animationmentor.jpgIt’s not uncommon to see ads for online universities on your favorite Website, or even have them pop-up with an accidental click of the mouse. Like many people, you’ve probably wondered about these schools—are they real? Will they help? Are they reputable? The answers to those questions are yes, yes and yes… at least if you’re talking about Animation Mentor.

The first school of its kind, Animation Mentor offers its international student body a diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation. Courses are taught by experienced animators, employed by some of the top companies in the field (i.e. Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, Dreamworks and Sony Pictures Imageworks). “We call our teachers ‘mentors,’ because this is exactly what they do: One-on-one mentoring, in addition to leading interactive Web classes,” says Animation Mentor CEO and president Bobby Beck.

This online film school began from a conversation between Beck and his peers Shawn Kelly (ILM) and Carlos Baena (Pixar). What and how would they want to learn if they were given the chance to begin again? Establishing an online school was an obvious choice, Beck explains: “All of our mentors spend long days working on films such as Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean and Ratatouille, and the Internet provides the best way for them to teach at the same time.” Last month, the student body gathered in San Francisco to celebrate the commencement of its first class, and since then many graduates have already received job offers from the top studios. Looks like this online education revolution just might work out.

Looking to apply? Head over to for more information.

Sound Off: Animation Mentor seems to have found a way to optimize online education. Do you think this kind of long-distance learning can work with other moviemaking specialties? Let us know in the comments section!

Photo: Student Taylor Mahoney participating in an online class with microphone and headset.  Courtesy of Animation Mentor.