Friday, May 4, 2007

Thoughts on Sheridan Animation's Disappointing Industry Day


I'm the author of this article, which was previously published on a different blog. I expected readership to be light, with a naysayer here or there, and for that to be the end of the matter. However, after unexpectedly recieving some two thousand visits in a few short days and being swamped with feedback; some affirmative, some furious, I made an executive decision to temporarily suspend the original site and create another that'll allow me and others to give this subject the attention I think it deserves. Obviously this assessment is not what some people wanted to see; but judging from the number of 'right on!'s I recieved, I can only guess I struck a nerve.

Reproduced below is the entirety of the original article, as well as the text of many of the replies I recieved, positive and negative. Should the discussion continue into this it's new home, I'll do my best to answer some of the questions and objections initially raised and provide a forum for the issue to be further threshed out. Without further ado...



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I was asked to be one of the representatives of my studio at Sheridan College's Animation Program 'Industry Day'. It was to be a landmark event, since it was also to include final-project screenings of some 68 graduates of Sheridan's new "Bachelors of Animation Arts" degree program. A four-year animation program that - surprise - comes with a bachelor's degree; a rarity in Canada.

Prior to the Bachelor's screening, we sat through roughly 40 other student shorts from graduates of various one-year computer animation, and character animation programs from Sheridan. The results of the one-year programs were mixed, more on that later. However, I expected the outcomes of the four-year program to quantifiably exceed the output of the one-year classes. After all, these students had invested four years of their life and countless thousands of dollars in order to get that elusive BAA. Besides, four years in an average production environment is enough to get most any animator with a hint of talent ready to start entering the big-leagues of the industry. So at the very least, four years of intensive education would be expected to produce passable entry-level talent. Right?

Wrong.

Very, very wrong.

I sat in a daze as the program's administrators ran short after short in an agonizing, head-splitting, intermission-less three hours, as nearly 70 student films unspooled one after another. What I saw upset me, then confused me. I had been sent to keep an eye out for potential talent for the tv series I was working on. I was looking for animation basics. Acting basics. Any basics. And I kept looking in vain for them as short after short played out. Rather than the basics, what we got were orgies of runaway production design, the odd cubist abstraction, a whole lot of half-finished shorts filled with unintelligibly scrawled pencil tests, the occasional bit of incomprehensible 'something or other', and a lot of stuff that was just plain sloppy.

Four years. Tens of thousands of dollars per student. Sixty-eight students and shorts, and three hours of footage.

And I spotted one CG animator worth hiring to work on a TV show.

His short was the antithesis of all the others in every respect. Plainly designed, simply lit. One character interacting with others in an empty room. It was the most competent of the bunch, and also drew the most laughs. He also seemed to be flying in the face of everything his instructors taught him.

Let me clarify; there were only a handful of CG artists in the class of 68, so the pickings were already slim from my perspective.

Yet with only one exception, the four-year program produced CG work that was identical, and on average, even worse than the students that went through the one-year programs.

Even sadder, the one true standout reel was from a student in the one-year program who already had some prior work experience, and had come to Canada to get formal training. I introduced myself to him after the morning-screenings of one-year program graduates, and congratulated him on a job well done. That was, after the salivating crowd of recruiters from rival studios had dispersed.

Of the forty-some graduates of the one-year programs, I made notes such as 'passable' on a total of eight of their reels. A total of twenty percent of their one-year graduates were potentially employable. These were not standouts who had produced terriffic student work; these were merely the ones with potential.

Twenty percent. Somehow I doubt those numbers are being advertised in Sheridan's Animation Program literature.

Saddest of all was the wierd and somewhat shameful lunch-time display that took place after the morning screenings. We were herded to lunch in the classrooms where all the eager students whose work we'd just seen were standing at their computers, showing off their reels to any interested industry person who might wish to chat them up, or even hit them with the holy grail; a business card and a nod and smile. The desparation was thick; it was hard to chat with the students without them barely concealing their pleading hopefulness and blurting out "So are you guys hiring? Got a business card? Think I got a chance?"

This in itself is no big deal. Students are understandably nervous when dealing with prospective employers. But what turned this from a rite of passage into a tragedy, was that the school had not done its job. Maybe out of fear of stifling a students 'creative vision' or whatnot, these kids had simply recieved no guidance to making a sellable reel. The tragedy was that most of those eager, desperate, and now very-indebted young people were now seriously unemployable, and the school had done nothing to reign them in. Or whatever it was; it was obviously not enough since it produced failure so consistently and systemically among young artists with obvious potential.

As expected, the handful of students out of the forty that had produced passable work were drawing crowds. Others looked sullen and miserable, avoiding eye contact that they knew would be hastily broken, unable to get an audience for their thousands of dollars and months of labor. Naturally not everyone is going to succeed in a program like this. Art is hard. Computers are hard. Together, they're extremely hard. But when you have a 20% success rate in your one-year programs, and considerably less in your longer programs, there's something deeply, pathologically wrong going on there.

My advice to art students seeking an animation career: Skip Sheridan for the time being, or until they get their act together. Save your thousands of dollars, skip the BA, and do distance learning through Animation Mentor instead. (www.animationmentor.com) In the past few months, my studio's been hiring AM students based on the strength of unrendered animation exercises they've completed. These are literally students who haven't even started their final projects yet. But AM is strict, no-nonsense, and teaching the fundamentals. Sheridan it would appear, is not. Perhaps it's Sheridan's recent push toward 'academic' animation, and the initiation of the Bachelor's program, that ensures only those with master's degrees can teach animation. Away from the skills, into the beauraucracy. Away from concrete accomplishment, into the useless company of educational beauracrats on the state dole. Teachers with art degrees who can't hold industry jobs are training Sheridan's next generation. And to see Sheridan's student output, the resemblance between student and master is indeed uncanny.

Do you know how many of the best industry animators have masters degrees in animation? I would doubt if the number approached two percent.

Animation Mentor has wisely decided to circumvent educational beauracracies. Degree or no degree, only the world's best working industry artists can teach. Period. The 'student showcase' videos on their website are extraordinary, and the company proudly displays them front and center. Just try and find student work on Sheridan's website. And what's there isn't much to write home about.

Overall, a very disappointing day, but hopefully the word will get out, and spare the world a few more starving artists.


* * *

These are some of the responses that followed.

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Hey, Here are some professionals that seem to disagree with you. Check out the link.
http://mayersononanimation.blogspot.com/2007/04/good-luck-sheridan-grads.html

By the way what company were you representing, maybe we bumpted into eachother?

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Hi Tony, I saw that link and see what you mean, but didn't really see any disagreement re: my main points.


I completely agree there was some very interesting filmmaking and design work and conceptual stuff going on; but I was looking for solid CG character animators, not necessarily the next David Fincher. From a character animation perspective, the work just wasn't there. It's fine that they want to teach a strong emphasis on visual storytelling and design, but to trot out a cliche, I saw many 'artists', and few craftsmen.



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Hi Tony,

I didn't see anyone who was an animator on the link you provided. Two of the comments were from prof's at sheridan, so I take their responses with a grain of salt. I understand that the school is pushing story, but is Sheridan forgetting about character animation?


* * *



thanks for the post which I stumbled upon through animationation....well
you nailed it with these few paragraphs....I can say that because I was there few years ago talking to different guys back then! it was like that back in the late 90s and from what I gather it got even worse nowdays...so true about the teachers in their perpetual pathetic state.

In my year 150 of us started out, down to 75 half way through, in the last graduating year it was only 50 of the original 150...than at the industry screening only 25 were industry ready - with potential and reels/portfolios not to be ashamed about...no kidding! Sheridan is less about animation and more about sucking the cash out of the students. It was good if you really know how to use it in your favour. You wont make a lot of friends along the way thought.


cheers,


a working pro

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On a ratio basis, I would say that Animation Mentor creates roughly the same percentage of hirable students as any other program, Sheirdan included. A 20% hireable ratio for a program is fairly consistent with results I've seen from VFS, Ringling, AASF's Pixar class, AM and others. Where AM is beating Sheridan is the number of students. They have hundreds to Sheridan's 40 or 70. The gross number of hireable's with AM experience is indeed higher than Sheridan, but on a ratio basis I think it's about the same. AM does put their student reels front and center- but only the good ones. There's a lot of chaff in that wheatfield as well- just like every other.


* * *

Extremely enlightening. What you say about 'acedemic animation' is absolutely correct. I'm currently in the animation proram now and yes MANY of the teachers are unprepared, unqualified, and the structure of the curriculum itself is almost embarrasing. Sheridan has indeed in the past produce some great people, but most of them were from about 20 years ago when it was a pre-BA program (in its prime).

I do have to point out, however, that the people that are in the 1yr computer animation programs are generally COMMING from other animation programs such as the 4 year one, so it's not surprising that their work atleast be the same if not better.

* * *

as a potential graduate with one year and a summer left what do you recommend? How can a student come outta this frying pan he or she is already in with out gettin tossed into the fire? This is a serious question that I hope you will answer. I will look out for a comment. In the meantime thank you for your time and honest views and bone chillingly realistic views.


* * *

You have an obvious issue with the Sheridan money-grab. Understandable.

On the other hand, I am one of many Sheridan students who are proud of what they've accomplished. So, on behalf of Sheridan Animation Class of 2007:

You're ignorant. You can't even disclose your identity because "Sheridan's network of influence runs pretty wide." Well, that's right. And don't forget it. It must take some kind of coward to blast Sheridan Animation and then conceal your identity because.. oh.. you may need some Sheridan students to work for you one day. Coward. Hypocrit.


* * *

That's a sad story - But to be honest, as an industry pro who also teaches part-time, I can totally relate to the reaction.

IMHO, the quality often comes from students with the right eye and feel for Animation to begin with, or those with the right passion. I never judge a school by its student examples - Its often not a full reflection on the schools teachings, its the creative talent of those individuals...

With that mindset, some schools will actually pick the talent and avoid anybody that doesn't look like they'll be any good - It raises the profile of the school, and the outcomes are often higher level.

* * *

I suggested the writer submit this piece to encourage students to weigh their options. I believe Sheridan is misleading people and taking years of their life and a lot of their money. I think he has something of a moral obligation to put his thoughts on the table. If you don't like those thoughts, well, don't worry, this probably hasn't done much to drop Sheridan's numbers.

* * *

I have something to say to the person that blasted the author,

"So, on behalf of Sheridan Animation Class of 2007:

You're ignorant."

No, Mr. Anonymous, you're ignorant. I also went to Sheridan and I've worked in animation for years before coming here. And then in live action years before that. The curriculum here is a total joke. Of course, at 24, you're invincible. A few LONG years on the unemployment line should sober you up.

'You can't even disclose your identity because "Sheridan's network of influence runs pretty wide." Well, that's right.'

And how long have you worked in animation again, moron?

"You may need some Sheridan students to work for you one day. Coward. Hypocrit."

Some authority from a person who can't even spell. It's spelled hypocrite. It's also worth pointing out that all the BEST Sheridan grads, for the most part, dropped out. Get a clue, you testosterone-filled, greenhorned dip.

Sorry to be so cruel, but this guy's right. You don't have any experience; you're talking out of your ass because you're afraid that worthless degree you spent $40 000 on will net you NO JOB, notably because most of you in fourth year SUCK. I've seen most of your stuff, there's a reason most of you weren't hired, nor will be, unless you get your act together.


* * *

Admittedly, there have been a number of organizational issues in the program, but I would encourage a little empathy for students who despite these challenges came out with a positive outlook on their work. It's simple to tear something apart, but you really don't have the personal experience of the students. I have an idea for everyone... email Sheridan students and find out who they had interviews with and who already have job offers.. because when most of the 2007 year has jobs by summers end, this thread is going to seem really stupid :-} There are a number of Sheridan blogs I'm sure you're well aware of. Go find out from the students themselves. Or is that a little too close to the facts?

* * *

Sadly from what I've seen online; alumni and professionals are echoing my comments. The vitriol seems to be coming entirely from students willing to blast me for remaining anonymous, while staying so themselves.

And for the record, I've hired sheridan students. ;)

This article was never intended to be a slight against the students or a belittlement of their work. I know they busted their asses, slept under their desks, risked their health and relationships and generally made slaves of themselves to finish the program and complete their film. After graduating from my school, (not sheridan) I labored for years in unemployable obscurity because my reel was unfocused. That was my fault; my instructors tried to reign me in, but obviously didn't go far enough. It was a 'filmmakers' reel rather than an animation reel. It was full of 'big filmmaking' and ostentatious design, and no usable character animation. It took me many tries, some seventy applications, and many stabs at reels and animation tests before I 'made it', and honed my skills to a hireable level. At no point was my wildly unfocused reel looked at in progress, and I told "You have time to do some good work, but this reel as it's progressing will almost certainly not get you a job." I wish they had. Believe me, this is a path I've been down myself.

I take absolutely no issue with the efforts of the students. But when you're a student, you have not developed the critical faculties necessary to objectively judge your own work. That's not a slight; that's the simple reality of being a beginner in any vocation.

This is a difficult reality. What makes it unfortunate is that some schools will be willing to exploit it. Animation, and computer animation in particular, possess two factors that make them ripe for deliberate or accidental exploitation. The fact that:

A) It looks really cool and is a highly desireable career, particularly for the young or creatively minded.

B) (and this is the big one) It's an extremely complex process/skill set that is very poorly understood by outsiders or new people. As a result, they have virtually no way of knowing if they're getting an acceptable education or not. Thus, four years of education can be finished in the blink of an eye, and the student can have virtually no idea if they're useful to a studio or not.

This means that schools eager for attendance have a tendency to promise the moon, and every student regardless of output, is made confident that they'll find something somewhere. How can they be expected to know any better?

To the gentleman who suggested it was just a matter of ratios between Sheridan and a place like AM; it very well may be. I don't know how many total students AM cranks out. But I have seen the work of plenty of sheridan third-year exercises, and there's been no comparison between that and the AM hires we've picked up after being in the program twelve months. That's the only yardstick I have available, so that's how I'm guaging.

______________________________
Anonymous said...
as a potential graduate with one year and a summer left what do you recommend? How can a student come outta this frying pan he or she is already in with out gettin tossed into the fire? This is a serious question that I hope you will answer. I will look out for a comment. In the meantime thank you for your time and honest views and bone chillingly realistic views.
______________________________

This is an important question, and I will answer it in more detail shortly.


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Cooked Art said...

Hey,

As a response to the AnimationMentor.com appraisal, not to mention the comments of a lack of usable character animators at Sheridan, you may be right that there are less animation-focused individuals at the school, particularly that you could use in a 3D production. However, AnimationMentor.com focuses only on teaching 3D animation for the entir eduration of its class (which in my mind is why it seems like they're teaching more in less time), whereas Sheridan teaches life drawing, animation, character design, storyboarding, 3D, layout, and painting. Why? Some argue that it's good to be versatile in this industry. Others argue that it's good to be focused and have a focused reel that shows you are good at only one thing (No one wants a jack of all trades and a master of none). I do, however, think that Sheridan has made a situation where people, if they have chose focuses, are elsewhere besides full blown character animation, and while that makes them less employable for your situation, may not be the case with other studios.

I think more than anything it will be tell-tale to see how much of this graduating class is indeed hired. If it is a majority, then it is clear that Sheridan is creating employable, industry ready artists. If it is not the majority, then the curriculum needs to be questioned. I for one, think it will be the former, but that has yet to be seen.


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Anonymous said...

Why so bitter? Think back to when you were a student. Back to when you were glittery eyed and optimistic, before the industry ground you up, spit you out and mad you believe your own neurosis. Where is all this anger coming from? We have all the time in the world to get beat down by negative people like you, why start so soon? you say you want jump cycles, and wait lift exercises like they do at “AM” well then hire from there and don’t put defenseless students down. We took risks and expressed our self’s. I guess what I’m trying to say is art isn’t something tangible no matter how much you want to package and sell it. After 4 years a lot of us wanted to try this medium out for what its worth. In the end we got what we got learned a lot, and the mistakes we made because of experimentation; don’t you worry we will not make again. So while your hiring more sheep for the grind house, we’ll be making more mistakes, and trying out more ridicules ideas. then one day when you’ll be scratching your head about where that revolutionary new film came from check the credits for all those poor animators you thought to belittle while hiding behind a computer screen.

My good friend told me “there just cartoons” so why get so mean spirited about such a positive medium?

Yours sincerely
I’m not telling these people are cruel.


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Cooked Art said...

As an addendum to my other comment -

As a student going into my fourth year at Sheridan, do I think that I've been gypped of my money and could have gotten better education somewhere else? I'll never really know as it stands now.

Do I think I've become a better -artist and filmmaker- in my years here? Unquestionably. And that, to me, is what it boils down to.

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Anonymous said...

I'm responding to Mr. Cook in regards to his confidence of him getting a job after Sheridan. I went to your site and looked at your work.

As it stands, you have extremely strong life drawings, but that's not what they want to see in the industry. Your character design is way too illustrative and too frou-frou to be animated in both CG and traditional animation. Say what you want Mr. Cook, but in my opinion you have wasted time in Sheridan doing (excuse the expression) "artsy fartsy" garbage. What the industry wants to see is some, SOLID ANIMATION with GOOD BASICS and ACTUAL ACTING.

If you say, you can do all that, you're certainly not demostrating your capabilities at all. Your art blog is just filled with life drawing and Edward Gorey/Robin Joseph knock-off character designs. You've barely started to walk but you're so confident that you try running. I suggest you start at the beginning and learn the basics like structure, shapes, clarity and contrast, not stylish garbage you currently post so much.

Here's a couple of colleagues' site. They're hirable because they can adapt their style to each respective productions and studios that they work for as well as solid stuff:

Johane Matte
http://rufftoon.deviantart.com

Tealin
http://www.nocturnalsoldier.org/Tealin/xhp/disc/index.html

Amy Mebberson
http://amymebberson.blogspot.com/

Hopefully, you will not froth in the mouth in anger and curse me because "i don't understand your art". Good day Mister Cook.


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Anonymous said...

I have just read your blog entry and your replies to the comments. I must say as a Sheridan graduate I am very upset by what you said.

It isn't that I can't handle the truth that the Sheridan animation program is now substandard to what it used to be, I can see that. As a member of the first BAA animation class, I lived through 4 years of watching the course change into something very different than what it used to be. There were changes made to add the never before offered 3D courses, breadth electives were added so that the course could be considered degree worthy and the whole curriculum had to be rearranged to fit into 4 years, not 3. This resulted in our year being guinea pigs at every turn. We were the ones who had to find out what did and didn't work. And even for the things that did work, there will be much improvement in the years to come that we will not benefit from. A great example of this is the 3 years films. This year's film where highly superior to ours (in my opinion). But that has less to do with the student's skill and more to do with the new found knowledge of what worked and didn't work with our year.
As well, the amount of problems we had to deal with left many of us feeling like we were being cheated of the animation education we were promised. However, these problems had nothing to do with the students, nor the teachers in many cases. We have a very very rough start with 3D animation, which resulted in many of us not even understanding Maya until the end of our 2nd year. 3rd year we worked on films and were told that we probably shouldn't attempt to make them in 3D, so that’s another year of not using Maya. As for this year, anyone who made a film in 3D I feel I can safely say used their spare time to teach Maya to themselves. I won't get into the details as to why the 3D program for our year went so poorly, but it definitely wasn't the students' fault.
As for the teachers, I think it is terrible to bad mouth them. Since the very beginning of our 4 years here they have been fighting madly to try to keep this program looking anything like an animation course. Their fight has been long and thankless as administration tries to cut corners whenever possible. It was made very clear in our first year that administration did not understand animation at all and only wanted a 'good looking' program. I could write a very long list of all the crap that the school has tried to pull on our program, but I think it can be nicely summed up by looking at the new animation wing. The school paid a huge amount of money to make this new wing yet ignored every single suggestion the animation staff made for how to make it something animation students needed. Instead they decided to make it look nice (which it doesn't anyway). So I am personally very grateful for the teachers of the animation program. They are all industry trained, they are all professional and they have all been fighting very hard against the Sheridan administration to give us the education we have been paying for. So it is unfair to pile our lack of animation knowledge on them when the school has made it so difficult for them to do their job (eg. In third year the school only allowed for 3 hours of classical animation training a week).
As a result of all of this, this isn't the fault of the students or teachers, but the school. And your blog entry fails to acknowledge this in anyway. Instead your writing implies that it is our fault, which is offensive, considering all we've been through, and all you obviously don't understand. You made it seem like it was pulling teeth sitting though our work, and then you make us all sound like desperate retards standing around just knowing how unemployable we are. You imply that there was only one good film with any knowledge of animation from our entire year, which just isn't true. You also don't seem to recognize that there are some of us who are not interested in some aspects of filmmaking. Some of us want to be layout artists, so that's what we focused on in our films. Some of us want to be 3D modelers, so we didn't focus on the story or animation. It is also important to mention at this time that throughout our 4 years we were discouraged from focusing on the few subjects we really liked. Instead it was always suggested (even by the industry reps who came throughout the years) that it was better to know a lot of different things and that that was what would get us hired. It was only this last year were we had the freedom to focus on what we loved. As a result, it probably appeared as if we didn't know enough about everything, and we were not skilled enough in the area of our preferred focus.
You then proceed to reply to the comments made by saying

"This article was never intended to be a slight against the students or a belittlement of their work. I know they busted their asses, slept under their desks, risked their health and relationships and generally made slaves of themselves to finish the program and complete their film."

This is CLEARLY not what you expressed in your original entry. I agree with most of the things you said in this reply, but not with the angry, offensive things you said in your first post. As one of the 4th year students, I felt attacked and criticized for something I know I didn't have a lot of control over. If your concern is with how Sheridan college is now digging into the pockets of the students and not providing the education the school is known for, then that's what you should have focused on in your entry, not how miserable the students were. I'm not sure how you can write what you did and not think it could possibly come across as a slap in the students' faces who slept under our desks and risked health problems to get the apparent garbage finished that we did.
If you really felt you had to write this, then at least recognize that you don't really understand all the ups and downs we have gone through in this very experimental year. Your opinion seems to be based on nothing more than one day you spent here. Maybe what you should have done (that would have been much less offensive) is asked the students what they felt about the education they got over our 4 years, not just dig into houw bad our films where.

* * *


Just a word...I feel Mr. Cook has been extremely respectful to people on his site. He posted this piece with little comment and much politeness even though it's evident that he disagrees. I want to make it known that I really respect that and wish him and all his fellow students great success in the future. So if peoples work is going to be critiqued via the comments here, lets keep a friendly tone.


On another note, to the recent-grad who just posted: the writer and I had a long, heart wrenching talk when he came home from industry day last week. Like I said before, I was the one who encouraged him to write this, precisely because he saw that many of the Sheridan grads were obviously talented, hardworking people!


That's why it's troubling when they have yet to develop the skills that would make them hire-able. This is very much a critique of whats going on in the school, not of your own abilities and talents. The message he is trying to send is that whatever may be going on at Sheridan, it is not fair to the students. By your own admission, the school's management was happily pushing students through a highly problematic, underdeveloped, untested curriculum that seems to have been brought into existence so the school can advertise that they offer 'degrees' in their brochures as quickly as possible. In whose interest was this? This is in no way the fault of the student body. Nobody should pay 40 thousand dollars to be any educational administration's guinea pig. What happened to you guys sounds fairly heinous. I suggest you read the article again with less emotion.

* * *


Rob Bursey said...

An article tlike this would certainly be hard to write. I personally feel that yes, we are missing out on alot of animation instruction. the teachers are trying but the course really isnt giving them alot of room to really instruct. a previous poster commented to say that we receive only three hours of instruction a week. divide that three hours by the number of students per class and wow, mere minutes of training. I dont blame the teachers for this.

And if we want to improve then really the onus is on us.

Did this article make me feel good? No. Did i take it personally though? also no.

I see it as a bucket of cold water to wake me up and try to get my act together for next year. as a "mature" student I suppose its even more important to me to improve.

It took guts to write this, and while i may not agree with everything said here, (comments and original post) IMHO the school is just a building with people doing the best they can, the place wont make us better, that leg (or pencil) work is left up to us.

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For the Good of Sheridan said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

This is the best critical article I've seen online about the school.

I'm currently in the animation program now. Now before you say, "Hey, why is this guy bashing his own school/program."??

I'm not. WAKE UP PEOPLE. This is the kind of stuff we need for our school to IMPROVE.

It's not negative criticism, its CONSTRUCTIVE. I find it amusing that so many teachers say you have to be honest about your artwork, it hurts but it will make you better in the end. Well? Whats this then, it's constructive criticism.

It's time for Sheridan to snap out of the illusion that they are one of the best schools for animation. Sheridan has become complacent, I can feel it. I can see it.

Don't take this as an insult my fellow classmates. Before you put up the defence shield, think - maybe there really is something to what this guy has to say.

I for one agree. Sheridan needs to get some GOOD teachers, PASSIONATE teachers, teachers that are friends and mentors, not instructors that simply deal out marks.

I also have to say that Sheridan has diluted its program with too many students. Too many students in this program don't belong here and are simply dragging others down.

Look at our third year films - they were disasters. The creators themselves were afraid to watch them during the screening.

I think this was a great thing for the school. We need to work at it. Don't just take it as an insult.








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29 comments:

clifford chiu said...

it's annoying how some people speak for their entire year. i know i was not the only one who was proud of what i did in my third year. and no, i wasn't ashamed to be at the screening. most of the films turned out well, and let a lot of us learn a lot during the year--which was the objective. having a great film at the end was purely a bonus. just because it's a bad film doesn't mean we didn't learn. and just because it's a good film doesn't mean we DID learn.

cliff

Mitch K said...

I'm in Sheridan's Animation program, and I'm not at all satisfied with it. (in fact, I'm leaving it). Sure, lots of people worked hard to make their films -- not having a strong film really isn't their fault (it's the school's). Despite, I liked some of the films, but you had to sit through a lot of eye-sores to see the gems.

It's hard to make an animated film. Live action films are just as hard to make as animated films, and documentaries are even more difficult than either. But when you look at the Media Arts program at Sheridan, you can see that their films are so much stronger than the films from the animation program -- in every aspect! In the Animation program you get two shots to make a film whereas in the Media Arts program you make two films a year, or maybe more. The Media Arts students always seem to have an amazing grasp on their tools and techniques, which can't be said about all of the Animation students.

Sheridan's animation program doesn't teach you how to be a filmmaker in the least. It doesn't even teach you how to make a funny cartoon. Any worth while grad has taught themselves, no doubt.

Thanks for the article. I don't feel so alone now.

Cooked Art said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cooked Art said...

To respond to the response directed at myself,

Firstly, I don't recall ever having claimed myself confident of getting a job after Sheridan. My post claimed that Sheridan teaches a broader range of disciplines than
AnimationMentor, and that I feel that I have become a better artist and filmmaker through my time at Sheridan. I do not say that 'i feel I am confident in getting a job with the skills I have gained.'

Because of this, I feel much of your response to be a little hasty and misdirected. More importantly, I don't think your response really has much to do with the discussion at hand.

Secondly, I don't believe I ever claimed to want to become a character animator, 2D or 3D, after I graduate from Sheridan. I agree that if I was applying to be a character animator then I should be displaying good acting and solid animation as you supposed. However, I have not made a claim as to what
profession I have aspired to follow under within the realm of animation. Moreover, do you really think that 'what the industry
wants' - as you put it, is solely character animation with 'solid animation, good basics, and actual acting"? What about the storyboard artists, layout artists, visdev artists, character designers, background painters, riggers, lighters, modellers, sound designers, musicians, and the rest of the cornucopia of potential jobs in the animation industry (that consequently make up a greater percentage of the jobs than just animation). I agree that a studio that is hiring for animators would want to see what you described. But a studio looking for storyboard artists would care more about the quality of the story. A studio looking for a visdev artist would be looking for style and artistic vision. I think it's strange to make sweeping claims about 'the industry' when every studio would have it's own individual wants and needs at any given point in time.

Thirdly, my art blog is not filled with dimensional, structural characters. Nor is it filled with character animation. Nor is it filled with any device with which I seek to get hired with, per se. In fact, I never really started my blog as a showcase of my work and as a portfolio, just a place to put sketches and news that I've done and picked up. Not everything I do is done in mind of getting hired after I graduate, so I think judging me based on casual artwork that I post on my blog daily is a tad harsh. Why do I post, then? Because its what I currently enjoy
doing. Will I eventually go towards a more structural style? Likely yes. But for now I'm having fun with this particular style, which will no doubt give birth to the something completely different still. I'm a student, I'm learning, I'm exploring. And no, not everything I think should be serious work that must look a certain way or else I won't get hired.

Fourthly, Robin Joseph is a good friend. I helped him on his film. I don't particularly think I'm ripping him off (nor do I think I'm ripping off Gorey - an artist that I don't particularly like). But if you have to raise the argument of production design, check out Nicolas Marlet, Lou Romano, Peter De Seve, Carter Goodrich, and Craig Kellman all design for the best productions in the world in a style that is not directly animatable, but are considered some of most sought after character designers today. Their design, in my opinion, is fresh, but definitely more illustrative. Is this a problem? No. At Pixar, they'd take Teddy Newton's and Lou Romano's designs and send them to Tony Fucile to do a final production design for rotations. I feel strongly that the first line of design should not be how the final production model sheet looks - a designer should be free of the shackles of structure, volume, and form if the result is a stronger sense of who the character is.

You post your colleagues sites for me to peruse. I definitely attest to their ability to draw. However, I don't see any magical or mystical element in their drawings that I myself could not achieve now, or with a little bit of work in the same direction that they are heading. Above all, however, is the fact that these are professionals - do you really mean to compare professional artwork to people who are still in school, and use that as a basis for their lack of skill? Why not show the work of Glen Keane and tell everyone in the animation industry to be humble until you reach that level? Also, looking at some of these colleagues C.V.'s it's clear that these people worked for several productions (some back in 1998). If a person was working at a studio in 1998, that would give them more than 10 years extra experience than I currently possess, not to mention that they no doubt took animation school before this. I'm only 20, turning 21. So again, I think the comparison is a little bit of a perplexing one. I know there are people better than me. But there always will be. If I spend a year trying to draw exactly like these people, will that make me more hirable? Doubtful, in my opinion.

Another point that I feel I have to raise is I feel you're being a tad hasty considering the fact that I haven't even made my final film yet. The year described above was the year above me. Don't you think you should see how my film turns out and my final graduating portfolio before you claim that my abilities, en masse, are garbage?

Anyways, if you would like to respond to any of this, feel free to email me at cookedart@gmail.com . You responded anonymously so I couldn't reply back to you directly, else I would have and not done it in this discussion forum.

Skye said...

Not to play the Devil's advocate, Alan, but in your original post, you did say explicitly you felt confident in your class receiving a job, though the post isn't there now -- perhaps it was deleted by the moderator. But I saw it as well; it was among the first responses that I could see.

I'll definitely be the first to admit there's lots of vitriol to go around here, though to be fair, you do sometimes talk in a tone that could be construed as "know-it-all", even if it wasn't necessarily your intent.

Cooked Art said...

My original post is featured in this post as well as the Nick and Nora's blog, (http://nick-and-nora.blogspot.com/2007/04/thoughts-on-sheridan-animations-hugely.html) which reads:

"As a response to the AnimationMentor.com appraisal, not to mention the comments of a lack of usable character animators at Sheridan, you may be right that there are less animation-focused individuals at the school, particularly that you could use in a 3D production. However, AnimationMentor.com focuses only on teaching 3D animation for the entir eduration of its class (which in my mind is why it seems like they're teaching more in less time), whereas Sheridan teaches life drawing, animation, character design, storyboarding, 3D, layout, and painting. Why? Some argue that it's good to be versatile in this industry. Others argue that it's good to be focused and have a focused reel that shows you are good at only one thing (No one wants a jack of all trades and a master of none). I do, however, think that Sheridan has made a situation where people, if they have chose focuses, are elsewhere besides full blown character animation, and while that makes them less employable for your situation, may not be the case with other studios.

I think more than anything it will be tell-tale to see how much of this graduating class is indeed hired. If it is a majority, then it is clear that Sheridan is creating employable, industry ready artists. If it is not the majority, then the curriculum needs to be questioned. I for one, think it will be the former, but that has yet to be seen."

If anything, this comment says that I feel confident that the class -above me- will get a job, but proof of such can go either way. I stand by my assertion that I never claimed confidence in myself or my year getting a job. This is in no way edited from the original post, I did not nor did the moderator delete any comment that I made. The above is the original comment in its entirety.

clifford chiu said...

yeah alan that guy was pretty harsh when he was talking about your stuff.. it's too bad, really. glad you stood up for yourself, your stuff definitely isn't garbage!!

cliff

Skye said...

Well, generally, Alan, when you talk about "my class", doesn't that, by extension, include you?

Besides, why does this eat you so much? Not everybody's gonna like your stuff. That's life. If you're happy with it, great. So why do you feel the need to defend yourself against every person that comes along and challenges you?

I speak from experience that if you take umbrage to every person that rips on your character that you'll be very, very tired. Let it go. Pick and choose you battles. It's not worth it.

Cooked Art said...

Again, please read over my comment carefully, but I never, ever referred to 'my class.' I am in third year. I am referring to the fourth years. I never said 'my class' - hit ctrl+f and type in 'my' and you'll see that I never did.

On top of that, with respect to choosing battles, don't you think that if an industry professional claims that Sheridan only turned out 1 hireable graduate, and in defending Sheridan, a person attacks your work, you should defend it?

S. Stephani Soejono said...

So one person over the net didn't like your work Alan. Big deal, most of the professors and students in school seem to like your work. And come on, Bielicki held you up as an example, and he's a respected pro. I think I'll have to agree with Cory on this one, is it really worth fighting over it? When you're getting respect from the teachers and student over your artwork, especially having friends like Robin in the industry that appreciates your stuff, isn't that what matters?

Any tom, dick or harry always have an opinion over something. Especially on the internet.

Skye said...

Hi Alan,

I don't think you really understood my post. I was pretty clear about it, so I am not convinced of the wisdom of paraphrasing what I just said. (And please don't respond saying "I did get it--" you didn't.)

The reality is you do indeed have a tendency to talk about things you know nothing about, and that sometimes sets people off.

You also imply a patronizing tone (which, as I mentioned earlier, acknowledged that it may or may not be intentional) when you write articles like these, which is simply going to exacerbate a situation.

I noticed you conveniently avoided this issue when I had helpfully pointed it out earlier to perhaps help you see why you were blasted on the internet.

It is a very real issue and one you would be well served to adress. It inhibits your ability to affectively communicate, and I don't think that's what your aim is.

Anonymous said...

Emily Carr it seems is not much better.

Hi, I am going into 4th year at Emily Carr in animation with a focus on 3D. I can certainly sympathize with many of my friends and colleagues over at Sheridan. Although I can't speak for your school, I can certainly say that our 3D animation program is turning out to be an excercise in futility and dysfuncationality.

The 2D programme here seems to be pretty good with Martin Rose and Marilyn Chernenko leading the charge, however as a 3D guy, I have intentionally avoided 2D so I can learn all the complexities of the software that is used today as they are becoming so complex that it takes the better part of a full time year to get somewhat up to speed to begin to produce anything of quality.

Like the comments made about the 20% of the grad class being somewhat employable...sounds alot like the Emily Carr grad films too. I viewed them and with the exception of a few, a majority were all mediocre.

The problem here at our school is that we have a lack of a focused cirriculum that is designed to focus all the students on animation. Instead we are immersed in classes that are as useless as one can imagine. We are forced to take classes about contemporary art and other art history classes that really take us away from producing our work. It would be different the classes would be complimentary to the overall focus or theme of animation, however it's not. To sum up Emily Carr...our 3D Department Head said to me "If you want to learn technical skills, go to VFS"...it speaks volumnes to the dysfuntionality especially when it comes to teaching something so inherantly technical as 3D....and think...we just built a 5 Million dollar mo-cap lab that undergrads are not allowed to use for another four years unless we get special permission.

I don't for a minute think that Emily Carr is not a good school for art, nor do I think that artwork is not important for us as people, but when you are paying to attend a school to learn the art and science of 3D animation, you want to LEARN IT...not discuss the meaning of what learning 3D is.

It sounds to me like Sheridan and Emily Carr are in the same boat...I am really sorry for all the students that have really invested all their time, energy, money and sacrifice into thier degree to only have it shot down by people in the industry because it is simply not good enough to be an industry standard. That is a direct reflection on the calibre of instruction. I know after this year, I produced nothing I am proud of simply because of the massive and unfocused workload as was the case in our Animation Research & Development class.

Art is important, however at Emily Carr...you don't even touch a software suite in first year. If I did not want my degree so bad, I would certainly say that this whole thing was a massive waste of time and money with the exception of perhaps a couple of classes in XSI and in painting.

Anyway...I really throw out the props to all my friends, met and unmet friends sharing this hell called animation and I hope you can at some point, really produce something you can all be really super proud of.

All the best.

Joe Green
www.eciad.ca/~jegreen

Just the Facts said...

From where I stand, Alan has been rather modest in the above posts regarding his own abilities. Mostly, he has been presenting a fair case in defence of Sheridan, which I consider rather admirable on his part.

And furthermore Mr. Skye...

"The reality is you do indeed have a tendency to talk about things you know nothing about, and that sometimes sets people off" said the Pot to the Kettle: (Check out the link below, dear readers. Should be a good year for the roses...)

http://www.skycron.com/corp/about/

Anonymous said...

I have read the article on Sheridan college animation program. I hear about it all the time, If I say to someone I do animation they typically will respond with "you went to Sheridan?" This is what is my beef. I have not gone to any school yet self-taught myself very well. I do admit I have some more learning to do but most of us could say this for alot of things including animation. Why must there be such a emphesis on whether you came out of a school and by that I mean a school like Sheridan or some other school. There are lots of talented people out there who are finding it hard to break into the field who don't have school behind them. As for the article as you can tell I back up the writter and his comments one-hundred-percent. Although I must add why the writter has to visit Sheridan for rookies and can't try outsiders ?

Cristian Camaroschi said...

Well I read your article and I must say that I am surprised....well to a certain extent. I saw a few animations that I was impressed by, and a few that did not appeal to me in the least, however beauty is in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. I see this had a lot of talk about CG and you were not too impressed with it. You have said that not a lot of talent in the 4th or post-year were too impressive. I have just finished my 1st of 4 years at Sheridan and wanted not so much as to prove you wrong but to change your mind about Sheridan students. I do some CG work and used to do basic stuff but recently worked a lot on character modeling. While what I learned was not with the help of Sheridan, since we do not do 3D work in 1st year, I want to show you that there are students at Sheridan that can handle digital tools well and I can only imagine what my work will look like after few more years. I am not making an attempt to get a job so you don't have to worry I have 3yrs of ahead of me still, I just would like to show you that there are things to look forward coming out of Sheridan in the up coming years. Here is my blog if you have time and you please check it out, it might make you feel a little different about Sheridan students, and if not then sorry if I wasted your time. http://cristiancamaroschi.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the big argument is to be honest. Personally I believe Sheridan is using their previous reputation as a crutch and forgetting that a BA will not help you get a job. Nor will it help you to get into the states to work. Infact, technically I didn't even graduate from the school I went to and I'm still working as a character animator. I think the main point of the blog is CHARACTER ANIMATION!!!! it's a yes and no situation, but all of the disgruntled responses seem to be addressing other issues. CHARACTER ANIMATION!!!! Is what he is saying was not evident in their work.

I was at the Ottawa animation festival a couple of years back, where they debuted the Ryan Film done at Seneca College, and I took a look at the student reel myself. I was sorely disappointed by the level of quality the school had showcased on their reel. I saw a range of things from Japanese Anime to stick figures. It was pretty pathetic considering the reputation the school has.

A little word of advice from someone fairly new to the industry (I've been working for just a little over a year now). This is a creative industry, and as a creator, you have to ready to accept criticism in all of its forms, from the constructive, to the destructive. For example I thought Pixar's last movie was borderline garbage, and certainly not up to the calibre they are reputable for producing. But Pixar doesn't go on the offensive when they hear bad reviews and try to squash any criticism they feel is un justified.

Lastly, please read what he's saying in regards to your work. At no point in this blog did he say that you were a bunch of talentless bums, he clearly is talking about your skills as character animators, and how Sheridan students seem to be lacking the skills as a CHARACTER ANIMATOR. Clearly he has no interest in your story telling abilites beyond character animation. As animators the story is NOT UP TO YOU! Remeber you are the last step in production, when you touch the work the story is set, the shots are set, the characters are designed, you do NOTHING but animate the characters.

Remember when you do start looking for a job, your creativity will be stifled at your job because you are now doing someone elses work, they are telling you what to do, how to do it, what it should look like and how it should feel, whether to use snappy WB animator or soft floating Disney animation. Essentially you become a button pusher, and the whole point is YOU BETTER BE GOOD AT PUSHING THOSE BUTTONS. You have very little creative input. And what those studios are looking for is not wonderfully creative ideas that will change the world of animation and entertainment, they're looking for people who can animate characters!

Animation is a business just like any other. It revolves around MONEY. Studios want to make MONEY! You may think that this industry is great coz you can wear jogging pants and T-Shirts to work but remember the guys in business suits are still making the decisions and signing your paycheques. So get used to the beauracratic garbage of business because it is very evident in all productions!

Making money is the most important aspect of this industry. If no one made money, there would be no market for this industry.

If you can't handle the criticism in this blog you ceertainly are not ready for the "Real" world experience of being an animator.

Anonymous said...

The argument is not whether or not any of the current graduating students from sheridan are compitent artists or not. It is about how many of them are compitent at character animation. and Aparently only a small handful are. I don't know why those who are aspiring to get into other fields of animation are reacting adversly to his blog post when he is clearly not addressing your skills. He is simply looking for character animators. If you chose not to focus on character animation, then none of his comments applies to you. He was adressing those who aspire to be character animators, not design, or layout, or boards, or musicians, or directing. Just character animation.

Cristian Camaroschi said...

Ok i see what you mean the character animation was lacking, not necessarily that people suck. Maybe people (me included) misunderstood it and took it as a stab toward sheridan students. That being said, it didn't so much affect me since I am not in any of those years, but I am an aspiring CG artist and i stay up day and night to master character modeling and although I want to specialise in character modeling/texturing I also want to learn good rigging and animation. My question is what were some of the problems that you have noticed so that the rest of us going into those years will be aware of so we don't fall into the same mistakes. If you have a little time to explain, even if not in great detail just over all what was wrong with the character animation we should be avoiding? Please and thanks.

Cooked Art said...

To the latest anonymous commenters,

I agree that Nick's main point is about character animation. I don't particularly agree with the claim that there are no good animators in this graduating class at Sheridan, but I definitely did see an emphasis on design in this year's films. Because of this, I can see someone definitely thinking that there are less than competent animators in the program, however, if you were to check out the demo reels of those students wishing to pursue character animation, and not just the films on their own, I think that would paint a different picture of the strength of animation of the graduating students. Even moreso, I can see someone who is looking for 3D animators would be even less happy with the screening - I believe 13 out of the 70 films were in 3D, so the films to pick from were fewer, however, I don't think the quality of those films were any different than the 2D stuff. I don't think the ratio of good animators is any different from any other school, AnimationMentor included. More importantly, I don't think 3D is a focus at Sheridan, unless the student wants it to be - it's purely one course of many in the curriculum. Then again, I don't think character animation is a focus at Sheridan, unless the student wants it to be as well, and those who do focus on it, I believe, are very capable at it indeed. But I digress, since this is just my opinion.

I do also think that while the main point of discussion here is obviously now character animation, Nick's original post does indeed comment on the other aspects of the films other than animation:

"I was looking for animation basics. Acting basics. Any basics."

"what we got were orgies of runaway production design, the odd cubist abstraction [...]"

"My advice to art students seeking an animation career: Skip Sheridan for the time being, or until they get their act together. Save your thousands of dollars, skip the BA, and do distance learning through Animation Mentor instead. (www.animationmentor.com) In the past few months, my studio's been hiring AM students based on the strength of unrendered animation exercises they've completed. These are literally students who haven't even started their final projects yet. But AM is strict, no-nonsense, and teaching the fundamentals. Sheridan it would appear, is not. Perhaps it's Sheridan's recent push toward 'academic' animation, and the initiation of the Bachelor's program, that ensures only those with master's degrees can teach animation. Away from the skills, into the beauraucracy. Away from concrete accomplishment, into the useless company of educational beauracrats on the state dole. Teachers with art degrees who can't hold industry jobs are training Sheridan's next generation. And to see Sheridan's student output, the resemblance between student and master is indeed uncanny."

Of course, Nick was looking for 3D character animators and likely not completely interested in the other aspects of the films. However, 'animation career' to me seems to imply any career within the animation industry, not just a character animator, and I think this is where people are crying foul. The first two quotes definitely point to problems other than character animation, but especially the second.

However, my defense comes mainly because there seems to be a sentiment of 'unhirable students' en masse, when in fact these artists are very capable in disciplines if you aren't only looking for character animators. Nick seems to be claiming that there is no valuable information at all to be learned from Sheridan (as the terms "runaway production design" and lack of "any basics" seems to assert), and therefore skip and head elsewhere. Again, if my interpretation of his words are wrong, and he is only purely talking about character animation, then we have a completely different discussion. It's hard to tell with all the anonymous comments, but I believe Nick does eventually assert that there is 'interesting filmmaking, design and conceptual' work in the films, but that's not really a retraction of his advice to skip Sheridan.

And to make some points clear, a masters degree in animation is only required if you are teaching full time in a Bachelor program. The large majority of the teachers are part-time teachers who do not, indeed, have a degree at all (masters, bachelors, anything). Sheridan's decision, to my understanding, in making the program a B.A. was indeed to make us more competitive with the american market, where Sheridan's direct competitors such as Calarts are offering B.A's and B.F.A's in Animation. I believe this is particularly advantageous to the foreign students coming to Sheridan who do not have Canadian citizenship. I myself have heard of one occasion where a degree would have made the legal difference that an American studio would need to hire a foreign student into their studio.

And why the Sheridan website doesn't seem to show any films like Gobelins and Calarts does, is anyone's guess. I would like to see them up there, front and center, like every other school. Much of the artwork featured on the site is from quite a few years ago.

Also, I think the attack on the teachers abilities is unwarranted. Yes, there are good and bad teachers, like there are anywhere, and much of this perception is just my opinion of them - others may find teachers I do not like exceptional, and vice versa. However, no matter how good the instruction, it's up to the individual student to learn. So blaming a bunch of teachers for a bad crop of students isn't exactly the most intelligent thing to do, since a student can reject the advice of a good teacher, just like a student can take the advice from a bad teacher. I think we should, then, just focus on the students, whose work I think can stand on its own. I mention this because I can think of quite a few teachers who try to hammer the fundamentals of animation, straight from the mouths of the Nine Old Men, onto Sheridan students. To say that they don't teach the basics is pretty inaccurate. Whether or not students actually learn the basics, and whether or not the teachers teach enough to become seasoned character animators is a tougher question. Then again, Frank and Ollie themselves claimed that it took 6 years to become 'at all capable' with the medium of animation, and that was referring to students right under their tutelage, the best (and notably most discerning) that have probably ever lived. Do I think then, that Sheridan students are well on their way to this? Personally I do, but then again, this is just my opinion.

And no, I do not keep commenting simply because of an "I can't take criticism" mindset. I think this is a worthwhile debate that can only be continued with more, intelligent debate. I believe more than anyone that discussions like this can be constructive and hope that it will continue to be, without attacking people's individual skills, involving opinion, and general name-calling.

Anonymous said...

"Nor will it help you to get into the states to work. Infact, technically I didn't even graduate from the school I went to and I'm still working as a character animator."

Interesting you should say this. There's currently a handful of animators from Dreamworks here in Canada working on getting their degrees as they were deported and asked to get degrees so that the company would be able to bring them back into the country.

Terri said...

Hello, I'm starting third year animation this September at Sheridan.
To the anonymous person who decided they had the right to critique Cook's art, I think you are being very ignorant or closed minded. Are you even in the animation field?
Although I have never met Cook personally, Cook's art has been exampled in our classes continuously. I have seen the structure you ask for, his work and commitment to animation is inspiring. As for his illustrative drawings... think about this for a second. How many cartoons on tv today are rounded disney-esque drawings? I completely agree that rough toon and the other artists you linked to are amazing, but they all share the same style. Most Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network cartoons (Like Fairly Odd Parents, el tigre, Foster's ect) don't feature rounded 3 dimensional characters, but these are extremely successful cartoons. Also, keep in mind that this is an age of Flash cartoons and flat stylized designs suit flash well. Not to say this flat style isn't as good as rounded, it can be just as good at creating life as disney animation can.
Anonymous, I suggest you broaden your preferred style or you'll never last in the animation world.
Secondly, I do not believe that Sheridan is solely to blame for the unsuccessful individuals or groups this year. We have some of the most amazing teachers here, Peter Emslie, Mark Mayerson... they are only given a couple hours to teach us what they can but no teacher has ever turned me down when I asked for extra help after class hours. As a result, I KNOW my animation and drawing skills have improved dramatically, and I have had my portfolio reviewed by various studios all with excellent results. I have seen the students who are less successful in this program and complain about it, but I have also noticed that they are the ones who do not turn up for class or hand in assignments on time. I have seen animation examples from years and years ago, when "Sheridan was better" but remember that during these times there were half the students there are in the program now, so come admission time, only the best of the best were selected for the program. Now we have a hundred students and they can't all be those thirty super committed passionate students that beat the rest, but I strongly believe we still have at least the same amount of committed successful students that we did in the past. Sadly their work is lost in an ocean of irresponsible work.
Drawing can't be taught over night, or from a text book, so before you bash the program or the teachers, evaluate the student’s effort. There are students who don’t come to classes, don’t do assignments (especially if they aren’t mandatory), don’t go to extra life-drawing- but the students who do seem very successful. All teachers know that you can’t teach a student who does not want to put in the effort in to learn.
Finally, I do admit that the administration in our program has been horrible. Really though, can an ugly building keep us from doing successful animation? If you already put $7000 into the program, why can’t you go buy your own line tester if some are broken? Sure they didn’t give us the stop-motion studio they said they would (yet) but the students who did stop motion made very beautiful films because Sheridan arranged another studio for them and they put there all into it. To the students who do not put an honest effort into our course, learn some responsibility- you’re giving the rest of us a bad reputation. And to those that worked hard- thank you. It’s sad that some people are too judgemental, closed minded, and focused on the group rather than the individual to see your hard work, commitment, and beautiful end product.

Anonymous said...

How old are these people be deported ?
For many years I have been doing labour work while working on my skills, they are now not at a "super" level but I feel confortable and know that now I can advanced. No school, just self taught. Then again people like me don't get enough respect as we should, while the kids exsiting Sheridan get all the attention (some are cocky might I add) just because they went to "Sheridan".

IMO Sheridan is over rated. If I where to endorse a school it would be animation mentor -period-

Anonymous said...

Between 24-28 years of age, these Dreamworks employees.

Anonymous said...

I'm not critiquing anyones work. This war could go on and on as we all can see there are two sides.

I will add something, that someone wrote:

"Drawing can't be taught over night, or from a text book"

This I disagree with you can teach yourself how to draw from a book if you want, as I have and seen others as well who NEVER went to Sheridan or any school for that matter.

There is still a stigma that if you come out of "Sheridan" you are someone that, that company\studio should consider and others are put to the side of the road because they didn't learn the "Sheridan way" Yet still people do make it into the field without "Sheridan" behind them and I can't give them enough Kudos !!!

Yes, I know some in the past have come out of Sheridan and where good, but I am speaking post (prior) 2000. It is more and more common for people to "gloat" that they are in school and what they are "studying" then ever before, it is also common for lots of people\students not to know really what they want to do in life. One minute it's lawyer, the next it's animator, then who knows manager this is why, as someone wrote there are people who don't complete things etc etc.

We all want the best. We all have our own journey we are taking.

Anonymous said...

This was under my skin since before I ever got into this school. It's logical to be offended if you go there now. The important thing is not to take this too harshly, because I really don't believe its meant to be.
Some things said were definetely specific and harsh, but the world isn't sugar and candy....
I am glad and sad this was put out there, but there is a lot of truth behind it, offensive or not. Learn from other peoples failures, educate yourself and dont rely completely on teachers. Strive for the best, isnt that what matters?

axl99 said...

In the 4th year's defense, I'd also just like to say that some of the industry reps were also guilty of the "no eye-contact" thing.

Allow me to list a few examples:
- three Japanese representatives from Koei Canada didn't speak much English and were somewhat uncomfortable in a casual conversation
- one guy from Helix didn't sleep for 24 hours prior to the screening and couldn't focus much at all
- another from Smiley Guy was completely smashed when he was talking to me.

A good majority of the reps I've talked to were visibly exhausted. Two to three hours in the screening without intermission would understandably be hell on anyone's nerves, which also explained why most of the reps made a bee line to the open bar before glancing over student work and talking to students prior to interviews the next morning.

On another note...

Yes, there were a lot of films and student content to go through during and after Industry day. And if no one found a "ready-made-for-hire" student, then that just means it's time to move on somewhere else to find employees.

People in and out of the industry can say whatever they like about Sheridan's animation degree. Industry reps could even try to threaten boycotting Sheridan's Industry day to get them to clean up their act or even send in their own staff to train potential employees. The bottom line is that the Sheridan students have as much a right to complain about their program, but really, there's only so much anyone could take of agonizing over it every day. It's just not healthy.

Would anyone agree if it could be considered a professional attitude to try to plow through the program the best we can? It's not like that same kind of mentality couldn't be applied in an actual working environment where students are able to capitalize and adapt their best skills to meet studio/client expectations.

Anyone can learn more about something they're doing the more they do it. Talent is an especially great thing to have, but a strong work ethic is also a vital asset.

While I'm sure there are a whole bunch students would like to be hired for a job, I believe all of them really wanted to hear what else they could work on to improve their skills. It's not often you have the opportunity to meet qualified professionals who might give you some helpful advice.

As a grad student, I'd just like to say the best part about Sheridan was being able to meet many other talented artists and grow with them. They have every right to explore how far they can take their own work on their own if they choose to do so. The only way the industry can impose their own standards on students is if there are those who aspire to be a part of it.

On the other hand, if an artist has a distinctive and appealing visual and storytelling style from independent film projects the industry could use, bonus!

But still, I think nothing beats a labour of love you've committed to by yourself or with a whole bunch of like-minded people. While money issue usually changes and complicates many things in the industry, the future of animation shouldn't always be decided by what certain people think the audience want to see.

So long as people had fun making animated films, anything is worth the trouble even if it means living in a cardboard box the rest of your life. Or at least that's what I like to think. It's kinda heartbreaking to think of animation as a job you might hate.

Anonymous said...

"To the anonymous person who decided they had the right to critique Cook's art, I think you are being very ignorant or closed minded. Are you even in the animation field?"

Yes. For many years. (Over 20, in fact.) And you are a third year student, talking out of callow youth. In five years, you'll realize just how stupid your comments are. And nobody cares what a third year student thinks, much as you may think otherwise, because you don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

Well its been a good two months since the last comment on this board, but I thought I would chime in as a fairly new Animationmentor student.

I'll tell you why I chose this program, and why I left my previous school where I was earning an MFA in Animation and was (according to my professors) at the top of my class.

The bottom line for me is that I get the training I need as an Animator. At my previous school, they took the generalist route. While I believe some people benefit from this type of schooling, it takes a lot of focus to be able to pick and choose what you want to do within the degree and curriculum. Unfortunately, I dont have that type of focus. I had always wanted to be a character animator and when other options were thrown my way (modeling, rigging, lighting) I quickly lost sight of my original intent. All the more frustrating was that I knew I wouldn't be happy as a modeler, rigger, or lighter, but I was still considering them for fear that I would not have the kind of reel that would make me a desirable candidate for an entry level position in animation. Basically, I was settling for something which was exactly the opposite of what I had wanted in the first place.

I still have friends in the MFA, and while the degree IS in Animation, most of my friends have given up on LEARNING animation. They know about Animationmentor but I think they are old enough to make their own decisions, most of them acknowledge that animation was never their strength anyway.

So here I was in an MFA class with the majority of my colleagues second guessing their decision to go to this school. We complained and demanded that things change, nothing was being done to improve the situation. Morale was low and my debt was swelling. We pitched our ideas for the thesis project but critique was minimal. Nobody called us on our concepts, our character designs or our approach. I was told that my ideas and my work were setting the bar! I knew then and there that this was not the program I thought it was. I needed the discipline, and the push. I needed someone to tear my stuff apart and tell me what I needed to improve, but the kind of feedback I was starving for was not even on the menu. I dont care what anybody says, as soon as you become complacent about your own work, as soon as you feel that you deserve the praise, you most likely do not. That is when I decided to re-evaluate my priorities. I knew about Animationmentor through their newsletters. I decided to check them out even though I was about a quarter of the way done with the MFA.

All this time I had been consulting a friend of mine who was working at ILM. He put it to me bluntly:

"Recruiters in the Industry don't give a rats ass about the degree you get. They don't even care if you know how to use Maya, they don't care if your reel is in 2D or 3D (for those who have said AM is only a 3D program, this is not true. The majority of the program is in 3D but they encourage you to use any medium you want). If you know how to animate that is all that matters. Now tell me, do you want to train for your first job in the industry or your last?"

He put me in contact with one of the founders of the program, and I met a couple of animators who were working at ILM who graduated from the program. This was their first job. Of course every program has its flaws and they acknowledged that, but they also said that they had never experienced a learning environment were constant improvement both of the students work and of the curriculum were held to such a high degree of quality. Basically, I was convinced and I withdrew from the MFA immediately. To my surprise, the director of the program also expressed frustration at the MFA and told me that they intended to apply as a mentor at AM in the near future.

So I am now a quarter into the program and its been tough! Critiques are constant and direct. If something looks like crap, they tell you in front of your classmates... I love it. This is what I needed.

This doesn't mean that it's for everybody. If Sheridan is offering you what you need then more power to you! If however, you feel that it is lacking, you have every right as a paying student to demand that they get their act together. I don't know a thing about this school. I am sure there are some quality projects being produced there. Regardless, animation is not about loyalty to any particular institution who is teaching it. Your loyalty should be towards the art of animation and the constant improvement of your skills as an animator. After all, the school wont be hiring you, the school doesn't owe you anything but a quality education/training. It is all up to YOU!

Anonymous said...

The main problem is the people that are good teachers are being treated like shit! They have let go so many good INDUSTRY trained people that do not have a degree go.