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Need Advice on starting career in 3D Computer Animation!

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Need Advice on starting career in 3D Computer Animation!

Hello Everyone,

I am a 24 year old female from New York looking to switch from my current career field (creative side of advertising) to 3D Computer Animation. There are a couple of reasons why I am thinking about making the switch -- more job stability,.. 3D Animation has a better industry outlook for the future, higher pay, etc. (If I'm wrong about any of this, feel free to inform me!). I am also pretty sure I'd really like being in Computer Animation, from what I've read and heard about it so far.

I got a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan in 2001. I am currently looking into taking possibly a one year course in 3D Computer Animation at the New York Film Academy, which starts in September. Does anyone have any thoughts on that school? Is there a better school in New York to learn 3D Computer Animation at?

Basically... I'm just looking for ANY and ALL advice/suggestions you all may have for me regarding my attempt to get started in 3D Computer Animation!
ANY help at all will be greatly appreciated!!!! Thanks so much!!!

- Sheela

I don't know anything about NewYork myself, but until someone who does gets back to you, check out these threads: They've been extremely helpful to me. (make sure you check out their list of schools there)

This is interesting reading too:

Good luck! You'll soon see there's quite a few of us on here researching education. I'm like you- I'm going through a career change rather than being straight from school.


I too am an alumnus of University of Michigan...studied art & film. I now work at VanArts, an animation school in Vancouver, BC. We also have a one-year 3D Animation program, and although it's significantly far away from New York, I invite you to check it out here

Ken Priebe

Let me preface this by saying I don't know the program you are talking about but if you ask me unless you have prior experience in 3D a year isn't enough. There is no trick or gimmick to learning to paint and draw and 3D animation is the same. Don't be fooled by the "making of.." shows or segments on a DVD that make it look so fun and easy.

Learning 3D is like learning to play the piano but at the same time you are learning to build the piano in order to play it.

You are learning all the technical at the same time you are learning the art of animation. You need time you experiment and do things a few times to really "get it." The problem with a lot of short programs is that you don't have the time to make mistakes and learn from them because you are on to the next task. My advice would be to not to be in such a hurry and give yourself enough time to grow as an artist or try taking a class on the side and see if you truely like it before you invest so much time into the task of learning 3D


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

Is NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY a good school for 3D Animation??

Hey again,....

Have another question,,.....

As I've noted before, I'm in the process of switching careers (I'm 25),..

so... what I was wondering is if it REALLY makes a difference as to WHICH animation school I attend? The school I am planning on attending is the NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY in New York City. THEY HAVE A ONE YEAR ANIMATION PROGRAM,... not just classes... but a full time, 9-6 every day, program!!

Does anyone know anything regarding if this is a good school to go to to learn 3D Animation???

Does anyone know of any other good schools for people who already graduated college and are looking to switch careers? Are the schools on the west coast (California) necessarily better?

I really could use some advice here!!!!! ASAP if possible!!!

- Sheela

First of all you were 24 on your first post and now you're saying you're 25, so happy birthday.

Does it matter what school you go to? Well that would be a big YES. It's like saying it doesn't matter what restaurant you go to get a good meal.

But you need to go and see what they are producing in that one year. You need to ask to see student work, talk to teachers to see where they are from, find out where students are going after they leave the program. Talk to students if you can because they are less likely to tell you what you want to hear like some Admissions departments do.

Actually I just went to their site and I see no student work at all but a few screen shots, hmmm? And actually it's not a year it's 9 months and for $25,000 I'd make sure you know what the end result of your quick fix will be.


Department of Computer Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota Florida

Assuming you are talking about Character Animation...then it is SO important to get to grips with the core skills of traditional animation and including Life-drawing and painting etc. Learning the basics eg.weight, timing, keyframing even in-betweening, layouts, storyboarding, dope sheets, structure, form... will all make for you to have a better understanding of animation. These traditional skills then can be passed into any 3D package really...Learning software is not easy (sometimes :) ) and will take along time... I would make sure that whichever college you choose they have a strong emphasis on these skills ( draw,draw,draw!!! :) )

good luck.. :)

it depends

A lot depends on what you mean by 'computer animation'. If you do want to be a character animator, a year is definately not enough.

If you want to be a modeller, a year might be enough, but it probably won't get you a position at one of the big animation houses. Other options exist. Some design firms hire 3D people to model products or logos. Some minimal animation may be involved, but often it's simple. Sometimes the models are taken directly into virtual reality software and not animated at all. This work tends not to be quite as exciting as working on movies, but excitement may not be your goal.

- Marla

New opportunities in 3D

Just wanted to mention that careers within 3D are expanding too.
We develop software for 3D on the Web, an up and coming industry. And then there is 3d for wireless, way out over the horizon.

There are a couple of reasons why I am thinking about making the switch -- more job stability,.. 3D Animation has a better industry outlook for the future, higher pay, etc. (If I'm wrong about any of this, feel free to inform me!).

Careful there!

Some may disagree, but most will tell you that there isn't much job stability in Animation. Most jobs (even with larger studios) are temporary contracts that end as soon as your project is complete. So you often spend a large chunk of your time lining up your next job while completing your current contract.

I would also warn you that animation is more of a Trade than a regular job. You have to really devote yourself to learning and mastering the art of animation before you can obtain work. Due to the dedication that it takes to be succesful in the field, many do not get past the entry level.

If you speak with the graduates from various schools, you'll find that only the top 5-10% ever find work. Especially with more and more schools popping up lately, there are probably 3 times as many students enrolled in animation courses around the country as there are animators currently working in the field.

So I would only recommend going to school for animation if you are truly passionate about the work. If this is something you are willing to focus on for years in order to break into the indsutry...

~Nathan Zufelt
Character Animator