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Animation/Animation after engineering

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Question
Dear Mr. Andre Hickman,
I am currently a sophomore year Computer Science and Engineering(CSE) student, from India and have always wanted to learn animation and VFX and have a career in Entertainment Industry.
Though this question has been discussed time and again, yet, I am perplexed regarding it.
1.How much of my CSE knowledge(which mainly includes different Computer languages like C, C#, Perl etc) help me in animation field?
2.How favorable(competitive) is career growth in animation in West(US, Canada..)for a foreign student?
3.Can I pursue Masters in Animation(US/Canada) after I finish with my CSE?or I'll have to do Bachelor's first?
4.How much of my lack of drawing skill effect my skills in   animation projects?
5.Lastly, what are the criteria for admission in Colleges in US(SAT,GRE or something?)and what determines the scholarships a foreign candidate can get?

Thanks.

Nitin

Answer
I don't have all of those answers...sorry.  I can give you what I have observed.

I do not know how credits transfer, but to my knowledge, you would most likely have to get a Bachelor's of Animation, etc. first.  I actually do not have a degree in Motion Graphics/Animation.  I went to school for Mechanical Engineering/Mathematics.  The one thing that stopped me from going back and getting a degree in Animation (even a bachelor's) was the fact that in most cases I could actually teach the class!  I have been offered the opportunity to teach bacherlor level courses at a technical institute, but unfortunately my schedule just has not permitted thus far.

Your computer coding knowledge would probably be an incredible asset if you were actually building the programs that animators use, but when it comes down to it, most of animation is based on making it look good, and not on what's "under the hood" of the vehicle that is getting you there.  With that said, I will still say that there are plenty of opportunities for coding in animation.  Most platforms have "scripting" languages, that you can use to write small programs in code, to automate functions and create effects that are controlled by the code.  One of the biggest assets that I have from Mech. Eng. is my understanding of physics, motion, fluids, materials etc.  It helps making things move more believable, because I understand mass, friction, etc...you will bring similar knowledge to the table which will only make you better, and your workflow easier.

As far as drawing...LOL...I tell people that I wouldn't necessarily die, but I can barely draw to save my life.  Actually it's not THAT bad, but I only draw horrible rough sketches so that I can remember what I saw in my head...then I design.  Don't let that stop you, or don't think that can stop you.  You'll definitely have to pick up some of those skills along the way, especially for texturing and other aspects, but in larger companies, your role is so defined, that they have sketch artists that do nothing but sketch, modellers model, animators animate, compositors composite, and FX guys add FX...I want to go to some art classes myself, but I am not looking for another degree.  I know a guy that has a masters in Animation, and the only advantage that he had over me (with no degree) was to get a teaching job.  Our skillsets were comparable, and most of the guys in upper management at the large U.S. studio that I was freelancing in actually came from engineering like myself, and got a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) to move up in the ranks.

The SAT is a standardized test that is a criteria for most US colleges and universities.  I do not know how that translates in specialized art schools though.  I can't really answer any question about scholarships, etc. as that is something you'll have to look for on your own and research.

Cheers,
Andre

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Andre Hickman

Expertise

3d Studio Max beginner to expert levels...After Effects complex compositing techniques...Photoshop expert level...Illustrator intermediate level. I can also answer questions for general animation, motion graphics design, and video editing/composition.

Experience

Logo and simple character animation, motion graphics, video composition in After Effects, as well as Photoshop, and Illustrator techniques, and the use of all of the above in a workflow, to achieve a final design element or production.

Organizations
Freelancer--Turner Studios, Atlanta, GA Owner--Andre Hickman Creative, LLC

Education/Credentials
Turner Studios Govenor's Protege/Mentor Program Georgia Institute of Technology--B.S. Mechanical Engineering Morehouse College--B.S. General Science

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