Schools you trust


This is my first post, but I have been lurking on the forums now for over a year (creepy, I know.) Can any of you recommend a school (like SCAD, Savannah College Arts and Design) that you trust? My Degree helped me become well rounded for a position in the Game Industry as a producer, but what I really wanted was to become an expert in a specific area. I have a passion for Combat Design in MOBAs (Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, DOTA 2, etc.) I feel like part of my path to understanding good combat design is learning VFX particle systems, animation, and timing (how a character feels when played by a user).

Can you guys recommend a school you trust to learn Houdini or other real-time VFX software and pipeline?

Thanks for your time,


Bitey Castle is a great course for 2D animation. Adam Philips covers it exceptionally well. It’s 2D focused and you need hand drawn your animation. Online and self driven.

Thanks Colbalt.

I will take a look.

Hi there ,

I go to SCAD, so some insight into the programs here, the ITGM(Game Development ) program here is very much focused on Game Design and Art(Environment,Props,character)t. There aren’t many technical classes in this program, apart from one effects and shaders class. Which is a good introduction but doesn’t get too deep into the realm of vfx.

On the other hand the VSFX(Visual Effects ) Program has many classes focused on the technical side of things but is geared more towards the film industry . So it is going to be on you to take what you’ve learnt and apply it in a realtime engine, the professors are very open with projects and they will let you work in your medium of choice.

The other cool thing is that there are a lot of collaborative(CLC) classes where we collaborate with different departments on sponsored projects with outside companies. There have been a couple classes where VSFX students have collaborated with ITGM students to build VR projects in unreal . And there is a lot of interest among faculty to introduce some realtime centered classes in the VSFX program, but at the moment it is very much geared towards the film industry. Hope that helps. Also this school is definitely expensive.


This could be a good thread for posting game-dev schools in general, or posting if your school/program was worth taking or not. Especially with multiple Art Institutes being shut down, or maybe there are more financially reasonable alternatives like my schools program. Maybe there are caveats to what your school or program provided during your time there?

It would be great to have a thread like that in resources, even if Strontium wants to keep this focused on their question, I could start another.

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Gnomon has a good program that I learned a ton from. They also offer a bachelors now I think which is an upgrade from the certificate they offered when I went (and helps with financing). They were just adding games classes to the program when I left but I think it has gotten more advanced in the last few years so I would definitely check them out.

You’ll get a good knowledge of a lot of subjects, being a true generalist when you exit but at the same time able to drill into your specialty of choice. When I was there they didn’t have any real game design programs but they may now, you’d have to check. Worth looking at I think!

@Strontium to be really honest, your best bet would probably be doing tutorials and posting questions and WIPs here and in the RTVFX Discord channel. There’s some great Houdini for games vids, including a few by @Partikel on how to adapt and import your Houdini stuff into game engines. While there are probably a few school programs that can teach it in a classroom setting, schools and programs come with the addition of other classes and their workloads. Learning it on your own will give you a much larger amount of time to focus on and practice what you learn. Especially if you already have a degree, I think that would be the best use of both your time and money. You can advance much faster being able to consistently devote a large amount of your time to one thing, instead of stretching yourself thing with multiple classes and workloads.

I’m happy to have my degree, especially since I’m the first person in my family to have one, but I switched to vfx my last year in college and am mostly self taught (in the capacity that I didn’t have a formal class or mentor of any kind). It was incredibly frustrating wanting to devote my time to catching up learning fx, but still needing to pass my Political Science class and finish my 10 page papers for my world culture course.

Just my 2 cents.


@Travis Thanks very much Travis for this input. I actually already reached out to Andreas and he was very helpful. I have been doing the tutorials, but I know that I have not reached that comfortable stage yet in Houdini where someone says make this thing and I could start thinking clearly about how to accomplish that task.

I was hoping a school would instill that confidence.

Can you recommend some things that should be on a portfolio or at least some things you would expect a VFX artist specializing on character combat to have on his or her site?

Can you recommend a tutorial or book that really helped you develop?

Thanks again for your advice, it is well taken.

@DeepSpaceBanana Thanks for that info DeepSpaceBanana, it sounds like your program was a lot more like mine than I thought.

It is a shame to me that the schools have not really picked up on the need for a specialized program in real-time VFX.

@Travis I think that is a great idea Travis I would be happy to add my experience for the school I attended to that thread.


@NateLane Thanks Nate I will take a look at their program.


Perhaps something else to consider. Most people hiring for art roles are fairly focused on your reel and portfolio. Whilst quite a few countries require a degree to get a work permit.

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Yeah that is true. I have a Bachelor’s in Computer Game Design from a four year university, but I find I have to explain what that means to every employer.

One of the reasons I want to learn Houdini and other software systems is because I want to present a full design for combat designs I have come up with including VFX and animations. My school taught me modeling, rigging and animation. But particle systems and shaders are their own thing.

To your point though I’m finding you live and die by your portfolio, regardless of the degree.

Things I would definitely recommend for a reel are: fire, water and dust. Those things are used everywhere in pretty much every game, from in your face like a car crashing through a wall, to super subtle like a character’s foot impacts on the ground or gently falling from the ceiling.

For combat oriented stuff, I would say weapon trails/slashes and quick, flashy impacts are the bread and butter there. Check out everyone’s threads for the Trails challenge on here for some good stuff on those. Be able to break your effects up to create looping versions. A good example is the Barbarian’s Whirlwind attack in Diablo. You’ll need a particle system for the windup, one that can convincingly loop for as long as needed, and one for the finish that can convincingly overlap with the loop when it’s canceled early.

As for tutorials that have helped me the most, Jeremy Baldwin’s Visual FX Masterclass is a mountain of quality fx info; worth every penny and more. It looks like Eat3d shut down, but it seems like you can get the tutorials here . The price might seem like a bit much, but I can almost guarantee you, you’ll get more out of that than a semester on vfx at any school currently.

If you still want more focused education on Houdini, then I’d recommend signing up for a mentorship. They will run you about the cost of a 18 unit school semester, but you will be getting focused training and 1 on 1 time with a game or cinematic industry professional who uses the program to a high level with lots of experience.

Edit: just stumbled upon this

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@Travis Thanks Travis this gives me some places to start. I will check out the tutorials you recommended.


Wow thanks for the link.

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