It's overall a pleasant experience with classmates, professors, torture of the crafts, and animation boot camp. You come out feeling like a survivor with survival buddies. XD
It's not for everyone, you do have to do a lot of self-learning with professors' help, but all the tools and information are there, you just need to be pro-active. You will get alot more.
Professors will give you the fundamentals, which is important, but that's only half of the learning, the other half you need to dig for it.
If you really like it, and push it for yourself, make friends with classmates and learn from them is highly recommended from me, and you can learn quite a lot.
Overall the school provides a safe, but uneasy environment for you to learn the craft intensively for 4 years, you won't get that once you enter into job force.
SVA has pretty impressive HD school theaters for your thesis, but make sure you do EXTRA well on your thesis because all your mistakes are magnified on the big screen night.
I did go from flash animation to full traditional animation because of SVA, it's a class change for me animation wise.
Post-SVA I find it a lot easier to self-learn animation than before.
Some of your own problems you are not able to solve for months can be solved in 5 mins with a professor's help. (So be extra friendly to professors lol)
SVA 2D animation department now have a strong focus on drawing skill, human anatomy, animal drawing class, and some disney animation style, indy animation courses offered. You have 1 year for thesis for 2D animation, 2 years for 3D animation. (Because 3D is... more complex in workflow)
SVA 2D animation department actually does not support anime style. They do however, support Disney, indy styles. Same goes for most art schools in america.
Be prepared to diverse yourself if you only have been doing anime so far. It's better for the long run.
With cartooning and comic department being the only exception that encourages manga style.
3D animation major doesn't care if you do anime or not, as long as it's good.
Go for professors who will push you to do better if you know you like to procrastinate.
Go for professors who are more relaxed if you know you are disciplined.
(Ask around for professors reputation is also recommended)
I made a few professor friends who will still extend help to me when I ask.
Even the staff who works at our "cage" (studio manager) now still helps me when I need info, he runs a film fest now. XD
School help: SVA provide post-graduation job hunting help. I haven't needed to use it much, it's there if you want it. Some people found me for jobs because of SVA website for job listing and talent listing.
Job wise, it's not as good on the east coast compare to west coast where all the big studios and venture capitals are. But we mostly get by doing freelancing and some studio work if we picked up any. Don't expect big money. 60 dollar/hour rate is unusual in East coast, it's usually 15-30/hour.
My advise: (from my profs, and myself)
-Go to a college in a city where you want to work at. (or close to) If you don't plan to stay around, I think it's best you pick a college nearer to you and self-learn the rest online.
-Don't go into a major simply because it's the hot major, or a major of your dreams, go into some major that associate with what you are ALREADY DOING WELL right now.
Because I have seen it over and over again, people end up where they are most comfortable with their skills. You are likely to work as a character designer if you have been designing characters for the past 18 years before you enter college. You are also more likely to be a comic artist/illustrator if you have been studying it for the past 10 years before you enter college. College is only 4 years. 4 Years is alot less than 10-18 years of work you put in for yourself. Any skill you add on during college is usually an ADDITIONAL skill to your current set.
Unless this additional skill is something that can GO WITH your current skill set, I advise not to invest in it.
If the skill is something you are SURE you will use, then go for it. (Like 3D animation skill go with game design, 2D animation skill go with game illustration etc)
Should you consider animation major:
If you have been drawing hundreds of pages of sketches and doing art like it's normal, you probably can handle 2D animation. If you haven't drawn that much, it will be a grind for you, be prepared. Because animation is thousands of drawings in a year, hundreds in a few months, dozens in two weeks, and for the first year it's all on paper, imagine carrying that bulk of tree trunk with you going around the city. XD
Animation art is masochistic.
Don't burn bridges in school:
Don't stick to your own ways, you enter school to learn other's ways to better yourself.
Be friendly to professors and classmates always, these friendships and your reputations GOES WAY LONGER beyond school into workplace.
You will not find a job in the local area if you get a bad rep and get black listed from everyone.
Animation industry is a people based industry, relationship, networking is half of the game, be good and support your hard working classmates if you want support in the future.
Don't fret about finding jobs during school, but look around:
During school there's usually a heated concern, and make it a BIG DEAL about job hunt in the studios before graduation.
In my experience, don't fret about it. A job is a job, it's never the same as hobby.
Whether it be in animation industry or making your own freelance life at home. The point is it makes money so you can use it.
Be a consistent worker, you will learn to pace yourself faster than those who don't.
Learn the craft well, build relationships, do what you enjoy and make it a good experience.
Post graduation first year is a bit tougher, but once you survive that, you will find your pace.
Everyone does so far, even though not everyone end up in industry biz, the network is still there.
Try not to be free intern for too long:
Depends on the studio rep.... some professors advise not to be "free intern" AT ALL. ( I support that myself)
But around east coast you might have to "free intern" a bit for the studios to get to know you if you want a studio job.
My take is don't free intern for too long.... unless you can afford it. Free internship doesn't grant a job, you being good at your skill, and being friendly grants it.
If you decided to do free internships, try to make the best out of it, 1 year investment is typical in NYC.
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No request, no art trade. sorry too busy.