The digital video major prepares students for success in industries such as film and video production, animation visual effects, producing and directing, television, gaming, web and interface design, and newsgathering. A typical program prepares students for careers in these fields and others through an immersive and cross-disciplinary curriculum that consists of courses such as digital video production, motion graphics, digital media, special effects, graphic design, drawing, characters and vehicles animation, 3D modeling environments and FX, lighting, drawing, and character rigging.
Students will also master industry-current applications such as 3D Studio Max and Maya, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Avid Pro Tools, Final Cut, and many others. Because digital video artists have such a diverse skill set, they are in high demand in the industries listed earlier as well as advertising, scientific and professional services, and social advocacy organizations."
Although demand is high, breaking into any creative industry isn’t easy. While an associate degree may be enough for an assistant or other entry-level position, most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited program. Besides a bachelor’s degree in digital video, employers look for candidates with a degree in film & video, film, film studies or film and media studies, digital video production, digital cinema, film and animation or digital film and animation, or radio/TV/film.
Fortunately, film programs are quite easy to come by at colleges and universities across the U.S. In the State of Virginia, a number of colleges offer competitive programs for aspiring digital video artists. Just a few include School of the Visual Arta (SOVA) at Virginia Tech, Eastern Mennonite University, and Mary Baldwin College. Let’s take a look at the best options for aspiring digital video artists and where they are located.
Virginia Digital Video Schools
Marymount University - Degrees Offered: BA Communication with a Minor in Media and Performance Studies
School of the Visual Arts (SOVA) at Virginia Tech - Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Arts with a Major in Animation or Creative Technologies; MFA Creative Technologies
University of Virginia - Degrees Offered: BA Media Studies; Minor in Film, Media Studies
George Mason University - Degrees Offered: BA Film & Video; MFA Art and Visual Technology with an Emphasis in New Media; Minor Film and Media
Hampton University - Degrees Offered: BA English with an Emphasis in Film and Television; Minor in Film Studies
Eastern Mennonite University – Degrees Offered: AA, BS Communication; Minor Digital Communication, Digital Video Production
James Madison - Degrees Offered: BFA Media Art and Design with a Concentration in Digital Video and Cinema
Liberty University - Degrees Offered: BS Studio and Digital Arts: Communication with Cinematic Arts Concentration, Communication Studies with Digital Media Concentration, Visual Communication Arts with Studio Art Concentration; MA Communication Studies with Media and Communication Studies Concentration
Old Dominion University - Degrees Offered: BA, BS Communication with a Cinema & TV Production or Film Studies Concentration; BA Theater and Dance with a Theatre Concentration – Cinema Production Emphasis; Minor Film Studies
Radford University – College of Visual & Performing Arts - Degrees Offered: Interdisciplinary Minor in Cinematic Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) - Degrees Offered: BA Cinema; BFA, MFA Photography and Film with a Concentration in Filmmaking; MFA Kinetic Imaging (Video Art, Experimental Animation, Sound Art and Emerging Media)
Mary Baldwin College - Degrees Offered: BA Studio Art with an Emphasis in Extended Media; BA Film Studies, Film Production; Minor in Film Studies, Film Production
Regent University – Degrees Offered: BA Animation, Cinema-Television; MFA Film & TV: Directing or Producing; MA Film & TV: Production, Producing; Minor Animation, Cinema-Television
The Art Institute of Virginia Beach – Degrees Offered: BFA Media Arts & Animation; Diploma Digital Image Management
The Film Connection, which has locations across the country, offers Film Editing and Cinematography programs leading to a Certificate of Completion. The school's Virginia facilities serve students in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Petersburg, Roanoke, and Lynchburg.
More Virginia Digital Video related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for Virginia Digital Video Artists
Virginia is home to 47,510 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations. The average salary for ADESM professionals is $56,240 per year, down from $57,120 in 2012 when the state was home to 50,770 ADESM professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “employment of art and design occupations is projected to grow two percent from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average for all occupations, adding about 16,700 new jobs.”
The Bureau states that, “employment will increase from about 773,100 jobs in 2014 to about 789,700 jobs in 2024. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, television, and on smartphones. As companies continue to increase their digital presence, more art and design workers will be needed to help create visually appealing and effective layouts of websites and other media platforms.”
The median annual wage for art and design occupations was $43,100 in May 2014, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $35,540. Because media artists work in a range of industries, employment and salary trends vary greatly. Let’s take a look at trends for some of the most popular industries for digital video artists.
Film & Video Editing: In 2012, Virginia was home to 310 salaried film & video editors. Today, the state is home to 250 film & video editors. In 2012, Virginia-based film & video editors averaged $65,020. Today, the average salary is $62,750. The Bureau reports an 11 percent increase in employment for the 2014-2024 decade, which will result in about 6,400 new jobs. Growth is faster than average for all occupations.
Producing and Directing: Virginia is home to around 1,640 salaried producers and directors. They average $70,140 per year down from $73,770 in 2012 when the state was home to 1,620 professionals in this field. The Bureau reports a nine percent increase in employment for the 2014-2024 decade, which will result in about 11,100 new jobs. Growth is faster than average for all occupations.
Multimedia Art & Animation: Virginia is home to 410 salaried multimedia artist & animators, down from 500 in 2012-2013 when they averaged $58,980. Fortunately, salaries are on the rise. Virginia-based multimedia artists & animators average $62,260 per year. The Bureau reports a six percent increase in employment for the 2014-2024 decade, which will result in about 3,900 new jobs. Growth is as fast as average for all occupations.
Media and Communication: In 2012, Virginia was home to 960 salaried media and communication professionals. Average earnings were $41,710 to $80,170 annually. Today, the population is just a tad less at 950, and average earnings are $40,220 to $85,340 annually. The Bureau reports a four percent increase in employment for the 2014-2024 decade, which will result in 27,400 new jobs. Growth is as fast as average for all occupations.
It is important to note that many artists and designers work independently. Depending on the industry, these independent artists may earn more than salaried workers earn. For example, according to the Bureau, “Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” has the highest concentration of employment in the ADESM industry, with an average salary of $70,260 per year. It had the fifth highest level of employment, the third highest concentration of employment, and the second highest average salary for the producers and directors industry at $125,570 per year.
‘Independent Artists’ has second highest concentration of employment in the multimedia art and animation industry, with an average salary of $75,150 per year and it has the third highest level of employment for film and video editors, with an average salary of $72,290.
While opportunities for digital video artists can be found across the state, major cities often offer a greater number of opportunities. Consider Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Arlington, and Richmond. Other cities worth looking into include Newport News, Alexandria, Hampton, Roanoke, and Portsmouth.
Awesome Animation Fact: The original voice of Bugs Bunny is Mel Blanc who gave the rabbit a Brooklyn/Bronx accent. Blanc, who died in 1989, also "voiced" Looney Tune's growling, screeching character—the Tasmanian Devil, also known as "Taz," along with nearly 400 other distinct character voices.