There are three main requirements for students entering online animation study: artistic talent, technical equipment and academic ability. In addition to these, prior to taking classes, students may need to complete an online orientation to familiarize themselves with distance learning. Online students can take standalone classes or earn a bachelor's or master's degree in the field. Get more details about training requirements below.
Artistic achievement is central to a career in animation, so an applicant for online animation training program may be asked to submit a portfolio of her or his artwork. Some schools may evaluate the portfolio for admissions in order to determine whether the student shows enough talent to succeed in a program.
Other schools have a more open admissions policy. In this case, the portfolio might help professors determine whether the student is qualified to skip basic classes, but admission wouldn't be denied because of it. Students interested in enrolling in individual online courses, which may be offered through college extension departments, may need basic drawing and computer skills.
Online animation students don't have access to the college's computer labs, so they need to do all their technical training on their home computers. Though technical requirements vary by institution, schools often offer suggestions of minimum computer hardware, speed and data storage guidelines. Students should check with the school they will attend before buying software, though they will probably need several artistic and animation software and packages.
Programs needed may include Adobe Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Photoshop, or After Effects. Students may need Audacity, DigiCel Flipbook Studio or Autodesk Maya Unlimited. Some schools may offer free access to basic software that could be used to complete individual course assignments. Online students may also need a digital camera, color scanner, color inkjet printer and DVD or CD burner.
To begin online animation training, students need to submit transcripts of previous academic work, whether the student has just completed high school or has already gone to college. For a bachelor's degree, a high school diploma is necessary, while applicants to master's degree programs need to have completed a bachelor's degree already. Animation training programs might require a minimum GPA or minimum SAT or ACT scores. Some schools require a recommendation letter.
Each art school designs its own curriculum for online animation training, but often, instructors require students to demonstrate their skills by completing a special project, such as a short animation video. This is a list of some common course types found in the animation training programs at many schools.
This course or class series may have many different names. Whatever it's called, it includes essential training lessons in color theory, drawing, shading and perspective. Students develop artistic talent to provide a basis for their animations.
Figure Drawing or Life Drawing
Drawing realistic human beings is difficult. Online animation students take specific courses in sketching the human body. This type of course includes study of anatomy and physiology. Successful students know how the muscles and bones move beneath the skin to create the movement we see, so they can re-create lifelike movement on the screen.
Students walk in Walt Disney's footsteps for traditional 2-dimensional animation courses. They draw figures by hand and control their motion and proportions.
3-D Animation and Modeling
Artistic skill meets computer software in this important course sequence. Aspiring animators learn to create a character for computer animation, defining its shape in terms of curves, lines and surfaces that the computer can render.
A student in online animation training may take several courses on this topic. Professors train students to envision an engaging character that audiences will enjoy watching. Then, students bring the character to life with well thought out details and careful attention to body language and facial expressions.
Every character needs an exciting story. Animation training often includes courses in laying out plot and background, scene by scene. Students learn how to position characters on the screen for maximum effect.
Animation doesn't begin and end with art. Animation training must incorporate courses in the technical aspects of production. That involves compositing, the process of bringing many visual aspects together into the same animation, as well as modeling the lighting in the scene.
Online training programs can help students who want to become animators develop their artistic and technical skills. Classes and degree programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.