Where Can The Academy of Interactive Entertainment Take You?

Chances are high that in the last 10 to 15 years you’ve played a game or watched a film created in part by graduates from Australia’s Academy of Interactive Entertainment.

Considering a career in games, 3D or VFX? Find out more about AIE and upcoming information evenings and open days at aie.edu.au.

AIE is Australia’s leading specialist educator for game development, 3D animation and VFX for film. Students kick on to successful careers all over the world at AAA game studios such as Bioware, Rockstar, Epic Games and Splash Damage and at major film production houses such as Weta Digital, Lucasfilm, Dreamworks and Animal Logic.

With campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and online, the courses are practical, career-focused and delivered by industry experienced teachers in a seriously fun and creatively-demanding studio environment. We asked some AIE graduates to share their experiences of how the AIE got their careers started.

A Passport Into Your First Job

Animation graduate Eddie Prickett says, “For me, the AIE was really getting my feet wet with animation.” Those wet feet scored him a job as a character animator on Happy Feet 2 in Sydney, before he crossed the ocean to work on the Academy Award-winning Gravity in London and The Amazing Spider-man 2 in Vancouver. He now works as a character animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

“Your demo reel is a passport,” says Eddie. “It’s a passport into your first job, it’s a passport into your next job.” Written in consultation with industry, all AIE courses enable students to complete impressive projects that showcase their skills and create a professional show reel to impress potential employers.

In the second year of AIE courses students from each discipline — art, animation, design, programming — work together in development teams to design and produce a playable game. This project closely mirrors the real-world production cycle in an industry development studio, covering the entire process from pitching the game idea, through writing game design documents, evaluating technical requirements, managing workload, meeting deadlines, delivering commercial quality artwork and animation, bug-fixing, QA testing and market analysis of the game.

It’s this studio-like environment that animation graduate Kate Kerrigan, who now works freelance with spells at Animal Logic, Plastic Wax and Ambience Entertainment under her belt, says helps graduates adapt to working in teams once they start their professional career. “It’s good for students, whichever section you’re working on, say animation, to have knowledge of rigging or modelling or whatever job comes before or after your job. If you have an idea of how it works, you know how to fix something if something has gone pear-shaped. And that knowledge also helps when handing it off to the next person.”

Giving You The Tools You Need

Andrew Farrell’s art portfolio landed him an interview with veteran development studio Bioware, best known for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. “I got a call saying we like your stuff, we’ll fly you over for an interview… to Edmonton,” says Andrew. “I was like, okay, Canada sounds cool.”

Recalling that first day, Andrew says, “Peering behind the curtain for the first time and seeing how massive it is, how many people and different moving parts, was awesome.” Now a senior artist, and the lead artist on Dragon Age: Awakenings, Andrew believes it’s a great time for young artists to get involved in game development. “There are a lot of great opportunities out there,” he says.

Ben Davis is an art graduate who used his time at AIE to propel him into a career that’s seen him work on some of the biggest names in gaming, from Quake to Batman. “I was going to AIE just soaking up all the information and then going back home and working on personal stuff, not just relying on the course’s curriculum, if you will,” he says.

“I was just practicing, practicing, practicing, building my skills up in my spare time, to point where after a year I felt I’d built up enough to apply for a job. There happened to be a company in the UK called Splash Damage that were hiring for a generalist artist at the time, so I thought why not. I applied for the job and they asked me to do an art test. I successfully passed that and the rest is history, I’ve been working for them ever since.

“Out of every other course I’d done before AIE gave me the specific tools to basically learn the stuff that I wanted to learn,” says Davis. Without that it would have been a lot harder. They gave me a valuable skillset that I’ve applied to my professional career.”

Programming graduate Daniel Archard highlights a different kind of opportunity offered by studying at the AIE. “A lot of it was establishing contacts, that’s the reason I went to AIE,” says Daniel. “And it worked. Getting all these contacts with the industry got me my first job.” Now a software engineer at Qualcomm in San Diego, Daniel has also worked at numerous game studios including Melbourne’s IR Gurus, Crystal Dynamics and Rockstar San Diego.

Daniel cites the AIE’s networking capacity as a key influence on his subsequent career. “Once you’ve got your foot in the door you can pretty much kick the door in without waiting for opportunity to knock. Getting your foot in, that’s the hard step. But that’s the nice about about AIE, they can help you with that.”

Considering a career in games, 3D or VFX? Find out more about AIE and upcoming information evenings and open days at aie.edu.au.

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