New animation and visual effects degree marks milestone for Red Deer College

Students at Red Deer College will be able to sign up for a new four-year degree in animation and visual effects.

The program is the first of its kind in Alberta

CEO of Red Deer College Joel Ward, left, and Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt, centre, look at design and animation software with RDC faculty member and program developer Peter Fiala. (Government of Alberta)

Starting in September, students can enrol in a four-year animation and visual effects degree at Red Deer College.

The new bachelor of applied arts degree marks a milestone for the school, which was given degree-granting status by the province in March on the road to becoming a university.

In addition to digital training, students who choose this degree can expect to learn life drawing with a pencil and paper, sculpting with clay, and storytelling techniques. The final year of the program has a work-study component.

Jason Frizzell, the dean of the School of Creative Arts at Red Deer College, said 100 people have already expressed interest in the program.

"We're seeing a tremendous amount of interest," he said Friday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Marlin Schmidt, Alberta's minister of advanced education, attended a program announcement at RDC on Wednesday and praised the school's move in a news release.

"By focusing its first applied degree program in the emerging field of animation and visual effects, Red Deer College has shown that it's ready to provide students with exciting, creative jobs in a diverse economy," he said.

Job prospects for animation graduates

Students with this degree could find work in animation studios for films, TV shows or video games. According to 87 anonymous reports on Glassdoor.ca, the average annual base pay for an animator in Canada is $56,000.

A list attached to the degree's entry in the college's online academic calendar contains 52 related careers. They include:

  • Character designer
  • Film editor
  • Motion graphic artist
  • Previsualization artist
  • Video game artist
  • Water FX artist

A less obvious application, Frizzell said, could be creating virtual environments for companies and organizations in non-entertainment fields.

A 3D animator could design medical simulations or training modules for jobs in the trades.

"We see an industry that's growing in opportunities," Frizzell said.

There will be about 20 spots available in the program.