This past week I finished up my first semester in the animation program at California College of the Arts [and Crafts]. I had a great semester. I can’t express how fantastic the school is. It has a totally different culture and feel than any other school I have attended. The animation program is fairly new as it has only been around for about 3 or 4 years. It is still a small program, consisting of roughly 50 students. It has a very intimate feel. The biggest class I had was my Animation 1 class with about 18 students, while my smallest class was Designing for Shots with 8-10 people any given week. I met a lot of students in the department and became friends with a few people too. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming. It was a really great feeling to be welcomed into such a small community. I am looking forward to having more classes and learning with everyone I met!
The chair of the department, Andrew Lyndon, made me feel very welcome and definitely helped me out a lot my first semester. He is also is a fantastic teacher. He was my instructor for my Animation 1 class and he gave me a ton of amazing feedback and helped me push my work to a new level. Before starting the Animation department at CCA, Mr. Lyndon was involved with the training program at Pixar, Pixar University, and also did some production artwork for a few Pixar films. Mr. Lyndon has brought together an amazingly talented faculty at CCA. Among the great talent that teaches at CCA are Pixar animators Andrew Gordon, Bret Parker, Don Crum, Doug Sheppeck; Pixar Art Director Anthony Cristov; and Pixar Story Artist Josh Cooley.
Along with the incredible faculty, the facilities at CCA are pretty top notch. Most of the computer labs are running new Quad-Core Mac Pros. There is a homework lab/classroom that has 8 21-inch Cintiques. They also have a room with round 10 down-shooters for shooting hand-drawn animations and stop-motion projects. The one thing that the school is lacking are some nice traditional animation desks. They do have a few light-boxes, but nothing beats animating on an animation desk with a disc and scene stacker. I am planning on building on building a animation desk over the summer and hopefully getting a camcorder so I can set up a mini animation studio at home.
I entered CCA as a second-degree student and surprisingly, a ton of my units transferred over from my Art Institute degree. Overall, I have to take 46 units worth of classes, which means I can take 4 classes a semester over the course of 4 semesters. The only bad thing about having so many units transfer over is that I will not be able to take as many electives as I would have hoped to. Now that my first semester is over, I only have 3 left. I have a feeling that the last 3 semesters are going to go by super fast.
Even though I have a fairly substantial animation education, I decided to start off in the basic animation classes. I felt as though my ability as an animator was at a plateau and rather than jump right in with high level courses, I decided to start off with the basics in Animation 1. Along with Animation 1, I took Designing for Shots, History of Animation, and Intro to the Arts. Taking 4 classes was pretty challenging; I had a really big workload. There are some students that I have talked to that take 5 or 6 classes a semester. I have no idea how they can do that and still retain their sanity. I am really looking forward to next semester. I pre-registered for my classes for the fall. I will be taking Animation 2, Character Design, Body in Motion, and Intro to the Modern Arts.
All in all, I am extremely glad I switched over and decided to attend CCA. I had such a great experience in the first semester, I hope it continues to go as well in subsequent semester. I am looking forward to building friendships with my fellow students and teachers. I am planning to post some work that I have completed from my classes so you can get a taste of the work I have doing and what I have been up to for the past few months. Stay Tuned!