How do you find the best VFX school for you?
A couple of people have asked me where is the best VFX course to get into the industry. There are a lot of not so good schools and little gems that are hidden away which can really give you a change. But, at the end of the day its really hard to figure out what a good school without doing some homework. It will be very hard to find a school that ticks all the boxes but will give you a good indication if they are any good. Here is what I’ve done in the past to (dare I say it) “analyse” VFX schools.
First you need to decide what discipline you want to specialise in or if you’re not ready to make that decision, a generalist course.
What VFX software should you learn?
There are quite a few packages out their that are used in VFX and post production. Maya, XSI, 3ds max, shake, toxik each used to solve different problems. A lot of architecture companies use 3ds max as do games companies. Maya you see more in film and advert post production. But make sure you pick the software which will get you in the industry you want to get into. Search the net and see which companies you want to work for and what packages they use.
Is the VFX school Accredited?
Is the company an ATC (Accredited Training Center) in the software your training in?. Now this doesn’t give you the guarantee that the course is really good but it at least tells you that they are teaching students in an approved way or is up to a standard of teaching.
I think this is one of the most important. You must have a good teacher! Someone who has been there and done it. Who can tell you who all the movers and shakers in the business are and where to send your showreel. A lot of the industry runs on who you know and who you would recommend. So getting a good industry expert teaching you, combined with your work and making a good impression can get them to recommend you for work.
How you relate and interact with the tutor, is also very important as it allows you to learn far more effectively. Its all well and good having an expert in the field but if they can’t teach or communicate well then you are lost. Schools like Escape Studios offer studio tours andlearning days so you can get to talk to the tutors before you commit.
What to look for on the course sylabus
You will see a lot of course teaching you “How to use 3ds Max” or “How to model in Maya” etc. See how much of the course is on “Best Practise” or theory. For example in Maya there are 1000s of different ways to get to the same result but which is the best way for different scenarios?
Look a the quality of the student work that have previously been on the course. A lot of courses have videos of student work, compare it against other schools. One think you should take into consideration is the length of the course. The student showreels for a 12 week Maya course in one school maybe a totally different quality to a university course or year course in Maya.
Success Stories / Employment after course.
Take a look or ask how many of the students get work after the course and where? Also take a look and see if the training company has a recruitment department which are dedicated to getting students work after the courses.
Online vs classroom
This old chesnut. My opinion you can’t beat a tutor in a classroom. But I’ve written a post on this subject previously that you should take a look.
Does the course include help creating a showreel? This is what you need to give to companies to advertise yourself to them to get a job. Does the training course offer help creating your showreel? or reviewing it so they can give you pointers? I’ve seen so many good VFX artists not getting jobs all because they hadn’t done their showreel properly.
Any more questions please let me know.