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Old 12-29-2012, 06:04 PM   #1
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 231
Animation Industry - Cal Arts

I know this is non-ADV related, but I thought I'd reach out to the West region anyway.

My son is a Sophomore in high school, and wants to attend Cal Arts to study Animation. We attended a Cal Arts open house recently, and there's some tough competition to get into that program. My son needs some training over the next couple years in order to make the cut.

Are there any ADV's working in this industry? Any suggestions I can pass along to my son? I'm thinking a summer camp for teens may be a good idea as well.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 12-30-2012, 01:24 AM   #2
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Location: Orange County, CA
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I work for a competing art college in so cal- basically, the portfolio review is everything. That's what is used to determine financial aid, etc. They usually want to see things like general artistic ability, gestures, etc. I don't know about cal arts, but some schools do workshops during the summer to let people get their feet wet. I know we do, but only for video game design (not enough interest to do one for animation). You should get in touch with an admissions counselor to get a better idea of their selection criteria. If you find out what software they use, it's possible there are training modules on
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:46 PM   #3
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Tehama Co. California, gateway to Hwy 36!
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It is late and I am hungry so this will be quick and disconnected. Also, I am just a dropout who remembers advice. .

  • Chico State has Applied Computer Graphics.
  • Animation is a highly competitive field. If he wants to do it he should start doing it now.
  • If he wants to do 2D he should draw and maybe paint a little. Start a portfolio now, get on deviantart and, do sketchbooks, learn to copy other people's styles, learn storyboarding, onionskinning, etc. There are open source animation programs that are pretty powerful. Just download them and start making animations. If everything he does for the next two years sucks then he will be two years ahead of the curve. Also, he should learn to use a digitizer tablet like the Intuos Wacom series, but it doesn't have to be the newest generation, my Professor used a 3 and didn't have any plan to upgrade until his fell apart. Bigger is better. . Some people used the Bamboo's but it wasn't as popular.
  • If he wants to do 3D then he should learn sculpting, how to make physical models, maybe some coding skills like using Java to draw shapes. There is an open source 3D modeling program called Blender. If he learns that he will have a head start on the more powerful tools like Maya. CAD programs and even Google Sketchup are similar.
  • The advantage to the Art Institute type programs is that you spend 4 years learning a skill. At Chico State he would take general education courses and a B.S. out of it. Chico State does have an M.F.A. in animation. The dirty little secret is that the art department knows diddly squat about animation and if you look at the course catalog you will see that animation majors take a bunch of general art courses like studio drawing, drawing nekkid people, Pretending crap is sculpture for fun and profit, Impractical hairstyles 101, etc. All the animation courses are in ACG or Communication Design so why not spend your time actually animating?
  • Going to college will not be enough to get a job. He will need to do internships, go to industry confrences like the Game Developer's Confrence or SIGGRAPH( Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques), preferably as a student worker, and build a network with cool people who need workers.
Chico's reputation as a party school is founded on truth, but the university and the city have been clamping down on that aspect since the mid 90's. Also, Animators don't have time to party.

P.S. There are hundreds or thousands of tutorials on Youtube for animation and 3D modeling.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:18 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:37 AM   #5
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Pasadena, CA (Long Lost Canadian)
Oddometer: 363
i am an art director at the company whose logo is the boy in the moon. i have worked there for over ten years. although i did not attend calarts many of my friends have.

there are many different routes to the 'industry'. calarts used to be a ticket to disney, not really so any more as there have been many changes in the industry over the last decade.

i am not involved in hiring for the animation department in any way but am willing to offer any advice i can.

i'm going to cut to the chase. what has your son done thus far that indicates interest and talent in art or animation in general? calarts is expensive and it's no guarantee of a job (i guess these days no education is), so i want to counsel you wisely and not blow smoke. a job in animation can be great but it's also an 'industry'.

feel free to PM if you want.


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Old 01-02-2013, 10:00 AM   #6
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Planet Reno
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Forget about software, irrelevant.
Cal Arts will teach him how to think and see.

CA has a very strong reputation and If he is talented, focused, and mature he will do well there and will at least get him a fishing license that will open doors.

I went to ArtCenter, it was very good for my career

Most art schools are BS IMO.
A good solid school will make the difference between a worker bee and a leader.


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