Table of Contents
- 7 Qualities of a Successful Animator
- How to Choose the Right Animation School
- Best Animation Schools Around the World
- North America
- Online Animation Schools
Becoming an animation wizard is the hot new dream and a sought-after career among millennials. It offers tremendous growth potential, creative freedom, work flexibility, and a decent to kick-ass pay scale.
Youngsters around the world are looking to get a good animation degree or want to expand their skill set by taking relevant animation courses.
So naturally, we’re here with your guide on Fantastic Animation Schools and Where to Find Them.
Yes, going to a good animation school to get your degree is important. It builds you up as an industry professional. But there are some qualities that successful animators are just born with. It is who they are as a person.
So, before you start overwhelming yourself with college guides and prospectuses, take a self-administered aptitude test and see if you have the following characteristics to charm the top animation schools.
7 Qualities of a Successful Animator
1. Attention to Detail
We are all taught to draw as kids, we take mandatory art classes in school, but the ones who shape up to be the best artists are those who are annoyingly meticulous about their work.
Most of us can create basic structures of things but it’s the attention to the minutest detail of objects that helps successful animators bring things close to reality.
It’s all about having the eye that sees 10 times more than a normal person.
From an in-depth literacy of how things move to the fine lines in people’s skin, to how shadows are cast by different light angles, animators take in every bit of reality.
A good animator works extra hard to put every detail he absorbs into his work.
2. Keen Behavioral Observation
A good animator’s meticulous observation is not limited to objects rather it also extends to how people behave.
Creating compelling, relatable, and fun-filled characters requires the animators to understand non-verbal cues, expressions, and emotions.
In this way, animation is psychology, ethnography, communication, and behavioral science at play.
3. Wild Imagination
A great animator lives on the edge of crazy. The good kind that has the knack to think the unthinkable.
A lot of animation work requires you to blend reality and fantasy. You often need to draw interesting parallels between the two and cook up exaggerated scenarios in your head.
Sometimes, you might have to completely kick normalcy out of the equation and create new alternative realities. This requires a wild imagination and the ability to embrace the absurd.
So, analyze if you’re comfortable with going out of the box.
4. Artistic Chops
It is not just about having the eye and the mind, but also the hand for artistry. No matter how eccentric your imagination is, it’s of little use if it can’t be materialized.
Although most animation these days takes plays digitally in software like Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Maya, and Cinema 4D any future animator must possess a decent level of sketching and hand-drawing skills.
These skills are vital in the initial stages of animation for brainstorming, conveying creative concepts, and storyboarding.
Moreover, an advanced skill level is required for character designing and bringing hand-drawn illustrations to life.
5. Good Sport
The path to a successful animation career is filled with failures and disappointments.
Mastering the art of animation requires you to learn from your failures and start over and over again. It requires the ability to learn from your mistakes and shortcomings rather than being demotivated.
A lot of times, a project that is your creative child may not sit well with the client. To make it in the industry, you need to take criticism like a champ and graciously incorporate the feedback in your work.
6. Sense of Humor
People who are good sports about failure are usually the ones who have a great sense of humor.
Whether its cartoons, animated commercials, or explainer videos, most animated work requires a touch of humor to captivate the audience. So, see if you’re in the habit of hitting the funny bone often.
It’s a science-backed fact that a sense of humor is indicative of a creative brain. We’ve all seen Einstein with his crazy hair sticking his tongue out to the world!
7. Work Junkie
Successful animators love their work. They enjoy the grind and adrenaline rush of deadlines as it makes their creative juices flow.
Being a work junkie is necessary for them to get through the grueling work hours, keep a positive mind amidst unfavorable feedback, and stay motivated and creative throughout the process.
Read More: How to Start a Career in Animation – A Guide
How to Choose the Right Animation School
Location is a big part of your decision. Close to home is always good but if you’re relocating consider moving to cities that are artistic hubs. Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Melbourne have a wide range of big and small animation and production studios.
That increases your chances of scoring an internship, freelance gigs, or a part-time job during your degree.
Educational institution rankings speak for themselves. Keeping your budget into consideration, opt for the better-ranked schools. Check out the school’s rep among former students and industry professionals.
An animation school that is accredited should be your top priority as it indicates high educational standards, helps you transfer credits to other accredited schools and get into accredited graduate schools in the future.
Your teachers have a significant impact on making or breaking your career. A study conducted by Animation Mentor revealed that 33% of respondents rated “professional animators as mentors and faculty” as one of the primary criteria for choosing an animation institution.
The right mentors with relevant, first-hand industry experience are a must to mold you as a great animator.
Not only can they get you ready for the industry they can also help you network with their professional colleagues.
Speaking of networking, be sure to go for an animation institution that flaunts a talent development program, skill-building workshops, and can hook you up with internships and opportunities to work with renowned industry names.
For example, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, and Animation World Network offer internships to animation students and fresh graduates. Chose an animation institution that has the right industry partners
An animation degree requires you to be constantly stimulated. As your college campus is the place where you spend most of your time, it needs to have a vibrant environment that sparks your creativity.
Also, make sure that you have the right student resources and state-of-the-art equipment in the animation labs.
Best Animation Schools Around the World
CalArts was founded by Walt Disney and flaunts notable alumni like Tim Burton (Disney animator and Director), Brad Bird (Director, Disney and Pixar), John Lasseter (Pixar), Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck (Directors of Frozen).
These and other alumni have produced works worth billions of blockbuster dollars. That’s impressive enough for aspiring animators to want to get into the school.
CalArts School of Film and Video offers a 4-year BFA in character animation which features courses regarding advanced life drawing, animation layout, cg foundation, character animation, digital methods, storyboarding, and 2D character animation.
Moreover, a BFA in experimental animation focuses on animation production, cinematic voices: in-person, concept development, hybrid imaging, motion and meaning, and sound image. Students can also go for a master’s in this course.
Suffice it to say that CalArts grads have a competitive edge in the animation industry.
RCAD gives students a multidisciplinary opportunity to creatively challenge themselves. Apart from technical expertise, RCAD builds a wide array of students’ skills to tell conceptually compelling characters and stories.
BFA in computer animation students attend courses covering computer animation, development of art & ideas, drawing, figure drawing, film & narrative, story development, traditional animation, visual development for computer animation, and writing studio.
A BFA in motion design has a more audiovisual approach. Taught courses include animation techniques, contemporary design culture, development of art and ideas, drawing, 2D, 3D and 4D design, motion design, professional writing for designers, and writing studio.
RCAD alumni have a comprehensive portfolio of Oscar-winning animated works. Graduates of the school have been employed by the world’s best studios like Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Walt Disney Animation.
SCAD’s graduates have worked with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.
School of Digital Media offers a BFA in Animation, an MA in animation, an MFA in animation, and minors in animation or animated illustration and publication design.
The BFA in animation teaches students to master 2D, 3D, stop motion, digital modeling, rigging, lighting, look development, and more. The course has a multidisciplinary approach that offers electives like visual effects, motion media, interactive design and game development, sound design, film and television, and sequential art.
The course is structured in a way that yields well-rounded industry-ready graduates.
Following more advanced courses, the MA students complete a collaborative project and the final animation MA project and also put their learning into a project that can serve in their demo reel.
The MFA is a 90-credit hour course featuring mostly the same courses as the MA. However, MFA students are required to complete an animation MFA thesis exploration and research, visual component production, and thesis completion.
Students also have the opportunity to attend a graduate internship program.
We’ve all heard the name. UCLA is one of the world’s top universities. It hosts students from 100 countries around the world.
UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television offers The Animation Workshop which is its 3-year graduate animation program. With only 12 students accepted per year, competition for a spot in this MFA is high.
Courses progress yearly from the creation of a conventional hand-done animated film, to 2D/3D animation film making to interactive animation. Lastly, the students are required to complete a thesis film.
UCLA alumni have created exquisite works of animation that virtually the whole world has seen including The Simpsons and Monster House. They’ve also scored jobs with top animation studios like Pixar.
One of Ontario’s leading postsecondary institutions, Sheridan College is known as the “Harvard of Animation”. Its graduates have worked in television and some of the world’s best animation studios.
This flattering reputation comes from its Bachelor of Animation (Hons) offered through the Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design. Courses offered include 2D digital, 3D, and stop motion animation.
A compulsory three-month work placement helps students build creative and technical skills and experience. The school also offers networking opportunities to the student like the Annual Industry Day where students meet up with potential employers.
Rubika’s robust animation program goes back to 1988. Since then it has the legacy to produce high-quality animation and digital visual effects creatives. Rubikas’ Bachelor of Animation students have been successful in the industry with a 90% employment rate within the first year of graduation.
What makes their degree special is a 5-year apprenticeship dedicated to the production of a short animation film that gains special attention at renowned animation festivals like MIFA Annecy, SIGGRAPH, and ITFS Stuttgart among others.
When you leave Rubika, you’re fluent in all things animation as it emphasizes on video, motion design, character creation, stop motion, and BD Project. Later in the degree, students can specialize in 3D animation and FX/VFX special effects.
ESMA, Montpelier hosts a CG Animation and FX degree that not only focuses on the technical expertise but also focuses on the artistic value of 3D animation.
After your bachelor’s, you can either dive straight into a master’s degree or walk into the industry with an employment rate of 90% within 9 months.
The school provides students with state-of-the-art facilities that are the same as those used in production companies and animation studios.
If you’re looking to go a more focused and flexible route, ESMA, Montreal offers a Certificate of Collegial studies in 3D animated cinema and visual effects. This program is more suited for adult professionals who are looking to add value to their career or broaden their scope of expertise.
Overall, a degree from ESMA Montpellier or any of its sister campuses at Lyon, Montreal, Nantes, and Toulouse is designed to make you ready for the industry.
Having been established in 1992, Bournemouth is a relatively younger institution but still has an amazing reputation as an animation school.
It provides two animation centric degrees i.e. a BA (Hons) in computer animation art and design and a BA (Hons) in computer animation technical arts. So, whether you’re more artistically or technically wired, you can choose the degree that is more suited to your strengths.
Alumni of BU and its National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) have gone to work with world-famous projects like Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Avengers, Solo: A Star Wars Story among others.
That’s an impressive profile for a young animation college!
ArtFX offers a variety of degree pathways to animation students. A Bachelor of 2D animation or stop-motion takes three years to complete. Whereas, a Master of 3D Animation, CGI & Visual Effects or Video Games spans 5 years.
Since the school was created by several industry professionals from film, animation, video game, and visual effects disciplines, the school has an extremely industry-oriented approach.
Students have the opportunity to opt for internships, attend workshops, network with professional artists, and present their work to a host of industry experts.
Students are required to develop a short 2D or stop motion animated film. Master’s students create animated films and a demo reel before graduation.
Upon graduating from ArtFX you’re virtually a professional.
The VIA University College features premium animation facilities at its Animated Lab and Visual Talent Center. It offers a BA in Animation with an optional major in Computer Graphic Arts.
Recently in 2013, the college also initiated a 4-year bachelor in graphic storytelling. It’s a unique program that develops students’ skillset in creating comics and graphic novels, illustration, storyboarding, visual development, and more.
Both these programs are conducted under The Animation Workshop which was founded in 1988. It also celebrates the Vibrog Animation Festival which is the biggest animation festival in Denmark.
Other than that, the students at TAW have plenty of career and talent development opportunities in the form of internships and a comprehensive and dedicated network of companies, freelancers, and startups from the animation industry.
RMIT is Australia’s largest university located in the country’s artistic hub, Melbourne.
At RMIT’s School of Design, students can pursue a Bachelor of Design in Animation and Interactive Media and a Master of Animation, Games, and Interactivity.
Students can work in modern and state of the art animation and game design facilities and learn from faculty members who are currently working in the field. They also get a chance to display and promote their work in festivals and conferences such as Siggraph, MIAF, LIAF, MILIA, and Annecy.
The school also has industrial affiliations with ANZ, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the Australian Centre for The Moving Image (ACMI) and the Australia Post.
Alumni of RMIT School of Design has worked with companies like Viskatoons and Iloura,
Situated in the capital of the state of Queensland, Griffith offers a Bachelor of Animation (240 credit points) and a Bachelor of Animation (Hons), (80 credit points).
During the 3-year BA, depending on their primary skillset students can specialize in character animation, art direction, and technical direction. The program is multidisciplinary in the sense that students have the opportunity to work and collaborate with other students from film, screen media production, and game design courses.
The 1-year BA (Hons) takes in students with advanced visual art skills who are aiming to enrich their theoretical and practical expertise. This can also be pursued on a 2-year part-time basis.
Overall, the school offers a well-rounded and highly sought-after animation school experience.
Right from the land of Lord of the Rings comes one of the best animation schools in the world.
Media Design School in New Zealand teaches a comprehensive range of animation courses from 3D animation & visual effects, to interactive design, motion graphics, game art, game programming, graphic design, and creative advertising.
The Bachelor of Art and Design prepares students for diverse animation career options such as animator, 3D modeler, compositor, VFX artist, effects designer, technical director, and many others.
Graduates of MDS have won short film awards, secured jobs at renowned studios, and worked on blockbuster films such as Avatar and The Hobbit. How cool is that?
The school is also recognized as one of the best animation colleges as it’s a member of Laureate International Universities.
Online Animation Schools
Let’s face it, not all of us are geographically and financially favored to attend the best brick-and-mortar animation schools in the world. Thank the technology gurus for enabling online education!
Here’s a brief list of some of the best online animation schools:
Students of Animation Mentor are by no means lesser than traditional animation college graduates. The fact that studios like Pixar, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, and WETA have hired its graduates speaks for itself.
The school prides itself on having the greatest number of industry professionals as its faculty. It also boasts one-on-one learning, exclusive feedback tools, and ‘real-world production pipeline’.
With this platform, students can go from animation basics to advanced animation, 3D character designing, game animation, and much more.
Students from over 105 countries have stepped into their animation careers thanks to Animation Mentor. All for the low, low cost of $18,928 for the full 18 months!
Based in Melbourne, Australia, this platform offers flexible study options to the students in the form of one-on-one mentoring or small classes. In addition to the classes, the feedback and critique from the instructors are also recorded for easy access and review by the students.
Students at different points in their animation careers can benefit from the courses offered by the program. These include animation, 3D modeling, concept art, Houdini VFX, NUKE compositing, and game design.
The 3D animation program is designed for students with no prior animation training. Whereas, the Advanced 3D animation diploma is designed for animators at the intermediate to advanced levels.
Moreover, the CG spectrum animation programs train the students to be experts in 3D animation for film and games.
In addition to its 93 programs, Full Sail University serves as one of the best computer animation schools for online students.
It offers a virtual BS in computer animation which is a 29 months program covering animation production, character design and creation, character rigging, and technical animation among several other courses.
A total of seven project and portfolio courses must be completed along with an internship. The internship can be started upon completion of half of the mandatory credits.
FSU’s students have worked on blockbuster films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, and Incredibles 2.
Formerly known as Digital Tutors Pluralsight offers a premium plan of $449 per year. Through this plan, students can learn all things animation from 3D animation, game development, VFX, and graphic design.
The courses taught also feature mastering the latest animation software like After Effects and Maya.
Students have the opportunity to upskill by learning from industry experts.
This was our account of some of the best animation schools in the world. However, it is not a definitive list. To get more comprehensive information and insight on the rankings click here.
We hope you’re now a little wiser about where to start your animation career and on your way to make your mark in the animation world.
Good Luck and Mischief Managed.