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Tips for getting into an animation school?

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Tips for getting into an animation school?

Whoever is a student or animator yourself I'd be glad if you'd offer up some tips.

Some background on me: I'm going to be a junior in high school whose first choice of school is the University of Southern California. My GPA is good and after school activities are well taken care of. I've been drawing since I was 8, a self taught artist (don't worry I swear I draw much better stick figures than I did then) and just recently I've decided to take a art class to make sure I have a excellent portfolio for college. I also have self taught experience with various 2D and 3D computer animation programs. Ever since I was a child I was never able to hold down a solid interest while I never realized animation was a constant that I could never go without ( I swear I was making comics and writing and even one time I drew (what a 10 year old could draw) out a whole cartoon intro on printer paper, scanned it to my mom's laptop and tried to ink and color it until I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I killed so many trees when I was a kid)

So I'm wondering what is the kind of stuff I'll need in my portfolio? I know I'm decent at drawing humans but I seriously need to expand my skills. I'm also considering double majoring in film directing, and I'm sure it will be a lot of work but I want to be sure it's worth completely giving up sleep and taking up an addiction to caffeine patches. I'm interested in working for DreamWorks (first choice at least) and if anyone has experience I'd also like to know how it's like. (Sorry I know it's a lot to ask) I'm also interested in the story creation process if anyone knows how to get there from animating. Honestly I know it's a lot of work but when I just think about simply just being able to associate myself with such amazing work I get overwhelmed with excitement of being able to work with people who are (hopefully) just as passionate as I am.

Want to get into animation

Want to get into animation school??

Have money.

Seriously, that the..........THE requisite to get into most of them. Just be able to pay the tuitions--most school will gladly take it.

Ah, but you also want to have a viable career chance  upon graduation.........right?

That's a bit different.
Along with the money, you need some talent, and some drive.

Talent isn't all the stuff you've done, so much as it is all the stuff you can do. All the cute projects you've done as a 10 year old..........mean nothing.
Not saying that to be snarky, but to open your eyes are stepping onto that famous " bridge you need to get halfway across before someone can help you the rest of the way".  
It's where things get serious.

BEFORE you get to animation school, it helps to understand this: that the more professional your skills are BEFORE starting the programme, the more likely the programme will help groom you into becoming a professional.  That means your art/animating skills  should already have some self-exploration and personal development.

Look, understand this most of all..........there is NO SCHOOL ANYWHERE that can teach you how to draw.  

It's a bullshit promise that some make to suck in marks to pay the fees and not have a real hope in Hell of ever developing their talent. The "halfway across the bridge" thing is actually about 80% to 90% of the way across the bridge.........simply because of the talent level that many people come into the programme with.  

The vast majority of students that enroll in animation school has grossly unrealistic expectations of what the schools curriculum can do for them. So, to wit: the LESS you need the school, the MORE they are likely to be able to do for you.

This is because in most 1 year to 3 year programs, the bulk of the instruction is going to cover technical aspects.  How to use software, animation principles etc--the stuff that makes up the bulk of an animator's skill-set.
The "aesthetics", or how to do a nice drawing...........that's more up to you.  You can get useful feedback if the instructors are good......but they are not always good in that regards.  How to compose a picture, how to draw an appealing character, how to use lines and rendering.........most of that is going to sink in during self-exploration.

Understand that you'll be saddled with plenty of homework with just the technical classes that you'll ALWAYS be scrambling for time and energy to develop your own actual  talent. You'll be required to produce work, on demand, whether or not you feel like it, or are interested in it.  It can be a bewildering, acute form or both constant frustration and terror.

Now, some people thrive in that kind of situation.  Some cave when faced with it.  The best way to prepare it to get your work to as near professional level as you can before getting to the school(s).  Do actual animation on your own--practise drawing characters from shows and movies. Make films, do designs, create scenes.  Try music, sound, with it all.
The best stuff you create...........put that into your portfolio.  
That will be the showcase of what you can do, AND it can also showcase your drive.
If all you do is piss around or dabble with the will not have much to show.
On the other hand, if you are totally focussed on this, and 100% committed.......and you completely live and breathe this'll likely have a lot of samples showing what you do.  If you are already making movies, and doing fleshed-out are ahead of the game.

Keep things short.......recruiters don't want to sit through a 10 minute film.  30 seconds is plenty. 10-20 drawings of various can ask the schools what they want to see.
Don't fret about tools..........use what you can get, and what you have on hand.  Work the most you can with the limitations you have. Improvise.
It shows how driven you are.

Lastly, what is animation school like?
It's wonderful and intimidating all at the same time.
You can make friends ( or enemies), build connections and a network, have experiences and learn a ton. You'll be surrounded by people of a very like mind, and all headed in the same direction ( for the most part). It's a place to ask those questions and get those answers. You can have fun, but everything counts. Make a bad decision and it can haunt you for years.

And before you get to such a school..........keep this in mind.........

As deep and profound the freindships you can make in school much as you can learn and connect with your classmates......realize right now that the moment you graduate, they CEASE to be your classmates, and become.......your competition.
That's not to say you must undermine them, but rather that those that work hardest at it will succeed the most.  Some will succeed, and some will not.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)



Good luck on getting into animation school! I'm currently in college with a different major (Economics) but I love animation and drawing too!

I would think that an important aspect of getting into the school of your choice (and getting jobs after you graduate) would be to keep a growing portfolio of animation videos that you've done that you think are your best. This will of course showcase your talent in a way that an application just can't.

Best of luck!

Earn Per View For Your Animated Short Films!

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