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What You'll Learn in Computer Animation College

You'll learn a lot in animation school. Here's a guide to your curriculum and software.
Three computer animation students discuss their projects

Preparing for a career in animation for film, television or video games requires a lot of technical training in industry-standard software and hardware, in addition to the study of basic animation, design and filmmaking techniques.

Computer animation colleges provide curriculum in these fundamental areas.

Still asking yourself, "Why do I need to know storyboarding? And who's Maya?"

Read on to find out what types of techniques and software that aspiring animators learn at computer animation colleges and why they're important to finding a job in the industry.

Learn Fundamental Techniques

Some of the critical knowledge you'll acquire at computer animation colleges falls outside of the realm of software and hardware, but still constitutes part of your technical training in the field. These include some of the traditional art, design and filmmaking principles used by animators throughout the history of animation:

  • Storytelling and scriptwriting
  • Character design and development
  • Storyboarding
  • Drawing and design for animation
  • Camera and lighting techniques

If you choose to emphasize game development, then you may also learn about concepts specific to animation for gaming, such as game logistics and level design.

Animation Hardware and Software

Among the most important skills taught by computer animation colleges is how to effectively use a wide range of imaging, animation and production software. Software is what enables you to bring memorable characters such as Woody and Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story" to life on the big screen or the computer monitor—everything from movements to clothing textures to weather effects is a product of animation technology. You can expect to learn about software programs such as the following in your computer animation degree:

  • Audio editing: Audacity, Adobe Audition, WavePad
  • Image creation and editing: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Aperture, Corel PaintShop, GIMP
  • Motion graphics: Adobe After Effects, Adobe Flash
  • 3D animation, rendering, compositing, lighting and texture: Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, DigiCel FlipBook, Pixar Renderman
  • Video editing: Adobe Premiere, Windows MovieMaker, Apple Final Cut, CyberLink PowerDirector
  • Game creation: Unreal, Unity, Game Maker

As the animation industry continues to change, so too will the software and technology involved in creating games, movies and websites. However, the mission of computer animation colleges remains the same: educating tomorrow's animators with the tools they'll need to succeed in the job market.

Animation Education & Career Guide