I have been going to AI Vancouver - Burnaby (formerly Center for Digital Imaging and Sound) since last October. I am in the GAAP (game art and animation production) program, and thought I would share some info in case anyone is planning on attending this school.
First, the bad
If you have no real art skill and are hoping to learn everything you need taking the GAAP program, then you would be wasting your time coming here. Many people think that they will immediately get a job after graduation, even if they don't have real talent to begin with. They are sadly mistaken. I think part of the problem lies with the large number of students who are just not serious about art. It is like they are in higschool, and seem to not want to be there. There is no requirement to get in, only your $500 deposit and of course the tuition cheque. This really hurts a lot of people, well, mostly the ones who actually care. You have several students who just don't belong there, they keep interrupting the instructor with inane questions many times over, slowing down the rest of the lesson.
This program seems to cater to complete and utter newbies. I have not seen any very talented people around yet. Most are average, a few are pretty good, and several are just hopeless. I really wonder how some of these people expect to get employed. Most don't ever draw on their own, and they are in an ART program. A lot expect everything to be taught in class, they dont' realize that most of what they need to learn has to be learned on their own.
Anyway, the first semester was overall fairly good. We learned a lot, even tho the pace was still somewhat slow. Everything could have been covered in half the time. The 2nd and 3rd semesters have really slowed down, especially the 3rd. Only 1 class was of any use to me, the others had either nothing to do with our program or they just went over the stuff we already knew. Big dissapointment. I think it is because this program is pretty new, and they aren't really sure what to do with it.
There are big gaps in the education. For instance, up to this point, we had minimal 3d animation instruction, we had to figure it out ourselves. Also, there was no thorough teaching on creating textures or proper UV mapping for games (it was covered, but not enough detail). Although I already know how to make textures fairly well and properly layout UV's, others in the class do not.
There are good things about this place. It is fairly small and you really get to know the teachers and other students. The equipment is average, however there is only one computer lab that everyone likes to work in because it has the nicest machines, and because of that it is almost always full. The teachers are Okay. A few are very talented (very very few) and one or two have no business teaching.
Part of our program requires us to make a game. It has been a good experience so far, working with designers and programmers, on a tight schedule, just like in a real company. I think the best part of the program (although i haven't gotten there yet so i can't be sure) is the work experience. One semester is devoted to work experience, which the school helps you in securing. It is a good way to make some contacts in the industry if you can land yourself a good place.
Overall there are more bad things than good. There are a lot of complaints not only from the Art people in the game program, but also the designers and programmers. Everyone says they are not getting enough education, and most of the classes are a waste of time and money. If you are an artist with lots of talent, you should probably come here. You could probably challenge most of the classes in the first semester, or even the whole foundation year if you have some kind of portfolio. You could then skip directly ahead to the 2nd part of the program and start working on your game with the programmers and designers. However, if you have little artistic skill, I would not recommend this place. You would be better off taking some art courses elsewhere, or practice for a year or two. This is not the place where you come to learn to draw.
Looking back I should have probably gone to some 4 year institution instead, and gotten a more rounded out education.