© 2019 by Mischa Kolbe

FAQ ABOUT MY VANCOUVER FILM SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

Why does this page exist?

Every other week I got an eMail from fellow film enthusiasts that are interested in VFS, asking about my experience. Thank you so much for your interest and trust in my opinion. I feel very humbled!

Some questions came up in multiple eMails, so I thought I'd compile them in this FAQ. I am hesitant to put my advice about choosing a school out there: everyone takes away a different experience from such a year. Please don’t take my word as truth, it is merely my personal opinion.

Q: Based on your experience; would you recommend VFS?

 

A: Yes. My year in the 3D Animation & VFX program was truly amazing. I had wonderful classmates from all over the world and teachers that gave me the education I was hoping I’d get. VFS provided me with the playing field and help I needed to learn as much as I possibly could have in one year.

Q: Is VFS the best VFX/film school there is?

 

A: Of course I can’t answer that truthfully. There are many film schools all over the world, surely lots of them are great. I only experienced VFS, but it was the right school for me. Look into various options and pick the one that meets your criteria and feels right.

Q: How much does it cost to go to VFS?

 

A: I can’t give a definitive number, because the cost might change. Get in touch with VFS directly, they’re super helpful. I’d recommend to apply for a scholarship – it doesn’t cost you anything and it might lower the cost.

Q: Do I need to know everything before joining VFS? Any recommendation what to learn?

 

A: You don’t have to be a 3D-guru (after all you’re attending a school). But I highly recommend to prepare as much as you can. During the first couple of months the VFS teachers get you up to speed on a fast-track. This time can be pretty intense and some prior knowledge might give you some breathing room. It’s not impossible, but I believe you can take away more if you know a thing or two in advance.

 

I started using Autodesk Maya six months before going to Vancouver and had a long-time interest in film making and 3D. I knew about basic concepts (what are UVs, what’s a polygon, what does it mean to render an image, …) and could fit new tools/techniques quickly into the broader picture.

 

A great starting point is DigitalTutors. I think their “Introduction to Maya” course is more than enough preparation for VFS.

Q: Will I have a job at the end of VFS?

 

A: This is a tough one. VFS does its best to get your portfolio in front of people, but of course they can’t make companies hire you. It is more difficult to get a job in Canada as a foreigner, but not impossible. I strongly believe that hard work pays off, but there is no guarantee for that. Even though I wanted to stay in Canada and had a job-offer after VFS, it didn’t work out right away due to a lack of a work permit.

Q: Any advice about housing?

 

A: The VFS accommodation page or Craigslist are great options. The first is more likely to get you a place with like-minded people and Craigslist is THE page for housing in Vancouver.

Personal recommendation: Get a place a bit further out and commute with a bike. Vancouver has tons of bike-lanes and if you don’t mind the rain it’s a great balance to the many hours in front of a computer screen.

Q: How long did it take you to create APEX?

 

A: I worked on APEX for the last 6-8 months of the VFS year. Usually 7 days a week, 12-16 hours a day. Nobody forced me into this(!), but VFS provided me with the help, tools and workspace to go as far as I wanted. For that I'm ever grateful.

Q: What was the process like to create APEX?

 

A: It was an intense and interesting iterative process. One thing I had to learn fast at VFS was to take critique well. It might sound like a negative term to you. If that’s the case, I urge you to change your mind. Constructive and honest feedback is the backbone of every successful project and artist. Sounds cliché? Feel free to have a look at the work in progress videos of APEX*. They represent the monthly stages of APEX.

These videos should give you an idea for the path APEX took and how important feedback is (yes, there was a beast in the original idea).

* Note: There is non-licensed music and imagery in these videos, which was used as placeholders or to convey the intended style. The playlist & videos are unlisted for a reason: Do NOT share/download/reupload/... them! They are for the few that are truly interested in the process at VFS.

Q: What do you do now?

 

A: After VFS I worked for the small Swiss studio pixelmolkerei for one year. After that I first worked for Double Negative in London and now in their Vancouver site. From being a 3D Generalist I transitioned into being a Character TD (rigger).

Q: Can I use APEX as an intro for my film/channel/…?

A: From the bottom of my heart: Thank you! It’s amazing if someone enjoys my work – let alone liking it enough to use on their personal projects. However, it is currently used by the YouTube channel TheCrow90MTB and to prevent it from showing up in multiple channels/videos I decided to say no to such requests. I hope you understand and again: Thank you!

Q: You donkey! You didn’t answer my actual question at all!

 

A: Hay! ... Well, then head over to the contact page and send me a message. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.