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The Downfall of traditional education

Posted on May 16, 2010  10 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

The UK animation industry is being taken over by Animation Mentor. I don’t have exact figures but I have the feeling that 3 out of 5 animation graduates hired in UK come from Animation Mentor. In few years, 50% of the animator in the industry will probably come from the online animation school.

Why is that?

Animation Mentor has been offering the industry, the exact kind of profiles it was looking for.

In 18 month, they create more job opportunities to graduates than what traditional education would provide in 4/5 years.

In UK it is usual for students to do a foundation course, followed by their 3 years degree. The problem is that very often, after a fruitless job search due to their poor showreel, those graduates end up going back to university since they can’t find any stable jobs.

Where it gets even worse is that after those different degrees and post graduate diplomas, they often end up as interns or runners at 13k a year when Animation Mentor students directly snap Junior animation or even Animator position. I have also seen loads of those graduates eventually going to Animation Mentor for 2 more years of education and even bigger student loans to repay but finally getting better chances to break into the industry.

Now Animation Mentor is not the only new form of schooling taking over traditional education. Escape has also been providing (at a very high cost) the kind of employees Soho VFX house are looking for but I just found some other US schools providing alternative training.

Gnomon has been in business for years in California and offer great training if you are into monsters and SciFi, admittedly I am not.

Future Poly. A school aimed at the video game industry in the Seattle area.

Concept Design academy in Pasadena.

I won’t go in length trying to understand why those courses are so successful but one thing we can notice rightaway is that the mentors/lecturers/teachers are all professionals still very active in the industry and even online.

Rad Sechrist

Joe Pikop

Jean-Denis Haas

On an other hand, traditional education is still regarded as one of the best form of schooling in Europe, when talking about 2 french animation schools, Supinfocom and Gobelins and it is not rare to bump into those graduates in Soho, not rare at all. Most VFX houses actually go to the graduation ceremony of those two schools to snap the best talents.

[update] Having worked with several graduates from animation schools and university, I came to realise that a lot of them didn’t have a clear idea about what they wanted to specialise in when they joined their school and felt a generalist school was less risky. Also, traditional schools diplomas are recognised by Immigration laws and can help to get Visa to work abroad.

Related posts:
Is Animation Mentor expensive?


10 Responses to “The Downfall of traditional education”

  1. Jonathan Hearn on May 16th, 2010 13:38

    Nice post. i’ve noticed the trend too – at my university we’re told that after graduating we should go to AnimationMentor, Bournemouth or EscapeStudios. As you say Escape is very costly and animationmentor has professionals teaching the modules. However, even after meeting some MA students from Bournemouth a lot of them STILL end up working as runners at the soho studios. It’s very sad to see and hard to know where to go and what to do, especially as I am only at the BA level.

  2. Olivier Ladeuix on May 16th, 2010 14:25

    On one hand, a degree would allow you to get a H1b visa to work in USA if you ever had this in mind but on the other hand, you are more likely to get a job and a great network of animation professional if you go to Animation Mentor.

  3. Olly Davis on May 17th, 2010 03:13

    Very interesting article – I only wish Animation Mentor was around when I was going through university as I would have absolutely done that instead of my degree. I remember going through the whole interview process for varying different UK universities, having to fill out questionnaires in order to get on an actual interview, whereby you had to rate animated films in order of importance. My tutor told me to rate a short which had very limited animation technique but had a very anti Disney/Bluth agenda, and was thus seen as artistically superior over the Lion King and the Nightmare before Xmas(wow, I’m old!). I rated Disney last and I got the interview, which came to a real bad end when I was asked where I would like to be in a 5 years time. I said ‘well I would be happy if I was working for a big studio, working in commercials’….the interviewer pretty much convulsed and replied ‘Happy? Working for a big studio? You’re evidently not interested in making important artistic films. You’d be best having a rethink at the next university you interview at’. Cue uncomfortable silence…Interview end. It may have changed now, but for me this highlights all that is or was wrong with the UK edcuation of animation – they never actually used to focus on the teaching of the principles and there was a huge gulf between what the universities need and want(‘make important films’) to that of the actual industry. I was in the wilderness for 4 years after graduating, before doing an Escape course to transfer my 2d and stop frame skills to CG, so I don’t find it surprising that Mentor/Gobelins/Superinfocom graduates get hired.

  4. Olivier Ladeuix on May 17th, 2010 04:07

    thanks for your comment Olly, you are definitely confirming my post.

    We still have similar schools in France though. The Annecy animation festival is always a bit of fun when you get students from very “High brow” schools looking down on Gobelins and Supinfocom students. They usually refer to them as “Technicians” rather than artists but when it comes down to finding jobs, the so-called “technicians” snap all the best positions ;-)

  5. Olivier Ladeuix on May 17th, 2010 04:12

    and here is an other article by my ex-coworker Carla on Degree vs Showreel

  6. Karim on May 17th, 2010 06:40

    Hi guys,

    Can’t say much about AM since I haven’t been there but heard good things about on the overall.
    But there’s something else I would like to add, and it goes far more away than the actual education and the career path. It’s the friends you meet and the good times you have throughout your education.

    Even if my school (EMCA) wasn’t 50% oriented toward character animation and doesn’t have the fame the other have (in my promo we didn’t look down on other schools), I’ve met some of the most talented students ever. Also meeting great people, having fun between work and outside, putting up f’d up posters, drawing all over the place and making pranks is priceless.

    I guess that the Animation Workshop from Denmark is halfway through a traditional school for its facilities and student life and AM for the strict professional mentoring with its regular use of dailies. It’s just a guess. ;)



  7. The New Blather » One education system to rule them all on May 17th, 2010 23:42

    […] In my continued Googling for stuff about Animation Mentor (even though I’m already set to begin the first course this June), I found this interesting blog post: The Downfall of traditional education. […]

  8. Dan Carey on May 23rd, 2010 00:16

    I think a real problem with studying a degree is that a student is still required to spend time writing essays, as opposed to studying animation. I’m going to get a job as an animator, not a writer – so why do they still insist on writing essays? Okay, there is some benefit to learning via researching topics and formulating arguments in text… but the last time I was hired neither of these qualities were taken into consideration.

  9. Olivier Ladeuix on May 23rd, 2010 01:23

    Traditionally, university trained academics hence the need for essays and formulated arguments so it is difficult to blame them for this. Animation Mentor is more like a trade school, training people for a specific job. Personally I love universities, doing research on general topics, writing essays on abstract concepts and I don’t want universities to become trade school so what can they do?

    I keep referring to Supinfocom and Gobelins but that’s not very fair. Both school have entry exams so they obviously select only the best candidate. AM doesn’t though…..

    Well, the way I see things, most UK universities only care about the amount of diplomas they issue, and are not held accountable for the number of graduates who get jobs. Yes, that’s really sad.

  10. Olivier Ladeuix on May 23rd, 2010 01:25

    How much was Animation Workshop Karim?

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