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Brit needs help finding school.

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Brit needs help finding school.

I'm interested in studying animation at uni but I can't decide where to go. Most schools in the UK seem to focus mainly on 3D animation and multimedia and I'm far more interested in american style 2D animation. I'm considering studying in Canada or the US but I'm not sure if I could afford it. Any suggestions?

best animation schools website

There's a new website for animation schools. Any school can register, so it is unbiased. They will check each submitted website before adding it to their list. It took our shchool a full month to get listed.(WEFIS)

The site is



2D animation courses in Europe

Hey there, Stimpson,

my advice would be to check out the work produced by the students on ANY of the courses that you might be considering applying for. The information that's provided by the colleges and universities themselves can often be misleading (to put it mildly) and the only real way to know what you're signing up for is to take a good long look at the animation (and folio work) that the graduating students produce each year.

Websites are often the best first step in this kind of investigation.
And remember - if a college doesn't provide a good, clear, comprehensive, up-to-date website - that, in itself, should ring some alarm bells....

It's also wise - wherever possible - to make contact with graduates themselves to find out what their experiences have been (good or bad) as you will find that impressive work is sometimes produced by determined, talented students IN SPITE of the shortcomings of the available teaching and equipment on the courses they've been through.

Many graduates' e-mail addresses are posted on their college websites, but if a college admin office can't put you directly in touch with recent graduates (so that you, as a prospective paying customer, can grill them for information and opinions) well - that should give you cause to be suspicisous too.....

Right at this moment in time two of the very strongest schools in Europe (for ALL areas of animation instruction) are Gobelins (in Paris) and the Filmakademie (in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart). This is my own opinion, of course - but I think you'll find that it's an opinion shared by a great many people who have it in their interest to know where the best work is being produced.

Another important acid test is to see whether or not the graduates go directly into good work after they complete the course. There's always a "buzz" among industry HR people about the current "cream of the crop" (not that this is easy to pick up on - unless you're on that grapevine).

But in the case of the Filmakademie, all you need to do is take a look at the on-line portfolio and showreel of the team at StudioSoi to get an idea of how strong the graduates' work is. These guys are already working (through Studio AKA in London and Sparx in Paris) to produce TV adverts and short films of the very highest quality - in ALL imaginable animation media/techniques.

There's a profusion of very powerful, industry-standard work on the Gobelins site too. Again - just check out the student galleries under the Animation course.

Take note too of another important fact - the work you will see on the Gobelins site has all been produced by students working collaboratively, in teams.

Again - my own advice would be to steer well clear of any course which encourages animation students to work solo. This method of working (so the argument goes) allows for greater "creativity" - when, of course, being genuinely creative within the commercial animation industry always involves working to a brief and working with other people as part of a team.

Some colleges argue that solo project work makes the individual students' efforts easier to mark - but it shouldn't make any difference at all (in a good course) how much work the staff need to do to track or grade the work as it progresses; if the staff in a college can't work out who did what on a collaborative project, it either means they're over-stretched (and the course is badly run or under-funded) or it means they simply can't be bothered.

Nobody works solo in the outside world of commerically-produced animation - and if somebody tells you that they do, they're either lying or they're conveniently ignoring/forgetting the help that they've received along the way.

And always be wary of people who put too much emphasis on "creativity" in any college course anyway - it can often be a get-out clause for a course that's completely lacking in either direction or structure.

What you want (if you're hoping to get hired by a good studio when you graduate OR if you hope to set up in business for yourself) is the best possible practical instruction and guidance, passed on by experienced people (not taught as theory, from books) - and once you've found your feet with the nuts and bolts of the different animation techniques and processes, THEN (and only then) can you start being confidently, usefully and productively creative.

You might also want to find out - from the colleges themselves - who they have available to them as full- or part-time teaching staff. If the traditional 2D skills are of great importance to you, you want to be quite sure that the college(s) you're applying to are not resting on their laurels, having recently lost any key staff members - these things do happen as people move on and you want to know that you're getting involved with a course that still has the best available people on board, whether they're on the staff or working as visiting instructors.

Two other points:

- try, if you can, to find a course that has (and works hard to maintain) a strong and open relationship with the industry itself; if there's no provision within the course for work experience, job placements or career advice - demand to know why

- if you're interested in studying in Canada or the USA but are worried about the possible cost implications, you might want to consider doing one of the many excellent Summer courses (the NYU ones for example); you can often learn more on an intensive 5- or 6-week course in a good college than you can pick up in a whole academic year on one of the many recently-established "storefront" courses (by which I mean - the ones that have a great facade on the street, and absolutely nothing on the other side...). Summer courses are often easier to get on to in terms of study visas and so on as well - which is no small consideration.

Anyway - best of luck in your search,



Thanks for the advice Fraser. You've really help me out alot. :)

Practical exercises/work experience

You're very welcome.

The other thing to think about is finding somewhere that you could do your training "in production". If you take a look through the AWN job listings, you'll see lots of studios all over the globe (doing fast-turnover TV series work in particular) who are currently hiring.

Perhaps instead of the usual "gap year" you could go travelling with a pencil in your hand (so to speak) and plot your route to match the locations of some of the new studios that are setting up?

Plenty of students I've talked with over the last few years (often people I've lined up with work experience) have commented on the fact that - as soon as they got their first job or took on their first work placement - they found themselves surrounded by talented people who'd never gone to college to "study" animation.

Lots and lots of people (even in this day and age) get onto the professional ladder as runners or receptionists - straight out of high school - and, while their contemporaries are slogging away in some college course, they quietly work their way up through the ranks (if they're enthusiastic and hard-working enough), learning as they go from all the real jobs that are happening around them.

A lot of people who graduate from courses which CLAIM to prepare them for work in the industry find themselves having to do this anyway, so - don't feel that you have to believe the hype about any of these courses - the real world is always just a short distance away, on the other side of the campus wall.

It's also never too early to go through the whole thing of meeting and talking with the people who do the hiring at the different companies and studios - even if you do decide to follow the college route - you'll have an important advantage over a lot of your peers if you've already been out their and done some of your "homework" door to door.

Whatever they might like everyone to believe about the quality (and relevance) of their teaching, many of the "animation" courses you see advertised can't provide anything better or more direct than the kind of experience(s) you get by finding a busy studio that happens to need a keen, dedicated runner.....

And working your way up in this way can often give you a taste of all kinds of other parts of the production process - from filling the fridge and keeping the kitchen clean (always important) to scanning artwork and helping out with ink and paint or (deep breath) CGI work (which is always worth getting to grips with anyway, whether or not you aim to specialise in traditional animation).

So - you might want to cast your net wider and look the other way for a moment or two (AWAY from all the colleges and their flashy brochures)....and see what else is out there and how you might be able to get involved in it.

And whatever way you choose to go about it all - the other vitally important thing to remember is that, if you want to spend your life animating (in ANY medium), you should keep on sketching and drawing (AND painting) - EVERY day - working from the real world around you as you travel along and try to make your mind up about how to get to the next stage....


How difficult would it be for me to get a job at a north american studio?

Work overseas

Very difficult.
I'd say impossible - unless you have dual citizenship.

That being said - I don't know what the deal is if you get accepted to study in the USA and, within the period that your study visa is valid, you're lucky enough to be offered (or to win) a work placement at one of the studios.

Check out the Rhythm'nHues website - if memory serves, they award students placements on the strength of their graduation films (most of the placements in recent years seem to have been won by Ringling students). But I don't know if they're able to award placements to students from outside the U.S.

Your best bet is to check with the U.S. Embassy in London about all this - but I'd be willing to bet that I know what they'll tell you....

And be warned.....ANY indication that you're actively looking for work of ANY kind in the USA, WITHOUT the required paperwork, will see you turned back at the border.

And - to the best of my knowledge - you can't GET paperwork that will allow you to look for work. For perfectly good reasons - it just doens't work that way.

For American companies to be allowed by the U.S. Immigration Dept. to hire somebody from outside the USA, they need to prove (with the help of expensive immigration attorneys and LOTS of paperwork) that the person they want to hire has a unique skillset that NOBODY has locally. And that takes time and a lot of money to prove - even when it's unarguably true.

You do hear stories of people blagging work placements with American companies while they're travelling or back-packing - but I would never, ever recommend trying to do things by the back door like this (in ANY country). For starters - it's illegal - and even if you have the chutzpah to try it - it's dodgy AND (thinking about it from the point of view of the locals) it means there's one less place available for an American would-be-animator - and the majority of those guys need the work just as badly as you do (plus - of course - they're legally entitled to it and you're not).

Beyond all of that - try not to get it into your head that the only place you can learn (or work on) anything worthwhile is in the USA. The more people THINK that way - the longer the American studios will stay at the top of the heap (at least in terms of box office).

If you want to learn how to produce top quality animation yourself - take a good look at the history books and see (for example) how the early Disney output compared with Felix the Cat or any of the other products that were turned out by the New York Animation studios.

When Walt and Roy Disney set up shop in LA - LA itself was just lines in the dirt (pretty much) while there was a flourishing animation industry over on the East Coast.

In other words - things change.

Everybody starts somewhere - and it won't help you to get stuck in the (very common) mindset - which places all the emphasis on the output of the existing major studios in the USA. You can certainly find plenty of examples - without looking very hard - of top-quality traditional animation being produced in Europe for TV commercials. And there'd be no harm at all in starting off with one of them.

Once you've established a good reputation for yourself and your work, all kinds of opportunities (including work in the USA) may open up for you. But my advice would be - don't make things harder for yourelf at this stage by wanting or expecting everything to happen all in one go. Even if your own ultimate goal is to work, one day, for PDI or Pixar or Bluesky - that doesn't mean that you have to get there in one giant leap.

Take it a step at a time, be patient - and work as hard as you can.

If you put more of your energy into the work you yourself produce (and the progress you need to make with it throughout your career) then, whether you're staring out in Bognor, Croydon or San Diego, the other stuff will fall into place soon enough (which - as I read it back - sounds a bit patronising, but it's not meant to....),



here is small bit if info for schools.

so many schools are now offering classes in this field.

That's not a REAL "best schools" website

Hi, I just wanted to let you know that if you think that:
is an unbiased guide to the best schools you're mistaken!

It's a "pretend" site which only seems to advertise the expensive private schools belonging to the AI group. Where's CalArts? Where's Sheridan? Where's Gobelins? Where's Capilano? Not there, and they couldn't get on that site if they tried! It's an ad. And try searching for other great'll see more sites like that because they bought up lots of "bestanimationschools" type domains in order to get people to go there.

Some would say that's unethical and anyway buyer beware.

But if you want to work in the industry, choose the studios you want to work for and ask them where they find their grads. which is the animation department of Capilano College in North Vancouver, Canada, has a gallery of ALL their students (not just the so-called stars) so you can judge their (our) work. I haven't seen another school's site yet that does that. Also tuition is quite low, even for international students.

And I know European grads from the two year program can work locally for up to a year as part of their student visa because it's been done. Michael DeKraker (from Holland) did it and worked on storyboards for Ed, Edd and Eddy (Danny Antonucci), then took Capilano's 3D program where his student film was in competition at Annecy, then headed back and worked for Aardman.

Any way, this is turning into my own ad...sorry. I just hate it when I see those fake "best of" sites.

Great work, Don.