Hello everyone, I'm new to the forums and I know it's usually forum etiquette not to post new threads right away but I'm a little strapped for time and would like some info if anyone knows anything about studying 2D/3D animation in two particular schools in Montreal.
The two schools that really interest me are Cegep Du Vieux and NAD. The only problem is that I don't speak French and I'm not sure if they offer their animation courses in English. I know NAD claims on their website the courses are French only, but I've heard they changed that. Can anyone tell me how accepting they are of the ignorant, english speaking folk like me?
Also, I've had two years of experience studying animation at a school in Toronto, I have the art fundamentals down and I understand what makes good animation; what are the possibilities of applying for an advanced position if I show a good portfolio? I don't really want to start from the beginning and do another year of Art Fundamentals (and pay for it).
If both of them do have english options, which school would you recommend?
I understand that this reply to your post is very late (over a year after you posed the question), but I'm sure that this is a question that many Montrealers are interested in hearing about - and maybe I can shed a bit of light on the subject.
I'm a teacher at Cegep du Vieux (CVM) and am in regular contact with NAD as well (being neighboors and friends).
My first piece of advice would be to ask yourself which field you want to get into, that being, video games or film. Although a well-rounded education in animation can get you a job anywhere, CVM focuses more on film animation, whereas NAD is geared more towards video game design.
The major difference is in the "acting" side of animation, which may or may not be a skill you're looking to develop. At CVM, I taught both 2D/3D Animation as well as Acting for Animation. A strong focus is in body language, lipsync, facial animation, performance, interraction between 2 or more characters, in addition to the fundamentals like basic character movement. Although I strongly recommend anyone reading this post to give NAD a call to learn more about their curriculum, I wouldn't imagine that the acting side of animation would be one of their main focuses, because facial animation and lipsync only comes into play in video games when doing cinematics (in which case film animation skills would be more of an asset).
Video game animation is a high-output type of job - we need our character to do a series of movements that the programmers will sync together for real-time interractive play, that read well from any angle, such as runs, jumps, rolls, action poses like drawing and shooting a gun, casting spells etc...), whereas in film animation the camera is aimed to best present the story, and particular focus is paid on creating a convincing and engaging performance, like an actor.
Once you can animate, making the transition between softwares (Maya > Max, Max>Softimage) can be done in a few days, but depending on the field you're interested in, they generally concentrate on the software more commonly used in that industry. For instance, film animation schools will generally favor Maya, where game design studios will favor 3DS Max. Not a big deal though, I would worry more about a school that provides you with the best skills to get you hired.
So, deciding which field interests you most can really help direct your decision.
It's not only important to learn the technical skills - picking the right school is also your first step (and major one) into making connections in the field that you're interested in pursuing. The teachers, students and events that take place should generally help expose you to the industry, the studios, other artists etc.. who you might one day call colleagues. If you're hell-bent on one industry or the other, then this should be an important factor to consider then deciding.
Now to pose a few other options, at the time that you posted this article, another strong option was Ubicampus - however last time I spoke with them they were going through a bit of a transition period, so I'm not sure where things stand. Not entirely sure, but after Ubi moved on they might have worked on some kind of a deal with Universite de Montreal. Please don't quote me on that, and do offer clarity on the matter if anyone knows better.
There's also Concordia University (Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema), which I graduated from, but I graduated 16 years ago, so much has changed (MUCH), but that's definitely another option. At the time that I studied at Concordia however, they were very geared towards CFB type work (if you know what I'm talking about), which is wonderful for creating creative animators, but I'll be honest, relatively useless in the film and gaming industry unless you're more interested in producing your own film.
So here's the rundown:
- Cegep du Vieux: Strong focus on commercial film animation
- NAD: Strong focus on video game production (great for finding work in Montreal with all the game studios we have floating around)
- Concordia University (Mel Hoppenheim): Possibly more geared towards independent animation (although all the animation fundamentals are well covered)
- Ubicampus (now something else): Do your homework, I remember it being a very good resource for game production training.
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I understand it's bad to contribute to a necroed thread but for the sake of contributing information, here goes.
Unless it's re-opened, the Ubisoft campus has been closed since 2009. Last I heard, it may have been picked up by another partner but I lost touch with all that too. Haven't seen a demo coming from the campus in quite a while...
The NAD center had a video game AND movies branch. They've just (litteraly, announced yesterday) started a master's level following their bachelor level. I think they're diversifying with the Elite stuff and all.
I don't think Cegep du Vieux's curriculum changed much from it beginings but yes, strong emphasis on 2D commercial.
Have you considered Animation Mentor's online course? The animation style is (unfortunately?) very consistent in everything that comes out of there but the skills are there.
Reguardless of your diplomas, a portfolio won't be enough without a good demo. Whether you put that demo together on your own or following a class, it's strength is what will get you in as a junior, in any industry.
After you've answered your questions on where you want to head or who you'd like to work for, CALL THEM. Find someone you can correspond with (email/phone/facebook/whatever!) like an anim art director or a lead animator or even a senior animator. Don't take an HR's word for it and try to get the info from the right people too. Ask them what kind of profile they're looking for. Where are the best demos coming from? Any kind of plus considered, etc. Do your researching homework on that.
Working your ass off on a good demo also includes tailoring it to where you apply. Don't send ponys or anime to a studio that shovels war themed IPs. Also, I think traditional studios like Pascal Blais are still big on in-house anim tests.
As for the language issue, ask directly to the schools you've selected if it's not clear on their website. For work environment, I've had loads of english-only speaking co-workers and it didn't hamper their hiring. Most of the time, the team adapts to anglos but it's strongly recommended to get some basics down.
That said, Montreal is probably the perfect city to start learning french since most people are bilingual and provide you with a safety net. You won't learn as fast as with full immersion like in a french city but it'll save you some stress AND you'll have an incredibly cute accent to boot.