About the BYU Center for Animation
The BYU Center for Animation is a highly dynamic, hands-on program at Brigham Young University (located in Provo, UT) structured to provide students with the skill sets necessary for success in the animation, live-action, special effects, and game industries. With focus on both the artistic and technological aspects of animation, students are prepared to make appealing design decisions and have the technical know-how to execute it in a professional manner. Collaborative projects are the core of the BYU Animation Program as students of all skill levels and graduating classes are encouraged to actively participate in each year’s Senior Film or Game Project, allowing for real experience working with others in a pipeline before entering the industry.
The program is closed-enrollment, accepting on average 20-25 students per year. Students may gain entrance into the program through either the Animation route (to graduate with a BFA in Animation) or through the Computer Science Animation Emphasis route (to graduate with a BA in Computer Science: Animation Emphasis). Accepted applicants are generally familiar with both drawing and design principles as well as with CG programs such as Maya. Throughout the 3 years that follow acceptance, the students heavily increase their skills and develop a mature eye for design through hard work, experience, and teamwork. As an integral part of the program, collaboration is the basis for most of the classes and all of the senior projects (including the 3D senior film, 2D senior film, and senior video-game projects).
Moreover, the faculty of the Animation Program act more as mentors than instructors and do not teach using step-by-step processes. This is in order to help the students truly learn for themselves in the most effective way possible and specific to their individual needs. This freedom allows students to learn how to learn while developing their skills in their chosen area of interest. Most students choose to specialize in their chosen field by their Junior or Senior year after gaining generalized foundational skills, and they can choose anything from 2D animation to Special FX or anything in between as their focus. Because of this unique structure, the BYU Center for Animation consistently turns out excellent graduates every year that go into various parts of the pipeline. Our students frequently go on to work at studios such as Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, BlueSky, Sony, Blizzard, ILM, and many more.
Our mission statement as a program is to bring out the best in our students so that they can go forward and make an impact in the media for good. We love to see our students succeed in the industry, creating beautiful work and being an asset to the studios they work for. We continue to see our students go forward and create uplifting media everywhere they go, and we couldn’t be more proud of them and their successes.
From Humble Beginnings...
For most of BYU history, there was no animation program. However, near the turn of the century, Brent Adams, then a Salt Lake City architectural designer, started commuting to Provo to teach evening classes. Bitten by the teaching bug, Brent ended his career in architecture and, before he knew it, he had become the "Walt Disney" of BYU.
Through a series of miracles and the great generosity of many donors, the vision of an animation program was starting to become a reality. Out of the blue, a company in Alabama donated a significant amount of computer hardware to the university. When Adams asked why, the company’s president answered, “I don’t know; it just felt right.” Not long after that, Phoenix, Arizona home-builder Ira A. Fulton stepped into the picture and purchased a supercomputer for the program. Suddenly, BYU had the computing power to allow undergraduate students to produce quality animation. With increasing opportunities available to students wanting to pursue animation, the BYU animation program started to become more and more recognized.
Since then, the BYU animation program soon began attracting faculty members from companies like Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros.— and student produced films started turning the heads of entertainment executives from California to Cannes. In the program's first year, it had already won both a Student Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a Student Academy Award from the same group that hosts the Oscars. They continue to dominate these two competitions among several others. In addition, they’ve won Nickelodeon’s Producers’ Choice Award and Viewers’ Choice Award, and have been invited to show at festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, and Annecy. In 2010, University administrators decided to establish the BYU Center for Animation. The Center now operates under the direction of three colleges— the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
What industry leaders are saying about our program:
“It’s the perception not just of Pixar, but also at the other studios, that something pretty remarkable is happening here.” -Ed Catmull, in a speech on BYU Campus in 2008
“Honestly, the first few times I went to Provo, I was like: What am I doing here? I’m a little Jewish girl from back East. But I was just amazed by how absolutely lovely those kids are. They couldn’t be nicer, humbler, more respectful. It’s a pleasure. And when they come here, they stay that way.” -Marilyn Friedman, Former Head of Outreach at DreamWorks.
“It means there’s a maturity level there. If I’m a senior executive and I want to get people on my team, they’ve got to be hard-working and serious people. They’ve got to understand that this is a business— it’s not just art for art’s sake. The kids coming out of B.Y.U., they’ve got that box checked.” -Barry Weiss, Former Senior Vice President at Sony Animation and longtime Animation Executive
“...If we can add something to the culture that makes people think about being better human beings — more productive, more kind, more forgiving — that’s what we want to do.” -Brent Adams, founder of the Center for Animation