“Animation School Dropout” by Vince Collins

“Animation School Dropout,” a new film by animation legend Vince Collins that warns about the dangers of animation school:

This is animation after all and any kind of motion is possible, but there must be rules. For example, if a character in your story can’t fly and then all of a sudden he can fly for no reason. As soon as something looks wrong or out of place, your audience will think about how weird that looked and you’ve lost them.

- The Animation School Manifesto


  • Gage

    Are we sure this isn’t a new anti-drug PSA?

    • AmidAmidi

      Or maybe it’s just creative? Surreal imagery and match cuts aren’t indicative of drug use; they’re basic tools of the animation filmmaker.

      • Gage

        I was just joking. I enjoyed the short in a weird way.. I was just commenting on how trippy it is, which is obviously the intent of the film.

        • AmidAmidi

          I get that you were trying to be funny, but the ‘Was the filmmaker on drugs?’ is a tired and generic joke that online viewers apply to any slightly creative piece of animation nowadays. Guess I expect more than garden-variety YouTube comments from this site’s informed readership.

          • Gage

            Fair enough.

          • Mac

            Isn’t Cartoon Network driven by medical marijuanna?

          • Jessica

            I hear that so often from people who aren’t artists. It makes me grind my teeth. It’s so insulting. God forbid someone have a unique creative viewpoint.

          • Chris Sobieniak

            Lord knows I’m sick and tired of that too.

        • Frank Smith

          That was a really terrible joke. You should feel bad that you made it, likewise the millions of others who blabber this.

          • Gage

            You’re right, I feel horrible. I have committed a travesty. This really matters.

          • Animator606432

            Now that joke…that was actually funny.

          • Frank

            I love how Frank’s score is at -4 and yours is at +18. Haha.

  • Skip

    I don’t understand why it didn’t get nominated for the best animated short oscar.

  • kelseigh

    As an animation school dropout, I can certify this is 100% accurate. Could probably use more screaming, though.

  • JudeJackson

    This reminds me of the Colin Sanders’ third-year animation project at UOIT. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiARsQSlzDc

    • AmidAmidi

      On the surface, they might look the same, but there’s some very deliberate and knowledgable filmmaking happening in Vince Collins’ piece.

  • stephen

    this would be really fun and entertaining if it wasn’t so accurate

  • AmidAmidi

    It’s not about creativity versus tripping out; it’s about Vince’s skill as a filmmaker which is objectively much higher than the person who made the ‘bear animation’ clip. There is a substantial level of complexity in Collins’ staging and cutting. Example: the rapid timing of the throttle action cutting to a similarly timed car moving in the same direction. He’s using a deliberately crude style for effect, but he’s in complete control as a filmmaker.

    • ike

      In my opinion, you are using a dangerous term here, pal: ‘objectively’. Because being objective -and again, I’m talking about the formal level: what we see, not what we already know- this does not differ at all from any of the hundreds of amateur exercises where the Gouraud shading and the free camera flying in the scene are the main protagonists.

      I’m not questioning Vince’s skills, because as I said I do not know his work (yet). But I cannot perceive (and I imagine I will not be the only one) that complexity in staging or cutting.

      OK, an amateur might only have the ability to craft something with the same quality as the original video, while Vince does what he does as a choice. But, again, that could be only possible if you knew his work before hand.

      Hence, no objectivity here.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Still it wouldn’t be a bad time to check out Vince’s other films on his YouTube page anyway. You’ll see a lot of brilliance he puts on celluloid or pixels.

      • jonhanson

        If you’re talking about modeling and animating skills I’d say that you’re right that this video doesn’t exhibit a level of talent that is that far beyond Colin’s bear, but I really think that “Animation School” does show an objectively superior level of talent. It shows a very impressive grasp of the tools of film making, filling the screen with inventive imagery that all flows together with a palpable energy.

        Anyone with a little bit of training could make those models but I’ve seen plenty of films made by animationion school graduates that can’t come close to matching the level of inventiveness and energy shown here. Of course you could say that’s because a lot of film schools focus on professional-level modeling, texturing, rendering, animation etc. whereas this video is built on direction, camerawork and editing.

        I get why this isn’t the sort of thing that appeals to everyone but some of these criticisms remind me of people who knock Norman McLaren and Don Hertzfeldt’s films because they don’t utilize the kind of draftsman skills that most animators strive for.

      • mick

        ‘you are using a dangerous term here, pal’… does this sound like a king sh*t cop to anyone else?

        ‘The reason I pulled you over…is too explain how you misused the word objectively and I’ll not be shying away from misusing the word dangerous while I’m about it… sir put your hands on the wheel and open your ears’

        the information highway police

  • Elana Pritchard

    Dropping out of animation school was the best financial decision I ever made. It’s infinitely better to apprentice with an experienced animator.

    • Steveen

      Glad that you got the opportunity to do that, but keep in mind not every student will be able to drop out and find a mentor willing to take them under their wing on the spot. Many people, myself included, got our big moment while being in school thanks to internship recruits and people often coming to my school looking for animators to do small project work.

      Only saying this because people reading your comment might start doubting themselves and think that going to school is a big mistake or that it’s a waste of time or what not when it’s really subjective. Some people will have great experiences like me, some will have better ones if they drop out, others will have terrible experiences and go no where.

      • Elana Pritchard

        Yes, I do want people to think twice about going to school, because many young people think going to school is the only option. High schools, parents, and others pressure young kids into going to school, by telling them if they don’t they will never make anything of themselves. A degree may be necessary in some fields, but in animation it’s not and they don’t realize this because no one’s told them. Most people hiring just want to see your portfolio or your reel and could care less about whether or not you have a degree from The Art Institute or another school. The kids are ignorant of this, the schools certainly don’t tell them, so they enroll in school, and when they start off their career they already have a $50,000 debt hanging over their shoulders. Any animator starting out in an uncertain job market will tell you this is quite a burden.

        No, you may not find a mentor right away. I didn’t, I had to wait two years and move across the country to find my first mentor. You have to think outside the box if you want to choose this path. You also have to be strong, because not everyone may understand your decision. You have to be really self-motivated, and willing to spend hours drawing by yourself. You have to be patient. You have to leave your comfort zone. It’s not easy, it’s certainly not for everyone, but your reward will be having a unique, free education where you learn valuable knowledge you won’t find anywhere else.

        It’s not for everyone, but I went through all of this rigamarole, and now I work for Ralph Bakshi, one of my heroes, because I never gave up.

        • CA

          Where’d you move by the way? It’s been over two years since I (gladly) withdrew from AiTA.

          • Elana Pritchard

            I moved to the LA area. Burbank, CA is an animation hub.

    • anonymous

      What would you recommend to a person who has no artistic skill at all?
      Would it be better for them to go to college to learn how to draw, and then study animation, or is the said individual completely screwed and better off giving up?

      • Elana Pritchard

        I would tell them to practice drawing for many hours each day. They can
        get the Preston Blair book and learn construction. They can freeze old
        cartoons on youtube and practice drawing the poses. There are a
        million lessons on John K’s blog. If you commit to practicing and
        studying you’ll get better.

        Drawing is like playing the guitar, some are better naturally, but anyone can improve with practice.

        Of course this only works for the rare few who have the passion to stick to it. You have to really want it or it won’t work.

        College doesn’t teach you how to draw, practice does.

        • Pez

          Professors teach anatomy and observation skills. But they need something to work with. I think you have to be born with a little bit of talent and then it must be nurtured

    • Odhiambo

      Yea. However…. if a person has no discipline to learn on their own then a school is better. I am from kenya so there are no animation schools here. I have learned everything from tutorials online

      • Elana Pritchard

        I really think that practice is the most successful element in becoming a successful artist. Also, being self taught and learning on your own is a great way to develop a unique style, which is becoming increasingly rare, and is therefor considered valuable.
        People like that aren’t alone forever either. Great artists respect discipline and someone will eventually take notice if you just keep working and putting your work out there, even if it is online.

  • Tim Robertson

    “”This is animation after all and any kind of motion is
    possible, but there must be rules. For example, if a character in your
    story can’t fly and then all of a sudden he can fly for no reason. As
    soon as something looks wrong or out of place, your audience will think
    about how weird that looked and you’ve lost them.

    - The Animation School Manifesto””

    This is the biggest problem in HOLLYWOOD… not animation school. Happens in almost every big time movie. A character will break the rules already set forth for that character/story. Like when Wolverine can all of a sudden fly, or like when Batman somehow breaks the laws of physics when his Batbike, after previously being completely believable, all of a sudden can stop on a dime, on a wall, and do a 360 something… YET… the crowd goes nuts and cheers.

    • Strong Enough

      because its entertainment. Film isn’t supposed to mimic reality. thats the reason we go to the movies.

      • JudeJackson

        Why shouldn’t film mimic reality? Is there nothing in reality worth showing in film? Should films strive to entertain people above all else? That’s a limitation nobody needs imposed on cinema. But you can feel free to stick to watching movies that aren’t challenging if you want.

  • Kelly

    I was waiting for this to be posted here. It’s fantastic.

  • Mike

    That was the longest 1:38 of my life.

  • bencee

    reminds me a bit of Destino, with all the camera pull outs that change the object into something else

  • UsaMiKo

    Interesting that I find this video while I’m facing serious anxiety about whether or not I should stay in my state and go to a university for art, or if I should run out to California and go to an animation school. Very interesting, indeed.

    I think I need to sit in a corner and rethink some things.

    • mick

      get a part time job, buy the animator’s guide, use tutorials on the internet and if possible find a jobbing animator who is willing to appraise your work (chances are this is not so difficult as the majority are decent people)… viola, you’ve saved 30 grand and now know slightly more than the average animation student

  • Dude r

    Yeah, its interesting and all but it doesn’t speak to me in a deep sense. Guess it is just a interesting experiment after all.

    • Angie

      Yeah I’m seeing all these comments and I’m not getting this at all. Some of the imagery makes sense, then there’s points where it just seems like it’s randomly morphing pencils into ducks into a teacup and I’m not following that at all.

  • Elana Pritchard

    I said it’s not for everyone.

  • Pez

    Animators today have such a limited amount of knowledge of the arts and works outside of animation/comics. Many young aspiring animators today don’t even study the historcial greats of animation past and insist on reinventing the wheel in flash or maya. I think all young artists would benifit from attending an art school that focuses on the foundation skills of being an artist. Once a person has learned how to draw, paint and create a composition then that artist can start to concern themselves with the complexities of the moving image. Art school is a great place to learn these fundamental skills. Just make sure you choose the right one.

  • mick

    ‘And chances are it’s not so hard to find an animation job? Really? ‘

    Take a re read there big fella. That wasn’t even close

    As for the rest, you seem to know more about it than me so I’ll just wish you luck. I didn’t go to any school

  • Ahmad

    the work of a genius! very strong message behind this piece.

  • Arian Wright

    The animation school manifesto reminded me of that movie “Kiara the Brave” where the children suddenly started flying for… well, no apparently good reason.

  • Strong Enough

    You can’t be fulfilled if you weren’t entertained. If you like a certain movie even if it wasn’t a blockbuster or Michael Bay movie you were still entertained. You took pleasure in watching it, you were engaged in the struggles of the characters, brought into another world, taken with the words coming out of their mouths. That is entertainment. I have no idea why we disagree. You say a movie can’t be entertaining yet be fulfilling? that doesn’t make sense. because if you enjoyed the movie, you were entertained. Even if it was some horrific war movie. Entertainment comes in many forms. Some people are entertained by four hour french operas, others by sports movies, others by broadway plays. But no matter what if you are telling a story before anything else it must. be. entertaining.

  • Elana Pritchard

    My original point was that apprenticing under an experienced animator was better (and cheaper) than the animation schools, and I’m sticking to it. Of course you must practice, and you can also supplement by attending figure drawing sessions and things of that nature.

  • IJK

    Cannot agree with you more. And this is usually my problem with people (Students are especially guilty of this) who create shorts and films that are all message and no character. It’s very hard for your message to stick to people unless they’ve experienced it already, alienating a large chunk of your audience and only the people who can relate to it will call it “brilliant”.

    Just by adding a character alongside that message, doesn’t even have to be written in the traditional sense, you could have hooked in the people who ignored your work because they didn’t get it and you could have made something universally phenomenal instead of a brilliant niche piece.

  • Matt

    Thanks for writing this man, some people need to here this.