The DAVE School - Insider's Guide

The DAVE School - Insider's Guide

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 Kim Crawford about the ins and outs of studying at DAVE School's campus in Orlando, Florida.

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 Kim Crawford about the ins and outs of studying at DAVE School's campus in Orlando, Florida.

The DAVE School
The DAVE School consistently produces skilled graduates who are uniquely prepared for industry positions. DAVE graduates have worked on Oscars and Emmy nominated and/or winning projects, and have won other prestigious awards.

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

DAVE School (Digital Animation and Visual Effects School)

What’s the name of the neighbourhood?

Orlando, FL

Closest train station or public transport option?

Orlando has a lot of transportation options. There is a local bus service, LYNX, that serves multiple counties in the Orlando area. As well as a fare-free circular bus system that operates on four different routes in downtown Orlando. There are also two train services. The SunRail which is a commuter service, and Amtrak which service the east coast of USA LYNX Downtown Circular Sunrail Amtrak.

How long have you been there?

I have been at the DAVE School for 1 year.

Image Courtesy of DAVE School

Why did you choose to study here?

I chose the DAVE school because it was a 1 yr intensive program and had a high percentage rate of graduates who are working in the industry. I was going back to school in my 40’s, and wasn’t interested in prolonging my studies. The program is set up in a format that mimics a production pipeline. The program did a great job of exposing us to the whole process for the entertainment and game industries, allowing us to experience possible different career options.

I went through the game production program, and I received everything I had hoped for.

You’re learning a wide range of skills and software in (your course). What subjects or tools are you enjoying the most so far?

For 3D modeling you are taught Maya and Zbrush. REDSHIFT for Maya is also included in your learning for rendering, textures, and lighting. Once in the game program you will take a deep dive into Unreal Engine. You are introduced earlier in the year, but the last 20 weeks are spent learning everything you need to know about it. Other programs introduced in the program include Substance 3D Painter and Photoshop.

The Scene

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

The DAVE School is located on the backlot of Universal Studios. Walking outside of the school you will see sound studios and all the “behind the scenes” of Universal Studios Resort.

Your school is great, but you wouldn’t mind a bit less:

I would’ve loved a week break between block 4 and block 5. I really enjoyed the 1yr intensive program, but towards the end it would have been nice to get a short break to regroup as you begin to think about graduation and what you want to put on your demo reel.

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

I would say that pretty much everyone shows up in jeans and t-shirts. It’s also important to have a flannel, jacket, or hoodie on hand. Some classrooms are colder than others due to the servers and computer equipment.

A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

I like living in Orlando because it has a little of everything. Only 1hr from beaches, next to Disney and Universal theme parks, and plenty of good restaurants. There is always something to do.

A common myth about your school is:

That is not accredited and unaffordable. This is not true. DAVE School is accredited through ACICS.   The DAVE school does have financing options and an extremely high rate of students working in the Industry after graduation. I know people with far more school debt than what I am coming out of the DAVE school with. For me, my future was worth the investment.

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

While attending the DAVE school, you are given season tickets to Universal Studios and Island of Adventure theme parks. Many of the students like to meet up at the parks over the weekend and enjoy the rides and special events, like Halloween Horror Nights. There is also a video game bar that is pretty popular called Player 1.  It is a 21+ , and there is no cover to enter.

The Superlatives

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

Just a few minutes down the road, you’ll find Junior Colombian Burger. It became the most talked about place to eat for my class.

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

There are a few cafeterias you can eat at while on campus. It wasn’t unusual to see some characters from Whoville walking around, along with the Grinch at Christmas time. Definitely not the ordinary setting, and definitely a lot of fun.

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

Everyone on staff cares about your success. From administration, instructors, and career services. I was so impressed with the availability of instructors, even if you weren’t currently enrolled in their class that block. Everyone is available to help you get to where you want to go in your career.

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

Technology is always improving itself. It doesn’t matter how up to date you are, you can always add more. If $1M was given to the school, it would go straight to tech. I would love to see more VR equipment.

What advice do you have for students thinking of studying for your degree?

This program works great for those who are self starters and motivated. If you are good at problem solving and aren’t afraid to think out of the box, you will get the most out of the school. I came into the school with no previous experience with any of the software used except Photoshop. Learning anything new requires a lot of practice and patience. I put in many hours outside of the classroom to make my work look the best that I could.

Image courtesy of DAVE School
Image courtesy of DAVE School

How would you describe the school community?

I would describe it as inclusive. Everyone is pursuing similar goals and I found that the more we got to know each other, the more everyone helped each other learn. It was a very positive experience for me.

What personal projects are you working on at the moment? How do you stay motivated?

I am currently working on a project for my 9yr old nephew. He wrote a storyboard for a video game, and I am creating an interpretation of his story and drawings as a gift to him. I am also collaborating with friends/creatives in other industries to push the envelope in advertising on social media. I am motivated by results. I like creating new things and trying new ideas. I stay connected to groups of people that help to give me projects that will in turn make their businesses and brands more modern and relatable.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

I have applied to 3D artist jobs in architecture, gaming, and military simulation. While working full-time, I plan on pursuing some personal entrepreneurial endeavours along the way.