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mehetabel
04-26-2009, 11:11 AM
Allright, I am asking myself this question for quite some time now. I know I want to do something with 3D and really want to learn more about it.
So I have concidered following an 3D animation school. But I heard people say that a diploma is not really that important in this area. What is important is having a good portfolio. Not sure if these people are right, but it makes sense to me! So my question is. Why would you follow an animation school if you can also teach yourself? Schools are soo expensive, Here in Holland the governmant is not supporting you in finances when doing an animation school. Why not use the money to buy yourself other things like green screens, cameras, software or stuff like that ( I just say something ).

So actually I've got 2 questions:
1. Why would you do an animation school?
2. How do people pay these schools anyway?

3DGFXStudios
04-26-2009, 11:18 AM
What do you want to be? A real "animator" or a 3D modeler lighter or visual effects dude etc? You can learn that on the Nederlandse Film en Televisie Academie. (Like I did)

RebelHill
04-26-2009, 12:15 PM
Most folks go to school to learn... and teaching oneself aint no picnic... it requires a LOT of time, dedication, and commitment... plus one hell of a knack for nosing out the right information and applying it properly... school gives you a support system...

But yes... you can have diplomas and degrees up the wazoo, if ur reel sucks, no job... but that said, without and quallies ur reel has to be damn good for folks to overlook the lack of degree... If ur reel is just "average" and on par with most graduates, no better, no worse... the guy with the degree will always get hired ahead of you.

mehetabel
04-26-2009, 12:32 PM
What do you want to be? A real "animator" or a 3D modeler lighter or visual effects dude etc? You can learn that on the Nederlandse Film en Televisie Academie. (Like I did)

I'm not exactly sure what direction yet. Haven't had much experience with animation. Mostly with modeling. I'm thinking a lot about it what I really want to focus on. So the last few weeks I am more focussing on animation and lightning and also want to start messing around with visual effects, to see what I like best!
Mmh, so you have done that school. Could you tell me how you experienced it? What the school is mostly focussing on and what it has given you?

The website doesn't really look that interesting!

@Rebelhill: What you say makes sense also. You have to come with something really good these days if you want to impress people. I saw you have some pretty good animation skills. How did you learn it? Have you been to any school for it?

RebelHill
04-26-2009, 01:14 PM
nah... i started making flipbooks at the age of 5, and it kinda spiralled outta control thereafter.

3DGFXStudios
04-26-2009, 01:24 PM
The NFTA is a really good school. Every year they get better and better. We had teachers like Kyle Balda (http://www.kylebalda.com/ make sure to check the about kyle section) for example. And it's brilliant if you don't know yet what you really want to do because at the NFTA they'll teach you everything, 3D Compositing etc. It''s not that the teachers there take you by the hand and show you around in visual effect and 3d land but they are very supportive and help you with whatever you want to do. For example if you and your classmates want to learn something about mocap you'll get some mocap lessons. What also is cool is that you are working with other film makers to like camera man and sound designers directors etc. So the working environment is like in the real world and that will give you a very good understanding how everything works after you graduate. In the last year you are free to start your own final project and thats also really cool about the NFTA. TIP: Visit the open dagen If you need to know more just ask...you can also pm me if you want to know something in Dutch ;)

dweinkauf
04-26-2009, 01:35 PM
As the creator of an film/video/animation program at the university level, I can tell you that our graduates get jobs not just with great reels, but with the ability to solve problems, and a broad based education that includes literature, psychology, science, philosophy, etc.. Our graduates have no trouble getting jobs at major studios right after and sometimes before graduation. One of our recent graduates directed the "Star Wars: Clone Wars" feature and TV series. Four others are working on "Ice Age III," three worked on "Coroline," another on "Bolt" and one worked on the entire "Harry Potter" series to name only a few of the hundreds of feature film, TV, commercials, and games credits our graduates have racked up over the years.

I had the honor of knowing and, on many occasions, bringing to our campus Chuck Jones who spent a lot of time in master classes with our students. His own films, by the way, weren't great because he was simply the director. They were great because of what he brought to the films besides animation. He was a voracious reader who couldn't find a subject that didn't interest him from opera, poetry, literature, theater, particle physics and so much more. His films are powerful because of the broad base of experiences and knowledge he brought to them.

My advice is that whether you train at an animation school, university or by yourself, be sure you study and experience things besides animation. Get a broad-based education no matter how you accomplish that.

Mr Rid
04-26-2009, 05:09 PM
Allright, I am asking myself this question for quite some time now. I know I want to do something with 3D and really want to learn more about it.
So I have concidered following an 3D animation school. But I heard people say that a diploma is not really that important in this area. What is important is having a good portfolio. Not sure if these people are right, but it makes sense to me! So my question is. Why would you follow an animation school if you can also teach yourself? Schools are soo expensive, Here in Holland the governmant is not supporting you in finances when doing an animation school. Why not use the money to buy yourself other things like green screens, cameras, software or stuff like that ( I just say something ).

So actually I've got 2 questions:
1. Why would you do an animation school?
2. How do people pay these schools anyway?

This topic has been amply covered in several threads. Every really good artist I have ever worked with was self taught, but then 3D classes didnt really exist when us 40-somethings started. You dont particularly need school for any reason and it is very possible to teach yourself all you need to know about CG to excel and get hired. Most people are just not that focused and self-motivated on their own and benefit from the discipline of someone else laying out a curriculum to follow. Usually for one year's tuition you can set yourself up with a killer workstation, HD gear and all the apps you need to produce 3D and little short subjects. If you want to meet and work with other animators, you can also do this without school. There a tons of free tutorials online as well as plenty of happy animators thrilled to help you with issues on the forums.

It depends on each individual's aptitude and temperament. If you want to go to school, then go. If you want to teach yourself, then just do it. You stand a better chance of inventing original techniques, new ideas, and intuitively finding your own unique style thru solving problems by your own determination. This is how you learn to lead and innovate. While school is more about following rules, and a well-trod path, learning what everyone else is already doing. It is how you learn to follow and fit. But to excel, at some point you have to find a way to stand out from the rest and do what the majority is not. So why not start now? Embrace the chaos.

"If you want to learn how to build a house, build a house. Don't ask anybody, just build a house."
-Christopher Walken

'Do schools kill cerativity?'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

SplineGod
04-26-2009, 05:13 PM
My experience in this business has been mostly out on the Los Angeles/Hollywood region for the past 10 years. Most people I know have little formal school training. Most are self taught or are self taught but continue to take classes on the side, at night, DVDs, books etc. Theres a lot of professionals out here who also do work on the side instructing and its pretty easy to find reasonably priced classes/books/dvds etc.
Unfortunatly the trend I see out here is that many places see the word "Student" or "Graduate" and use that a lever to hire you in at the lowest possible pay scale instead of looking at the reel only.
A good reel isimportant as Rebel suggested. If I went to school I would spend the time to make a great reel and not show student work. Find a place or two that will allow you to get some real world experience that you can put on a reel or resume before looking to work at some bigger place if need be.
The most improtant th ing is to build up contacts. Getting personal referals is much better then mailing out demo reels.
Also with the economy the way it is right now it doesnt make sense to come out of school with the burden of massive debt trying to compete for jobs with people who dont have the debt and competing for entry levels jobs that probably wont pay well at first.
You should treat school the same way you would consider buying a new computer or software. What Dwenkauf also said is important. Educating yourself regardless of the path is an important lifelong endeavor and only makes you better overall.

OnlineRender
04-27-2009, 01:34 AM
Heres an example , i can play guitar but im not a guitar player . what i mean is , it dosnt matter how much i practise i will never be as good as my mate who can naturally pick up any instrument and play . . .

My point in question , i have a degree in 3D animation & Digital Art , i had a phone interview the other week for VFS and got accepted , but unfortunalty i can not go , mainly due to having no money and family restraints , and living on the otherside of the world .."fell gutted " anywayz

I may have a high education but it brings me back to main point , im no jimi hendrix in terms of animation , i will never be as good as most people on the forum , mainly due to the fact that i learnt the trade , im not a natural , dont get me wrong , my artwork is pretty good , and i pick up software fast .

It dosnt matter what school or education you gain , if your not a natural , and dont work hard , you will never make it this industry , there far to many people that go unoticed and pushed to the side , most of the main artists here are self taught ,from endless hours of tut videos and reading ,then more reading , then trail and error .

But in-turn i know have a list of qualifications longer than most ,from userinterface testing t0 volleyball intermediate 2 :) and when i go for a job i should be a step ahead , but if my demo reel sucks , say good bye job and hello ,job centre . . . . . . .


whatever you do ,Goodluck

OnlineRender

Otterman
04-27-2009, 05:50 AM
Heres my story.....

I studied photography for 5 years, pickled my hands in all sorts developing films, print on silver based paper etc....once i graduated there was this whole 'digital revolution' that left everything i had just learnt obsolete and the whole industry turned on its head. Was it a waste of time?.....heck no!, it just gave me the thirst for gaining more knowledge and keen to get my head round photoshop and a completely new skill set. Now i earn my crust doing this 3d thang....nuts deep in modelling, rigging, animating the whole shebang!

My point being, in this industry, what you learn academically at university will only go so far...its up to you to make up the rest in order to succeed.

shrox
04-27-2009, 06:26 AM
This topic has been amply covered in several threads. Every really good artist I have ever worked with was self taught, but then 3D classes didnt really exist when us 40-somethings started.

Right there with you. Sometimes "kids" ask me where I went to school, and I tell them such schools didn't exist yet. Then they look amazed, like we used stone tablets to make 3D video animation or something. September 10 I'll be 45!

akademus
04-27-2009, 06:36 AM
Depends what your aim is. If you want a kick start in the industry (and you can afford it), going to Animation Mentor for CA, Gnomon or Dave would be the shortest path to getting a job.

In all cases, you'll have to continually educate yourself as this is a fast paced industry and there is a lot going on almost every day.

Shrox: 45! I just turned 29 today!

shrox
04-27-2009, 08:17 AM
Depends what your aim is. If you want a kick start in the industry (and you can afford it), going to Animation Mentor for CA, Gnomon or Dave would be the shortest path to getting a job.

In all cases, you'll have to continually educate yourself as this is a fast paced industry and there is a lot going on almost every day.

Shrox: 45! I just turned 29 today!

Happy 29th Birthday!

THREEL
04-27-2009, 08:45 AM
Right there with you. Sometimes "kids" ask me where I went to school, and I tell them such schools didn't exist yet. Then they look amazed, like we used stone tablets to make 3D video animation or something. September 10 I'll be 45!

Hey Shrox,

We share the same birthday, except I'll be 48 come 9/10/2009. Creepin' up on the big 5-0.

Anyway, for what it's worth, the one thing schooling can do for you is help you find available job opps. I'm not saying you can't find any on your own, but colleges, universities, and trade schools are usually "in the know" with job opps., and can even help you set up an interview.

I have an Associate's Degree in CAD. I got 2 jobs within the first few months of graduating, because the jobs were posted through and by the college. Were they listed elsewhere? Maybe, but it was because of the college's reputation, my grades, and coursework taken that I was able to land these jobs. I, also, had more confidence in my abilities that I don't believe I had before attending college. My grades improved tremendously from high school to college. I think all that showed in my interviews with the companies.

I'm self taught, with the help of many tutorials, in :lwicon:, but I think I could learn a bunch more in the structured framework of school. I haven't been able to go to any, because of family, location, and money, just to list a few reasons. Also, if you don't live in, or near a major metropolitan area, you may have to consider relocating. I'm not saying there aren't any opportunities in 3-D in the more rural areas, but they are fewer and farther between out here in the boonies.

RebelHill
04-27-2009, 08:50 AM
September 10 I'll be 45!

god ur old.... yet look at that hairline... b'stard!!!

akademus
04-27-2009, 08:50 AM
Happy 29th Birthday!

Thanks dude! You look much younger than 45 ;)

shrox
04-27-2009, 09:15 AM
Thanks dude! You look much younger than 45 ;)


My father was 82 when I was born, he was born in 1882, I have a few photos of him at 4 years old taken in 1886. It is rather mind blowing at times...maybe we are Highlanders.

shrox
04-27-2009, 09:21 AM
Another reason for school (hopefully, depending on the school) is an introduction to a professional environment. Learning how to dress, talk, and act in a professional manner.

JamesCurtis
04-28-2009, 08:32 AM
I pick up all of my work through contacts. There were no 3D classes of any sort when I went to college. Got myself basic graphics and art education and went from there.

BTW, my first computer was a Commodore Amiga and it had the original Video Toaster which [of coarse] had LW. That's what got me sterted doing 3D. I'm 54 now and the economy has affected my business to a great extent, but that's happening to everyone that I know, so were all in the same boat.

Best to beat the bushes for client work, and practice the skills as much as possible.

Titus
04-28-2009, 10:20 AM
In my country there were no animation schools ten years ago, no Calarts, no AI, nothing. So most people here is selfthought, but this trend is changing and you see more and more people coming from schools, thinking they deserve a place in your company. An maybe they are right.

The big problem we have in Mexico is that most clients don't think there are good local animators, so all the big projects must be made outside; in the US, Canada or even Argentina. I'm not interested to change this mentality. I make a livng doing animation, even my shortfilm is gonna be screened at Cannes this year but also want and need to be a better artist, and after 11 years decided to attend an animation school. This is the best decision I've made in a long time, I'm learning a lot that's for sure.

After all what can I expect from a school? the learning time is shorter than being selfthought.

sampei
04-28-2009, 10:36 AM
Heres an example , i can play guitar but im not a guitar player . what i mean is , it dosnt matter how much i practise i will never be as good as my mate who can naturally pick up any instrument and play . . .

My point in question , i have a degree in 3D animation & Digital Art , i had a phone interview the other week for VFS and got accepted , but unfortunalty i can not go , mainly due to having no money and family restraints , and living on the otherside of the world .."fell gutted " anywayz

I may have a high education but it brings me back to main point , im no jimi hendrix in terms of animation , i will never be as good as most people on the forum , mainly due to the fact that i learnt the trade , im not a natural , dont get me wrong , my artwork is pretty good , and i pick up software fast .

It dosnt matter what school or education you gain , if your not a natural , and dont work hard , you will never make it this industry , there far to many people that go unoticed and pushed to the side , most of the main artists here are self taught ,from endless hours of tut videos and reading ,then more reading , then trail and error .

But in-turn i know have a list of qualifications longer than most ,from userinterface testing t0 volleyball intermediate 2 :) and when i go for a job i should be a step ahead , but if my demo reel sucks , say good bye job and hello ,job centre . . . . . . .


whatever you do ,Goodluck

OnlineRender

I don't agree with the being a "natural" thing. One may be more talented than another, but in the end it all comes to hard work and dedication. Hardwork and sacrifice make up for the lack of talent, and either ways its not like talent alone can create masterpieces.
If you play guitar everyday for 10 hours a day chances are you'll soon be as good as your mate if not better.
Anyways degrees are worthless without skill, in the end I believe its the showreel that gets you a job.
imho :)

Mr Rid
04-29-2009, 04:34 PM
Anyway, for what it's worth, the one thing schooling can do for you is help you find available job opps. I'm not saying you can't find any on your own, but colleges, universities, and trade schools are usually "in the know" with job opps., and can even help you set up an interview.

My advice to anyone just getting into 3D is to go learn Maya. Lightwave jobs have been steadily tapering off over the last few years, and I have not seen a single LW job in several months around L.A. while there are dozens of new Maya listings each month. The spattering of LW job posts of late are on small projects, mostly in London.

If you are interested in high-end production, it has become increasingly more complex and reliant on scripting and coding where a degree does make a difference. Just look on creativeheads.net or vfxpro.com at the prevailing job market requirements. Listings cover all aspects of entertainment and production.

But schools dont have any special connection for real jobs. Most jobs will come thru word of mouth, which is basically what schools are providing. Houses are not going to limit their sources for talent and are usually looking for experience which they will not find thru schools. They do look to schools when they cant find experience or want free or low-pay interns and workerbees. But again, it will come down to how impressive the individual artist's demo is and their disposition, not whether they went to school or what degree they achieved. Ive seen countless discussions about this and there is not one thing that a creative school provides that a motivated individual can not find outside of school and probably for less expense. A driven person usually already has a good aptitude in place and will succeed with or without school.

THREEL
04-29-2009, 07:00 PM
But schools dont have any special connection for real jobs. Most jobs will come thru word of mouth, which is basically what schools are providing. Houses are not going to limit their sources for talent and are usually looking for experience which they will not find thru schools. They do look to schools when they cant find experience or want free or low-pay interns and workerbees. But again, it will come down to how impressive the individual artist's demo is and their disposition, not whether they went to school or what degree they achieved. Ive seen countless discussions about this and there is not one thing that a creative school provides that a motivated individual can not find outside of school and probably for less expense. A driven person usually already has a good aptitude in place and will succeed with or without school.

When I graduated technical college way back in 1994, the internet wasn't as prevalent as it is today, neither was 3D CG, at least not in my neck of the woods. I tried to convince certain people that we should be getting into this, but in the area of CAD, they didn't think it was that important.

On a personal note, going to college boosted my self-confidence greatly. You see, in high school my grades were mediocre. Much of that had to do with the way that I was treated in high school, by students and some teachers alike. I didn't go to college, until 13 years later. Some of the reason behind that was a lack in confidence. Once I did go to college, I realized that I could succeed tremendously in the class room. So for me, college was a "necessary" experience.

BTW--When it comes to :lwicon:, I'm self-taught with the help of a lot of video tutorials and from the forums. But, there's still things I would like to learn (i.e. Expressions). You got to just keep plugging away, whether, or not you go to an "official" school.

SplineGod
04-29-2009, 08:48 PM
Having gone to college and technical school I graduated from was in the field of Laser Electro- Optics. That being said I completely agree with Mr Rid. Everything I know about computers and CGI I taught myself and gained thru experience working on local jobs at first and finally into bigger things.
I remember years ago when I was working in the Laser field (Actually on a "Star Wars" project that was part of Reagans Strategic Defense Initiative), I was mentored by someone who had a PhD in a couple of fields who actually encourage me to focus on getting an education and not necessarily focusing on getting a degree or even attending traditional schools. I was a bit surprised coming from a man with a couple of PhDs. He said that he came to this conclusion AFTER having gone thru schools and mentoring many college grads over the years. When I asked the reason he told me this story....
A reporter was interviewing a famous inventor who had invented many of the amenties we now enjoy in modern cars. The reporter went thru a list of the inventors many inventions, accomplishments, awards etc. then said to the inventor,
I understand that you dropped out and never finished with school." The inventor replied that this was indeed true. The reporter was quite surprised and said 'Look at all the things you accomplished but just imagine what you could have accomplished if you had stayed in school!" The inventor said "If I had stayed in school I would never have accomplished anything that I did." The reporter was a bit confused by his response so he went on... "As an inventor you fail more then you succeed. You typically fail 999 times before having that 1 success. Schools teach students to be afraid of failure and you cant succeed if you are afraid to fail."
Having been thru school I have to agree with this. I remember at midterm in the Laser program I was in how fearful everyone was about failing and in fact we lost over half the class I was in because they failed. The focus wasnt on learning and enjoying the actual learning process but this weeks long fear of failing tests or failing the course. In the end 33 of us started this program and only 7 of us finished.
After I graduated I had an interview at a place called Sandia National Laboratories. It was a grueling interview and what impressed the person I was interviewing with were the things I had taught myself over the years...such as programming, video, computer graphics animation etc. etc. because as it turned out were all things I would end up needing to know. She then stated after a long interview that it was Sandias policy that they would only hire people with a degree.
I then stood up and shook her hand as I got ready to leave (because I didnt have a degree). She quickly stood up and said "If you didnt have what I consider to be the equivalent knowledge or experience I would not have continued the interview in the first place. You know more then most college graduates Ive interviewed who do possess advanced degrees." Next thing I know I was hired.
My first actual studio I interviewed at was a video game company. Originally I was interviewing for an engineering position. During my interview I was asked what hobbies or other interests I had. I explained that I was into 3d graphics and animation/video etc.
The person interviewing me looked sceptical and so I mentioned that I had a demo reel.
We watched it and he saw a TV commerical I had done explaining that this commercial was something that the president of the company really liked.
Again I was hired and become lead artist ahead of alot of other artists there, all of which had formal college training while I was completely self taught.
That interview taught me alot and that it that school isnt necessary to get ahead, learn or whatever. Ive found that most schools tend to be expensive and behind what the industry is actually doing.
My experience has been that school isnt always the best option especially in times of finanical crisis like this. Getting educated is something that mostly happens outside of school even while youre in school or not.

shrox
04-30-2009, 03:06 AM
SplineGod's story has another aspect, the time the inventor would have spent in school would have taken away from time used in actual innovation.

radams
04-30-2009, 03:53 AM
It really depends on the person and the school as to if it would be beneficial or an expensive diversion.

Larry, remember that we came from the generation that helped to breath life into this industry...we were the ones pushing it and making it what it is now...

Those younger than us...are looking at an industry that is very diifferent than the one we got into...

I agree that it is about the artist's vision & skills and less about what paper degree you have...but as you also know like shrox stated...a good school can also help to create discipline and an understanding of the whole process...

How many "artists" that had emotional issues have you worked with ?
I know that's part of who we are...but getting it under control to deal with the time & pressures of the real world...are good things to have under you belt...

Something thou that I wish more schools would do is say...sorry you don't have the talent or temperment for this field....

That is something they should ALL do !!! but don't.

They will love to take your money...but most won't be honest if you have the stuff to really do this professionally.

Now most openings seem to be looking for talent with existing specific application experience...it used to be show me your talent and they would show the applications they used...that has changed.

I would recommend understanding as much of the fundamentals of production...from the actor, director, and editor's point of view...and not just from the animators/FX artist view point....

Then draw, skecth, etc...ideas and concepts...try to draw everyday.
these don't need to be masterpieces...just to keep you eye, thoughts and hands to interact together.

I would them learn to model, texture and animate...the basics in at least a couple of workflows...ie: Lightwave & Maya....or Lighwave & 3D max...just as options...each as different logic and workflows...which would only help you to see and use....get used to grasping the process and workflows...more than which button to push...that will come after understanding what's going on with the process.

Good luck.

Cheers,

SplineGod
04-30-2009, 11:25 AM
Self discipline is important yes but my overall experience has been that if it takes a school or organization to push someone they probably wont be all that successful. Schools dont teach self discipline. Most people in school seem to do th ings out of fear of not getting it done or from getting bad grades etc. Its a form of discipline I suppose but its not really self discipline which is something you teach yourself. I would even say that self discipline is probably more important then vision or skill because in the end its the self discipline that gets the job done. :)

adamredwoods
04-30-2009, 12:18 PM
Some very insightful answers.... I agree that self-discipline is crucial, but DISCIPLINE itself can be learned. Some schools teach this, through applied learning, etc. Designs schools teach this, since design is a process, which leads to better self-discipline. I would venture to say that learning a process is equivalent to learning discipline. Animation, design, sword-making, etc.

If learning animation, I wouldn't go to an animation school just yet. I'd learn acting, first. With animation, it's just a puppet, an extension of the animator's expressions.

Animation schools teach the technical side, which can be self-taught as well. But the real discipline is acting.

Andyjaggy
04-30-2009, 01:45 PM
I got a degree in multimedia which encompassed 3D, audio, video, web, photography, graphic design etc....................... then on the side I spent the time necessary to actually learn 3D, not just to pass the class.

It turned out to be a pretty good solution as I learned a lot of stuff besides just 3D. I would say that to going to school to just learn 3D would be a waste of time. I am very self motivated however and am more motivated challenging myself then being challenged by a teacher.

Even then I often wonder if my education was a complete waste of time............. but it is nice to have a degree.

AdamAvenali
04-30-2009, 02:27 PM
i have a bachelors of fine arts in applied media with concentrations in animation and graphic design and i would say that the best part of my education was the fine arts part (well maybe not the "best" part haha because it was the most stressful for me personally because i lacked traditional art skills a bit, but it definitely helped me the most). i probably wouldnt go to a strictly animation school, as others have said, it's probably mostly technical stuff that you have to keep up on your own with anyway. i would go to a school that can provide you with a good structure and base of all things art. i personally liked college because my professor was very in-tune with the industry and pushed us with tight deadlines to help simulate real situations, and now that i have a job in the industry, i feel i was completely prepared (well, as prepared as you can be haha).

Mr Rid
05-01-2009, 05:13 PM
I...

Something thou that I wish more schools would do is say...sorry you don't have the talent or temperment for this field....

That is something they should ALL do !!! but don't....



I agree for expensive schools, and CalArts did when I applied there in '83. You would get one of three responses to a submission- 'accepted', 'not accepted but try again next year', or 'dont try again next year.' They look for a certain aptitude in your work that is already in place before you apply.

One of the first questions I ask anyone thinking of getting into 3D is whether or not they doodle. It doesnt matter if they had formal illustration experience, but every good 3D artist Ive worked with was at least a doodler, drawing little characters, explosions and fantasy scenes all over their notebooks and book covers and they have a distinct flare at drawing. The student that excels already has a high aptitude resulting from already doing creative things maybe without knowing it would pertain to CG. I would dissuade a person from going into this field if they have never done much creative before.

Its sorta like what I heard a director say at a seminar one time, 'people may get into filmmaking for reasons like money or notoriety or fun, but the ones who excel at it all do it for one reason, because they have to.'