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A Closer Look: Winning Schools

The second International Student Animation Festival of Ottawa (SAFO)wrapped up on Sunday. The festival received an astonishing 745 entries,from students, and, this year, first time filmmakers. 59 student films,ranging from primary, secondary and post-secondary levels were screened.The international jury, comprised of Suzanne Buchan (Switzerland), EricDarnell (USA), Peter Dougherty (USA/UK), George Griffin (USA), and MarcyPage (Canada), awarded the Grand Prix, Best Film In Competition, to"Grace," by Lorelei Pepi (USA). The Royal College Of Art (UK) won The GrandPrix for Best School In Competition. Although all of them offer strongpractical training, the six schools nominated this year for "Achievement inAnimation Education" (La Cambre, CalArts/Experimental Animation, EdinburghCollege of Art, Royal College of Arts, Rhode Island School of Design andTurku Arts Academy) promote themselves as Art schools first. To preventrestrictive specialization, students are encouraged to take a wide range ofcourses, as well as to develop personal exploration, in order to continueto grow as artists and be able to use animation as a fine, applied orcommercial art. This approach admittedly presents the risk of cuttingstudents off from the realities of film production. However, these schoolscan pride themselves on quite a few brilliant career paths. CalArts' formerstudents include John Lasseter ("A Bug's Life"), Henry Selick ("NightmareBefore Christmas") and Eric Darnell ("Antz"). Guionne Leroy, from La CambreSchool (Belgium), became an animator for John Lasseter and Henry Selick, aswell as director of her own amazing short films.

Many schools offer excellent training in their specific domains. Formerstudents from CalArts' Character Animation department, Sheridan College andCFT Gobelins (CFT's former student and teacher, Kristof Serrand, will bethe animation director on DreamWork's next feature "Spirit"), to name justa few, are holding influential positions at most of the major studios.Finding the right school might be a challenge, but one should always keepin mind one's interests and future goals, whether it be working for a largestudio, directing independent shorts, developing computer games, or newmedia.

If you are looking for a school, a visit to AWN's on-line Animation SchoolProfile database can provide you fast access to detailed information onover 400 schools. You can search Schools by name, location, program types,degrees offered, and even do a keyword search through the entire database.Visit AWN's on-line database.

"Schools, Schools and More Schools!" Before jumping into a program, it isbest to know what they are offering and what you want. Pamela KleibrinkThompson explains in the January 1999 issue of Animation World Magazine.

In "Looking Back on the University Days: A Survey of Alumnae," talentsfresh from the world's top animation schools reminisce about theireducation.

This survey was just one of the articles offered in our 1997 Education issue.

Animation World Magazine profiled three schools that have recently receivedmajor donations from leading corporations: Sheridan College, CaliforniaInstitute of the Arts, and The University of Southern California. Read"Digital Animation Programs: Three School Profiles" in our August 1997 issue.

Animation World Magazine's June 1998issue focused on Education & Training as well.

For a complete list of SAFO '99 winners, visit the festival's official website.