While traditional study can be effective for some, an online animation/vfx/game design school offers students the freedom and flexibility to study in a way that works for them, while tapping into an international network of experts from the comfort of their home.
“It doesn’t feel like online studying,” says Patricia Tamyo who enrolled in CG Spectrum’s Foundation for VFX in Game Design Diploma. “The mentors are always there to help, and the live chats and forum help you get to know your fellow students. Every step of the way you’re growing into a wonderful community.”
We spoke with CG Spectrum students to learn about the advantages of studying online, which can be significant for several reasons:
1. Small Class Sizes and One-on-One Mentoring
When deciding if online courses are right for you, two major factors to consider are the number of students in each class, and the course structure itself. Not all online courses are built the same or offer the same amount of interaction (if any) with mentors or instructors.
Unlike some online courses where the lessons are completely self-guided and there’s limited interaction with mentors, CG Spectrum ensures every student receives plenty of one-on-one time with their mentor, personalized video critiques on their homework, regular check-ins through emails, and support via live chat and forums.
“Having never done an online course, I didn’t expect to receive this level of personalized learning and quality teaching,” says Richard Shilling, who took CG Spectrum’s online Animation course. “The amount of one-on-one is second to none.”
CG Spectrum class sizes are capped at five students maximum. For those who want an even higher level of attention, 1-on-1 mentoring is also available.
2. Flexible Scheduling
Whether studying full time or in the evenings, having the flexibility to schedule lessons and study time can make all the difference. Many students have family or work commitments to consider and online education allows them to study wherever, whenever.
Take Lawrence Zalasky for example. He was in his 30s when he decided to change careers and pursue an Advanced Diploma of Animation. Quitting his full time job was not an option, so he enrolled in CG Spectrum’s one-on-one mentoring program and scheduled classes around his work commitments. Though he admits it was challenging at times to juggle both, Lawrence’s hard work paid off when he broke into the film industry and got to work with the Oscar-winning Blade Runner 2049 team.
3. Time and Money Savings
One of the biggest benefits of online learning is the amount of money you could save on travel, accommodations, and other hidden costs that come with traditional university and college courses.
When you factor in moving, transportation, food, and rent (particularly in major cities like Los Angeles, Vancouver, or Melbourne), the costs add up fast.
And it’s not just the dollar value. The amount of time spent travelling to and from school each day is precious time that could be put towards study (and rest!).
Advantages of taking online courses are especially evident for those living in remote areas, where education options are limited. Katinka Thorondor experienced this firsthand. “I always wanted to pursue training in concept art but living rurally I never had the opportunity to do so, until I came across CG Spectrum. The online learning capacity of CG Spectrum allowed me to study from home.” Katinka successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Concept Art without having to move to a large expensive city, or commute long distances each day for school.
Other unexpected costs to watch for are the required supplies, software, and books. With traditional college or university courses, students are already paying upwards of $10K for courses, and expected to buy all the extras as well.
For CG Spectrum students everything is included in the upfront course price–videos, reading materials, and even software–no nasty surprises.
4. Access to International Industry Experts
Regardless of timezone or location, the online education model allows CG Spectrum to match students with mentors working in top film and game studios all over in the world. Students learn from accomplished professionals who have won awards and accolades, and actively work in the industry today.
“The education with CG Spectrum is the closest to giving me actual industry experience since I’m working alongside an industry vet whilst being taught the fundamentals of my trade,” says CG Spectrum alumni Subhaan Asif.
Mentors offer insider knowledge of how actual studios operate, and give feedback on assignments the way they would be approached in a professional studio environment.
“It’s not just about finishing the assignment and moving on to the next lesson, it’s about fully understanding why and when, not just how,” says Chris Ely of his experience working with a CG Spectrum mentor. “They take your lesson file, open it, and give a video critique while they work on your file. They’re showing you options, different approaches on what needs to be done to improve your workflow, making sure you fully understand the lessons being taught. Each lesson is building you up for the next.”
5. Higher Engagement, Fewer Distractions
According to CG alumni Stephen Clark, “Studying in an online capacity makes for a more dedicated and uninterrupted learning experience.”
With such small class sizes, students aren’t competing for the mentor’s attention. They often feel more comfortable asking questions in this intimate group setting (versus an auditorium with 60 students) and mentors have more time to provide detailed answers. There’s also no need to take notes or chase materials after lectures. All lessons and assignment critiques are recorded, and can be revisited as needed.
Overall students report feeling more engaged in lessons, experiencing increased concentration without traditional classroom distractions.
On top of these benefits, online learning prepares students to be self-starters with excellent time management, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. These transferable skills make graduates an asset in the film and games industry where artists are expected to work independently just as well as in a team.
As with any form of study, you get out what you put in. CG Spectrum alumni Lawrence Zalasky offers his advice: “As a student, if you’re willing to put the work in, listen to instruction and be honest with yourself and your work, you will succeed.”