3D Animation College Program Information

Individuals interested in developing three-dimensional (3-D) animation for film, television or the Internet have programs available for certificates, associate's or bachelor's degrees. All of the degrees lead to a variety of employment opportunities.

Essential Information

Three-dimensional animation is the realistic visual representation of people, objects and backgrounds through graphic media. As such, college programs in this discipline emphasize the development of creativity and technical skills. Students learn to use industry-specific software while utilizing traditional animation techniques, as well as the history of the profession and art style. Programs also include extensive practical experiences. Associate's and bachelor's degrees require a high school diploma or GED as prerequisites.

Certificate in Animation

Animation certificate programs emphasize several topics related to creating moving drawings, including 3D representations. Students learn the technical aspects of this career by practicing modeling and characterization with animation software. In addition to a standard curriculum, animation certificate programs may use workshops to cover the specialized techniques with 3-D materials, modeling, lighting, rigging and rendering. Classes generally offered include:

  • Animation history
  • Digital editing techniques
  • Illustration software
  • Motion graphics
  • 3D modeling

Associate of Applied Science in 3D Animation

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) students learn the art of creating 3D images using computer and animation software. While enrolled, students complete extensive practical training in design and animation techniques for various media. They also study topics like human anatomy and movement, acting for animators, screenwriting and life drawing. Other courses may include:

  • 3D animation design
  • Animation layout
  • Video game design basics
  • Flash graphics
  • Animation production
  • Animation theory and history

Bachelor's Degree in Animation

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs in animation thoroughly cover the skills needed to draw moving images for film, digital videos and television shows. While most programs don't specifically emphasize 3-D animation, they do offer classes on the topic. Students participate in hands-on instruction on topics like storyboarding, drawing, scriptwriting and animation software. Additionally, they learn the entire process of creating 3D animations, from concept development through post-production. Most programs include classes such as:

  • Interface design
  • 3D animation software programming basics
  • 3D animation editing
  • Lighting and shading in 3D animation
  • Animation sound design

Popular Career Options

Those with a certificate in animation are qualified for entry-level careers. Since there aren't any educational or licensure requirements for 3D animators, advanced positions in this field can be gained with experience. Graduates often choose the following careers:

  • 3D texture artist
  • 3D modeler
  • Storyboard artist

Associate's degree holders can find employment as 3D animators for the film and video game industries. Many websites also employ 3D animation professionals to create graphics and videos. Career options include those mentioned below:

  • Web design animator
  • 3D animator
  • 3D scenery designer

The breadth and depth of information covered in a bachelor's degree programs prepares graduates for advanced creative careers. Because talent and other skill factors come into play, earning a B.A. or BFA doesn't guarantee graduates a career in 3D animation. However, this qualification may help them stand out from other job applicants with only a certificate or associate's degree in the field. Many bachelor's degree holders seek the careers as:

  • Website creative designer
  • Video game designer
  • Motion graphics artist

Multiple levels of degrees in different areas of specialization are available to those qualified individuals interested in 3D animation. Job options vary according to the degree that you obtain and can include web design animators, 3D modelers, video game designers.

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