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3 Best Animation Schools in the World: CalArts, Gobelins and SCAD

So you want to be an animator. Or maybe you just want a glimpse at what the future of animation might look like. The three undisputed leaders in animation education offer unparalleled experience for students and share the products with the world in student showcases.

Powerful new technology, including AI, may be influencing the animation industry, but human vision and creativity will always lead the way. Students at the best animation schools in the world are using technology their schools’ founders never could have dreamed of, but the stories and the artistry they employ are timeless.

Cal Arts: The Original Disney Training Ground

Considered by many to be the best animation school in the world, the California Institute of Arts (CalArts) is literally the house that Disney built. Conceived by Walt and Ron Disney in 1961, CalArts opened in 1970 with the explicit purpose of training young animators “taught by Disney artists, animators, layout people—taught the Disney way.” It worked.

CalArts became a breeding ground for the next generation of Disney animators including: Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Henry Selick, Brad Bird, John Rees, Gary Trousdale, Brenda Chapman, and Glen Keane. 

Alumni animated film credits include: Beauty and the Beast, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Aladdin, The Brave Little Toaster, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, Pocahontas, Cars, A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Corpse Bride, and Ratatouille. And that just from one choice selection of students in the 70’s.

CalArts is still the premiere animation school in the world. Animation-related undergraduate and graduate animation programs include Character Animation and Experimental Animation. 

Each year, CalArts Character Animation students create short films to show off what they’ve learned. These films exemplify the art of storytelling and push the limits of what animation can do. Here are three of our favorites from 2024. 

A Piece of Mine – George Park

Olive Coffee – Dingding Luo

Play With Me – Julie Zeng

Gobelins: A Parisian Animation Experience

Paris’ Gobelins L’École de L’Image (Gobelins, School of Visual Communication) is a premier animation institution. For many years in a row, it has been named the No1 animation school in the world by animation career review.

Notable alumni include Pierre Coffin, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature film, and earned an Annie and a BAFTA for Despicable Me. Alumnus Pierre Perifel directed the Dreamworks animated feature film The Bad Guys

The school offers degree programs in character animation and animated film making, 3D character animation, and visual storytelling.

Each year, Gobelins animation students celebrate their graduation by releasing animated shorts with much fanfare on the Gobelin YouTube channel where they routinely garner hundreds of thousands of views. 

Although made by students, these shorts are polished and professional looking. Three of their graduation projects have gone on to be nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. They reflect the quality of a Gobelins education and look forward to what animation could be like in the coming years. Here are a few of our favorites from 2023.

The Alchemists – Adrien Dang, Loan Estevez, Mathieu Giazzi, Angèle Legras, Julien Motteau

Memory Rental StoreJiaxin Li, Kyungin Kim, Surya Kalyan, Shruti Lal, Jaeyeon Kim

Savannah College of Art and Design: Creative Careers Start Here

Founded in 1978, SCAD has become a major influence in digital media. The college was named best MA animation program in the U.S. by Animation Career Review

The college offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animation, motion media design, and visual effects as well as 75 different minors. SCAD alumni contributed to all five Academy Award 2023  nominees for best animated feature.

The student animation showcase at SCAD AnimationFest gives a preview of what these students are capable of. Featured projects from this year have gone on to win animation awards and be selected for major animation festivals. SCAD is on the cutting edge of animation, and the student films reflect the bright future of the industry. 

Barely – Cherry Zhou

Vainglorious –  Sebastien Abou-Chakra and Gabriel Ugbodaga (Trailer)

The Best Animation Schools Predict the Future of the Industry

Whether you already work in animated video production or are hoping to become an animator, it’s smart to keep an eye on the best animation schools in the world. As they share the work of their students, these schools give us a glimpse at the future of the animation industry. 

Watch closely. The future of animation is brighter than ever.

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