From the Cliffs of Moher and The Ring of Kerry to The Rock of Cashel and Trinity College, Ireland is home to awe-inspiring landscapes and some of the world’s oldest structures. In between, you will find a thriving art scene (check out the Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA, National Gallery of Ireland, and National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History), world-famous shopping destinations such as Dublin's Grafton Street, Brown Thomas and Temple Bar Markets, and some of the best pubs on the planet. The Stags Head, McDermott’s Pub, and The Pavilion are just a few.
Besides beautiful scenery, a vibrant art and culture scene, and endless shopping opportunities and nightlife, Ireland is home to some of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. For example, Trinity College was established in 1592, making it Ireland’s oldest college and one of the oldest in the world. The school is also the country’s leading university. Other historic colleges include the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), founded in 1746, Queen’s University (1845), and NUI Galway (1845).
Thanks to an animation scene that has been described as “booming” by Conor Sheehy, VP of Technology, Consumer & Business Services at IDA Ireland, many of these schools actively support the industry by offering educational programs that prepare students to work at animation studios both at home and overseas. Just a few leading studios in Ireland include Cartoon Saloon (Kilkenny), Brown Bag Films (Dublin, Manchester UK, Santa Monica, CA, and Boulder Media (Dublin), which was acquired by Hasbro in 2016.
Besides the schools listed earlier, Dublin’s Coláiste Dhúlaigh (College of Further Education), the Irish School of Animation (ISA) at Ballyfermot/College of Further Education, and Pulse College offer top-rated programs for aspiring animators. Let’s take a look the types of programs these schools offer, along with other popular options across the country.
National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland
The National College of Art and Design’s (NCAD) School of Design houses the Visual Communication Program. Here, students can earn a BA or MA in Visual Communication. The BA takes three years to complete and students can add two years to complete the MFA. Visual Communication students study drawing, printing, photography and other graphic processes, along with the “new digital realms” of video, sound, animation, moving image and multimedia. Per NCAD, as students make their way through the program, they will “undertake both real/commercial projects and self-directed projects, which are negotiated between tutor and student.”
MA students will “integrate research, creative practice and contemporary cultural theory within and beyond their chosen discipline, leading to a body of work that positions the student on an international stage.”
Institute of Art, Design + Technology, Dublin, Ireland
Institute of Art, Design + Technology (IADT) offers a BA in Animation that takes four years to complete. Per IADT, students in the program will “learn the techniques and skills needed for animated features, TV production, TV commercials, special FX, short films, and traditional as well as CGI animation.” They will also “develop the creative, theoretical and technical skills appropriate to gaining an animation degree and learn from real experiences, whether individually or as part of a group.”
Sample courses include Film and Animation History, Design for Animation, Digital Skills for Animation, Animation Principles, and Design for Animation Production, the Animated Character Performance, Group Industry, and Professional Practice and Advanced Digital Skills for Animation Production.
Worth a mention: In 2016, graduates of the Animation Program at IADT received a combined total of 24 nominations for Irish Student Animation Awards at the Dingle Animation Festival.
Coláiste Dhúlaigh (College of Further Education), Dublin, Ireland
Coláiste Dhúlaigh (College of Further Education) offers a BA in Animation that takes three years to complete. Students in the program will develop skills in the areas of Animation Principles, Experimental Animation, Stop Motion Animation, Life Drawing, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Digital Animation, Special Effects, Compositing, Film and Critical Studies, Layout, Scriptwriting, Character Design, and Storyboarding. During the third year of the program, students will focus on “developing a major animation production project from a set of specific briefs,” per the school. Students “gain experience in planning a pre-production, production and post production work flow. This culminates in a completed animated short.”
Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue careers in Animation studio Production and Development, Illustration, Computer Games, Film, Multimedia, Advertising, Graphic Design, and more.
Irish School of Animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education, Dublin, Ireland
Irish School of Animation (ISA) at Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE) offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include a BA in Animation, a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Classical and Computer Animation, and a Certificate in Art (Animation Drawing Studies). Per ISA, the BA program “is composed of both practical and theoretical modules: Production, Life Drawing, Research and Development, Historical and Theoretical Analysis, Personal Program of Study, and Dissertation.”
The HND highlights “Animation, Computer Animation and Modelling, Visual Language, Layout, Design History Theory and Practice (with Film Studies), Life Drawing, Studio Practice and Design History Theory and Practice (with Script Writing).” The Certificate program includes the following courses: Life Drawing, Drawing and Painting, Animation and Layout Studies, Sculpture, Art and Animation History, Communications, Work Experience, and Drama.
Pulse College, Dublin, Ireland
In partnership with Griffith College, Pulse College offers full and part-time programs for animators. Options include a three-year BA in Animation (full-time), a two-year Diploma in Animation (full-time), and a part-time two-year Animation Diploma. The school also offers short courses including Intro to Animation, Traditional Clay Sculpting Techniques, and Sequential Art and Design.
The BA program covers everything from the Basics of Animation and 2D Animation Techniques to full 3D Modelling. Sample courses include 3D Modeling (Characters and Environments), 3D Rigging & Animation, Narrative & Storytelling, Special Effects, Compositing & Motion Graphics, Videogames Tools & Environments, and Entrepreneurship (Marketing for Business). The Diploma programs highlight The History and Theory of Animation, Sequential Art Design and Production, Life Drawing, Storyboarding and Layout, Character Modelling, Unwrapping and Texturing 3D Objects, 3D Rigging and Animation, and 2D Asset Creation and Animation.
Institute of Technology Tralee, Kerry, Ireland
The School of Business at Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) is home to the Department of Creative Media and Information Technology. Here, students can earn a BA in Animation, Visual Effects, and Motion Design that highlights modules on drawing/character development, illustration, design, character modelling, animation principles, puppet/set design, stop motion, digital graphics, visual effects, motion graphics, compositing, 2D/3D modelling, rigging, texturing, lighting, photography and digital cinematography.
The program, which takes four years to complete, also provides training in video, audio recording, and research and design skills. A three to six month internship in students’ third year is part of the program. Students will work with a local animation, visual effects or digital media company.
Griffith College, Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Ireland
Griffith College is Ireland’s largest independent third level institution. The school offers a BA in Animation, in partnership with Pulse College. Per Griffith College, the program “covers the full range of topics from drawing skills to 3D modelling, 3D lighting, character texturing, character animating, environmental modelling, animation rendering, and 2D animation, Comic Books and Sequential Art, Animation for Video Games.” This immersive program requires on-campus study Monday-Friday (20 hours a week). The BA in Animation takes three years to complete and ends with a final project.
Limerick School of Art & Design, Limerick Institute of Technology, Limerick, Ireland
Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD) is one of the five constituent schools of Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT)—the fourth largest institute of technology in Ireland. Program offerings between the schools include a BSc in Digital Animation Production, a BA in Animation and Motion Design, MA and PhD degrees by Research and Thesis in Art and Design, and a Higher Certificate in Science in Digital Animation Production.
Per LIT, students in the animation programs will learn how to “create, design and develop 2D & 3D animation that meets the needs of a range of sectors in the creative industries.” In addition to developing their artistic ability, students “will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to produce a range of digital media assets and the ability to publish these in a wide variety of formats. The program provides advanced modules in both the creative and technical processes involved in producing computer-generated animation.” The undergraduate programs at LSAD LIT take four years to complete full-time. The Certificate program takes two years to complete and graduate-level programs could take several years or more to complete.
Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Letterkenny, Ireland
The Department of Design at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) offers a BA in Animation that takes three years to complete. Per LYIT, during their first year, students in the program will be introduced “to the principles of animation as well as the basics of drawing, observation, photography, scriptwriting, storyboarding and cinematography. The emphasis in Year 1 is on developing creativity and understanding of the animation process.” In the second year, students will develop “digital skills and processes including 2D and 3D digital animation as well as continuing development of animation and storytelling.”
In the final year of the program, In the final semester, “Professional Animation Practice” will prepare students “for life after college while the Animation Project allows the student to produce a short animated film or a number of key animated sequences, showcasing their animation skills and specialism.” Upon completion of the program, students will have the skills need to begin their pursuit of a career in the industry or they apply to progress to the level 8 BA (Hons) in Animation at LYIT.
St. John’s Central College, Cork, Ireland
St. John’s Central College offers two Certificate Programs—a Cartoon Animation Certificate Program and a Cartoon Animation Film Certificate Program. The Cartoon Animation program “explores the basic principles involved in Traditional Drawn Animation, 3 Dimensional and Computer Generated Animation.” Sample courses include Animation Layout, Cartoon Animation, Animation Drawing, Computer Illustrated Graphics, Drawing, Communications, and Work Experience. The Work Experience course consists of 10 days of work “in a relevant location.”
The Cartoon Animation Film Certificate Program “allows students to express their understanding of animation in the production of an animated film, scene or sequence in the particular medium of animation preferred. It will develop the student’s knowledge of the requirements for animation production, by introducing modules on production, design and sound.” Sample courses include Studio and Location Sound, Editing Practices & Techniques, Animation Drawing, Design Skills, Computer Illustrated Graphics, Communications, and Work Experience. Both programs take one year to complete full-time.
Dorset College, Dublin, Ireland
Dorset College provides undergraduate degree programs and certificate programs in areas such as computing and multimedia, business, healthcare, and teaching. Programs for aspiring animators include a BS in Computing and Multimedia and Certificates in Animation, 3D Modeling and Animation or Computing and Multimedia. Per the school, upon completion of the BS program, graduates will be able to “build 3-D visual graphics and animations and incorporate them into computer programs, mobile applications and games.” Graduates will also have the required skills and knowledge to “produce multimedia content (such as graphics and audio), configure networks & systems and to configure & maintain hardware.”
The Animation Certificate programs cover the History of Animation, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Modeling Software, Texturing and Materials for 3D Modeling, Storyboarding, 3D Animation Techniques, Modeling Complex Objects, and Creating Commercial Quality Environments, Textures and Detail. The Certificate programs take 10 weeks to complete and include a combination of focused coursework and workshops.
Bray Institute of Further Education, Bray, Ireland
Bray Institute of Further Education (BIFE) is home to the Media and Performing Arts Department, which houses the Creative Media Program. The one-year program explores both physical and computer generated effects. Per BIFE, “students will design and create 3D animated characters and integrate them into a short film. Students will also study physical effects using latex and makeup to create photorealistic zombies, scars and gunshot wounds.”
Sample courses include Animation, 3D Modeling & Animation, 3 Dimensional Computer Graphics, Digital Editing, Specialized Make-up Effects, Cinematography Camera Operations, Communications, and Work Experience. Students will complete the program with an “impressive” portfolio and a level 5 QQI Certificate.
NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland
NUI Galway is home to the College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies. Here students can earn an MA/Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Media. Per the College, the interdisciplinary program is “delivered by combining expertise from the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, the discipline of Information Technology, and the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI).” The MA program covers 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Emerging Web Media, and E-Learning.
A unique aspect of the program is “assessment.” Per the school, “assessment is by both practical and written tasks, and includes presentations, reports, video essays, short films, websites, designs and animations.” Students will also complete an end-of-year digital media project “which gives students the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of the program and develop their technical skills and creativity in a real-world context.”
To find animation schools in your area and abroad, try our program locator here.
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