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  • A+
  • Admission Process
    A+
  • Tuition & Finances
    A+
  • Curriculum
    A+
  • Faculty & Administration
    A+
  • Equipment & Facilities
    A+
  • Career Preparation
    A+
  • Social Life
    A
21 helpfuls
  • If You Want to Actually Work in Visual Effects
  • If You Want to Actually Work in Visual Effects
  • If You Want to Actually Work in Visual Effects

If You Want to Actually Work in Visual Effects

  1. Admission Process

    I visited Vancouver a year before I started the course and visited a few schools. With short notice, VanArts were able organise a visit the school where I got to meet the current head of the VFX program. I was told all about the program, the admission process and even available scholarships at the time.

    As for the application process, everything can be done online and I found the process very simple and smooth, even from all the way over in Scotland, UK. They make themselves available to help with everything from admission to student visas.

    A+
  2. Tuition & Finances

    It may seem expensive at first glance, but if you really want to work in Visual Effects, this is a solid investment in your career and worth every cent! International tuition is also reasonable compared to some other schools.

    I'm not some rich kid with parents throwing money at me whenever I need it. Some schools charge an extortionate amount but VanArts is, in my opinion, a manageable expense. It's not the cheapest, but it's far from the most expensive. You are a valued student at VanArts, not just a number to make money. And unlike some schools, you aren't just accepted if you have the money. If a course isn't deemed a good fit for you, you will be told! And you will be warned about how hard you need to work to make the experience worthwhile.

    I worked my butt off to afford the course and living expenses and I have no regrets.

    A+
  3. Curriculum

    What I loved about VanArts was the broad range, covering each aspect of Visual Effects. Scripting, simulations, dynamics, matte painting, compositing...

    You will be taught everything and you will be expected to complete assignments but you are also not expected to excel in everything. Very early on I decided that compositing was more the way I wanted to go. I still worked and attended every other class and I learnt a lot from those classes, but I made sure that when it came to time management, that I put more effort into my compositing assignments than I would to other class assignments, and I was not just allowed, I was encouraged to do so.

    Some other VFX schools I visited seemed to concentrate too much on 3D aspects and not the full range. Having been more focused on compositing prior to starting the course, I was worried I wouldn't have much skill in 3D when I'd never even tried it. Having studied at VanArts, I'm definitely no 3D noob, but it's still not something I'm overly interested in actually working with exclusively. I did, however, discover that I enjoy scripting and had some success with scripting projects. This is something I have further developed since leaving school.

    When it comes to creating your final reel, you will sit down with the head of VFX. At this point you will have 2 or 3 ideas and you will discuss them and from there, you will lock down an idea that will showcase your skills. You are always encouraged to play to whatever your strengths are and not waste to much time doing something for your reel in an area you won't be, or have no interest in, working in.

    Nothing I've learnt at VanArts has gone to waste! My reel was made to showcase my compositing skills, but it actually contains some modeling, dynamics and simulation, but only a small part of it and not the focus. I also still do my own personal projects and unlike work, I don't always have someone to cover any modelling, dynamics or scripting needs, but now I can attempt it myself! And I've just recently completed a pilot with some Hollywood friends for which I had to do much of the VFX work as well as the compositing.

    A+
  4. Faculty & Administration

    You will be taught by industry professionals who often have fantastic resumes. The head of the program was a VFX supervisor on Avatar! Your teachers KNOW and work in the industry and some will teach night classes because they are currently working!

    This means you aren't taught by people who are just teachers. People often say "Those who can, do.Those who can't, teach!" Well at VanArts, everyone who teaches, also does the work, or has recently done the work. We had a compositing teacher coming to teach us after a day of working on 'Fast Five'. Then another compositing teacher teaching us after working on the last 'Final Destination' movie.

    There's nothing worse than studying a course and then getting out into the industry and discovering everything is different than how you were taught. They use different programs, or they no longer use that process because there's a new method that does a better job.

    The VFX industry is the ultimate problem solving career. Nothing is set in stone, there's a ton of ways to do everything, but people are solving those problems every day and creating new and improved methods. So being taught by people who really know the industry means you'll be taught the newest and best methods and little tricks they've picked up along the way. You'll also gain experience into that problem solving nature of the job to prepare for your future.

    And your teachers will not treat you like kids. NOTHING you ever do is perfect, so don't expect it to be. It's highly unlikely you're going to get a 100% "It's perfect, no comments!" response to anything you do, and in the industry, that's not going to happen either. Everything you submit, you will get feedback on how it could be better. I know that while we were studying, my fellow students liked this approach and we would actually help each other out by pointing out flaws in eachother's work and how to maybe make it better. When we were working on our reels, we would all show our progress in the theatre at the end of the week and the whole class would give feedback, not just the VFX head!

    That's not to say you'll never be praised. If you do something really great, you'll be told "It's awesome...but". Having that "but" in there is what will make you a far better VFX artist. You should always be striving towards better, and the VanArts team will fuel this drive in you.

    A+
  5. Equipment & Facilities

    High spec computers; all the latest software; a render farm; a top notch IT team. No complaints here whatsoever! The classrooms are comfortable and aren't overcrowded, you have plenty of space.

    There's a photography studio, giant green screen and a camera for the VFX class only. There's also a theatre for dailies or watching movies - relevant to the course of course. For example, we watched 'District 9' prior to some industry professionals from Image Engine coming in to talk to us about the work they did on the movie.

    Industry professionals from Vancouver studios will occasionally visit the school and this is a good opportunity to find out more about the business and potentially make contacts. Our class also got to go on a tour of a studio.

    A+
  6. Career Preparation

    During term 3, we had a class that focused on time management and figuring out a career path and how to get there. Many of the teachers are industry professionals and will answer questions about the industry including how they got started and any advice they can offer.

    Studios will also, at times, contact the school and ask if they have any students either soon to be, or recently, graduated that would suit work placements they have. So there's a strong focus on preparing you for employment, and, if you're a strong student, you might be one of the names that gets passed on to that studio!

    A+
  7. Social Life

    You are encouraged to be a cooperative team at Vanarts to reflect how it works in the industry. So you'll make lots of friends. But I studied at university and it was a breeze compared to this year intensive course.That's not to say I didn't ever go out, there were many fun nights and nights out. But if you want to do well, you'll soon find your social life becoming a secondary concern.

    However, it is fantastically located for nights out, downtown and right next to Granville Skytrain. There's a little less guilt in going out for a night out if you can work in school right up to 5-15 mins before you go to the bar/club/cinema.

    A
  8. The Bottom Line

    Studying at Vanarts was the best decision I ever made. I've gone from making silly little videos with friends to working at the company that inspired my effects fascination (Zoic Studios). I got my job less than a month out of school and just 2 months after I finished school, my work could be seen online and on TV! A fantastic feeling!

    Just about everyone in my class is working now! If you're serious about a VFX career, and willing to put in the effort, this is the school for you!

Report Card

  • A+
  • Admission Process
    A+
  • Tuition & Finances
    A+
  • Curriculum
    A+
  • Faculty & Administration
    A+
  • Equipment & Facilities
    A+
  • Career Preparation
    A+
  • Social Life
    A

Weight Distribution

  • Admission Process
    5%
  • Tuition & Finances
    15%
  • Curriculum
    25%
  • Faculty & Administration
    20%
  • Equipment & Facilities
    15%
  • Career Preparation
    15%
  • Social Life
    5%

1 Comments

  1. Rufio
    Rufio (Guest)
    December 6th, 2012
    Reply

    Fact Checking Alert.

    "The head of the program was a VFX supervisor on Avatar!"

    Unfortunately that is an incorrect/misleading statement that the Van Arts marketing team loved to tell anyone who didn't know any better. Bill Dwelly was a "Layout Lead" which is a completely different role altogether. Calling him VFX Supervisor is similar to calling a Kitchen Prep the "Chef".

    It's important to always double check claims made by school's marketing departments. One simple way is to cross reference key staff's IMDB credits.

    www.imdb.com

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