In my continued Googling for stuff about Animation Mentor (even though I’m already set to begin the first course this June), I found this interesting blog post: The Downfall of traditional education.

The blogger writes:

The UK animation industry is being taken over by Animation Mentor. I don’t have exact figures but I have the feeling that 3 out of 5 animation graduates hired in UK come from Animation Mentor. In few years, 50% of the animator in the industry will probably come from the online animation school.

Why is that?

Animation Mentor has been offering the industry, the exact kind of profile it was looking for. In 18 month, they create more job opportunities to graduates than what traditional education would provide in 4/5 years.

Of course, this mostly further excites me about doing Animation Mentor.

But I guess I also found this post interesting because of a very long and detailed discussion I’m having on Facebook about the college education system. I think I posted this opinion before, but I kinda wish most professions were taught like animation is taught at Animation Mentor: get working professionals to give personal attention to a group of students’ work, and stop teaching other stuff (general education requirements and required electives). Animation Mentor makes it quite clear that they don’t teach character rigging or special effects animation or lighting or rendering, etc. You get 1.5 years of just character animation. I think that’s awesome. (And from what I’ve heard, that’s what the big studios look for anyway: people who are great in just one area, not jacks-of-all-trades.) But I also think you could have an AM-like program for any of those other areas as well. You’re not working for grades or a degree, you’re working for a skill. You’ll never be a valedictorian, but you won’t care, because that never meant anything to you anyway.

That said, I haven’t even started Animation Mentor yet, so maybe I shouldn’t be talking.

I also thought the comments were interesting. One guy says:

at my university we’re told that after graduating we should go to AnimationMentor, Bournemouth or EscapeStudios.

Ha! “After graduating”? Why not… instead of graduating? (Really, if I’d known about Animation Mentor while I was still in college, I probably would’ve done my best to get my parents to let me drop out. (I still need their support!))

Another guy says:

My tutor told me to rate a short which had very limited animation technique but had a very anti Disney/Bluth agenda, and was thus seen as artistically superior over the Lion King and the Nightmare before Xmas(wow, I’m old!). I rated Disney last and I got the interview, which came to a real bad end when I was asked where I would like to be in a 5 years time. I said ‘well I would be happy if I was working for a big studio, working in commercials’….the interviewer pretty much convulsed and replied ‘Happy? Working for a big studio? You’re evidently not interested in making important artistic films. You’d be best having a rethink at the next university you interview at’.

This is why you have working professionals teaching. I think it tends to be hard to lure them into teaching positions (and some pros may not be very good at teaching anyway) because of the time and dedication it takes, maybe for not so much pay. But the Internet may help to change that. Having professors who are professors for a living teaching students who do not plan to be professors for a living just doesn’t seem quite right does it? (At George Mason, they did have some working professionals teach some of my night classes, and I think they were better, since they could impart some knowledge on what working in the industry is actually like. Unfortunately they were from professions I was not really interested in, like requirements analysis for military contractors.)

Anyway, I also find this academic artistic snobbery to be somewhat typical, annoying, and yet funny. I hear it in the music area a lot. You want to orchestrate like John Williams? Tonal melody stuff? Ugh! Write crappy atonal minimalist music like this instead! And then when we both stink at writing music, we can both be professors who compliment each other all the time! Good work! Fortunately it’s not like that everywhere, but it’s there. Mostly in the art categories. Writing, drawing, music, theater, etc. Professors who couldn’t make it professionally decide they have what it takes to teach.

Really: teaching should not be something you do because you can’t do anything else. Which is too often what it is. And I’m not sure adults should be doing it full-time anyway, at least not on the high school and college level. (Though a lot of college professors are also involved in research.)

OK, enough rambling about that.

I usually find that my deep interests in things last about 2 weeks, and then get taken over by something else, and may or may not come back. But with Animation Mentor looming on the horizon, I’m as excited as I’ve ever been about anything, and it hasn’t faded, so I’m really hoping that I my interest stays this high and that I do actually become good enough to animate professionally. Woohoo! Woooooo! Wooowaaaawoooowaaaaahh! Etc. etc.

Oh, someone I know also said that he concluded that Animation Mentor was a scam. A bias I can sort of understand, because most online schools are pretty scammish, and, as someone else pointed out, I’m not sure the name “Animation Mentor” sounds very prestigious.

But enough about me, what about you?


Scott · May 18, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Animation Mentor did sound like a scam to me when I first heard of it also, but I only went to their website and didn’t look elsewhere.

However, as I have been arguing in the discussion we’re having (which I won’t go into too much here, because I want to keep it where it is — though I have transferred it to Wave for later editing and will add your name to the list when it becomes clear that the conversation is finished), AM is essentially a trade school, and a specialty trade school at that. You went to a liberal arts college and the format and expectations are different, and I’m sure at least minimally expected when you are learning from AM. Single-minded education doesn’t work, but there is always something good to be said about focused education. That’s all I’ll say for now.

S P Hannifin · May 18, 2010 at 5:31 PM

If there were such trade schools for more professions (instead of just low-end ones like refrigerator repair), I think Liberal Arts colleges would die pretty quickly.

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