Sunday, 24 September 2017

Choosing an Animation School

Animation Training :

In terms of training , few actually get the " right " training . They go to a crash course program like Mesmer  f/x  ( which teaches you about brand X software in 3 short weeks ) which puts together a rather weak demo reel in the same timeframe, and then people go out looking for a job . These people, in my opinion, have no training at all because they know nothing about animation ; nothing about lighting ; nothing about story telling . They just "think" they know the software . The majority of failures are among these individuals . Sounds a little disheartening?  It should. You attempt to break into the film industry. You are just like an actor , auditioning for a part. Everyone wants the part, you have to get it more than anyone else, so much so , that they couldn't have cast anyone else but you for the role .

If you go to a prestigious and reputable school (and do well ! ), your chances of going for an interview increases ten-fold . Recruiters know what is taught at these schools and they assume that you are well versed in a lot of things than other candidates , but this is not always though . A person who has been trained in cinematology will make their animations differently than those who have not . It's called framing a scene. Every scene or shot is framed so that it has the maximum impact on the audience , in other words, it tells a compelling story . Students of crash course programs , tend to mimic what they've seen before, whether good or bad , which indicates a lack of creativity on their part. It's like copying Mona Lisa and saying you did it . Yes , you may be able to technically copy something, but without the original one to work from, would you be able to paint it on your own? There are a lot of choices to be made...what canvas to use, what medium, what hues, what pose...a lot of questions . Agreed , you won't be responsible for every question that needs to be answered, but you have to be aware of them. That's the difference between having  good education and a normal one.

There is no guarantee in this business. It's one part talent and two parts luck. The old axiom " It's not what you know , but who you know" rings true here . Once you get into the business world , you're  at the top. From then on, you're one of the players who move from one studio to the next, looking for better job opportunities . But you have to overcome that first . Some people find work but can't keep up with the pace. They end up being burnt out or getting fired . These companies are looking for the best, and you'll have to stay on the top if you want to work for big names like ; ILM, Disney, or Pixar.

Animation Schools and Colleges:

Schools are very expensive. You can spend about 6K for a crash course on animation as well but I sincerely advise you against attending such programs for the above mentioned reasons . You get what you have paid for . Private schools such as Ringling, Sheridan, etc. will cost you a lot more than state run schools ( twice as much or more!). They're a bit more choosy about who they accept and take pride in producing top quality graduates. They are not in the business of making  "X" number of students who graduate each year, they have their values to uphold...hence there has been a dramatic increase in the quality of education. You will most likely be paying for tuitions at one of these schools, but federal aid is available for you at most accredited institutions, so always look into that before you choose school "A" over school "B". I'm not going to say that you won’t find the schools  that you are looking for where you live , as the curriculums and syllabuses change all the time and more and more schools are offering Animation programs . Just be sure that the school you go to ,  is the right one for you, because in all likelihood, you won't be able to afford that kind of education at another school after that. A lot of information from different schools are now available on the Net. Check them out. 

Demo Reels and Choosing a School:

Demo reels should be done while you are in school. That's something you'll want to check out. Some places don’t  provide any means for putting a student's work on tapes ! Avoid these places, as the transfer from digital to video can cost a fortune! It also shows that they aren't as "hip" as they  are supposed to be. Also you have to understand that a good demo reel takes more than a couple of  days to be put together. Perfect work takes time. Some folks spend years refining their reels .

If you are interested in Animation, then don't go to a school that doesn't  offer programs in Animation ,  electives don't count. A lot of schools offer electives using animation software, and that's not being educated in Animation.

Get in contact with schools and ask for a free info packet , they should be more than happy to provide you with one and this will give you a good opportunity  to see what they offer and teach. If you can visit these schools and get in touch with former students. There's nothing like seeing a school first hand and touring the facilities, but if you can't do that, contacting some former students will give you a good idea of what the school is like. Just make sure , you talk to more than one person...different people have different  opinions !