5 Best Colleges for Animation Students
There’s never been a better time to become an animator.
Animated features continue to do big-time box-office business while CGI effects — a form of animation in its own right — enliven large- and small-screen favorites alike. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, video game studios and mobile app developers are calling in animators and multimedia artists to meet the demand for more immersive graphics to match the advancements in computing power on our phones, computers, and consoles.
Jobs for animators are expected to grow at least 6 percent in the next decade. The average salary is $63,970 (according to the BLS) and top animators can earn into the six figures. How can a visually creative person like you break into this booming field?
The first step most animators take is art school, where they learn the principles of visual storytelling, hone their creative techniques, and master the latest software and technology for bringing characters to life.
Whether you want to make indie stop-motion films or help solve crimes as a forensic animator, there’s a school for you. To help you find it, we’ve compiled a list of some of America’s best colleges for animation students.
This list is by no means exhaustive (for that, check out Animation Career Review’s annual list), but it should give you a sense of what’s out there for aspiring animators.
(All information about these schools comes from their websites.)
Location: Sarasota, Fla.
Teaching approach: “Animation doesn’t mean moving objects. It means moving an audience. That’s why the Computer Animation major focuses on teaching students how to combine essential technical skills with conceptually original ideas that affect an audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually.”
Where grads work: Blue Sky Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation
Rupee Run from Ringling Computer Animation on Vimeo.
Location: Valencia, Calif.
Teaching approach: “...designed for students who seek an understanding of the art of character performance and storytelling in animation. It provides comprehensive artistic and technical training to help each student develop as a fully-fledged animation artist within both the traditional and computer-generated (CG) animation environments.”
Where grads work: Pixar, Walt Disney Animation
Desert Critters from Li Wen Toh on Vimeo.
Location: New York, NY
Teaching approach: “SVA has prepared young artists for the animation industry for over 40 years. Our faculty includes some of the best artists in the industry, who bring knowledge and experience in multiple disciplines straight from the studio into the classroom. Your mentors will include directors, fine artists, photographers, special-effects artists, writers, character designers, advertising specialists and power users.”
Where grads work: Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation
Piece of Mind from Sam Lee on Vimeo.
Location: Savannah, Ga.
Teaching approach: “2-D. 3-D. Stop-motion. Digital modeling. Rigging. Lighting. Look development. As an animation student at SCAD, you will master it all. We give you the opportunity to collaborate with and take electives in other majors, such as visual effects, motion media, interactive design and game development, sound design, film and television, and sequential art. ”
Where grads work: 20th Century Fox, Cartoon Network
SCAD animation student work from SCADDOTEDU on Vimeo.
Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Teaching approach: “With guidance from the best animators in the industry — Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Tippett Studio — as your mentors, you’ll learn to combine the skills of both director and actor in your work. You will learn how to create characters with authentic emotion and tell stories that make a real impact.”
Where grads work: Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, Sony, Bento Box Entertainment
What Did We Leave Out?
These are just five of the best colleges for animation students, but there are plenty more. What schools make your top-five list? Start the discussion in the comments section below.
About Shiraz Chavan
Shiraz Chavan came to the United States from Nigeria to study education and work with international students like herself, and she is currently Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at California College of the Arts. Chavan is passionate about equal access to education, with an undergrad degree in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a graduate degree in Education Administration from University of the Pacific.