There are many terrific schools where special effects designers learn their craft, but one of the standouts is Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Los Angeles. We talked to Alex Alvarez, the school's founder, and peeked at recent student work.
In the gallery below, you can see some examples of work by recent graduates, as well as my interview with Alvarez, who explained how the school works. We were talking at Comic-Con, which is why you can see the giant Iron Man suits in the background - Gnomon recently partnered with the Stan Winston Studio, known for its practical character and creature effects (including Iron Man), so they were sharing a booth.
One of the things I've always liked about Gnomon is that they bring in VFX artists and concept designers who are working in Hollywood to teach classes - this really helps students get a feel for what the industry is looking for. You can take classes at the Gnomon campus (check out some pictures of the classrooms and workshops below), or you can take fairly low-cost online courses too. Students at Gnomon learn everything from practical effects - how to make physical models - to 3D effects software. As Alvarez says proudly, the school has a 90 percent placement rate for its graduates, many of whom work at places like ILM, Weta, and Blizzard, so going to school at Gnomon is a great way to break into the VFX world.
Basically I'm a sucker for gorgeous art, and I believe in getting a good education. So I like to see places like Gnomon thriving and growing. The school has been graduating students for 10 years now, which is forever in Hollywood time. Check out the gorgeous art from 2009 graduates - and if you've been itching to learn to do some yourself, why not pay Gnomon a visit? You can peruse their course offerings online at their website.