Bridging the Gap Between Education and Professional Production

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Educators Panel

While there is a global interest in learning animation and special effects, the quality of academic programmes and training ranges from excellent to mediocre. It takes time and a great deal of skill, knowledge, and talent to develop global-quality education that meets the needs of today's production companies, and the bar is raised higher every year.

In too many countries, get-rich-quick institutions advertise software training that at best provides comprehensive coverage of tool sets and techniques, and at the worst, certifies students who are completely unprepared for the careers they seek and with little or no knowledge of anything but the basic operation of a popular software programme.

Some countries have 500 or even 1,000 animation programmes (China for example) yet few have instructors who have worked and excelled in the industry. In addition, many instructors have received little or no training in effective and meaningful instructional techniques. The inevitable result: the quality of education is often very low, and graduates are completely unprepared for the career paths they want to follow.

As there is no professional certification for animators or visual effects professionals, it's time to move toward a universally acceptable framework for specifying and evaluating the skills, portfolios, and show reels that are the fundamental entry point to prospective employment. Also, it's essential to blend this framework into every employee's upgrade path and lifelong learning plans in this rapidly evoloving field.

The panelists have been dealing with these problems for many years, as educators, trainers, and recruiters. Their desire is see dramatic improvement in education and training through development of clearly defined professional requirements. Such a framework will make it easier for institutions to design relevant and high-quality education that meets the needs of today's and tomorrow's globally distributed production companies.

Robin King
Imagina Corporation

Prashant Buyyala
Rhythm & Hues Studios

Shelley Page
DreamWorks Animation

Michael Sehgal
Autodesk, Inc