Develop your skills in animation to create authentic characters and stories that have a real impact.
At CCA, all animation is a process of experimentation. Our program’s collaborative environment encourages students to learn from one another, deepen their understanding of character and emotion, and hone their technical expertise. With guidance from some of the best animators in the industry, you’ll learn how to make 2D animation, 3D animation, visual effects for video games, stop-motion animation, and more.
At the heart of our curriculum is rigorous interdisciplinarity, meaning you’ll extend your artistic reach beyond the work of a standard animation studio. You’ll study the media of the fine artist—drawing, sculpture, acting, storytelling—to develop your unique film grammar, including the way you build your frames, shots, scenes, and sequences. This kind of immersive, interdisciplinary practice not only shapes you into a well-rounded maker, but also gives you an edge when you enter the industry.
Experiment in our open-lab environment
Our various studios, shops, and labs are spaces to develop core studio skills, including life drawing, color and design, digital painting, storytelling and dialogue, acting, and character animation. State-of-the-art equipment, such as our 24-inch Cintiq monitors, help students hone their technical expertise in 3D animation, sound effects, layout and lighting, and post-production processes.
State-of-the-art animation tools
- Drawing light tables
- 27-inch iMac workstations
- Wacom Cintiq displays for digital drawing
- Dragonframe, Toon Boom’s Harmony, and Storyboard Pro
- Down-shooter cameras for stop-motion animation
- Foley room for voice-overs and sound effects
- Sound studio for mixing and editing soundtracks
- Latest Autodesk software, including Maya and Mudbox
- Hybrid Lab for experimental making
Our faculty, which also include visiting artists, work on a wide range of projects, including animation software tools, app development, illustration for magazines and newspapers, gallery commissions, and short films. Many of them are part of animation teams for DreamWorks, Pixar, Tippett, and other studios that have won prestigious awards for their animated films.
With a background in fine arts and a master’s of science in computer graphics, Co-chair Rick Vertolli brings the technical and aesthetic skills of both worlds together. He’s helped transform our program into one that mirrors a real production environment. Prior to joining CCA, Vertolli helped start an applied computer graphics major at California State University, Chico, one of the first of its kind to focus on animation and animation production.
Co-chair Andrew Lyndon is an animator, filmmaker, and videographer who makes freelance multimedia work, narrative films, standalone video, and video theater sets. Lyndon has been a digital imaging and video instructor at Pixar Animation Studios and has developed trailers and title sequences for numerous film festivals and documentaries. In 2008, he was the National Endowment for the Arts artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
Gain technical skills for exceptional storytelling
Animation at CCA explores the complexity of human movement and the artistry of motion, putting you on a path toward profound visual decision making. Courses hone technical expertise in timing and spacing, weight, and other key animation principles. You’ll learn to combine the skills of both director and actor to create characters with authentic emotion and tell stories that make a real impact. View sample course descriptions
Investigate ideas through every dimension
Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.
Our students graduate from the program with a strong foundation in fine arts. Alumni are prepared to combine their love for animation entertainment with the technical skills needed to work in filmmaking and gaming or to establish their own personal art practices. They find success in roles at award-winning studios, such as Bento Box Entertainment; write and illustrate graphic novels; work as 3D artists for game design companies, such as Encyclopedia Pictura; and exhibit their artwork in museums and galleries.
Potential career paths
- Animator at a small- or medium-sized studio
- Animator at a major studio like Pixar or Blue Sky
- Visual development artists for a film or television studio
- Visual development artist for gaming
- 3D asset creator for a gaming studio
- Independent animation artist
Our students love feature films, experimental cinema, and animation entertainment. They choose our program for its supportive critique environment and inquisitive community. Whether they’re interested in commercial work or independent studio practices, they share a desire to deepen their craft and personal expression through the artistry of motion.