I’ve been asked several times my opinion regarding Schools especially in the last couple of months…where to go, which places are the best, which places has the best teachers, what’s most affordable, etc etc. There is always so much talk regarding education and Schools and to be completely honest, it can get tiring. I usually try to post about animation/film in general in my blog and try to stay away from long debates, as so many factors should be taken into account when choosing a School, and pretty much everyone has his/her personal opinions as to how things should be or not.

So I’m going to post about this for those who asked and let people make their own choices and conclusions and get back to posting about other stuff. Now, I don’t care what School is good at what and I’m also not going to talk about my own School and express my opinions about other Schools. But I do care ultimately about students and their education. I didn’t have the best education and ended up learning more on my own as well as from my classmates. I didn’t get the chance to get into the Animation School I wanted to neither because of me being a foreigner and not having a good art portfolio, so it wasn’t easy seeing people have more opportunities to learn animation in some places than in others.

Anyways, I’ll try to keep this short although there is a few things I’d like to bring up. These are the things I feel are important when it comes to education:

– Regardless of the School, don’t get into this School or that School based purely on the reputation of the School. That doesn’t work anymore. Instead, find out DIRECTLY from students that have come out of different Schools to see what their experiences were and how much they learned. We as teachers can tell you all about this School, that School, go here, go there…ultimately, if I went back to learning, I’d want to find out directly from the students. They’ll be the ones telling you exactly what worked for them and what didn’t. No School will ever be perfect. However, look for those Schools that learn from their mistakes or that listen to the Students.

– A good School education in my opinion is just not about how much you learned…but did you at least have fun at all or did you just kill yourself working on your assignments and that’s about it? You can go to a School that teaches a great deal of good information, but if the experience as a whole sucks then it’s definitely not worth it at least to me. I went to a School (non animation related) where while the education wasn’t good at all, it was one of my favourite Schooling experiences. So if you can find a School where the education is great and the experience is a good one as well, then you’ll appreciate it later on .

Do you want to learn 3D or do you want to learn animation? Ask yourself that question early on. I went to School with people who just wanted to see what it was like…and you could clearly see who was into animation, and who were passing by and eventually wanted to do lighting or modelling. Animation/3D education is not cheap…rather expensive, so the fastest you can answer yourself that, the better off you’ll be. Additionally, you won’t be wasting your money, the time of dedicated teachers/mentors, and will give those chance to other people who want to learn.

Do you want to be a filmmaker or just an animator? Do you want to learn how to animate and do acting, or do you want to take that and apply it to your own art/films? Again, answer yourself those questions early before you choose where to go to School. There are people who just want to get an animation job and go on with their lives and other people who want to continue doing films and work on their art regardless of which job they have. Neither are good or bad. People’s lives and their choices are their own, but this will help you decide major things down the road. Some places are great educational places for storytelling/directing…and other places will help you focus more in animation/acting skills.

– Don’t go to a School just because you want to become an animator at a particular Studio. Go to School because you’ll enjoy the process of animating, you’ll enjoy the day to day….otherwise you’ll burn out fast.

Pre made Rigs or building your own. My opinion is, pre made rigs are great to learn exercises (both physical and acting)…however, they won’t display who you are, your personality, who you are as well as building your own character let’s say for a shortfilm. This is where originality plays a big role. I did talk about this a while back, with the amount of rigs out there being available, using a certain rig or not won’t guarantee you a job at a place. Individuality will. Who you are as an artist and how that’s displayed in your work (be it an animation or a shortfilm) will.

– Something really important in choosing a School is the environment. A healthy learning environment is more than important…and when I mean healthy I mean people around you willing to help you unconditionally. I met some people in School who weren’t willing to share tricks, ideas or anything…it was more than competitive. That doesn’t help anybody. Other times you would find students who think they know it all, or that they don’t need to learn anything anymore. Again, who wants to learn next to people like that or work with them in the future. So having a healthy environment which is usually created by either the teachers, the classmates and/or the School is important. Sometimes you’ll be stuck…and your teachers may not be around in certain times when you need them. So having other students help you sometimes, give you constructive feedback can be a great thing.

– Choose a School that will prepare you for the type of Production you’d like to work on. You want to be able to go to a job and be ready for whatever environment/schedules comes up. Something important is that they prepare you to be able to take feedback and criticism…even if it’s harsh or severe.

-Lastly, find a School where people come out inspired and motivated. Not burnt out, and not competitive. Where people will help each other even after they finish their education.

I’ll leave it at that. I hope this helps.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Carlos.