VFX in Los Angeles – 100 hour weeks & homeless Puts things in perspective. ]
For those with questions about possible schools for visual effects I've had no direct experience with visual effects classes but thought I'd list a few here.
I know there are quite a few others world-wide so don't look at this list as the only available source of training.
(Note that I'm not making any endorsements - good or bad)
As I note in my VFX Career posting/podcast you don't necessarily have to go to an official school to work in visual effects.
[Update: I urge you to first check out the VFX Career posting if you haven't already. Is Visual Effects truly what you want to do and are you willing to do the work and accept the risk? Getting a job and keeping employed in VFX is not easy. Many schools (including for profit vfx schools) continue to pump out many more graduates than the vfx industry can hire. And a lot depends on timing and where you are located.
Important: Do not go into massive debt to get schooling for visual effects. School itself is a good thing but these days many people are racking up huge debts of $60,000 or more and not finding a job afterward. There are no guarantees of jobs from any school. The competition is stiff. If you just wish to be educated regarding just visual effects there are alternatives. Books, DVDs, online, etc.]
[Update: 7-21-12 NBC recently did an investigation into For Profit Schools, among those was Art Institute. Here's the video. Many For Profit Schools focus on signing up as many students as possible without regard to how suitable those students are. They're push the students to get government loans to pay for the schools at at very high cost. End result is the students go greatly into debt and may not be able to get the jobs as expected. The interest rates can be very high so they end yup paying the rest of their lie and ruining their lives. And NBC has an article how student loans mimic the housing collapse in this article here. The key issue here is to know what you're getting into. Visual Effects companies do not require degrees for most positions. They require people who know what they are doing and can do it well. As mentioned consider lower cost alternatives if you don't plan to go to a full college (or have finished college) and certainly if you can't afford to pay $100,000 or more for school. There are qualified online classes much cheaper.
Here's photo of a poster at a high school:
It's important to check the range and detail of classes they offer.
How much hands on experience do the teachers have?
How much hands on experience do the student get?
Do you want a full college experience (along with a degree) or do you want more of a technical school?
Do they have internships at companies or any placement services?
Make sure to do a search for reviews and opinions of others.
Of course there are universities and colleges expanding their film classes
to include some visual effects and animation classes.
The range and depth of classes at these film schools may not be as great as some of the others.
I do know people who teach or run some of the programs at the following schools:
Savannah College of Art and Design
School of Visual Arts
Academy of Art
Others I've seen advertised:
Vancouver Film School
[Update 8/24/2012 based on info from some recruiters regarding current full schools.
These are some of the key physical schools they find good potential employees.
Please note that these aren't the only schools with good programs but tend to produce more students suitable to different areas.
In no particular order:
Technical Directors, R&D and pipeline development:
University of PA, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Univ of Toronto
Character animation, visual development, story, modeling:
San Jose State (very good), Ringling, Cal Arts, Art Center Pasadena, Goeblins (for non-US companies )
Schools that aren't as specialized
SVA, SCAD, Art Academy SF, Sheridan, Filmakademie (for non-US companies )
Companies also tend to cover local colleges if they provide reasonable education.
For online classes:
Lynda.com - Inexpensive. Good for started class on a wide range of things -Photoshop, Nuke, Photography, Editing, etc. (Lynda worked for me at Dream Quest heading up the animation department. For $25 a month you get a lot of value for your money.)
Gnomon - They have both a physical school and online school
fxphd - Nuke, Mari, Fusion, Silhouette, Maya, DSLR storytelling, Supervising, etc. Very in-depth classes specializing in visual effects. I recently was involved in a class they did on practical effects and visual effects.
Digital Tutors is a another site that does online Vfx training. Here's their post about demo reels.
New one: www.td-u.com Technical Director U. Lighting, compositing, rigging. Future matte ptg, storyboards, cloth, etc.
Stan Winston School - Focuses on character and creature design. Includes CG and practical markup class.
Video Copilot - After Effects online tutorials
Another school to add to your list is AnimationMentor.com, an online character animation school where all the teachers a working studio animators. Check it out on the web. The school has had great success placing students--more then 50% graduate to studio animation jobs.
For online VFX learning (or in site if you are in San Francisco) i´d also add Pixelcorps.com , run by ex-ILM-er Alex Lindsay.
Another great site for online VFX learning is PixelboxAcademy.Net. I am enrolled on their 'VFX Compositing' online course and it's being really cool.
An excellent online VFX training school/community i highly recommend is fxphd.
They offer excellent courses and acces to high quality footage for a low price.
And there are a wealth of DVDs and Books available. Do an internet search or check the Effects Corner Store.
Another view on VFX schools from vfxhack VFX School Confidential.
Some other schools have been added to comments since this was first posted so I'm adding those along with a few other notes.
Just a reminder that these days VFX can be a difficult area to find work, especially consistent work. Much also depends where you live. Do a reality check by checking the various vfx company websites and vfx recruiting sites to see what types of jobs are available, where they are and what the requirements are.
The National Film & Television School in the UK (www.nfts.co.uk) runs an MA programme for both SFX/VFX and Digital Post Production, both of which are tutored by current industry practitioners and have an excellent employment record for graduates.
A 3 day bootcamp is unlikely to provide as much information and feedback as a 12 week seminar.
As noted earlier in this posting be sure to check out another view on VFX schools from vfxhack VFX School Confidential.
Tom Cruise list of schools, companies and other info
A cautionary tale:
Believe me, you don't want to see most vfx artists stripping.
Related post: Price of a VFX Education
VFX School on Facebook (I know nothing about it but thought I'd add the link here)
[Update: 5/3/2012 Be aware of schools that charge you to learn and require you to work for free such as Digital Domain Media is proposing. Also be aware some internships are simply non-paid jobs whcih are illegal. More on internships. ]
And please read VFX Career posting if you haven't already. It will prepare you for the real world of visual effects.
Also please check the comments below for more feedback and responses.
Also related: Getting A Visual Effects Job
Visual Effects Positions
What makes a good visual effects artist?
Update 6-11-2013 new post
Sad State of Visual Effects Industry