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Majors for a Possible VFX Career

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geoff mandell
Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 20, 2009 at 1:58:23 am

Hi, I'm currently a senior in NJ and have become very interested in VFX lately. I am trying to decide if this is something I'd like to pursue in college and was wondering what majors (such as animation or comp. technology) are available in the liberal arts or even specialty scene that can prepare for a career in VFX and are there any Northeast schools you would recommend. Also for any professional VFX artists, can you tell me a little about your job (income, type of work, hours, etc...) and how happy you are in the field.
thanks for the help

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grinner hester
Re: Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 20, 2009 at 4:00:12 am

Hi, Geoff.
Look into Piedmont College in NC.
The Digitial Effects and Animation Technology program is second to none, if I do say so myself (I designed it). In two years, you will learn 2D, 3D, compositing, non-linear editing with both Avid and FCP, sound design and yuor final is your demo reel. You'll leave with an AA in Applied Sciences as well as a list of regional employers hip to the program.

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Arnie Schlissel
Re: Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 20, 2009 at 4:40:59 pm

High school senior or college senior?

There are computer animation programs at several colleges in NYC and in the NE in general. NYU and SVA both have such programs.

Digital compositing may be taught as part of a bigger film making or post production program, but I don't think it would be available as a major.

Also, there are a few VFX houses in the NYC area, talk to them about internships. That's really the best way to learn the business.


Post production is not an afterthought!

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geoff mandell
Re: Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 21, 2009 at 8:41:51 am

what Piedmont College are you refering to? the community college? i am a senior in high school, interested in the field. i was wondering if vfx falls under film and animation or computer technology or etc...? im just confused about how i want to go about college and what school to attend. id like to go to a libral arts school but something with a program that would be suitable to the field. thanks

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grinner hester
Re: Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 21, 2009 at 6:33:44 pm

Yes, it's a jr college. Much more affordable than film schools.
Much more benefocial too, imo. You'll need to know basics like legal levels and signal flow. I know of no other program that covers what this one does in such a small period of time.
Know that a degree is not what will get you gigs later. Your reel is what will do that.

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Nicole Haddock
Re: Majors for a Possible VFX Career
on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:56:51 pm

It's your money (or your parents, or the loan company's...), when it comes down to it, so how do you want to spend it. I'm sure the school Grinner worked with is great, so why the need for the Liberal Arts aspect? You or your parents who want that? Just food for thought.

That being said, here are some liberal arts schools that fit what you're looking for. As with all schools, you get what you put into the program. The hours you spend on the programs, the craft, the extracurricular activities you get involved in, the internships you go after, THAT'S what's going to make your money worth it.

Anyway, here are some schools I know of-
Emerson College in Boston (I did my undergrad there 10 years ago, but it's a bit of a different school now...)
MassArt in Boston, more art oriented but great for developing solid design skills if you want to go more motion graphics.
I would honestly skip Northeastern and Boston University.
Fitchburg State in... Fitchburg :)

University of Buffalo
Ithaca College in Ithaca
RPI in Troy. I always spell this wrong... but Renssalaer Polytech Institute. They have a fantastic MFA program so I'm assuming their undergrad is good.
Syracuse University, Newhouse is more TRF (television, radio & film) but might have something else cookin'.

Temple University in Philly, although their program is more abstract and structured in TRF

Townson University in Townson (half hour outside of Baltimore) has had some interesting development in their Communications department in the past few years.

Basically, if you start looking and keywording New Media, Electronic Media, Television, Video, or Film, you should be able to make a good start at a list of schools to look at. There are no standard names for the type of program you're looking for, in my experience. You can try looking for Animation, but the schools that have a specific major for that are few and far between.

I know a bunch of people who majored in Film or New Media at Emerson who work in the VFX industry out in LA now, which is where most of the action is. My personal opinion is to start out pretty broad in a film program, then narrow it down once you've got a feeling for the craft. Choose a school that lets freshmen get their hands on film or HD video cameras their first year (alot don't and have highly regimented programs to follow) and do as much extracurricular stuff as you can.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox :D Good luck finding a program up your alley.

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