How do you pick the right place to study animation?

One of the most important decisions that any of us will ever make is what to study, and where. How do you choose? Even if you know you want to study animation and the digital arts (good choice!), there are at least 80 university courses in the UK alone to select from, and hundreds (maybe thousands?) worldwide. So how do you pick the right one? The simple answer is - pick the best. But how you tell which courses are the best? There are a number of ways of making the right decision, but we think that there are two that are by far the most important.

First, check out what other students on the course have already done. If they have done excellent work, the chances are that you will too. Why? Because few students produce great work in a vacuum. Most of us require motivation, inspiration, and the discipline of a well structured curriculum to guide us through, and help us do the best work we are capable of. Students are pushed by their tutors to succeed, and are inspired by the excellent work done by their peers to do better themselves. This is a virtuous circle in which standards get raised all the time.

Second, take a look at what the people teaching the course have done. Are they skilled in animation and digital media? Are their skills up to date? This is an industry which is in a state of constant change and upheaval as new technology drives the market. Traditional art skills matter, but so does having the right software and the ability to use it.

I've been working in the animation industry for 25 years, since 1987 when I worked as an assistant animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Later I got to work on Lion King at Disney, and The Iron Giant at Warner Bros, among many other hand-drawn films. In the early 2000s I switched from 2D to 3D animation, working on Robots, Open Season and then Monster House, and later on visual effects films like the last three Harry Potter films, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

To see the excellent work done by our students here at Animation Apprentice, check out some of the demo reels here. To see my work, check out my various animation reels - 2D, 3D and visual effects, here.

Learning online doesn't have to be the poor relation of going to university. In many ways it is a better experience. More flexible, more focused, a way of learning which allows you to juggle work and life committments with your educational development.