CGSI's first Open Day took place last week, and we received so many great questions about our institute, the industry, and our courses that we thought we would share them on our blog. These questions were answered by a team of industry experts—artists, recruiters, academics, and our friendly admissions representative.
The replay is now available to watch online. Tune in to learn more about the career paths you could pursue, meet talented film and game artists, gain valuable industry insights, and listen to some inspiring conversations.
Questions About CG Spectrum Institute
Q: How do the lessons and classes work at CGSI? Is it like a “normal” college that has lessons every day?
A: We do things differently at CGSI and focus on ensuring that students make small course corrections weekly as opposed to doing the work, submitting, and never hearing back until you get your grade.
We achieve this by offering high-quality recorded weekly content, a mid-week live session and then recorded feedback at the end of the week. We also have an amazing community with TAs and graduates who you can lean on to help if you get stuck on some common problems.
Regardless of which specialisation/major you choose, if you were to be a full-time student, you would be doing three subjects per trimester (nine subjects a year). Each subject has recorded lectures and activities for you to complete and two or three hours a week of live online tutorials/workshops (time depends on the individual subject requirements). On top of this, you would be expected to engage in readings, assessment tasks, and practical activities and attend some extra assessment support clinics and guest lectures.
Q: Are there any exams, and if so, how does grading work?
A: There are some low-weighted tests that take place as the first assessment tasks in a few of the subjects, but for the majority, assessment tasks are designed to be scenario-based, practical and useful. They are designed so that students can use them to start curating their portfolios.
Q: Will there be any path for VR/AR?
A: We will be launching a Virtual Production specialisation within the Diploma/Degrees. The technical subjects are currently offered as a career track in the non-accredited courses, which you can check out. It doesn't specifically focus on just VR/AR, but the skills you learn can be applied directly to your interest.
If you decide to start studying Virtual Production at CGS, those subjects can be used as credit transfers when we launch the virtual production specialisation as part of our degrees and diplomas. So, if you don't want to wait to get started on your learning journey, you can enrol now with CG Spectrum and transfer those credits down the track.
Q: I see that the diplomas and degrees are FEE-HELP-approved. How would I go about getting that?
A: Provided that you're eligible, you'll select FEE-HELP as your preferred payment method during the application process. When you're offered a place, you'll receive a document called an eCAF that you'll fill out. We take care of the rest!
Q: I've completed some of CG Spectrum’s non-accredited courses; how many credits do I have, and what would my path be if I were to extend my education to include CG Spectrum Institute?
A: If you have studied previously at CGS, you will have already started learning some of the technical skills that we will be building upon in our degrees and diplomas. CG Spectrum Institute has a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) pathway for students who have taken other courses that pertain to CGSI’s degrees/diplomas. Our staff assesses each student's prior study and work on an individual basis. Students who have taken courses at CG Spectrum will be able to transfer into the degree and get credit for their completed subjects, as long as their work and study is deemed relevant by our staff, and that they meet all of CGSI's entry requirements.
Q: Do you have any courses or resources regarding marketing for artists?
A: As a part of the degrees, we've incorporated a lot of marketing and promotion education as part of our Core Subjects.
Q: Hi, I want to study outside of Australia, and I am worried that CGSI's degrees aren't recognised overseas.
A: That's a fair concern! We're regulated by the same body (TEQSA) as all of the major universities here in Australia, so our courses should be internationally recognised. We're happy to provide any necessary documentation to prove your student status if it were ever in question.
Q: Are payment plans available for International Students onshore? Also, is it possible to get a Student Visa with the courses provided?
A: Our standard payment option is kind of like a payment plan in and of itself; you pay for your subjects as you enrol into them each trimester. If you require smaller increments or instalments, that's something that we could discuss! We're not registered with CRICOS, so studying with us would not satisfy the requirements of an Australian Student Visa. Being an online institution, our students will study with us wherever they're located, and therefore student cannot apply for an Australia student Visa.
If you still have questions about this, the best thing to do is contact our admissions team and discuss your options. We try to make our education as accessible as possible and will aim to work with you and your financial situation.
Q: Will CGSI provide the licences for the tools required, or are we supposed to have our own subscription?
A: We'll provide you with an education licence for the duration of your study.
Q: Do you help us create a relevant portfolio at the end of the degree to where we would like to head in our career?
A: Yes, that is absolutely a focus throughout the course and specifically during the portfolio capstone subject. Your portfolio is your ticket into the industry. With the degree, we have also designed many excellent units of study that support your journey into the industry, which was discussed in detail in the Open Day (watch the replay here).
Q: Is the one-on-one mentorship option available as part of CGSI’s degrees?
A: The 1:1 option is only offered in the non-accredited courses through CG Spectrum at this point. CGSI still aim to keep their classes as small as possible to ensure a more intimate learning experience. If you need the flexibility and wish to have the 1:1 experience, you'll want to take one of CG Spectrum’s courses.
Q: Is there a course that allows you to take 2D and 3D animation simultaneously?
A: We encourage students to focus on one specialisation at a time and really master that first before moving on to another specialisation. We focus on preparing students for their journey into the industry and making sure that students have the skills to get a junior position. If you are interested in learning both 2D and 3D animation, you can take a range of shorter courses at CGS separately.
Q: What is the difference between CGS and CGSI?
A: the degree courses also have a strong focus on the technical skills and knowledge required to work in industry. The degree courses also have a rigorous suite of assessment tasks (usually three tasks per subject) that are integral to them. For more information, you can check out our page which outlines all the similarities and differences in more detail.
Q: Are there non-English-speaking mentors? Also, are there mentors in different time zones?
A: The CG Spectrum umbrella has over 170 different mentors from all over the world! If you enquire on the website, we'll be able to give you a bit more information on mentors for specific courses and whether they are available in your language.
Q: Will there be any graduation event at the end of the degree?
A: We will surely hold an event for our amazing grads!
Q: Are CGSI’s courses available part-time? Is it possible to work part-time while studying at CGSI?
A: We do offer part-time study options. Working while studying is possible! Any work plus full-time study can be intense; however, with some careful time management, it's doable. It might be worth considering part-time study if you need to work as well.
Q: Hi! I noticed that nothing was said about the application process from the acceptance rates by CGSI; I understand that this will change with the launch of the bachelor programs, but what is it currently at? How many applications do you get, and how many will you typically accept throughout the year?
A: The acceptance rate is based on your application and the course interest. We aim to keep our class sizes small, so as the courses are launched, we look at how that affects each class's learning. As the courses are new, we don't have a published acceptance rate yet.
Q: Hi, I am from the US. Due to complications during the pandemic, my school never delivered students of my year a physical diploma, but I do have my high school transcript, which I had previously used to apply to university. Can I use that to apply to CGSI?
A: Transcripts are totally fine!
Q: I feel like my current skill set is not enough to enrol. Is there a specific milestone that I should work towards to ensure my work is up to standards?
A: You never know! You should reach out to our admissions team to see where you are at, and they might be able to advise you. Remember that our courses are designed to start with the basics and are suitable for beginners.
Questions About the Film & Game Industry
Q: What would you say you would often look for as a recruiter?
A: [Answered by Kathy Constantin, Director - Core Strands (Creative Industries) at CGSI and former VFX recruiter] As a recruiter, when hiring juniors, I would look for the ability to talk about your work - people who can talk about their work, recognise their pitfalls and are eager and willing to learn and grow. And as mentioned throughout - passion! People who are genuinely excited about the industry and the role they are applying for are always promising.
Q: In your collective experience, is there space in this industry for people with disabilities?
A: Absolutely! The industry is very diverse, with artists from all walks of life. The most important aspect of being successful is your skillset, work ethic and ability to adapt to challenging situations.
Q: Hello, is age (I am over 40) an obstacle to being hired in this industry?
A: Age can be a huge positive! It means you have life and work experience —skills you’ve built over your life and career(s) that you can translate to your new role in film and games. Check out this article if you want to find out more, read our blog post about why it's not too late to enter the film and games industry.
Q: Regarding AI, I feel like there are jobs that will eventually be lost (just due to people becoming potentially more efficient), but do you feel that studios might also make their productions larger or produce more content that might potentially offset job losses?
A: Every industry has changed to become more efficient, so certainly, the entertainment industry is no different. I think, at the core, humans want to be entertained by humans. It is about a larger connection with what we see and feel and how stories resonate. Machines won't eliminate that.
Q: What would be your personal criteria for when you should just quit your job and focus on updating your portfolio/skillset? I'm currently in a position where if I stay at my job and work in my spare time, I would probably take longer than a year to update my portfolio since I can't allocate eight hrs. a day. On the other hand, I can quit my work and go all out on my portfolio update/self-development and, potentially, get into the studio I'm targeting.
A1: I would say that you have to make sure that you are looking out for your own well-being. That may mean taking a bit longer to reach your goals instead of taking risks that may lead to bad times if you don't succeed on your desired timeline.
A2: This really is a balancing act. When I left full-time employment in real estate to get my degree, I worked as much as I could part-time to support myself, and I had family support. Film was my passion, and if I made it, you can too, but it's about being smart and taking care of yourself, as well as putting in the extra time to prepare your skills and applications until you get a secure job.
Q: When hiring a junior at Luma Pictures, would you allow for work from home/work remotely immediately or is that more based on merit and time in the studio?
A: [Answered by our studio guest Jamy Zink, from Luma Pictures] We allow our junior artists to work from home and set up the artists so they have everything they need to be able to start from day one.
Q: Should I compare my journey to others in the industry?
A: Everyone has unique experiences throughout life where they encounter different opportunities or lack thereof, so I would say that it is not ideal to compare yourself directly to someone else. What you can do is look at other people's efforts and practices and try to mimic the successful person's work ethic and commitment. If you are all in on learning and you make sure that you are practising and challenging yourself in perpetuity, then you will succeed.
Questions About Digital Art
Q: Will I require a graphics tablet to study the Digital Art course?
A: A graphics tablet is highly recommended for any of the Digital Art specialisations. It would be hard to efficiently complete the course without one, but it is possible. If you are planning to enter the industry, you would be much more prepared as this is standard hardware used in studios.
Q: Should I be worried about the possible impact of AI on concept art specifically?
A: [This question was also answered live on Open Day] In short, sure, studios can use AI to create art, but they will struggle with their product being derivative/predictable, which would lead to a fairly mediocre product. Having used AI for client work, I can tell you that it is extremely limited but can be helpful in certain ways. To learn more, read our blog post about AI art and how will it impact artists.
Q: I'm hoping to become a concept artist, but as I'm following many skilled professionals in this area through different social media, I see lots of gaps between their projects. In your experience, how consistent is the work?
A: Projects can take years to complete, so it may be that the gaps you are seeing are related to that. As far as consistency for freelancers, you do have to spend time advertising your skills and waiting for opportunities that suit your skills and style. The harder you work at getting your name out there and increasing your skill quality, the more work you will be able to get.
Q: I would love to apply for the concept art course, however, I don't own Photoshop, nor have I had any Blender experience. Will I need to get an Adobe subscription, and do I need to show Blender knowledge in my portfolio?
A: CGSI will be providing licenses (or potentially providing reimbursements) for any required software, such as Photoshop. You definitely won't need to showcase Blender skills in your portfolio—for our Concept Art major, the most important thing to demonstrate is that you're comfortable illustrating in a digital medium/format.
Q: As someone who currently creates art in a 'traditional' manner and only really dabbles in digital art, would I require some other course to get me ready to take part in the concept art/illustration course?
A: We do have some beginner workshops that can help with some basic drawing techniques and some Photoshop how-to content. Digital painting is not actually that hard to wrap your head around as we don't get ultra technical with all of what Photoshop can do, especially at the beginning.
Q: If I were to apply to study the Digital Art degree, what should I include in the required portfolio submission?
A: For the concept art specialisation/major, it is important to show examples of your drawing skills. It is also helpful to see some of your design skills (something that you have created from your imagination rather than art copied from photos or existing art). For 2D animation specialisation/major, a general understanding of drawing concepts and lots of examples of (real) people and animals (not cartoony) should be sufficient!
Q: I’m considering crossing over from 2D to 3D animation—is that possible? And do I need drawing skills for 2D animation?
A: There are many possibilities for crossover from 2D animation to 3D animation. Scott Claus is a great example of moving from 2D to 3D Animation. If you specifically want to start out in 2D animation, it's important to understand the foundations of 2D animation, but it depends on what you want to achieve within 2D animation. South Park is obviously hugely successful but doesn't rely highly on "traditional" drawing skills.
Q: I want to become a concept artist with a focus on character design. What is a good way to improve drawing characters?
A: Anatomy and perspective. If you are guessing at how things look because you have never examined and practised how things look, then your characters will expose that lack of understanding. You should practice every day so that you can build a solid understanding and then draw from that memory. Also, use reference, don't guess, and don't rely solely on memory as your memory fades.
Q: What should I focus on as I build my 2D animation portfolio? What are some important aspects of it in terms of demonstrating your skillsets?
A: [Answered by our industry guest from Princess Bento, Jess Hopcraft] Focus on anatomy and perspective with your drawing, and if you're focussing on animation, practice simple animation, watch videos (Onion Skin on YouTube is great), and follow animation directors and animators on LinkedIn and Instagram, they often share advice and tutorials. Animation is sometimes about drawing skills and sometimes about technical skills, so work out where your passion and skills lie.
Q: What is a concept artist's role in a gaming company? Is it a full-time job in gaming companies, or is it only a project-based/freelance job?
A1: It can be both. It depends on the studio and/or client, their budget, and how much work they require. If they have a lot of work, then they will likely hire a full-time artist. If they only have a couple of assets, they may hire a freelancer.
A2: They will actually hire both. The in-studio concept artists will be working on the core assets, and they may outsource some of the smaller or tertiary assets to individual freelancers or outsource studios. They may also just need a bit of extra help, so they may contract someone for a short time to fill the gap.
Questions About VFX & Animation
Q: I'm hoping to study 3D modelling as a complete beginner. Do you think CGS/I is the right choice for me?
A: Absolutely! We start from the ground up. We begin with simple concepts and move outward from there.
Q: Which would you say, the 3D Animation or the FX specialisation, would be better for someone who wants to focus more on the Composing part of the 3D pipeline?
A: Compositing is more integrated into the FX specialisation, and you will learn basic compositing skills. If you are specifically interested in Digital Compositing, we also offer a 12-month intensive Compositing course at CG Spectrum with a very high placement rate. VFX compositors are in high demand in the industry.
Q: Is it possible for a novice in his forties from a developing country to learn this interwoven discipline and become an animator?
A: Yes, it's absolutely possible. We have a very diverse student body from all age ranges and skill levels. We teach animation from the ground up, or you can submit your portfolio for us to review, and we can recommend the best place for you to start.
Questions About Game Development
Q: Hi, if I want to learn how to build a very simple game engine (modeller, renderer, simple physics engine ), what is the best path for me? I’m planning to spend about three years.
A: We teach C++, mainly in conjunction with Unreal Engine, so we don't really offer a curriculum aimed at building custom engine features. Having said that, exposure to a AAA engine like UE can teach you volumes about how modern engines do what they do - especially since, with Unreal, you have access to the source code for the entire engine.
Q: What path would you recommend as valuable for Technical Design?
A: Our game design courses are fairly technical, so you would likely find them valuable as a basis for a tech design path.
Q: Is there an expected timeframe as to when the game programming specialisation will be available?
A: We're looking at launching the Game Programming specialisation this year based on interest, which we are seeing a lot of!
Q: I'm currently developing a game as a hobby. What is the process for copyright and property rights protection as an indie developer?
A: If you're in the US, go to uspto.gov and dig in. It's pretty dense, but the information is all there. Keep in mind that until you're ready to publish, you really don't need to worry. You already have significant protections just by virtue of the dates on your files.