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I'm 1 year from finishing my bachelor's in mechanical engineering. However, it's only now dawned on me that this might not be the best major for me. I currently go to USC, and have worked all my life trying to excel in math and science, putting my passion for art on the side. I took a couple 3d animation classes and have done fairly well (not exceptional) but I feel like I'll live a life of regret if I never at least try and go down the art road.
I've decided to finish my engineering degree, but I'm looking for affordable but quality options for 3d animation afterward. USC does have a pretty good animation school, but aside from the possibility of not even being accepted into it, $40,000/year after 4 years there is tough to swallow (I've depended largely on scholarships thus far). Most online searches end up with online schools like ITT Tech and Westwood, which I'd like to avoid if necessary, so I was wondering if any of you could offer advice on which schools I should be looking at, or any other options I could consider. Thanks!
Depending on what you want to do within 3D animation, a cheap(er) option might be looking into animation mentor. You will only learn how to animate through this program--no 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, rigging, etc. However, the student work is exceptional.
There is also Vancouver Film School. The program is only 1 year, so it's cheaper than trying to get another degree entirely. (It is, unfortunately, still on the pricey side). If you want to become an animator, it's probably not the best choice. However, if you're interested in more technical things it might be a good option.
I think Gnomon has a school or atelier somewhere... That would probably be another great option if you are interested in 3D modeling.
And, of course, I have to give a shout-out to my school, The Ringling College of Art and Design. Ringling isn't an especially affordable option, but they pump out really really great 3D generalists. You will learn everything there is to know in 3D animation, and can specialize on your own.
Thank you so much for the response! I will definitely look into each of these options. Mucho gracias!
Though I don't know much about the program itself, I do know that CalArts offers an MFA program in experimental animation. They also offer a BFA in character animation. I'm not sure if you need a background in animation though to be accepted into the MFA program...
One of the recent graduates from the experimental MFA at CalArts just won the student award at SIGGRAPH for 2010, which is a pretty big deal. The video is the "The Wonder Hospital" by Beomsik Shimbe Shim, in case you are curious...
I plan on applying to character anim. next year, so those are just my 2 cents. I forgot to mention...Calarts is also wildly expensive, but also probably gives out a little more merit aid than Ringling for a good portfolio.
After considering the options (and my own limited background) I think animation mentor is a good potential choice. However, I'm slightly concerned with the lack of modeling/rigging instruction; I've taken a few classes at college concerning those, but nothing really professional-caliber. Would that be something that can be learned on the side thru self study, or is it recommended to take a special program for that as well?
I'm sure you could very well learn modeling and rigging through self study. It's a much more technical skill than animation is and so can be picked up on your own easier I think. Care should really be taken though to avoid bad habits and maintain a push for development in aesthetics while building your skills. Learn key ideals for modeling and rigging, then learn how to apply them.
That's definitely encouraging news. Thank you all for all your input; it's definitely helped me a lot, and I really appreciate it