Good A Levels for Animation? Watch
I am naturally very artistic and am predicted A* for GCSE Fine Art. The only problem is, that when I put down my A Level choices back in Feb I didn't really know what I wanted to do so I just chose what I was good at... I picked Psychology, History, Fine Art & Biology . (as I originally wanted to do Psychology, Audiology or Graphic Design at Uni)
However, I have heard that you need a more technical subject like Maths, Physics or Computing for Animation... Maths and Physics really aren't my strong points and I don't think I would be able to change to Computing now as it's in the same block as Art, so school would have to re-shuffle the options about which might not even have been possible if I had done it sooner.
I have considered swapping Psychology for Graphic Design, would this help?
Would I be able to get in a course with just art-based subjects?
Thanks for your time
Generally though, from the brief look I've had, most universities just want you to have a couple of general A-levels with a sufficient point value equivalent. I haven't seen anything about maths, physics, etc, but my search was quite quick. You'll have to properly research it. I would definitely advise that you take strong subjects too though. If the animation career doesn't work, you'll need a backup plan and you may need to rely on those A-levels once more. So take strong subjects. Some A-levels are considered 'weak' or practically worthless. Math and science is important, but you also need to make sure that you're capable of those subjects too. Maybe consider a technology based A-level too.
It might be worth looking for graduate jobs and to see what the companies want, or find an animation firm and ask for their opinion on the subjects you're taking.
Most of all though, you will need a solid portfolio of work. Commitment and interest are important, but they're more interested in seeing what you can actually do. Start designing. Draw pictures and build up a portfolio. Draw set designs, characters, etc. Practise colouration and different facial features. Create animations and gain industrial experience. Find out which software they use for their animation (could be Flash or Corel software for 2D. 3DS Max or Maya is a good place to get used to for 3D work) and get used to using it. You'll be able to walk up to an employer and say "Hey, look, I've been doing this, this, this and this. I have 5 years of experience using your software, so I can walk straight in and get on with my job here".
If you're looking at 3D animation, look at Autodesk. They make the aforementioned 3DS Max and Maya... But importantly, they have a student scheme going - You can get access to all of their software (which is probably worth over £100k in total, but a lot of it is for engineers too) for free for 3 years. It will have a 'student edition' watermark, but the employer won't care too much and it's still good practice. I would get experience with other animation programs before that though - Just to get experience and then perfect it on the industrial product. Get some clay too, just create some basic stop-motion animations too. It really depends which element of the industry you want to go into, but broad experience will of course help.
GIMP can be used for 2D animation, but consider practicing hand-drawn animation on paper too. Blender is a great starting point for 3D as well. Both of these are free. Have a look at the universities and ask them which software they use and try to get trial versions to get a head start. This doesn't have to be a full-time thing, just have a crack at it when you have a free hour in a day or so. If possible, get enrolled on a real-world project. There are always people looking for animators for their own personal projects or up-and-coming game designers, etc. It is important to show that you can work with a team and that you have industrial experience. Try to gain recognition and maybe upload your work to Newgrounds or Youtube and make a name for yourself.
It really depends which element of animation you want to go into, it is quite broad but there are distinct paths through each flavour of it.
I hope this helps! But as with everything to do with animation/design, you need to start early and consider your portfolio.
I'm rubbish at maths and physics too and I have only just learnt in my first year how to use a 3D program. Don't even ask me about computer programming and I've only just actually animated in 2011 (abet poorly) and a few classmates are the same and others have a low art skill but strong in 3D.
I took an Art and design college course to get the grades to get into University and help making my portfolio and got a better maths grade which I'm pleased about. I didn't get the condition grade, but still got in on my portfolio as I had a lot of my own stuff, which they like and was strong, but no animation at all, but I think it helped being a mature student too.
You need to look at the requirements for each university. Both Bournemouth universities want high maths skill, as does a few others, but there are some that prefer the art side. I would strongly recommend applying and visiting those who have Accredited Courses http://www.creativeskillset.org/animation/ as those are the ones with the best connections with the industry, but I would think other animation courses in other universities wouldn't be awful.
And decide what area you like the sound of, but most of the animation courses do touch on other subjects. Mine will have lessons on preproduction, so storyboarding, scriptwriting and concept art as well other lessons on rigging and animating character models, 3D modelling, 2D character design and I think sequential art. Not all with have those and some will just focus on 3D or just on 2D. I recommend that if you like 2D to get a course that does both as it'll be better for you to learn 3D too.
In order of importance.