What do top visual creators like Pierre Coffin, director of Despicable Me, and Rikke Asbjoern, co-creator of Pinky Malinky, have in common? They all studied at the GOBELINS School of Images, or GOBELINS L’École de L’Image, a school of visual communication and arts in Paris.
GOBELINS made headlines in 2017 when it was named the world’s top animation school for the second year running by the authoritative Animation Career Review. The number one criteria for their list of top 100 international animation schools include the overall quality of the program and the facilities and technology available to students.
This school of visual communication has been a leader in the fields of image design and image production since the 1970s. It is perhaps best known for the Cinéma Department of Animation, founded by Pierre Ayma in 1975. Over the years, the animation school produced numerous talented individuals and teams, sought after by major animation studios like Pixar, Disney, Warner Bros, DreamWorks, and Universal.
GOBELINS, a consular school next to the Latin Quarter in the heart of Paris, is funded by the Parisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It describes itself as a pioneering school in digital communication and interactive design. In addition to animated filmmaking, its expertise lies in photography, graphic and motion design, video gaming, printed and digital communication, and interactive design.
France is the third largest producer of animation in the world and the largest in Europe. According to statistics provided by the Union of Animation Film Producers (SPFA), this sector currently employs around 5,000 people in France. However, the number is expected to increase to 7,500 by 2020.
French artists and studios reveal a certain French touch that is recognised and appreciated around the world. Since 2001, they have produced an average of 300 hours of programs per year, as well as at least three feature films per year.
Except for Coffin and Asbjoern, the GOBELINS Cinéma Department of Animation has trained other well-known animation artists and strip cartoonists such as Didier Cassegrain, Cromwell, Michel Bouvet, and Jean-Francois Miniac.
“Character animators have been the most sought-after in recent times as, during the production of an animated film, it is the work requiring the most skills. A lot of studios are in great need in terms of recruitment and struggle to build their teams, which is especially the case in 3D animation projects,” said Moïra Marguin, Head of the Cinéma Department of Animation, in an article on their website.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that preparing their students for a professional career anywhere in the world, by linking and maintaining strong relationships with the industry, is GOBELINS’ guiding principle. To accomplish this, the school has created a diverse, global network of partners in the digital communication sector and encourages academic exchanges.
Some of GOBELINS’ partners include the California Institute of The Arts, the University of South Wales in the UK, the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Germany, the Animation Workshop in Denmark, the Communication University of China, and the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Hungary. As a result, students are obtaining internships in various countries.
Cécile Steinlein, Director of Talent Development & Outreach of Mikros Image, the visual effects and animation company who provided the animation for films such as The Little Prince, sums the industry perspective up best in the following quote on the GOBELINS website: “Animation is one of the crucial departments to carry out such projects (animated feature films), and our various studios are constantly looking for passionate artists to come to give life and soul to the characters.”
Steinlein continued to say that, above all, they are looking for animators with a good understanding of the basics of animation (including spacing, timing, body mechanics, weight, and cycles) who are also sensitive to different styles.
GOBELINS currently offer the following courses:
The four-year full-time course teaches students to master both traditional and digital animation techniques. They follow each step of film design and production, ultimately enabling them to work on long feature films.
As part of their training, each year since 2002, the GOBELINS animation students have divided up into small teams of 4 or 5 students and created short animations for entry in the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking
GOBELINS welcomed its first Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking in 2016. The two-year full-time programme offers advanced courses in 2D and 3D character animation. It includes scripting and direction methodology, character definition and characterization, character and background modelling, and special effects animation.
A one-year full-time advanced programme in 3D character animation, including lectures by international animation and video game experts. Students are expected to produce an individual demo reel and complete a three-month internship for which a training report must be written.
Drawing on its experience and worldwide reputation in the field of character animation, GOBELINS designed a specialized professional training course in 3D character animation with the help of instructors coming from the best 3D animation studios. It includes hands-on exercises to master direction, movements and acting skills. The programme has a strong international focus with participants coming from all over the world.
In this three-year full-time course, students are taught high-level creative and technical skills in conjunction with industry experts. The training takes place in the form of conventional lectures and conferences, with the core subjects and workshops split into different themes, such as publicity, fashion, food photography, architecture and beauty.
This one-year full-time course broadens students’ skills in the relatively new field of motion design. The three vectors of motion design are animated images, typography in movement, and sound design. They make it possible to design and create communications that are adapted to new communication spaces.
A one-year specialized Master’s degree programme called Interactive Digital Experiences. It trains IT specialists, graphic designers, and engineers in the design and creation of games for smart phones, tablets, social networks, terminals and installations.
Summer School and Master Classes
In addition to the full-time courses, GOBELINS organises master-classes and an annual international summer school for students and industry professionals from around the world.
The master-classes are tailormade to meet the needs of the client and presented on location. They are offered, among others, in character animation, 2D and 3D animation, drawing for animators, visual development, storytelling, animation and audio-visual production, and motion capture.
The summer school is aimed at helping students and professionals gain a better understanding of what makes for successful character animation. The ninth summer school was held in 2017, with the next one planned for 2 to 13 July 2018.