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3D Animation & VFX Training: Do You Only Get Out What You Put In?

“You only get out of school what you put in.”

This statement has always perplexed me. It puts 100% of the education responsibility on the student and none on the school. If you were to express this in math it would look something like this:

Where:

Student Effort = A

and

Training Result = B

Then A=B

I’ve heard this from several 3d animation or visual effects training institutions, particularly those trying to make an excuse for the generally low quality of their graduates. After all, if a student did poorly, it must be because they didn’t try very hard, right?
We certainly know that students who put more effort and time into their studies are more likely to get more knowledge, experience and skill out of a program or course, that is very true. But a student who is highly motivated might become successful even at the worst school, due to nothing but tenacity.

To say that student effort is the only factor is to also say that training quality is not a factor. Training quality is, of course, a major factor. Different schools have different philosophies. Some treat their school as merely a business wherein the goal is to profit as much as possible by offering the least possible and charging the most possible. Others care deeply about the success of their students almost despite the necessary business model. Either way, the quality of instructors, deep understanding of the material, and strong mentorship are a major factor. The equation really should read something more like this:

Where:

Student Effort = A

and

Training Quality = B

and

Training Result = C

Then A*B=C

Note that I didn’t say “A” plus “B”. I said “A” times “B”. Yes the effort of the student is multiplied by the effort of the school. It’s a gestalt. The whole is far, far greater than the sum of all the parts.
So you see, a school that tells you “You are only going to get out of school what you put into it” is copping out.

How do I know? I have worked with many young artists who didn’t get it, who were struggling and who maybe didn’t even know how much effort to apply in the first place. 3D animation and visual effects students like this under guidance can be made successful. Probably not all students, to be sure. But certainly most of them. This is the approach we take at CG Masters. I personally don’t believe anyone is a write-off. I have seen great successes in the most unlikely corners simply by understanding the nature of a flailing artist and taking the extra effort to lift them to success. Usually after one or two successes, they’re off and running. I love that.