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.