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G the STAR
07-25-2006, 10:45 PM
Should I go to animation school to learn how to animate and product a film?

Or through training courses and books can be enough to make me being capable to animate and make a film or video game of my own?

I try to find this answer.. I hope I can get from you with your experience and knowledge.

Plakkie
07-26-2006, 01:30 AM
Good question G. I'd like to hear some answers myself. Practically, there are no animation schools in my country, so I try yo learn as much as I can from books and tutorials. I think that that can (can, not will) be enough to produce your own movie or game. But maybe there are some secrets that can't be learned from books?

Wonderpup
07-26-2006, 02:13 AM
My experience has been that you end up teaching yourself wether you go to school or not- in the end it all comes down to motivation- the best training in the world is worthless unless you want to learn, and if you do then you will probably be ok without it.

Having said that there are probably advantages to going to (some) schools in terms of networking and future job prospects, and even just to be in the company of like minded people.

Anti-Distinctly
07-26-2006, 03:53 AM
My experience has been that you end up teaching yourself wether you go to school or not- in the end it all comes down to motivation- the best training in the world is worthless unless you want to learn, and if you do then you will probably be ok without it.

Having said that there are probably advantages to going to (some) schools in terms of networking and future job prospects, and even just to be in the company of like minded people.

I agree. But if I had the option I probably would. I don't have the option due to money/location/time. Mainly time.
I think it woul've been really helpful for me to take classes to begin with, but you're right, if you don't have the motivation to sit in front of your computer night after night, reading all the books and articles you can, then you wont get far.
It's like driving I suppose, I think you only really starting knowing how to drive after you've passed your test.
Most of your learing will come in your own time.

Plakkie
07-26-2006, 09:24 AM
Networking and job-connections are probably a big plus for animation schools. Talking to people who enjoy animation and 3D too would be much fun, but, I must say, these forums do help on that part. :D

gjjackson
07-26-2006, 12:49 PM
From what I can tell the Dave's school is pretty thorough. I have even seen a couple of tv commercials of them making the Nasa Seals video. It's pretty top notch. They've did some great work. I couldn't say if it would help in getting work. It's not cheap either. Depends on what kind of money you want to invest. The best thing about it would be taking on a project from the very start to a finished product.

newtekker04
07-26-2006, 08:38 PM
I just talked with a guy a couple weeks ago who works at a major video game company. He's also worked in film. I asked him that very question. He said that what employers really look for is what you can do, not whether you have a degree or not. If you can animate/model and do it well, school isn't necessary. However, there are some schools that turn out some really good students. Here in Canada, for example, there is a great school in Toronto called Sheridan College. Apparently, they turn out excellent animators that are usually hired after graduation. However, if you can make a great demo real that shows you are capable, you might be ok without a post-secondary study. He also told me he has a friend that works at Weta who is entirely self-taught! Of course, it ultimately comes down to what you feel you are capable of achieving. If you are diligent enough, learn well on your own, and practice constantly, you're set.

Plakkie
07-27-2006, 03:34 AM
That's encouraging info, thanks!

Sarford
07-27-2006, 06:30 PM
I would recomend always attending an animation school when you have the time and money for it.
You learn so much more and so much faster in school than on your own. You will have a few years to do only animation without woring about income, projects, motivation etc. (I'm talking mainly about the european situation here, government funded schools). You can play and learn at your harts content. Best of all, you are in a place full with people like you, wanting to learn animation, you can learn from eachother, motivate eachother, build friendships, do projects together etc etc.
You also propably will learn some more skills like drawing, colortechniques, composition, art history, animation history etc.
If you have the chance of atending animation school, don't let it slip!!

Plakkie, there are some colleges (accademies) in holland who have some sort of animation program but if you wanna learn it good and proper go to the academie in Gent. They have a full-blown animation course there. I've done it myself (though never finished it, now I wish I had :/ ;) ).

mjcrawford
07-27-2006, 07:59 PM
I am a studant at Westwood collage online. they have a BA in anamation and you can attend class at any time from anywhere (internet required of course) they are a solid school.. and while I taught myself quite a bit before I enrolled, a solid school program can make sure you do not miss the fundementals, which we tend to skip over... I highly recommend it.

klanderud
07-27-2006, 10:01 PM
You have to be careful in your decisions if you plan to go to a university. I have seen many people with BA and MA degrees with very little knowledge in 3D animation. Most universities provide no more then one class in 3D animation. So you’re wasting your efforts attending other classes that do not pertain to anything you want to learn. If you plan to teach I would obtain a BA or MA.

I think one of the cheap ways to start is to get a 2 year degree at a community college. Many community colleges have more training in 3D then most universities (such as Lightwave and StudioMAX); as well as, related classes (AutoCAD and ArchiCAD). You can still obtain jobs through the State or Federal government and most companies that requires you to have a degree.

While at a community college I would purchase educational versions of the software and training DVDs.

You can purchase most software through sites like this
(or through school bookstore)

Creation Engine
http://www.creationengine.com/

Studica
http://www.studica.com/products/index.cfm

I am a true believer when it comes to DVD training.
You receive top notch training and you can always review it later.
You’ll never miss a class and it is much cheaper.

You can purchase DVDs through Kurv Studios
(not sure if they have EDU prices)
http://www.kurvstudios.com/
Their Lightwave bundle is $300
They also have Digital Fusion and Zbrush

Also Total Training is a good DVD set.
(You can also get them at creation engine)
http://www.totaltraining.com/

Online training can be obtain through sites like Lynda.com
(You can also get DVDs at creation engine)
http://www.lynda.com/


For visual effects schools I would look into these:

For Lightwave, I had a friend that went to Dave's school and he improved a lot.
http://www.daveschool.com/

For Maya, I know a couple people that taught at Gnomon School which is a great place to start. Maya is a little expensive and so is the training.
http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/
They also sell an all digital bundle for $4,505.00 (educational is 10% off)
http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/dvds/all_ble.html
You can also buy them separate or dvd bundles you prefer such as a Shake bundle.

Digital Tutor is a cheaper way then Gnomon School
You can also save as a student 10% off.
Still it would be around a $1,000 for the entire DVD bundel,
but I would rather buy that then one class in Maya.
http://www.digitaltutors.com/digital_tutors/index.php

Please feel free to ask more.

mjcrawford
07-29-2006, 09:27 AM
You have to be careful in your decisions if you plan to go to a university. I have seen many people with BA and MA degrees with very little knowledge in 3D animation. Most universities provide no more then one class in 3D animation. So you’re wasting your efforts attending other classes that do not pertain to anything you want to learn. If you plan to teach I would obtain a BA or MA.

That is a Good point! but I would also point out that while my 3d classes are not as many as I would like, if you skip over the drawing, and form, and the history, etc, you will not be a well rounded animator.

Plus if 3d is what you want to do, you can find ways to incorprate it into your non-3d classes. I have gotten many extra credit points in several classes by doing the assignemet in 2d, then going back and doing the same thing in 3d and turning them both in together. Professors not only love getting more than what they asked for, many times they will give you pointers in your 3d work that you would not get in a 3d modeling or 3d animation class.

within our BS program we are taking photoshop, advanced photoshop, 2d texturing, advanced 2d texturing, intro to 3d, 3d modeling, 3d texturing, 3d anamation, advanced modeling, and advanced anamation. plus all the drawing, form, history, and general education classes. together that adds up to a solid skillset for post-grad work.

of course no collage degree is a replacement for actual experance which is why in my spare (laugh) time I practice techniques in Maya and Lightwave. Plus spend as much time as possable in forums like this one learning what others are doing and picking up tips and tricks along the way. I also have Dan Amblin's DVD set, as well as many DVD tutorials that I got from sites like SimplyMaya.com, SimplyLightwave.com, Kurv, and others.

dgon64
07-29-2006, 11:01 AM
A few years ago I took a tour of Columbia College here in Chicago as I was debating whether to spend the money on the education. They had pretty decent video and animation departments with several courses available. I was tempted but for the cost of going to school there ( 5-10K so decided not to go there ) I was able to buy all new hardware and software. The downside was that I've had to teach myself all of it through tutorials and various forums so I still feel that I've missed out on many things I could have learned at school. So if you can afford it-definitely if it's the right school but as stated by many others ultimately your work whether school taught or not is what counts. BTW Columbia at the time only taught Maya and XSI-don't know how the've changed in the interim though maybe someone else in this forum may have more up to date info. Ganas ( as it's said in Spanish )- the drive to learn is more important-with that you will find a way to learn.

SplineGod
07-29-2006, 12:00 PM
THere are two ways to get into this, the first being what I call the front door approach. You jump in immediately with both feet, get a loan, go to a school and spend a few months totally focused on learning and doing little else.
or
the backdoor approach where you keep your current job, get a computer and software, buy DVDs, books , hang out on forum and learn it in your spare time.

I know very few ppl who have degrees in this business, Most are self taught and the ones who succeed are the ones who are self motivated enough to do well regardless if they have school or not. I dont think school is as important as llearning. Out here in LA you can always find classes to take in the evenings on figure drawing, scultping, painting, and CGI in every form.

As others have pointed out most employers dont care about a degree. The demo reel more or less can give a better idea of your abilities rather then a piece of paper from a school. That demo reel is the great equalizer when it comes to 'front door' training (formal) or 'back door' (informal).

The last thing you want to do is come out of a school saddled with a tremendous debt. The schooling wont give you any more of an edge then someone else who is self taught and is just as good or talented as you. This industry also doesnt have a lot ot offer in terms of permanent long term employment.Its very project based and having a lot of debt only increases the pressure if youre between jobs.

Very few schools can also fulfill the promise of employment. They also cant guarentee what kind of salary youll get and what kind of company youll work for as well as quality of projects etc. As I said before most places dont care about the degree. The reality is that getting hired has a lot more to do with who you know rather then what you know. Most companies tend to promite internally and only look outside the company if they cant find anyone internally. When they do look outside they tend to get references from coworkers. They know that nobody will only recommend good, talent people who are team players. Your demo reall tends to become something that isnt looked at first. Many companies during Siggraph for example receive hundreds if not thousands of demo reels. Looking at every single one is very inefficient if not impossible. Its just easier to get references from coworkers.

In the end I would focus on LEARNING more the the SCHOOLING. If you are self motivated youll learn no matter what your circumstances are. Spend time building up your contants and networking with others in this business. Be active on forums, got to trade shows, put up a website, keep a blog, post examples of your work, etc etc etc. IF I were going to go to a school it would be to take classes on film making, figure drawing, painting, sculpting etc. :)

mjcrawford
07-29-2006, 12:49 PM
Your points are valid SplineGod, but one thing that school can do is keep you on track and at a steady pace. I work 40-50 hours a week at Comcast; I am an official at our local Church, plus have a wife and 2 younglings at home. I found that while I am motivated, it is very difficult to carve out the time for self study with so much going on. School has forced me to stay on track with my learning, without neglecting vital fundamentals. Also while a good demo reel is vital, it depends on what position you are going for, if you are freelance I agree with you 100% but if you want to get a steady job, sometimes not only is a degree beneficial, it may well be required to even get your demo reel in the right hands!

Comcast as you may or may not know owns several cable channels such as G4, E! and others and is soon to launch more, I work here for two reasons: First to pay the bills, and second, I can apply for various 3d related positions as an in-house applicant which gives me an edge. After working for a channel for a few years, I will be able to build a reputation and go freelance if I choose. Every time in the last few months that a 3d related position opens up first and foremost on the requirements for the position is a degree in Graphic arts, followed in order by a demo reel, work experience and proficiency in various software titles (the titles mentioned are Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Lightwave, and Maya, all of which are covered in my classes)

SplineGod
07-29-2006, 02:30 PM
School MIGHT keep you on track and at a steady pace. Ive been to school and you have all kinds of students. Some keep up, some lag behind, some get it, some dont, some fail and some graduate. Its no guarentee. Also Ive found that usually the pace in class is set by the slowest people. Most of the learning process actually takes place out of class and finding time to study and practice is the same problem regardless if a person is taking formal classes or not.
Ive worked in many studios and the vast majority of the time getting a job is based more on personal references rather then demo reels. Once someone recommends you the demo reel becomes more of a formality. One problem that is also becoming more commonplace is people ripping off animations from various websites, putting them on a reel and claiiming they did it. Ive ran into that on more then one occassion. Many times the people hiring dont know the production aspect of the business or wouldnt expect someone to pull a stunt like that.
Ive been working in this business since the late 1980s and Ive never once ran into a situation where an employer wanted to see a degree. IF and I say IF its ever happened they are mostly willing to waive that in favor of a good reel or previous experience. There are many other fields where that piece of paper is handy because it may be hard to demonstrate proficiency. Again, my experience has been that being asked for a degree is so rare (in this businesses) that it wouldnt be worth going tens of thousands of dollars in debt to show off once every few years. :)

Again, education is good but education can come from many sources that are far less costly. Motivation, regardless of the circumstance cant be bought and is the key to success when applied to a formal or informal educational process. :)

jasonwestmas
07-29-2006, 04:07 PM
after spending 10s of thousands of dolla on ed, I'd have to agree with SG :P

Plakkie
07-29-2006, 04:49 PM
Although I didn't start this thread I value it's replies very much. Being a musician I work mainly in the evenings, so during daytime I have a lot of spare time. Since I discovered 3D about three years ago it has turned out into a very serious hobby (my first one, apart from music). The last few months I've started thinking that it would be very nice to make a bit of money with this great hobby, seeing how much time and money I already spent on it, and how much fun I'm having with it. However, I thought that without a proper education, I wouldn't stand much of a chance. Reading all your replies has shown me that education can do good things for you, but that it is not the only way into 'professional' 3D. It's a good sign that quality is more important then the official paperwork and it gives hope to those (like me) trying to learn this stuff themselves.
Right now, I think the 3D-market in my little country is very small and hasn't much prospects, but maybe I'm wrong. Reading this thread makes me want to go on reading books and doing tut's until maybe one day I can earn some money with 3D. If not, then it's OK too, 'cause it will still be a great hobby!
Thanks for the encouraging words everyone!

kfinla
07-29-2006, 05:26 PM
my 2 cents.. I agree with a lot thats been said.. I personally went to a good animation school but also had been doing 3d on the computer since I was 12 and making art on the computer since i was 6.

At times I certainly contemplated If i was just getting a piece of paper, and if id be better off using tuition money on a faster computer. School has a lot of benefits. Few ppl are focused and regimented enough to learn on their own. You are surrounded by other creative ppl.. everyone needs extra eyes to look at their work. Everyone does things differently and can be learned from. I think when apply to that first job a respected school helps your reel get looked at which can be half the battle out of school.

In my expeirence at school the guys that only showed up just for class and then raced home to work cranked out inferior work to the ppl that lived in the computer lab. U have a network of ppl to problem solve and critique things there. This industry is about working in teams with other ppl. Unless u do freelance which im personally not a fan of the instability. The CG industry is quite small not for a lack of talent but because there are lots of prima donnas, difficult ppl to work with and ppl who communicate poorly.

Degrees are quite often a requirement for working in other countries. School is basically a few years of portfolio building. I have friends that went from Canada (where im at) to top studios in California right out of school.. and I have worked with a very skilled person from the UK with 11 yrs of experince and no degree that still cannot get a visa for the US not being from a NAFTA country.

The benefits of going to a top school, is your surrounded by talented ppl. Competition is healthy, u run faster racing with ppl faster then u. When everyone graduated you will instantly have a network of ppl in good jobs all over the place, vs. the one stand out of the class that finds a job.

In retrospective, some ppl are always teaching and improvng themsleves, some do not. Some ppl are no better then the day they left school because thats when the spoonfed learning stopped.

cresshead
07-29-2006, 05:28 PM
i'd say a mix would be ideal....take a few classes if they are avialable in your area but don't sell your soul [debt] to a animation school unless your are 110% up for the really hard slog...a good compromise would be to get a good pc, some 3d softeare you feel comfortable with..be that lw, max , maya...whatever...also think about available posts if you want to head for a emplaoyment in a studio...you may as well learn the most popular apps if you want to get employed...if on the other hand you want to go freelance or start your own studio...then get whatever 3d app you like..be that blender or houdini!

one thing to really lookout for is the availaible tutorials for whatever app you want to learn from...

max, maya and lightwave all have a huge range of books, dvd's and online courses...

to a lesser degrree xsi and cinema4d

also don't forget such apps as z brush/silo/hexagon for displacement modelsing...the future models will all have needs for displacement for detailed characters...

and checkout splinegod's training if your up for lightwave..his traiing is top banana!

if you want to learn from a major studio artist also have alook at the stuff blur studio has produced...
http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/dvds/ijo01.html

i have thus dvd and though it's in 3dsmax/zbrush it's full of VERY good workflows..which you casn use in any 3d app.

mjcrawford
07-29-2006, 06:16 PM
my 2 cents.. I agree with a lot thats been said.. I personally went to a good animation school but also had been doing 3d on the computer since I was 12 and making art on the computer since i was 6.

At times I certainly contemplated If i was just getting a piece of paper, and if id be better off using tuition money on a faster computer. School has a lot of benefits. Few ppl are focused and regimented enough to learn on their own. You are surrounded by other creative ppl.. everyone needs extra eyes to look at their work. Everyone does things differently and can be learned from. I think when apply to that first job a respected school helps your reel get looked at which can be half the battle out of school.

In my expeirence at school the guys that only showed up just for class and then raced home to work cranked out inferior work to the ppl that lived in the computer lab. U have a network of ppl to problem solve and critique things there. This industry is about working in teams with other ppl. Unless u do freelance which im personally not a fan of the instability. The CG industry is quite small not for a lack of talent but because there are lots of prima donnas, difficult ppl to work with and ppl who communicate poorly.

Degrees are quite often a requirement for working in other countries. School is basically a few years of portfolio building. I have friends that went from Canada (where im at) to top studios in California right out of school.. and I have worked with a very skilled person from the UK with 11 yrs of experince and no degree that still cannot get a visa for the US not being from a NAFTA country.

The benefits of going to a top school, is your surrounded by talented ppl. Competition is healthy, u run faster racing with ppl faster then u. When everyone graduated you will instantly have a network of ppl in good jobs all over the place, vs. the one stand out of the class that finds a job.

In retrospective, some ppl are always teaching and improvng themsleves, some do not. Some ppl are no better then the day they left school because thats when the spoonfed learning stopped.

:agree:
:bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:

Dont do drugs! stay in school!:D

hulagirl7
07-30-2006, 01:05 AM
Yeah, that's interesting. School works well as far as being with "like-minded" people and being able to toss ideas around and discuss it.

School helped me tremendously in learning how to work in a team
environment, collaborate, etc.
It truly did!
Only problem is I got a double bachelors of science in business!
And wow, the accounting majors were particularly "creative"!

Regardless! I know that Spielberg and top studios have personally selected artists from Ringling School of Arts down here in FL. Some of these schools do have connections, but it ultimately comes down to you.

Also, Ringling is considered one of the best in the U.S.A., so getting in can be tough! It's a four year degree that focuses on drawing, traditional animation, etc. But those who make it through are absolutely more desirable hires.

raz111
07-30-2006, 05:06 AM
I was wondering the same thing. I Got accepted into the second year of a BA (Hons) Animation degree due to my HND...
The course covers Traditional Animation and 3D Animation and the sad thing is they use Maya and 3D Max:( Has anyone studied Animation? I'm not sure wether to carry on or self train at home but one thing i'm starting to notice and worry about is the 3D Job application requirement nowadays:

Do you guys not think that having an education background is becoming more of a requirement nowadays? I notice quite a few job 3D job applications ask for a degree background, It seems to me that the days off the self taught Artist is slowly decreasing? But what do I know.


Raz

SplineGod
07-30-2006, 06:30 AM
Ive worked out in Los Angeles for many years. Ive never been asked once and I know maybe a couple of people that actually have a film school degree. Again, education is important but there seems to be this stigma that you can only get an education from a school.
Mileage may vary from country to country. :)

If I were to go to a school, take part time classes etc it would be more traditional classes like figure drawing, sculpting etc. I would also think VERY hard before getting into tremendous debit when coming right ouf of school.
At an entry level position you may not be getting alot of money and having a load of debt with low pay isnt fun. :)

WilliamVaughan
07-30-2006, 09:50 AM
I still have really good contacts with my instructors and class mates from over 10 years ago....That is something I couldnt have gotten from Books and Videos. With that said....use any and all resources you can afford to learn...atthe end of the day it's not where you went to school but how good your work is and of course making sure the right people know about you.

Good Luck on your quest for knowledge....It's been a long truppy road for me :)

G the STAR
07-30-2006, 11:23 AM
Thannks.. Good Answers. Yeah for me, taking DVD and book trainings will be good for me because of time and I do this for my own personal video to my community. I am not looking for to be hired in animation. :-) I prefer to be hired to craft the dance. ha. Yeah this helps me to lead me to understand what I need to do. I might still like to take one class in animation. Introduction to Animation to get myself started nicely. Thannks. Yeahh, All i need is to practice and practice to become more in abilities to make what i like to see. And yeah to keep my eyes open and learn what softwares out there to use.

Plakkie
07-30-2006, 02:39 PM
Me, I would love to be hired! :D
I'd have to learn how to animate first probably; stupid world! :)

dweinkauf
07-30-2006, 10:14 PM
I couldn't help but get into this discussion.

I'm a retired professor who created a cinema (film, video, animation) program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania that Animation Magazine rated as one of the top animation programs in the country. OK, I'm blowing our horn a bit. Please forgive me.

Our program is unique in that the film and animation staff comes from the industry. Mike Genz, who teaches traditional animation, came to us from Disney Feature Animation without even a college degree. He has since earned both BFA and MFA degrees. Steve Carpenter, who teaches computer animation, spent ten years in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles studios and is currently working on his MFA degree. I consider Steve one of the top Lightwave animators in the country - just ask the NewTek people about him. John Chrisman, who teaches film and video and holds an MFA degree from Yale University, worked commercially in the New York area on a number of projects including one involving two United States presidents.

Our students get a broad-based education where they learn to solve problems and immerse themselves in the Arts and Humanities. They also have no difficulty getting jobs - in fact, some are hired before they graduate. We have a couple of dozen graduates working in LA alone. Over the years, they have worked on a very large number of feature films, commercials and TV series. Their most recent credits include: "Ice Age II (supervising animator)," "Superman-The Return," "Ant Bully," "Harry Potter," "Chronicles of Narnia," and "Avatar (director)."

Our emphasis is on commitment, team work, and the individual and collective work produced. While the BFA degree is important, it is not the primary goal of the program. Despite this emphasis on work rather than degree, however, our program has the highest retention rate of any program at the university. We attribute that to a staff that takes great interest in the students both at the university and after graduation. I personally average about a half dozen notes, e-mails, and phone calls from graduates every week. It is a joy for me to interact with, laugh with, and sometimes advise them.

It's true you can learn a lot from books, DVD's etc., but the chance to spend four years working with and learning from working professionals, learning many subjects outside animation, and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, is, I think, an experience unique to a university setting.

Oh, yes, I should mention that Steve Carpenter, who still works in the industry in his off time, and John Chrisman, who does independent projects in his off time, are both graduates of Edinboro University.

Well, enough of blowing our horn. I have to cut this short because John, Steve, Mike, and I have to get up early tomorrow and head for Siggraph.

Dave Weinkauf

Philbert
07-31-2006, 08:52 PM
I didn't read all of what was written here, but I'd like to add that while you can get a lot of technical knowledge out of books and videos, teamwork is definitely a big thing you can get out of school. I can't speak for all school's of course, but some of the great things at The DAVE School were working together with the whole class on one film, just like a studio, school trips to things like Siggraph, and interviews with big studios that came to the school for that purpose. I can pretty much guarantee you won't have EA Games coming to your house to interview you. Also books and videos can't answer questions you may have or discuss techniques.

Someone above mentioned the school was expensive. That may be true when compared to a few books, but how many books could a whole school full of industry professionals and students fill with knowledge? It's also a lot cheaper than going to a 4 year art school, which is what I was doing when I decided to go to DAVE.

newtekker04
07-31-2006, 09:34 PM
I assume The Dave School does not offer instruction online, or am I mistaken?

Philbert
07-31-2006, 11:13 PM
No everything is done at the school on the back lot of Universal Studios in Orlando, FL, you can check it out at www.daveschool.com