Frequently Asked Questions
Financial Aid: HERE
What do I need to do to apply to the program?
First you must have already applied to the University. We are able at times to help students gain acceptance into the university based on talent, but the student must apply first.
- If you are a BYU student you must declare yourself a “pre-animation major” in room D-444 of the HFAC.
- Complete the prerequisite classes. There are three required pre-requisite classes that each student must take before they apply to the major. These classes are: CSAnm 150, DESAN 131, and DESAN 160.
- Fill out the Application Forms online.
- Submit your Portfolio for Review. Deadlines will be posted in the Department of Visual Arts online.
At times students, especially transfer students, can apply without having taken all the prerequisite courses. However, students who are accepted in this way are accepted with the provision that they take the prerequisite courses the first year in the program. To be accepted in this manner you must already show extremely high proficiencies in your drawing and animating.
When do I apply?
Although most of the programs in the department of Visual Arts have application deadlines in March and November, the animation deadlines are are April 1 for all new applicants and August 1 for transfer students and applicants that have been specifically invited to re-apply. . We advise that you pick up an animation application and take special note of the application deadline for that year. HOW TO APPLY
How and when do Transfer Students apply?
Please read the answer to the question above.
What are you looking for?
The application process and how we evaluate value is as follows:
- 5-10 figure drawings counts 40%
- Sketchbook counts 15%
- Traditional animation sample counts 15%
- 3D Models (2 to 5 of them) 30%
We are looking for solid drawing and animating skills. Although many students want to focus on computer animation we believe that all types of animation have their foundation in solid drawing and traditional animation. The type of figure drawing we are looking for is precise figure drawing from an illustrator’s perspective. Precise observational drawing that shows the proper shapes, proportions and use of line. We are not as concerned about tightly rendered drawings (highly shaded) as we are looking for a student who knows how to use and control line. Classic Illustration teachers such as Andrew Loomis or Bridgeman are good sources of study. Sketchbooks -We love to see students who are studying and drawing from life. Students can grow greatly by carrying a sketchbook with them and practice drawing as much and as often as they can. Drawing at the mall, in the library, at the zoo or in any location that allows you to observe life is a great way to develop your skills. Animation – a traditional animation sample that shows a firm understanding and use of some of the basic principles of animation. This can be developed and created in our VAANM 160 Intro to Animation class.
How tough is the competition to get into the program?
This can change from year to year. We average about 60-75 applicants a year and have traditionally accepted 20-25 students.
Why can't I apply for the animation major as an incoming freshman?
The curriculum is designed so students apply for the major at the end of their freshman year. There are no advantages to being accepted as an incoming freshman, but there are disadvantages.
The Illustration and Industrial Design programs require students to submit portfolios before being admitted into any freshman art/design class because of the shear number of students interested and the limitation of resources. This creates several problems. The main one being the fact that many students do not know about the application until it's too late, then they have to wait a year to apply which means 5 years in school. Another problem with the incoming freshman application process is that not all students have good opportunities for art in high school. By applying after the first year all applicants have had the same opportunities for coursework at BYU.
When we created the new animation major, we felt strongly that we shouldn't shut out any student until they had an opportunity. Hence, we have created open enrollment in some pre-requisite classes. After taking these three classes, students submit an application/portfolio for admittance into the animation major. The major can be completed in 3 years.
Can I apply before taking the pre-requisite courses CSAnm 150, DESAN 131 and DESAN 160?
Only transfer students may apply before taking the pre-requisite courses. If you are accepted you will still need to complete these courses or have transfer credit approved by the instructors of CSAnm 150, DESAN 131 and DESAN 160.
I am currently an Industrial Design major with an interest in computer animation. Can I just switch my major to animation or do I need to apply for the animation major?
Being accepted into the Industrial Design program does not accept you into Animation any more than being accepted into any other major on campus. You must apply for the animation major following the application/portfolio guideline for the animation major. The two majors require different application materials that are reviewed by separate judging committees. The two majors have an impact on different resources (faculty, equipment, and facilities). The animation is a limited enrollment program and student numbers need to be regulated.
If you choose to remain an Industrial Design major contact Brent Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) for elective course options.
Should I apply before my mission?
This really is a personal decision and depends on your mission departure/arrival dates. Because you can apply winter semester of your freshman year, you are welcome to apply before you leave. This means that you would not have to worry about putting together your application/portfolio while on your mission.
What aspects of animation does the major cover?
The animation major covers everything from traditional cell animation to 3-D animation and compositing. Once you are accepted into the major you will meet with your assigned faculty mentor to plan and approve your electives. Built into the curriculum are recommended 2-D and 3-D emphasis recommendations, but you may take any electives reviewed and approved by your faculty mentor.
I am planning on transferring to BYU as an animation major. What major courses can I complete that will transfer to BYU?
Please see the CFAC Advisement Center for General Education course transfer (D-444 HFAC, 801-422-3777,email@example.com).
Unfortunately we can not pre-approve any major course transfers. The only way to have a transfer course accepted for your major is to complete a "Transfer Equivalency for BYU Major Requirements" form available from the CFAC Advisement Center. This requires that you meet with the instructor of the equivalent course here at BYU. The instructor will ask to see a syllabus and course assignments. The instructor makes the final decision on approving transfer credit for the major. This procedure must be completed for each major course you would like to transfer.
Again we can not pre-approve course work, but we do recommend that you complete drawing courses specifically figure drawing courses and any video/film classes available to you.
Where can I get advisement?
Pre-major advisement is handled by Randa Alvord Randa_Alvord@byu.edu in the CFAC Advisement Center or by animation faculty . General Education advisement can be obtained from the College of Fine Arts & Communication Advisement Center D-444 HFAC, 801-422-3777, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once accepted into the animation major you will be assigned a faculty advisor/mentor. Your faculty advisor will approve all your major electives. Additionally, Julee Braithwaite (email@example.com) in the CFAC Advisement Center will be your academic advisor and will track your progress towards graduation. After you have been accepted into the animation program she will keep a file on you. This file will include your general education, and major requirements, waivers and substitutions and other signed documents by your faculty advisor. When you are ready to graduate, Julee will assist you in applying for graduation and will verify that you have completed all requirements for graduation.
What scholarships are available?
We typically reserve what scholarship money we have for those who are already in the program, however there are instances when scholarships are giving to those not yet accepted to the program. The application for a talent award: HERE
What types of industries hire your graduates?
These companies hire:
Theatrical Film and Animation companies
Special Effects Companies
Television Animation Studios
Manufacturing companies looking to create visualizations (such as the medical and automotive manufacturing fields)
Note: Many of these industries exist in varying locations. Not all graduates move to Hollywood.
What is the average starting salary of students after graduating?
In Utah our graduates average $30,000 to $45,000 a year to start. Nationally those rates vary from $30,000 to above $50,000 a year. These rates are based on talent, demand, and cost of living in that hiring location.
How do you choose the films you are going to make in the program?
We make a variety of films and games in our program. The films break down into two main categories. Faculty sponsored projects and the senior film. Faculty sponsored projects are usually those that exist as mentored experience where the main focus is on training the student in the studio environment. The “Senior Film” is the BYU Animation Programs yearly group project that is pitched by anyone at BYU and voted on by the up-coming seniors in the animation program and the animation faculty. The Senior Film trains students in the creation of an animated film as well as in the collaborative work experience.
What is the difference between attending BYU’s Animation Program and an animation program at one of the top Art Schools?
There are many differences between the BYU Animation experience and that of top art schools. Art school students typically spend almost all of their time in art classes while students at BYU are still required to take all their general education courses and religion courses in addition to those courses in the major. Arts Schools are very focused educations and BYU offers a much broader education. Art Schools are typically very expensive; BYU is extremely inexpensive, especially for a private institution.
We have found by comparison, and this is not true of all schools, but that at BYU we have far greater technology resources and access to these resources than almost any school in the world. We are currently running 75 licenses of Maya, multiple licenses of Pixar’s Renderman for rendering, thousands of processors of computer rendering ability both on and off the super computer, tens of editing stations, tens of compositing stations, high end video cameras including HD cameras, film cameras, a motion picture studio with two sound stages, three pencil test stations and multiple licenses of ToonBoom Harmony and TV Paint as our traditional animation software.
What if I want to be a Computer Animator, do I still need to take the traditional animation courses in the program?
As was said before, we believe that all types of animation have their foundation in solid drawing and traditional animation. We believe that a computer is a tool just as a pencil is a tool. If when you draw with a pencil you draw junk the computer will only help you to make really shiny chrome junk. We have found that even our most technical graduates find that they need to be able to draw so that they can communicate their visual ideas.
A computer animated film takes as much time as a traditionally animated film to make. The computer does not make the film easier to make it merely changes the dynamics and the overall final aesthetics.
Other items of note:
Start carrying a sketchbook and draw all the time if you do not already do so.
Begin to study animation and illustration independently.
Work hard in all of your classes. The more you know about everything, the better you will do in the industry. Learn art, history, math, physics, English…..There are so many directions one can go in the animation industry. Don’t close doors before you have a chance to go through them. Learn to use both sides of your brain.
Be ready to receive criticism on your work. Parents usually think that everything their child has done is great. We on the other hand do not. We will be brutally honest, not to be rude, but to help you to improve. Taking criticism and learning and improving from it will be your key to success both in your studies and in your career. We can guarantee you that we will be much nicer in our critiques than you will receive once you are in the industry.
What Software should I learn before I come to school?
We typically do not recommend software or hardware as we find that our graduates go to varying places of employment, many of which use varying software titles including oftentimes their own proprietary software. For this reason we focus on teaching fundamental drawing and animation skills. However one software title that we do recommend that students learn is Adobe Photoshop which we have found as standard software throughout the industry. However, take advantage of any opportunity to use the computer. Those who aren’t comfortable with a computer struggle in our program as well as in the animation industry.
Do you offer tours of your facility?
Due to the high demand, we do not offer tours of our facilities. You can visit our Facilities web page and tours of the campus in general are available (you can get more information HERE). In addition, during spring/summer terms many of our faculty are on leave and there is not a lot of production activity to witness.
What types of companies are your alumni working for?
We have students who have/had positions at gaming and feature film companies including ILM, Dreamworks, Sony Animation and Imageworks, Disney, Pixar, Digital Domain, House of Moves, Blue Sky, Third Floor, Acclaim, Disney, Toon Disney, Riot Games Blizzard, Alias, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, and Viewpoint. Local game companies include: EA Salt Lake, Disney Interactive/Avalanche Software, Chair and Ninja Bee.