The Advent of Online College
There is a staggering amount of people taking college classes online these days. I consider it a very reasonable option for education past high school. It is not without its pitfalls, however. Budgeting your time is a must. You can't let yourself give in to the temptations that will make you fail. It is so easy to just turn on the television, endlessly browse Reddit, or fire up the Xbox and let hours go by. You must be highly self-disciplined and in control of your feelings. As challenging as that may be, it is more than possible.
I have been attending Full Sail University Online since 2011 and I have definitely gone on quite a journey. In short, life happened, and for years I was out of school, and I owed the school over six grand in fees to retake classes, student loans looming in the distance. In 2016, I got a pretty awesome letter in the mail. They would wipe out my debt owed and offer me an opportunity to be enrolled in their Certificate in Media Communications Program. I quickly snatched that offer up and eight years later I can finally, proudly say I graduated.
The following is a journey to graduation, containing brief overviews of the courses that helped me evolve the professional within. I hope my story inspires you to grow, make, create, and keep going no matter what you choose to do in life.
Full Sail's Computer Animation Program
Fundamentals of Art 1
This class mainly dealt with the basics of color, composition, and some paper sculpting at the end as well. You get more familiar with your tablet that they send you as part of the program. It's an amazing piece of technology I believe every student and professional artist should utilize.
Jumping right in, my first class was English Comp. Every class is tailored towards your degree so while I have taken an English 101 before in community college, it didn't transfer to FS at all. I enjoyed the class though and I remember writing a paper on what made us angry and pissed off. I think that was a free A for everybody.
Ethics and Psychology
Another class that strays from the core learning path of animation is Ethics and Psychology. We had to create a collage of what represents us and why and I had Master Chief from Halo in mine. For me his symbolizes strength, enduring. Rising to the occasion in the face of impossible odds. It was a fun and interesting class and the work load wasn't too bad at all.
3DF brought me right into what it means to be an animator, to make animations and apply colors, textures, lights, and skeletal rigs to make your scenes replicate life. I had to model a piece of furniture using the 3D software program Maya. It's what the professionals use to make your jaws drop in movies, television and advertisements. My first animation you see below is a long way away from that but for the first class dealing with core curriculum I didn't expect to do anything beyond basic geometry modeling. A great exercise nevertheless.
Fundamentals of Art 2
This class builds on the subjects learned in FA1. Character drawings are touched on in more depth and you delve into things like character demographics, more advanced Photoshop techniques, and animal studies just to name a few concepts. The traditional art style is the best way to get your ideas down quickly, then transfer and clean up in digital.
One of my favorite classes and probably the toughest I've ever had. 40-50 hour estimated project times. Not surprising considering just how many detailed models you had to create. After this class was over I left with the confidence of being able to model almost anything, even if it was objects in a room from a 2D photograph. I love to model and I feel its my strongest ability in the field.
Shading and Lighting
A very fun and interesting class right here. First you are introduced to lighting scenes and the different types of lights themselves. Lighting in movies and television are carefully selected, every source accounted for, just like animation. We learned how to solve noise issues in your final renders, how to soften shadows, add color, textures and bump maps to make your models look life like as possible for a foundation class.
Enter Media Communications
I was excited to get back into class and was more than ready to dive in, full speed ahead. The deal was 8 months, 4 classes, 2 months each. Assignments and classes were varied and full of valuable information. I loved that almost every assignment was to create. Visuals, audio and video, websites, presentations, press releases and much more.
Intro to MC and Technologies
This intro class touched on the basics of Media Communications. Media analysis, campaigns, tools and the plethora of career paths one may choose. It is a giant umbrella, from boom operators to marketing coordinators, there are fields for creatives, corporate types and everything in between. We made an intro video and that was actually my first foray into the video medium. This class was a great way to get back in the school groove, and it only left me hungry for more.
New Media Tools
This class delved into the new ways entities are reaching their followers. We essentially had to create a new social media account on Facebook and fill it with plenty of posts and content. I created a niche page for everything computer generated, CG_Excursions. I created a Youtube channel, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and many other platforms for this brand. I may revive it in the future but for now it lies dormant while I work on other prospects. It was a great exercise on all the components needed to draw in followers and get your business or brand out there and active with their community.
We were also tasked with creating infographics with Piktochart. Created presentations using Prezi as well (I will never use Power Point again). Another great class that absolutely flew by in no time. I was hyped and more than ready to start the next course.
- Media Platform Tips & Tricks by Christopher Rago on Prezi
Build up your brand with these powerful media tools.
Aesthetics and Theory of Communications
Aesthetics, or the look and feel of a work is mainly what this class focused on. Art is an expression of feeling after all. What feelings do you want to convey and how will you achieve that visually? We created these mood boards that assist a production team in being on the same page, creating in sync. Not just visuals but the feelings as well. Color and shape are such vital components to feeling and most of us don't even realize the influence we are experiencing. Take product packaging for instance, You are more inclined to buy a product that has packaging enticing to the eye. The power of design is all around.
The last course focused on perfecting our resume, portfolio and how to craft the perfect cover letter. We learned about the importance of customizing your resume and cover letter to your potential employer and their company. Doing a little bit of research goes a long way and employers appreciate a candidate who shows interest in a company's past, what they have done, and how you can make them grow. We made mission statement videos as well. A mission statement is what we aim to achieve. It was interesting to see my fellow class mates and their empowering declarations.
I learned so much over the span of these courses and I truly feel battle ready when it comes to getting out into the world and creating. I am armed with more knowledge in the field of communications, branding, and marketing. I sharpened and honed my skills in art and media creation techniques, I now have higher confidence to create for myself and others. I was able to boost The Odd Spartan name and the path to perfecting my own brand becomes more clear every day. To the future!
Thanks for going on an overview of my journey with me. I would not hesitate to enroll in an online college if you are on the fence. My experience is just one of many, but how do you know if you will succeed or not if you don't try? I have some links to Full Sail at the bottom of this article if you want to know more about the programs they offer.
- Gradution Speech by crago300 | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Stream Gradution Speech by crago300 from desktop or your mobile device
- Launchbox - Computer Animation : Full Sail
Full Sail University's Computer Animation Bachelor's Degree is designed to empower students with the artistic abilities to create 3D computer graphics.
- Full Sail University: Campus and Online Degrees
This Award-Winning School for Entertainment Media offers an exceptional education in both on-campus and online associates, bachelors, and masters degree programs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Gery on January 19, 2016:
Hi im looking to get into Full Sail Animation program as well, Is it Mandatory that you know how to draw before starting the program? Because i have notions but not much really.
Roshan on February 24, 2015:
Cheers pal. I do appceriate the writing.
Raptor on July 24, 2014:
I am in my first month for computer animation, I'm heading to my fourth week Sunday, so far it's been great, I've got good grades, the work isn't easy sometimes, but I can't wait to start drawing and animating, I have a 1 up on my class seeing how I am experienced in both, but I can't wait to do it, to show off a little, your work is amazing, I'd love to see what you can do after you graduate.
Dcharris on June 30, 2014:
Thank you for this post. I am currently in the process of going through the same classes. I look forward to reading more of your post.
Christopher Rago (author) from Riverside, NJ on February 21, 2013:
Thank you, and yes it really is great. Different in the best ways possible.
Chetan Jariwala from San Jose on January 18, 2013:
Full sail is a great school. nice article