Given that technological advancements in digital art are progressing by leaps and bounds, it's almost impossible to produce an excellent portfolio by just playing around on your laptop after work. If you've decided to bite the bullet and get back in the classroom, New Zealand's Media Design School is becoming one of the best places to get a visual arts qualification (undergraduate or graduate-level) in a range of specialists, ranging from interactive advertising, 3D animation and graphic design.
Located in stunning (and outrageously livable Auckland), Media Design School started with a class of 30 in 1998. Over the past decade and a half, it's become one of the best places in the world to study creative technologies. Young Guns named Media Design School the fourth most creative school in the world over the past decade, a hefty accolade coming from the organization devoted to spotting young talent. Graduates have gone on to work with George Lucas' Industrial Light Magic and Microsoft Game Studio, among many others. And New Zealand VFX and post-production powerhouse Weta Digital (owned by Peter Jackson) do their part too–they are the largest employer of Media Design School graduates in New Zealand.
But the best testimonial on behalf of the school is the work of the students themselves. Led by James Cunningham, a 3-D filmmaker whose most recent work premiered at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, Media Design School students produced "Das Tub." Cunningham directed the short film, and acclaimed New Zealand screenwriter Nick Ward wrote the screenplay. The film recently won Best Short Short at the Aspen Shortsfest, one of the world's top film festivals, and now qualifies for Oscar consideration—a considerable achievement for a film animated by students, who now have industry connections far and beyond what any of them might have imagined when they started their program.
Students in the 3-D department can also showcase their talents with Media Design School' Real or Render Challenge. Even seasoned connoisseurs of 3-D will have a difficult time pinpointing the differences between real photographs and student-produced 3-D renderings of household objects. Even an intricately detailed map offers no obvious clues.
All classes take place in Media Design School's beautiful Auckland campus. They're currently accepting applications online, for both domestic New Zealand and international students. For more information on the courses and how to apply, check the Media Design School website.
You can check out the school in this video: