“Although the DAVE School [is] considered a higher education facility, their commitment to excellence in the professional sector is unmatched at their level. With award-winning animation staff and instructors, the DAVE School is surpassing their local and national competition in the field of CGI-animation special effects.” – Michael Attardi, Dream Balloon Animation, Director/Producer
In 1999, Jeff Scheetz, Co-Founder of the DAVE School, was working as an Animator and Visual Effects Supervisor for Foundation Imaging – which was, at the time, one of Hollywood’s pioneering visual effects studios. “For each artist I was able to hire, I would screen dozens of unacceptable demo reels,” he explains. “Even the worst of them showed a great deal of effort, but a terrible lack of direction, coupled with an unrefined skill set,” he adds.
And so, the DAVE School was born, a highly-specialized, industry-relevant school designed to immerse promising animators in both the captivating art and the complex science behind computer animation. Through valuable collaborations with a number of experienced, LA-based industry professionals, The DAVE School was able to specifically tailor a bespoke, digital curriculum devised to give students command of the most cutting-edge tools being used within the visual effects and animation industry.
“The DAVE School has had a proud tradition of training industry 3D artists for the past 15 years. Our future looks just as promising with the addition of our Bachelor programs in Motion Graphics and Production Programming. With these online programs we are taking The DAVE School to the next level and expanding into additional disciplines. It really is an exciting time for us,” adds Executive Vice President Gino Q. Natalicchio, Ph.D.
But what exactly are the areas in which DAVE School students can pursue world-class, applicable training?
The DAVE School spends the first three quarters of the Visual Effects Production program teaching the core principles of general animation production. During the final 12 weeks, students engage in a unique and challenging project in which they must collaborate on an animated film, create the visual effects for film produced within the school, or participate in any other real-world studio venture.
Relevance? The School and the instructor take on the role of Production Company and Director, while students turn the vision to reality – just like it would be on their first real job.
This program begins with the idea that real-world skills come from real-world experience – a concept that forms the foundations of every program at the school. With a focus on providing students with substantial career training in industry proficiencies, before thrusting them into a fast-paced production environment. The final 12 weeks are consumed by the final project; here, the classroom morphs into a commercial game studio, while instructors take on the role of lead supervisors.
Relevance? With a well-established tradition in the teaching of game production, the School boasts a significant number of placements within this diverse and competitive industry. And with DAVE School students finding successful employment with gaming giants such as Trion Worlds Inc., Bioware, ActiVision, and more, the Return on Investment for a world-class DAVE School Game Production degree is rich and undeniable.
Track in Gaming
The DAVE School Bachelor Degree in Production Programming with a track in Gaming was established to give students the expertise necessary to work in programming development for a range of contemporary gaming consoles, PC, MAC, apps and simulation, in the varied field of digital animation.
Relevance? All students are introduced to cutting-edge tools like C3, Java and C/C++ for games, giving them a firm understanding of the industry’s most up-to-date devices. The innovative skillset this program instils provides invaluable employment opportunities as a Game Programmer, Technical Game Designer, Engine Engineer or Technical Artist.
Track in Productivity
This track grants students the skills to work in programming development for Autodesk, Foundry and other industry-standard software packages used to develop apps and productivity used in film, TV, simulation and related fields.
Relevance? Learning the competencies of tools like Mel/Expressions and Python for production, allowing them to take full advantage of competitive job roles as a Technical Artist, Tools Programmer, Tools and Pipeline Engineer or a Cinematic Technology Engineer.
Designed to give them the skills to move from concept to creation in film, TV and Graphic Design, students of this course learn the principles and practice of composition, design, compositing and animation.
Relevance? The introduction of 3D Digital Modeling and Animation for Motion Graphics gives students the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers in Digital Illustration, Media Design, Media Production and Visual Effects.
“I chose to attend The DAVE School because of the instructors,” says Angel Gonzalez, a former DAVE School student who went on to find success in-industry, before coming back to the institution to teach. Now, he works as the school’s Academic Director, instilling the knowledge and experience he gained along the way in the animators of tomorrow. “During my time as a student, I had always envisioned myself coming back to teach. I saw myself going out into the professional world with the skills I had gained, achieving my goal and then returning to give back to the school that had helped me so much.
“Back then, I wanted to learn from people who had already done the work I wanted to do,” he adds. “The school gave me the ability to sit next to and get critiques from real professionals who had the experience to teach me what the industry wanted to see in a production artist.
“After attending The DAVE School, I was able to walk away with invaluable skills, like the ability to follow and apply the requirements being asked for by a client, Director or Lead,” Angel concludes. “All these years later, the school still has a very solid vision, and we remain essentially grounded in one philosophy: we train students to work as production artists in the industry. We focus on the foundational training needed for a student to learn what it takes to work in a team environment, under pressure and deliver quality work on time.”
As a School that knows that a graduate’s ability to meet the demands of a creative director’s vision leads to the most gratifying careers, DAVE’s principle of real-world skills come from real-world experience is one that presents lifelong benefits.