A few years ago, three in-demand studio animators—Bobby Beck (Finding Nemo), Shawn Kelly (Transformers) and Carlos Baena (Ratatouille)—joined forces to make their shared vision of a school that would prepare students around the globe for the rigors of a Hollywood animating career a reality. AnimationMentor.com, the 18-month online program they devised, opened its virtual doors on March 27, 2005. With just 350 students and five employees at the end of its first year, the school now boasts 700 pupils and a staff of 28.
According to marketing manager Monique Shih, the company’s rapid growth is a result of the prescience of its three founders. “They discovered through their experience in the animation industry that art school graduates have a difficult time breaking into the job market,” she says. “After watching many reels over the years, they found that applicants are competent generalists but are under-trained in the true art of animation, which motivated them to start the school.”
AnimationMentor.com students graduate with a certified diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation. The curriculum’s focus on character animation, Shih says, gives students a leg up as they embark on their animating careers: “Students can break free of the ‘generalist’ mold and truly show that they are not merely ‘computer artists,’ but they are animators.”
Since Beck, Kelly and Baena wanted AnimationMentor.com to be as accessible as possible, regardless of a student’s location, they opted for an online program rather than a physical campus. Says Shih, “One of the most exciting aspects of AnimationMentor.com is that we have been able to integrate cutting-edge technology with the Internet, thus erasing all geographical boundaries! Students don’t have to turn their schedules upside down to be personally mentored by a professional animator. AnimationMentor.com brings top animators who are currently working at major feature animation studios right into students’ homes!”
With many students landing jobs once they graduate, industry buzz is building around AnimationMentor.com. CEO Beck says the school has only just begun. “AnimationMentor.com plans to continue to offer the best character animation training on the planet,” he says. “We’ve added new Maya Training, and continue to work to improve our curriculum and the student experience!”
Visit http://www.animationmentor.com for more information.