Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We speak to Sophie Ienari about the ins and outs of studying at Academy of Interactive Entertainment which has campuses across Australia.


Artwork by Sophie Ienari

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

The Academy of Interactive Entertainment or AIE for short.

What’s the name of the neighbourhood?

We’re a small city, Adelaide that is. However, a common slang term for our city would be Radelaide.

Closest train station or public transport option?

AIE in Adelaide is located in the heart of the city. This enables multiple public transport options like the tram, bus or train for students. Personally the easiest option is the bus and, being in the city, my bus stop is only a 5-10min walk away from AIE.

How long have you been there?

I have been at AIE for a few years actually. I started my education during secondary school in year 11 via the Certificate courses they provided. The Cert courses were a good opportunity to be introduced to the 3D industry as the workload wasn’t overbearing and didn’t clash with my studies. It took place a couple nights a week for 3 hours after school. So it was super easy to head over from my school which was just in the outer city area. I completed my Cert II (film) and Cert III (Game Art) during secondary school and have now gone onto study the advanced Diploma in VFX. So it’s been roughly 3-4 years I’ve been at AIE!

Why did you choose to study here?

Well it all comes down to personal preference and what people want to get out of their studies but the main pointers for me is as follows:

  1. Super convenient location that provides multiple transport options.
  2. AIE is a small knit family-like community that looks after their students. I think this was a major aspect that swayed me from going down the more conventional University route. The environment was comforting, relaxing and it wasn’t overwhelming because it was a smaller studio.  I also knew that they had connections to the industry and had experienced teachers that have worked on shows or movies.
  3. Personally I wanted to be exposed to a range of softwares used in the industry. Information evenings were a great opportunity to mingle, talk to the head of school, teachers and current students. I knew that the course would be covering most areas that people generally specialise in like Rigging, Character modeling, modeling, Texturing, Lighting, FX, compositing and animation. This was fantastic because I had no idea what area I wanted to specialise, so by touching base on each one, I became better informed. All these areas were mainly covered in the first year. Second year allows students to pick their specialisation and focus on that area to keep pushing their work.
Artwork by Sophie Ienari

The Scene

The first thing you see when you walk outside your school?

Traffic lights and a lot of people walking. The opposite street side has a mini water feature and small scattered cafes around the area. A little further down is a few benches in a circular shape around a tree. So nothing too exciting, but if you head to your left we have a food court (City Cross) with lots of options like sushi, KFC, Salads, Indian, Vietnamese, coffee shops and Boost Juice, which is a popular juice bar in Australia.

The closest shop to outside your school is:

In terms of food shops I have to say that they are all literally next door in a mall. However, the closest shop would be Harvey Norman, an electronics store, located in the same food court on level 2.

Your school is great, but you would t mind a bit less:

Maya crashing for one of our final year projects. I mean yes we did have a tonne of stuff in the scene, because it was a forest, but it was still sad.

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

Just casual neat clothes like jeans and hoodie or whatever is comfortable. Nothing overly strict about what you wear, but keep in mind it is a public area so keep it relatively normal.

A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

Well the easiest one and probably the most iconic is the Malls Balls, two chrome ball sculptures, which is a few minutes walk away from the campus through the mall. On the way to the Malls Balls don’t miss the bronze pig sculptures officially known as ‘A Day Out’, to get a cheeky snap. Other than that, we also have our Museum in the city which is free! So don’t forget to drop down and check it out. If you visit Adelaide during February/March then you must check out the Fringe Festival, WOMADelaide and the Clipsal 500 (superloop).

A common myth about your school is:

That our school is mainly aimed at game production, not film or programming. So please make sure to check out the website and choose a course that interests you!

A massive night out for students at your school is likely to be:

A few times a year we would host a Pub Crawl and spend the night at a few pubs in the city. It’s a great way to socialise and get to know your peers better especially in first year.

Artwork by Sophie Ienari

The Superlatives

You won’t find a better place to eat than at:

I’m probably not the best person to ask considering I tend to bring food from home, but I would say to try Bing Boy. It’s an Urban Asian street food restaurant that specializes in making wraps based on Chinese crepes (Jian Bing). Although a little messy to eat, they are delicious!

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen at your school is:

Oh there has been a few but the most iconic is watching someone eat a banana with a fork and knife. It was just a beautiful thing to witness. Another fabulous incident was the elevator being spooky. It decided to go on a journey and take us to level 9, instead of 2, then back down to the ground floor. Fortunately the elevators are getting a little makeover and being fixed up but that does mean no more spooky adventures.

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

Personally I really like the layout of our course schedule, being 2-3 days a week from 9-5pm. This enables students to work part time and gives students the option to come in during the week to finish work. Free time is a great way to further your own studies and pursue personal projects that can be included in your showreel.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is:

The kitchen/ lounge area needs a little upgrading. It seems as the years go on there are more and more students which makes it increasingly difficult to find a chair at the table. In retrospect, we do have a gaming console on level 5 with bean bags, boardgame, table football and a VR room which is cool.

Someone gives you $1M to pimp out your school. You use it to:

More computers with better upgraded hardware for the renderfarm! In the film course the renderfarm is always pumping towards the end of projects. So it would be nice if renders were a little quicker and had more computers to render frames. As previously mentioned, I think the student lounge/kitchen area needs upgrading. Using that million we might be about to buy off another level in the building and dedicate it to a student lounge for a hangout area.


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