ter animation and online schooling are both fields that have flourished in the digital age. Students who possess dedication, artistic skill, and technological talent are good candidates for both, and because of the recent success of many online universities, more programs offering master degrees are being developed for students looking to improve their career options in the animation industry. With enough effort, even a student of animation in an online program can work his or her way up to join ranks with the masters of animation who have worked at Pixar and other animation studios.
Glenn McQueen is a Pixar employee who worked as a computer animator for “Toy Story,” one of the Supervising Animators for a “Bug’s Life” and “Monsters, Inc.,” and the only Supervising Animator for “Toy Story 2.” In 1985, he graduated from Sheridan College in Canada, where he studied animation. After an additional decade of experience in computer graphics, he came to work for Pixar.
Another Pixar animator, Gini Santos, studied advertising at the University of Santo Tomas, located in the Philippines. She worked in advertising for five years before pursuing further education at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. There, she studied computer animation. After sending out a short animated film to Blue Sky, PDI, Disney, and Pixar, she received immediate job offers from both Blue Sky and PDI (Pacific Data Imaging). Pixar also interviewed her shortly thereafter, and she accepted the position.
Alex Orrelle worked at Pixar as a character animator and storyboard artist. He attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he earned his BFA in animation. During college, he took Pixar’s short film class. Thanks to good timing and a fantastic record, he was eventually hired by Pixar, where he worked on “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo.”
In order to get a job with an animation giant like Pixar, prospective employees need to have skill, experience, and education. This was true even decades ago, but with computer animation on the rise, even the most naturally gifted animators need to have a solid portfolio and knowledge to show for themselves. McQueen even notes that, “The bar is pretty high now in terms of what kind of animators we hire.” With more individuals showing an interest in animation, a good degree from an accredited school is more vital than ever before.
Interested students can enroll in online animation degree programs that provide competitive training. For example, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where Orrelle graduated from, offers several online animation degree programs. Through the university’s online animation school, students can earn either their Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Master of Fine Arts. The AA program “stresses traditional skills and storytelling ability, coupled with cutting-edge software and digital technology.” The BFA program goes a step further, teaching students the finer points of film-making theory and the most important principles of both traditional and digital animation. BFA students also build professional portfolios and demonstration reels to take to prospective employers. The MFA program “focuses on storytelling with an emphasis on technical acuity and emotional response,” providing graduates with all the information needed to design, direct, and complete a short animated film by graduation.
Other colleges and universities also offer online degree programs in animation. Westwood College and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh are fine examples. While good online animation programs are not especially common, they are out there. Students who lack the time, money, or other resources to pursue a traditional degree can still prove themselves through the online route.
An individual needs an abundance of dedication to thrive as an online student. Animation students who have a strong enough work ethic to excel at online schooling are well on their way to proving themselves to animation giants like Pixar. Choosing the right online program can help students build a competitive portfolio, which is often the first step toward becoming an animation master.