A Personalised Educational Experience: Studying at Think Tank Training Centre
Jasmin Wong, currently immersed in her Compositing-focused Portfolio Production Term at Think Tank Training Centre, aspires to contribute to films that evoke nostalgia, inspired by the impact Disney movies had on her. In this article, she provides insights into her experience at Think Tank.
Jasmin Wong is in the midst of her Portfolio Production Term at Think Tank Training Centre, focusing on Compositing. Her aspiration is to contribute to the creation of films that evoke nostalgia in others, much like how Disney movies did for her. In this article Jasmin shares valuable insights into studying at Think Tank Training Centre.
Can you introduce your school to us and share what makes it special from your perspective.
Think Tank Training Centre (Think Tank) has earned a stellar reputation on a global scale, consistently demonstrating its status as one of the best CG schools worldwide. It provides a diverse array of programs suitable for individuals at various stages of their CG journey, whether they are newcomers to the industry, those exploring different pathways or experienced professionals aiming to craft an impressive demo reel.
Presently, I am in the mentorship-focused term of the 3D Animation, Visual Effects & Game Art program. My program offers classes in Texturing, Lighting, Compositing, Rendering, Modeling, Animation, Rigging, Digital/Traditional Sculpting and Life Drawing, exposing my fellow students and I to a range of industry-standard software. Alternatives include Online and Hybrid programs, ensuring there's a suitable choice for everyone, regardless of their circumstances!
Being a student at Think Tank has brought my childhood dream and vision into sharper focus. It has not only opened doors and facilitated new connections, but has also deepened my understanding of an industry responsible for creating movies that hold nostalgic value for me. The thought of contributing to films that will hold as timeless classics is a very exciting thought.
What made you choose this school, and has it lived up to your expectations?
My initial introduction to Think Tank came through a few friends who have since achieved remarkable success in their careers. Learning about the exciting opportunities, projects, and films they have been involved in got me excited, which fuelled my aspirations to follow in their footsteps.
I chose this school for its distinctive features that prioritise a personalised educational experience. The small class sizes ensure a more intimate and interactive learning environment, while making meaningful connections with both peers and faculty. The commitment of supportive teachers and staff further enhances this sense of community, providing valuable mentorship and guidance. The school's impressive success rate proves its dedication to academic excellence and student achievement in the future. With limited intake numbers and restricted seats reflects a commitment to quality over quantity. These factors collectively influenced my decision, as they signify an institution that values individualised attention, student success, and a tight-knit educational community.
How do students and teachers interact at Think Tank, and is there a supportive mentorship dynamic?
The dynamic between students, staff, and teachers at this school create a unique experience that I have not encountered elsewhere. Despite differences in age, a diverse range of ethnicities, and varied personalities, there is a palpable sense of familial connection among everyone. Attending classes here doesn't feel like the conventional school experience; it's a place where I feel exceptionally at ease. The atmosphere is so comfortable that I never hesitate to seek help from anyone around me.
What have you found most valuable about your learning experience so far, and how has it impacted your artistic growth?
I transitioned into Think Tank from a markedly different career path. Previously, I worked in the intense setting of an emergency animal hospital, where long hours and constant unpredictability were the norm. Having graduated as a licensed registered veterinary technician through an entirely online program, I had not experienced an on-campus environment with such extensive support.
The most valuable aspect of Think Tank, in my opinion, is the support system it offers. Whether it's peers, mentors, teachers, or faculty, everyone is genuinely invested in your journey and shares the common goal of crafting an outstanding demo reel and helping you secure a job.
The supportive environment at Think Tank has had a profound impact on my artistic growth. The continuous encouragement is contributing to the improvement of my skills each day, resulting in a more impressive demo reel.
Can you share an example of an assignment where you received valuable feedback from your teachers?
My Fundamentals Final Project for Term 1 marked my venture into creating a fully "finished" piece of artwork, acknowledging the inherent truth that nothing is truly ever finished in the realm of art, always leaving room for improvement. Despite recognising various flaws in the project, I found immense pride in my accomplishment. Transitioning from a career with minimal CG knowledge, I successfully completed the project in a mere four months, a feat that now seems astonishing to reflect upon. Alvaro Claver, our instructor and a former senior texture artist at ILM and current TD at DNEG, provided valuable feedback on my work. The key takeaway for me was understanding that perfection is elusive, and learning occurs through recognising what you know rather than what you don't. Without corrections or feedback, the path to improvement remains uncharted.
What helpful resources or opportunities does Think Tank provide outside of regular classes?
Beyond our regular coursework, the school frequently invites industry professionals from leading global studios to share their journeys in the CG world. These informative sessions feature professionals with diverse titles, providing students with insights into various roles available post-graduation and in their future career paths. Additionally, the school regularly organises creative workshop classes, offering students a break from their usual assignments. Personally, I've participated in workshops ranging from crafting holiday wreaths, sculpting my favourite characters with clay, making my own teas, and attending parties or networking events. Recently, another student and I organised a successful Disney Trivia night at the school, and hopefully encouraged others to host more trivia nights in the future!
Can you describe any collaborative projects or experiences that have enhanced your artistic skills and fostered teamwork?
Currently, I'm in the final stages of completing my demo reel, and while concentrating on compositing, my peers graciously allowed me to utilise their created assets and assisted me in animating certain shots. What stands out to me about Think Tank is the collective goal shared by everyone—to create the most outstanding demo reel. There's a readiness to collaborate and extend help whenever needed. Drawing upon each other's skills not only cultivates teamwork but also presents a priceless learning opportunity.
Have you had the opportunity to work with industry professionals or participate in real-world projects during your time at Think Tank?
During the last two terms at Think Tank, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with Karla Vazquez, a Lead Compositor at ILM, as my mentor. The time spent with her has proven to be incredibly enriching on various levels. Since starting my final Portfolio Production Term, I've absorbed a wealth of knowledge, and crafting my demo reel has been an enjoyable experience.
My mentor and I have established a structured approach, incorporating weekly tasks, a schedule for monitoring progress and setting goals for the upcoming week. I’ll go through any notes from my mentor throughout the week and adjust any necessary corrections to ensure that everything is optimised for the best possible outcome within the set deadline. This systematic approach aims to simulate the dynamics of working on a project in a real-world scenario.
How does Think Tank promote diversity and inclusivity within its student community, and how has this enriched your educational experience?
As mentioned earlier, Think Tank is well-known on a global scale with the majority of its students from abroad, contributing to the school's remarkable diversity. I've been fortunate to establish numerous friendships with individuals from various corners of the world, providing me with invaluable insights into their diverse upbringings, backgrounds, languages, and customs. Interacting with classmates from diverse backgrounds has not only broadened my cultural awareness but has also encouraged collaborative learning, allowing me to approach academic challenges with a more inclusive and open-minded mindset.
What are your future goals, and how do you feel your school has prepared you for them?
After graduation, my aim is to absorb as much knowledge as possible and push beyond my comfort zone. My ultimate future aspiration is to join my dream studio, Disney. The prospect of learning from teachers, mentors, and past graduates who have contributed to Disney or its affiliated studios fills me with tremendous excitement, envisioning the possibility of my own future involvement.
Being a part of Think Tank has not only provided me with daily opportunities to network with industry professionals but has also positioned me for success by virtue of the institution's enduring and esteemed reputation.
You can check out Jasmin's student work and reach out to her via her Rookies profile here.