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School of Animation & Visual Effects

Animation School: Facility Highlights

The state-of-the-art facilities at Academy of Art University's School of Animation & Visual Effects feature the same cutting-edge technology used by leading animation studios. Whether students are in the Associates, Bachelors or Masters degree program, they have access to world-class equipment. This includes industry-standard digital technology for 2D and 3D animation, a Cintiq lab, HD cameras and more.


School of Animation Locations

Strategically located in the heart of San Francisco, Academy of Art University's School of Animation benefits from close proximity to industry giants like Pixar and Industry Light & Magic. Students in the animation graduate school and undergraduate school have the opportunity to learn from professionals in one of the epicenters of the animation industry.


Animation Student Facilities

Using the latest in digital technology and the best classic equipment, Animation college students create new worlds and unique characters. Digital labs are open from early in the morning until after midnight and are staffed by knowledgeable lab technicians. Students of 2D and 3D animation have access to world-class facilities, including:

  • Computer Lab Facilities:

    • High-end PC work stations loaded with state-of-the-art software programs like: Maya, Z-Brush, Adobe, Renderman and more
    • Mac work stations, including stations with Final Cut Pro for input/output
    • Peripheral devices like: Wacom tablets, Cintiq tablets, firewire, DVD burners and printers
    • Scanner work stations
  • Video Lab Facilities:

    • Mac work stations with Final Cut Pro for input and output
    • HD video capabilities for location shoots and green room shoots
    • DVD authoring
  • Sound Facilities:

    • Sound booth with Sound Forge software
  • Green Screen studio:

    • Full array of lighting equipment, including grid lighting, scrims, gel frames, green props, key lights and more
    • HDV Cameras
    • Real-time composite monitors

How a Green Screen Studio Works:

With Green Screen Studio technology, students can create special effects and backgrounds for their films. Academy of Art University's facilities feature the largest green screen in Northern California, enabling students to bring all their creative visions to life.

The Green Screen Studio Process:

  1. Students shoot scenes in the Green Screen studio. They have access to HDV cameras, lighting, props, play back monitors, technicians and more.
  2. Students take the footage and input data into Final Cut Pro on a Mac, creating a file that can be used on any of the lab's PC or Mac computers.
  3. The footage from the Green Screen is then composited with visual effects like water, air, buildings and more using MAYA or other programs.
  4. The final product is then taken to the video lab and the DVD is authored, which allows the viewer to see the final product on their DVD reader like a standard professional film.

Animation Programs

In addition to learning classic techniques, students in the School of Animation use the same cutting-edge software as top animation studios. Students graduate prepared for success in the professional world of animation. Software programs used include:

  • Maya – A software program used for CG, 3D modeling and animation
  • Z-Brush – A digital sculpture program that allows users to build layer upon layer using a brush and a Wacom or Cintiq tablet to create 3D models
  • Renderman – Pixar's rendering software, which makes CG materials look realistic.
  • Render Farm – A large array of computers that are dedicated to rendering many shots simultaneously. This is the program Industrial Light & Magic and other studios use.
  • Compositing – A program that combines visual elements from separate sources into single images. This is often used to create the illusion that all elements are part of the same scene.

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Academy of Art University - School of Animation & Visual Effects
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