Best California Colleges for Animation

Many California schools offer top-tier animation programs. As the filmmaking capital of the world, California’s colleges have a plethora of options for students who are seeking a degree in animation.  

Four of California’s best animation colleges will be investigated: California Institute of the Arts, California College of the Arts, Academy of Art University, and University of Southern California.

What are the Best California Colleges for Animation?

California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney. The School is the first post-secondary institution in the nation to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both visual and performing arts. The school has a student population of 1449.  The animation program is offered through the School of Film and Video. The school offers both character animation and experimental animation.

The Character Animation program offers a bachelor of fine arts degree that equips students with the skills of storytelling and character performance in relation to animation. Some of the courses studied in the BFA Character Animation include:

  • Life drawing
  • Color and design
  • Storytelling
  • Character animation

Students may also study for a bachelor of fine arts or a master of fine arts in experimental animation. The degree prepares students with skills to develop personal visions with the ever-changing parameters of animation. Some of the courses studied in experimental animation include:

  • Animation techniques
  • 2D drawing
  • Working directly on film
  • Computer animation

The School of Art offers an MFA program which involves faculty and visiting artists whose work involves computer programming, web-based systems, digital image making, digital sound design, immersive, installation, digital video, interactive, and hybrid multimedia performance.

Uniquely California Institute of the Arts :

California Institute of Arts helps students find employment after graduation by offering a unique course: Curating Your Own Life: Transitioning to a career in Cal Arts. The course exposes students to career-related courses and internships.

Fun fact: California Institute of the Arts has been crowned the ‘Harvard Business school of Animation’ by the Los Angeles Times.

California College of the Arts 

California College of the Arts has campuses in San Francisco and Oakland and currently enrolls nearly 2,000 students.  California College of the Arts offers a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Animation. The program is taught by experienced animators and directors from a nearby studios, such as Dream Works, Tippet Studio, and Pixar.

The program offers majors in 2D animation including:

  • Storytelling
  • Squash and stretch distortion
  • Staging
  • Timing
  • Exaggeration
  • Courses studied in stop-motion animation include:
  • Animation found objects
  • Animating simple puppets
  • Acting
  • Pixilation

California College of the Arts organizes internship opportunities in leading animation studios in the Bay Area.

Uniquely California College of the Arts:

The College has offered a pre-college animation program for the last 25 years to high school students. Precollege is an all-day program with classes that are offered Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 4.00pm on the Oakland campus.

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University is comprised of 18,000 students. The animation program at the university is offered through the Department of Animation and Visual Effects and offers a bachelor of fine arts as well as an associate of arts.  Some of the courses studied by animation students include:

  • 2D modeling
  • 3D modeling
  • Computer-based animation
  • Visual effects
  • Storytelling
  • Texture

Note: the BFA program requires several liberal arts courses while the four-year certificate does not. The Bachelor of Fine Arts also allows students to select a primary area of emphasis from the following areas:

  • 3D animation
  • 3D modeling
  • 2D animation
  • Stop motion
  • Visual effects
  • Storyboarding

Note: Academy of Arts University offers both online and traditional animation programs. The Department of Animation and Visual Effects features an online Award of Completion and a Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers animation programs through the following schools:

  • School of cinematic arts offers:
  • Bachelor of arts
  • Masters in fine arts
  • A minor in animation and digital arts
  • Bachelor of fine arts in film and television production
  • John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts offers:
  • Bachelor of fine arts in film and television production
  • Masters of arts in interactive media
  • Minor in-game animation

Some of the courses studied include:

  • Character animation
  • Science visualization
  • Experimental animation
  • Interactive animation
  • BD computer animation
  • Using programming and animation to make games

There is no doubt many aspiring animators head to California to study and work. Do not be left behind. California College Bound will help you find the animation program that is perfect for you.

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