Schooling for 3D Animation - Campus or Online?

Discussion in 'Community' started by ExoticFish, Mar 2, 2004.

  1. ExoticFish macrumors 6502a

    ExoticFish

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    #1
    Howdy,

    When I got out of high school I went and took a tour at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh because I had a dream of becoming a 3D Animator. Well i didn't go because I got to go my hometown university due to the fact that my mom worked there. And basically the free out-weighed everything at that point. I'm currently in school to get my CIS degree some years down the road. I say some years because I have aquired a full time position at the university as a LAN Support Specialist and am only going to school part time.

    But the university (as good as it is) has squat in the animation department. Quite shocking since it's a liberal art kind of place. But anywho... I've been recently feeling as though I made the wrong decision after high school. My dream as been following me around for years but I just don't have that much time to devote to learning 3D stuff on my own. I've started picking it up again though and am really enjoying it.

    So I have a lot to questions I am asking myself and trying to find out about online.

    • Should I go to an actually college or would an online one be ok? When looking for a job are they going to care whether it's an online college or not?
    • Would it be worth quiting my stable job and moving and getting college loans to go to school?
    • If I just learn myself and build up a strong enough portfolio, will jobs concidered for jobs in the video game/movie market?
    • How important is a BS compared to a AS in this field?

    Lots of questions I have. Plus, I was looking into the Art Institute Online and they have what looks like a good program but they seem to only use 3D Studio Max but I think I'd rather have a program that tought Maya or Lightwave since those both seem to be taking over the video game market and already dominate the movie market. Plus I'm currently learning Maya and I'd like to stay on that track.

    But if I were to decide to go to a campus based college I think I would much prefer to go to Digipen. I'm already starting to plan the possibility of going to their summer workshop on 3d Animation.

    I'd love any insight from anyone doing 3D Animation (Mr. Anderson, agreenster) on comments on what I've said or other ideas as to what I could do. Thanks for taking the time to read what I've wrote as this has been driving me crazy trying to find out more information and trying to make such a dificult decision.

    Thanks,
    - ExoticFish
     
  2. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Location:
    VA
    #2
    I don't know how much help I can be - I went to school for CIS and focused on 3D and animation on the side, non core courses. There really wasn't a 3D animation curriculum available, things still pretty much in their infancy - phong shading was all the rage and ray tracing didn't have antialiasing unless you had access to a super computer :D

    Agreenster, teabgs, jelloshotsrule might be of more help.

    One thing to consider is what are you goals, what do you want to do? There is so much involved in 3D animation (a lot of it not animating) that in some cases, you might need to specialize. Look at the credits on a big 3D movie, Shrek or Nemo, and see just how many people are involved and how many different things they're doing. I seem to remember that lighting alone in Shrek had more people working on that than animating (not sure though).

    D
     
  3. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2003
    Location:
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    #3
    Son, let me tell you. Anyone can learn to drive the software. If you are smart you can learn the software. But you got to have TALENT. I've seen work where you can tell that the person who made it were either heavily technically oriented or heavily video game oriented. You can just tell. It's kind of like listening to a tone-deaf person attempting to play an instrument. Painful.
    It may be good in that persons area of competence, but it's soulless. Like watching a bad movie.

    That's why it behooves you to have an interest--passion is better-- for another form of art. Be it photography or some other. Where you can develop your eye for composition and framing and subject.

    It's a tough business. Most who have the desire will not find a niche.
    But I stress be an ARTIST first, who happens to know the software.
    One school that seems outstanding is the Ringling School of Art and Design. Some incredible work has been produced by people there. Here's one alums website and thesis project.
    www.donphillipsjr.com
     
  4. ExoticFish thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ExoticFish

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    #4
    I understand what you're saying about the artist stuff, and I've always been an artist. I've loved to draw and although I have not had enough time to work on my stuff in the past few years I'm always doodling and drawing sketches and things.

    I understand that there are lots of different aspects of 3d animation, modeling, texturing, lighting, etc... But Mr. Anderson, what do you think would be the best way to get there? If you had to do it again, how would you get to where you wanted to be given my situation?
     
  5. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2001
    Location:
    Walt Disney Animation Studios
    #5
    I would go to a school heavily focused in art, figure drawing, painting, design, etc. Like Jesse said, anyone can learn to drive the software. If its technical stuff you want to do (rendering, lighting, etc) it would help to also have strong backgrounds in programming. If its modeling or texturing, then background in fine art is important. If its animation, fine art and drama is important.

    Vancouver Film School churns out very talented students, as does Ringling. Theres tons of schools on the west coast that you can take your pick from as well. I wouldnt necessarily recommend an online class, unless you already have the art education background.

    But Jesse was right. Without talent, you're wasting your time. (Im not saying YOU, I mean 'you' generically)
     
  6. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2001
    Location:
    Walt Disney Animation Studios
    #6
    1) In an ideal world, yes. You could be a third grader, but with the right demoreel/portfolio, you can land any job.

    2) Degress are good, they never hurt. But the reel is everything.

    Im going to get my reel out there (hopefully next week, lol) and see what happens. I graduated from a small art school last year and have been working for several smaller studios and networking/trying to land a permanent gig for some time. It aint easy! :) My current boss was working on Matrix3 this summer, and even with his connections and reference, I couldnt find studios willing to hire anyone without 5+ years experience.

    Also, check out www.cgtalk.com

    Tons of talented people and valuable info.
     
  7. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Location:
    VA
    #7
    Absolutely - you need to have more than a piece of paper that says you know animation, you have to show it.

    What would I do different? Not sure. I started out in architecture (3 years worth) and loved the design aspect/model building. 3D was an extension of that for me - I think in 3D :D

    The animating takes time, and anyone who is any good will tell you its a life long pursuit. For me, I would have liked to have started earlier, knowing that I wanted to do 3D 10 years before I did. That and having the resources available to do it. You're lucky that you have them.

    Good luck,

    D
     
  8. ExoticFish thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ExoticFish

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    #8
    i've been doing a lot of looking around online and thinking about schools to go to. Digipen is obviously a good choice it seems but i found that the University of Advancing Technology (www.uat.edu) looks really nice and i like their courses a lot. i got their information stuff in the mail and it looks like a nice place. only problem is that it's a pretty new school i guess (20 years or so i think?) and i can't find a lot of reviews of it anywhere. has anyone heard of this school or read any reviews?

    thanks for all your help/comments.

    - ExoticFish
     
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #9
    This might be a fit for you: the Gnomon School of Visual Effects. They have a physical campus but also offer online courses. They use primarily Maya for their 3D modeling and animation. They train people who work for Pixar, Dreamworks, etc.

    If you had asked me a week ago, I wouldn't have been able to answer you. Since I was interested in 3D animation, I went to a seminar on the topic 4 days ago, and that's where I first learned about Gnomon.
     
  10. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2001
    Location:
    Walt Disney Animation Studios
    #10
    Gnomon is very popular, mostly due to the sheer amount of advertising they do. Their workshops and material is good from what I hear, and is great for learning the tools of the trade. However, dont forget that Pixar, Dreamworks, etc etc don't hire normally based on what tools you know, but what artistic skills you have. Talent, creativity, background, skills, work ethic, and a good grip on artistic principles is what gets you in the door. (not to mention who you know) They can teach you the tools, especially since they use their own proprietary stuff anyway...

    But what do I know, I dont work for Pixar.....

    sigh :(



    yet.... :rolleyes:
     
  11. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    #11
    Darn! There goes my plan! :mad: ;)
     
  12. ExoticFish thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ExoticFish

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    #12
    Gnomon was one of the first and foremost i looked but i guess i didn't look hard enough cause i thought they only had like the 2 or 5 or however many weeks long sessions on various things, i totally missed their whole 21 month curriculum, that sounds awesome as they do sound like they know their stuff and have an "in" in the industry. i have numerous questions about school that i need to ask still, i'm planning on making some phone calls but perhaps one of you has an idea. i plan on getting a school loan as i don'y actually have $35,000 - $45,000 laying around to pay for school and i'm hoping to go full time and even through the summer to finish quicker. while i was thinking about this it hit me... what about living expenses? would i be able to get a loan for enough to cover living expenses? going to some place like UAT i could live on campus and i'm sure that would be covered, but what about Gnomon since they don't have any dorms, would that be able to be covered by any type of a loan or anything?

    edit: fixed some late night spelling errors
     
  13. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    You might contact Sallie Mae and ask them about what kind of loan you could get.
     
  14. MrScary macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    #14
    I am not sure if the "Inner depths of madness" is close to Phoenix, Arizona or not, but I am actually in the process of getting all of my ducks in a row, so to speak, to start online classes at UAT in May. I too have researched several different "institutions", nothing to do with the "inner depths of madness", but if you are on the West coast, there are a couple out here that are really good. UAT (University of Advancing Technology) is fastly becoming the ultimate animation schools out here, and then there is the Academy of Art in San Francisco that is supposedly one of the top schools out here. Academy of Art seems to have a great program for 3D Animators, and if you are set on going the major motion picture path, they also have one of the best film studies as well, which helps to take as a minor so you know the ins and outs of the film industry. I started out, like Mr. Anderson, in architecture and drafting design, and also dabbled in commercial art as a hobbie. I got sucked into, and spent the last 10+ years of my life working in computer networking as a network engineer/administrator. I know, DOH... Anyway, try checking out this little site that contains a database of animation schools and has a huge list of animator job postings, as well.

    www.awn.com

    Hope that helps a little bit. :D
     
  15. ExoticFish thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ExoticFish

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Location:
    The inner depths of madness, aka Kent, OH
    #15
    thanks for that site, it's just what i was looking for! unfortunatly "the inner depths of madness" is Ohio. I've though about the online classes route but i know how i learn the best and i think it might be better for me to actually go someplace to learn. i'm in the process of writing UAT to see if they can help me answer some of my questions and such, but i'd be REALLY interested to hear how your online experince goes MrScary.
     

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