Major: Animation and Special Effects

What colleges offer a Major in Animation and Special Effects?

In 1937, Walt Disney introduced the first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It took 750 artists 3 years to create the blockbuster that didn't just amuse its audience but provoked a range of emotions as well.

Of course, new technologies have changed animation drastically since then. But as a student, you'll find that much remains the same. You’ll do more than learn the latest computer software and master the contemporary techniques of sound design. You'll also develop age-old skills in art and storytelling.

Animation and special effects majors learn how to create animation, graphics, and special effects for a multitude of mediums, including film, TV, video, and computer games.

“Traditional art skills are still the fundamental ingredients needed for success in the field of animation. Students who have these skills have an edge over those who don't.”Donald Poynter, Animation Professional and Instructor, School of Visual Arts, New York

Are You Ready To...?

  • Complete a senior project
  • Produce an animation portfolio or film
  • Attend screenings
  • Give and take constructive criticism
  • Get up to speed on new technology
  • Draw, draw, and draw some more
  • Sharpen your storytelling abilities

It Helps To Be...

A good storyteller with a keen eye for visual detail. Creativity and a love of new technology are also key.

College Checklist

  • Does the program offer a concentration in your area of interest, such as character animation, computer animation, or video?
  • Is the program competitive? Is a portfolio required for admission?
  • Are labs and classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including professional production and editing software? What are the mixing and screening rooms like?
  • Do professors have plenty of real-world experience? Have they won awards or otherwise distinguished themselves in the industry?
  • Will you have the chance to complete a senior project? Will professors be available to advise you?
  • Will the program help you find work after graduation?

Did You Know?

Freelancing is increasingly common in this industry, making it more important than ever to develop multiple skills.

Course Spotlight

If you major in animation, there’s a good chance you’ll take a class in 3-D modeling and animation. In this class, you’ll learn how to use texture, light, and other elements that make your images appear to be three-dimensional. You’ll also learn how to use the latest in animation software.

Once you’re up to speed, you’ll probably be asked to demonstrate your skills on a final project, such as a short piece for DVD.