I am a local camera op/Studio Tech for a TV station.
As conventional media production goes automated, robotic, and even Virtual, i find myself in need of returning to school and becoming way more tech savvy (i.e explore the 3d animation and graphic design realm)
I received my AA in Motion Picture/TV production.
If anyone can give me some advice on which educational route i should take that will strengthen my skills as well as merge ME into a new technical Arena that will allow me to fully understand Visual Effects, digital compositing, Motion Capture, and so forth.
[James Carroccio]"allow me to fully understand Visual Effects, digital compositing, Motion Capture, and so forth."
Each of those could easily occupy an entire career. While everyone overlaps a bit depending on what they are interested in, I would try to focus on becoming very proficient with the software you enjoy using most, and then supplement that with other packages that compliment it. There are a few different paths you can take, but this is how I generally think of it:
Motion Design -> After Effects, Motion or Combustion, plus Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema 4D.
Compositing & VFX -> Nuke, Fusion, or Shake. Maya 2011 w/ Composite also overlaps here.
3D Modeling & Animation -> Maya, Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Houdini, Blender, Lightwave.
In my searches, I've found that After Effects, Nuke, Maya, Cinema 4D, and 3ds Max can all make you very employable right now, but like everything, it's constantly changing. Many of these packages are pretty expensive, but developers usually offer academic versions or personal learning editions so you can become proficient.
Some paid, on-line options that you can check out:
Going back to school is never a bad thing but you have experience so you might want to take the video knowledge you have and try to find a position in a post house or production company that uses these types of software. School is great but again, there is a plethora of information, training DVDs books and other resources that if you supplement it with some real world experience, you might learn a lot more in a shorter amount of time. You might have to start entry level somewhere but at least you would be getting paid to learn...