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Animation vs. Game Design

MidnightMoonMidnightMoon Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
edited September 2011 in Visual Arts and Film Majors
I'm currently deciding between Game Design (BFA) or Animation (BFA).

It occurred to me that both of these appear to heavily use animation and the like, so I'm wondering, will a game company hire someone with just an Animation degree, or will a film company hire someone with just a Game Design degree, etc? Or do they always hire based on degree title and not on knowledge?

I also noticed that in just a few hours of researching, Game Design programs seem to range from based only just on the programming aspect, just on the designing part, or somewhere down the middle, sometimes leaning toward one or the other. Would it be better to find a program that teaches both, or one or the other?
Post edited by MidnightMoon on

Replies to: Animation vs. Game Design

  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    Midnight, we were researching animation programs for my daughter. I, myself, am not an expert. Thus, take what I say with that in mind.

    First there are two completely different paths for animation/game design: You can go into the programing, which requires mostly a computer science background with some animation training. The second area is pure animation/game designing. This requires less programing and a greater understanding of other areas such as MAYA, modeling, drawing etc.

    As far as game design vs. animation, I got the impression that the skills learned are very similar. I have met game designers who head up animation progams at universities and animatators who went into game design. They seem interchangable.

    Game designers obviously focus on designing games. This is quite different in terms of the work vs. animators who usually work on movies or commercials. Whether it be game design or animation, there are many specific skills to learn and to concentrate in. You have the modeling of the characters ( which is akin to digitial sculpture), character animation,which requires good fine art skills and drawing of faces, environmental design, which is essentially designing the background for the characters, texturing ( for skin and fur), lighting, rigging ( to get the character to move correctly) and more.

    I guess the bottom line is that:
    1. you need to decide whether you want the programming side or the design side.
    2. If design, majoring in either game design or animation would probably be just as good for developing the above-mentioned design skills. However, if you want character animation or environmental design, it is crucial that you develop your drawing and illustration skills particularly of characters. Other aspects of animation don't need this as much.

    I hope I wasn't too confusing.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    Ringling College of Art and Design has degrees in both. Look up their website and look at the descriptions of their programs. I do know that CA is much more story driven.
  • loveblueloveblue Registered User Posts: 437 Member
    Learned a lot from your post about game design and animation!
    Do you know what computer tools they teach for bother game design and animation? Like you listed MAYA, any other tools?
  • jasper44jasper44 Registered User Posts: 30 New Member
    My daughter is making a similar decision-although she does not want game design she wants animation. The choices are to go to a school like Pratt, RISD and graduate with a fine arts degree or go to a school like RIT, RPI Carnegie Mellon, and graduate with a BS in something akin to media arts and if necessary finish with a masters in fine arts. Talk to Pratt obviously they say the fine arts is the way to go, talk to RIT, Bachelor of Science is the right way. Its daunting-No less she was not able to take AP Art because it conflicted with AP Calc-(don't they realize artists take math also????) Having spoken with a number of colleges there is not an emphasis on the "computer tools"-at least from schools like Pratt, Risd-they want the graduates to have a "strong foundation in art"
    Any ideas?
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    My D graduated from Ringling in animation. Its a tough competitive program (which is why their program is #1 in the US. Employers value the program because Ringling creates artists not just a computer programmer.
    CORE (first year) studies focus heavily on drawing from life. Computer animation portfolios are stronger if they have art which shows action versus still life.
    I chose Ringling because of the number of top companies who recruit there annually.
    I laughed at the AP Calc vs AP Art! Only the animators seem to be good at math!
    If your D can't take AP Art maybe she can take art at a local college where she can get in some life drawing for her portfolio.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    The reason that schools don't put emphasis on "computer tools" is because although your D will learn Maya (or whatever is newest) some companies (like Pixar) have proprietary computer programs that wouldn't be learned unless you worked for them.
    She will certainly be a computer whiz before it is all over though. Working in the dark in front of a screen is the name of the game.
  • loveblueloveblue Registered User Posts: 437 Member
    I see, all computer tool changed too fast. But what kind of tools the school have them use to support their project.
    I see your point about foundation is important, if you can not draw well, no matter what tool you use, it is hard to get good thing out of it.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    Loveblue--I can't speak to Game Design but I would think that unless you focus on the programming side then yes, art is extremely important. A good game design program is going to emphasize art as well as programming.
    If you don't think you draw well enough or just need the confidence to proceed enroll in a community college life drawing class.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    As far as I can tell, the top software in animation and game design, other than proprietary software are: MAYA, ZBrush, Renderman, Adobe photoshop and Illustrator. Knowing some basic programming won't hurt eiher such as C++ etc.

    If you want do know web, knowing the latest version of Flash and HTML is essential.

    However, knowing the software is one thing. They do NOT replace the need for strong drawing skills. The softare only enhances the skills and does not replace them.
  • fineartsmajormomfineartsmajormom Registered User Posts: 1,191 Senior Member
    so my son taught himself a lot of the different software (blender, maya, flash, etc) out there and is now doing heavy programming at CMU. In HS he did a lot of animation and I was amazed how he could combine 3-d programming for games, old fashioned water colored character animation (AKA old-style disney), clamaytion, traditional film, etc in a bunch of different computer programs often all put together in the same animation project. He loved having control over the whole process and creating a story or a game and then making it a (virtual) reality. He wanted to get away from animation and do more sculpture in art school but he continues to do animation for some of his class projects including his 2-d drawing.

    He says his 2nd semester of electronic media studies at CMU is all animation and repeats what he had taught himself in hs. He is adamant that he does not want to do animation or game design as a career because generally you become so very, very specialized that you literally end up working on background or a particular character for months on end, in front of a computer. You have little creative control and he says he would prefer washing dishes to being an animator at a big studio. That is him--he likes to interact with people and see people interact with his art--...he does a great deal of advanced programming but that is more for prepping for robotics than animation--he insists the computer skills for animation are much more basic than what he needs for robotics and it is a question of learning software not really programming. As such, what you learn in college in game design and animation will be obsolete by the time you graduate and, as a poster notes, much of the software at the big studios is proprietary. To get a job, you show that you know how to learn software and have the technical wherewithal to implement some other person's vision.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    Or implement your own vision!
  • MidnightMoonMidnightMoon Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    Thanks for the responses -especially taxguy's-. That cleared up a lot of things.

    I believe I would prefer the designing over the programming if I decide to go with Game Design. Currently I'm looking at Academy of Art University in San Fransisco.

    Can someone offer me some opinions on this school? I've heard quite a lot of mixed reviews, but they seem to be several years old so I'm wondering if things have changed for better or worse.

    Anyone have more suggestions as to any schools within the United States?
  • jasper44jasper44 Registered User Posts: 30 New Member
    Thanks for the replies-esp gouf78-My D asked the AP art teacher to do an independent study-she said NO-(Mind you my daughter is a Good student-I have to remain calm) So she asked another teacher in the art department-they can't duplicate the same course-so they have to "make up" a new one? (We're in a good district in NY and the seniors can't get AP classes?)

    Any other colleges/universities in the northeast to look at? We've been in touch with Pixtar-I know the colleges in Ca-I believe Fla is as far as she'll go if that far-

  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,698 Senior Member
    Jasper--Five years ago when I researched schools for DD, Pixar had a short list of schools they recruit from on their website (they no longer list schools). Ringling was one of the top and since we're only an hour away it made perfect sense. One of my biggest concerns was her being able to get a job in her chosen field following graduation so career services and campus recruitment were important.
    We went to portfolio days at Ringling January of her Junior year. It was interesting in the portfolio differences--CA wanted to see the ability to draw action from life. They suggested her getting the Drawing Manual by Vilppu (it also has a videotape) to show what they were looking for. Many students (a lot with awards) had some beautiful stuff but if it was still lifes they were either steered toward illustration or told to get some action. (NO ANIME!--and my D loved anime!) After her critique she came home, went to work and never drew another anime figure.
    Ringling had a "pre-college" program (on campus summer--about 3 weeks I think) that she attended between Junior and Senior year. You could get college credit for the class if successful. I was TOTALLY amazed at the improvement in her art in such a short time.
    Many of her portfolio pieces were from that program.
    Actually the main reason I wanted the "pre-college" experience was to make sure she wanted to do CA. Sitting at a computer for HOURS in the dark is very different from drawing on paper in the park. In fact, her friend decided CA was NOT for her--and she was the one who had gotten my D interested in it initially.
    School-wise we first looked at Full Sail University (before I really started researching). Full Sail was like one big glitzy advertisement for computers. I know there are some very talented students there but the art side of CA didn't seem to be stressed.
    SCAD is very spread out physically and after talking to students I wasn't sure getting hired after graduation was a big priority for the school. They really don't get into actual CA classes very quickly.
    Ringling had the pre-college program, excellent faculty and career services which can't be beat. CA is very competitive to get into and many students drop out of it because of the workload (many transfer into illlustration). There are deadlines to be met and critiques can be brutal at times (just llike the real world!) My D says companies like Ringling grads because they are already used to sleeping under their desks during deadline time...
    One way to judge schools is to look at the quality of their students work. Look up the school's websites and you should be able to see senior projects.
    When you do apply to schools make sure you check application deadlines--CA at Ringling has a different date than the other disciplines.
    Also see if a school is accredited to transfer credits earned to another college if your D wants to go elsewhere if the need arises.
    Good luck!
  • colcon2010colcon2010 Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    gouf78, Congrats on your daughter's graduation from Ringling! My kiddo is a second year student and just loves everything about the college.

    jasper44, I agree with the suggestion to have your daughter take a class at a local college (and alternatively, I would highly recommend an atelier). This will allow her to pursue her interest in art without the pressure of getting the AP portfolio together if that is an issue with all of her other AP classes. For college admissions I don't think having that AP Art class will make much difference at all, especially if she is taking an art class somewhere, and more importantly, her portfolio speaks for itself! Most art schools, I think, will not waive foundation courses just b/c a kid took AP art!
This discussion has been closed.