Thursday, April 05, 2007

Visiting Animation Schools in California!

Alright, well, I just got home from California today and it was the best vacation ever!
I normally never use this blog ... but I think I will for this, since I'm on a bunch of different forums and I don't want to repost the same thing in different areas ... ya know?

Ok, so about this trip ... I have been researching and investigating and picking peoples brains for a year or two now to find out what school I should apply to (in order to have a good chance at making a career in character animation)! (I also know full well that you can be successful at any school really, because it has to do with how much you yourself put into it, but I also want to attend the best school possible). This fast fun-filled family trip down to CA was to visit four of my finalists in this extensive college narrow downing process thing and figure out for sure what path I'm going to take! :O) On our trip we visited Academy of Art, Animation Mentor headquarters, Calarts, and Laguna College of Art and Design! (and PIXAR animation studios!!!!!) I know that Ringling should be on my list of consideration too ... as well as Sheridan ... but I don't want to go that far away from home.

Academy of Art was our first stop in San Francisco. This tour was incredibly professional and wonderful and I absolutely wanted to sign on the dotted line after this stop! It was just perfect! I liked it much more than I had expected to. The housing was great, the school provided shuttles, they had meal plans, they had Pixar classes, and they just looked really impressive... but it did have its draw backs as I came to find out ... the Academy is Nationally accredited, but not Regionally (like state schools and such), so if I ever wanted to transfer anywhere ... say such as Calarts ... I couldn't. So that's not good. Also the 80% job placement of graduates looks impressive, but I also heard that they count any job for that percentage (not necessarily jobs in the industry). What worried me the most however, was that their program just seems to be more so on the side of CG and computer effects, not so much the character animation side of things ... but maybe I'm wrong ... I dunno ... that has just been my impression.
I absolutely loved the location and almost everything about the school ... There are so many things to sketch in San Francisco! (in this pic my lil sis is on the left and I'm on the right)

Alright, next was the most fun part of the whole trip!!!!
Visiting Pixar!! This was definitely a dream come true for me, as I have been a Pixar fan since the age of 7 when Toy Story first came out! It was so exciting just to be on the inside of the gate!

I only have 3 pictures from Pixar, because of course you can't really take pictures inside ... besides the atrium, but even though I didn't get a picture of the Luxo Cafe ... I did eat there and it was absolutely delicious!

Basically, it was just unreal and really really cool! Ed Catmull just strolled by while I was talking to Mike in the lobby! I think the best word to describe it is ... "surreal." :O)

Pixar was by far my favorite part of the trip! I even left a piece of me in Emeryville ... my cell phone :0(
Unfortunately discovering the loss of my phone dampened the best day ever, as I didn't realize its disappearance until after the plane ride down to LA. Luckily for me though the Marriott has the best costumer service ever and sent it to my house priority mail ... it arrived home before me!!!

Next on our trip was Animation Mentor headquarters, where I didn't take any pictures, but ... I got to sit down and talk with none other than the awesomely famous Carlos Beana who I've heard so much about! That was definitely one of many highlites on this trip! Everybody at animation mentor was extremely nice and friendly and most importantly of all ... passionate about animation! I was impressed ... a little hesitant, just because it's online and not exactly the same as face to face hands on learning, but it looks like a wonderful program nonetheless. Also, it seems like Animation Mentor is the most bang for your buck. I could complete a whole 18 months attending Animation Mentor and it would cost tons less than tuition alone for one year at any of these other schools.

Calarts was next on the list of schools to visit ... Calarts looks to be "the" school of animation! 70% of Pixar employees are Calarts alum ... and they have countless other success stories. The most appealing thing about Calarts is how connected to the industry the students are. The acceptance rate of 1 out of every 10 applicants getting accepted to the character animation department is pretty daunting, but it's nice that the class size of new freshman in the program is about 30. I was pretty frustrated at first with Calarts, because I thought I had arranged to sit in on the info session at 11, but turns out I wasn't on the list. However, after showing up in person they squeezed us in and also took us on a tour afterward. (I'm pretty sure I saw twitchy kris at calarts that day too ... from the site, or there was someone who looked extremely like twitchy kris's self portrait). Anywho, I was hoping I would be able to sit in on Corny's life drawing class, but it turns out that couldn't happen either, because I misunderstood and Corny's class is on Sunday's not Tuesday's. I was pretty disappointed, but I did have the opportunity to have somebody review my portfolio and that was super beneficial! (she said that she would've introduced me to Mario, but she didn't know where he was at, so that was a bummer).

After Calarts, my family had to make a stop at Six Flags ... mostly for my little sister's sake (she was tired of visiting schools)

btw- the i love roller coasters where you stand up (that was soooo much fun!)

Next was Laguna College of Art and Design ...
Everyone was extremely extremely friendly at this school. The tour was by far the best, however, I had a couple issues. The character animation program at LCAD is way smaller than I would've liked and they have no on campus housing or cafeteria ... which becomes an issue when it's located near Laguna Beach (where everything is spendy). As far as fine art goes, this school was spectacular! They had their student work up in their gallery and everything was fantastic! I just don't think this is right for me.
(i just have to post this next picture, i think that all these signs sharing the same post are bit confusing and extremely hilarious)

Oh, and sketching on Laguna Beach was super fun! (I ended up sketching a lot on this trip, I'll have to post some of them later)

I have come up with a plan though that I'm excited about! I really really really really want to go to Calarts ... super super bad ... so I plan to apply next year by the early deadline of Nov. 30th. Hopefully, I'll get in, but if I don't ... I apply the next year and the next year. In the meantime I don't want to sit around and do nothing, so I'm considering Animation Mentor as well! :O) (I will also continues taking a figure drawing class to work on my fundamentals).
Anyways, that's the plan for now!
I found this trip to be incredibly helpful in making my decision for which school(s) to attend! ;)
I've gotta hand it to all of the four of them though, they were all really great schools, and I would do well at any.
All the schools were super friendly and made me feel really comfortable!
The thing that helped me more so during these visits than seeing the campus though was reviewing my portfolio with an array of different artist. I now have the feedback I need to work on my weak areas and the confidence to know that I'm heading in the right direction. All I want to do now is draw, draw, draw! My portfolio is going to really benefit from this experience!

1 comment:

Rodney Baker said...

What an experience that must have been!

It's easy to see that even if you don't attend any of these schools you won't have wasted a moment of this trip.

While you certainly had a lot of great experiences I think the coolest thing is what you came back home wanting to draw even more.

Others might have come away having satisfied their curiosity, the passing fancy of imagination would have been fulfilled. But not you.
You've emerged with even more enthusiasm couple with renewed commitment. This surely must be a pivotal moment for you.

Your return with an even stronger desire to draw really says it all. Keep at it and you'll go far.

So now here you are retured from your first visit to Pixar, a few more steps toward the goal.

May you find every step you take on the journey more rewarding and enjoyable than the last.


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