a BFA and a Maya certificate; not exactly held in low regard like some MCSE certs. are nowadays. Maya is one of the seminal applications among 3D apps. so consider your time and money well spent. And if that’s not enough to get your foot in the industry, then go for the 4 yr. degree with a major head start. Consider also the possibilities of networking you do within your workshop; it’s not uncommon to gain inside contacts and just leap-frog the whole process.

Myself, I’ve opted for the traditional 4 yr. program as my craft isn’t nearly as polished as some of yours; this will atleast give me some time to hone and find my style. That, and I was never really an artsy kid, but it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.


Okay, I thought I’d actually do a post instead of lurking. Just a bit of professional background on me me so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve been working on cg for feature films pretty much nonstop for 10 years. My time has been split between major houses and smaller ones. So, I have a pretty good grasp on both work environments. Started out as a nonpaid internal and worked my way up to a lead position.
Here’s my advice on education. Do it. Get a BA. However, don’t do it because you want job training. A college education is not only about getting trained in a specific area. It is about learning may skills across the board that will help you in life. You will learn how to start something that you love and finish it. You learn how to start something you hate and finish it. You will be exposed to many different people, ideas, and situations you would have never even thought of. Get out of your comfort zone and move AWAY from home.
Age does not matter. I’ve worked with people who didn’t get into the industry until their mid thirties.
People who take those 4 month courses are a dime a dozen, but finding people who can work in a group, have original ideas, and know how to apply knowledge are a different story. A demo reel might help you get a foot in the door, but that door will slam on you if that’s all you have.
I’ve seen way too many people in this industry who felt very passionate about cg at 17, but are now floundering at 30 because they never exposed themselves to anything else. They went right from high school to the industry and had refused to even think about doing anything else.
This is just my 2 cents and opinion feel completely free to ignore it.


Ashes as you being a 10 vet I obsorbed every word you said like a spunge and rung it out in a glass so i can do it again :slight_smile: I too am in the same boat, My high school has a running start program that allows me to get into a community college for 2 years but after that im on my own. I have been thinking of what I need to take in order to succeed as a cg artist, for years I hated doing traditional art but I was allways talented at it, apon looking at peoples requests ive discovered companies like Blizzard Entertainment not only want people who are excellent 3d artists they also want people who can do 2d concept art and visual manipulations along with advanced animation and have strong Interpersonal or “people” skills because of this I have often wondered should I take the basic courses for traditional art ie. art 101 etc… they are manditory at my comunity college before i can continue on in the cg field but at the same time I feel that I know most of those basic art classes… I have not thrown away the idea of taking advanced art classes such as drawing 120 etc. But I have always felt Ive known the basics. Should I just grudge through them and hope I stumble acrossed something I never learned? or do I challenge the course pass and move on? passing or failing has never been a question in my mind I will pass everything in my way. All it is, is a set of hoops I must jump through before I reach my goal but the question is do I grab the tnt and break the hoops and go to the harder ones first? my delima is that running start pays for my 2 years of college. Last thing I want to do is waste my time taking a course I already know and at the same time I dont want to try and Challenge the course and fail because I was too pig headed to realize I did not know as much as I thought. My weak areas in traditional have always been anatomy and perspective these I will definatly take and become good at. My question along with the others is how do I know what I need to be successful because there is no doubt in my mind that I wont be its just the doubt of how will I be.

sorry for the long tedious boring rhetoric :slight_smile: