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CalArts – Animation Studies

CalArts – Animation Studies

The California Institute of Arts, or CalArts, is a university located in Valencia, California. The school was founded by Walt Disney in 1961. It offers degrees in character animation and experimental animation, among other programs in music, dance, art, theatre, puppetry and writing. CalArts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and awards students who complete its degree programs a bachelor’s of fine arts (BFA) degree or master’s of fine arts (MFA) degree. Cal Arts is considered one of the more respected animation institutions in the United States.

The character animation program equips students with skills to create animated films and video games that rely on character design, development and engaging storylines.  During the first year of the program, the student is introduced to the basic concepts of drawing, color and design theory, concepts of storytelling and animation. In the second and third years, the students examine more complex subjects within the field including writing realistic dialogue, creating effective special effects and even composing music for animated movies. In the last year, the students are expected to explore their interests even more by customizing their own curriculum while simultaneously developing a professional portfolio.

In contrast, the experimental animation program is geared more towards artists who don’t want to be bound by traditional notions of storytelling and animation design. As such, the coursework is designed around a framework of personal creativity and expression, allowing for the individual student to explore their own interests and develop unique ideas of cinematic animation. The early years of the program are devoted to building a foundation on which the students can later add to. Courses during the first two years include subjects such as stop motion animation, traditional animation, 2-D drawing, 3-D computer animation and more. The idea is that by exposing students to both traditional and digital forms of animation, they can better chart their own path to creative success during the last two years of the program, where the curriculum is highly individualized based on each student’s interests.

CalArts also connects students with artists and industry insiders who provide lectures, screenings and demonstrations. These exercises are part of a visiting lecture series available to everyone in the two animation programs. This exposure to working professionals within the field prepares students for the day-to-day realities of being an animator and helps them to develop a realistic perspective on what it is actually like to work within the ever-evolving animation industry today. Once students have completed their curriculum of study and have completed a professional portfolio of projects finished under the supervision of faculty members, they are then awarded their degrees in fine arts.

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Sources:
http://filmvideo.calarts.edu/programs/character-animation