About the Programme

Animation as a profession

Estonia is a country that is internationally renowned for its strong animation traditions. Estonian animated films have become famous in the world, and have won awards at prestigious festivals. Estonia is also known for its e-solutions and high level of Internet connectivity. Research shows that Estonians, along with the Finns and Japanese, spend the most time in virtual environments. And Estonians also have a gene bank and cyber defence centre. All the preconditions have been created for the total virtualisation of the population.

In his day, the famous Estonian cultural figure, folklorist, linguist, and scholar Jakob Hurt formulated the basic trait of the Estonian identity as follows: “We
will never be large in numbers or power, but we must become large in spirit!”
However, today it is possible to become large in number and power virtually,
and the Department of Animation is working in this direction.

Nature of the department, its mentality and philosophy

The department’s main goal is to educate internationally successful creators of animated films, providing them with theoretical knowledge and practical skills. And thereby to contribute to the global development of animation as an art form, and consolidate the reputation of Estonia in the international cultural landscape as a country with a strong animation school.

What are the studies like?

The ANIMATION undergraduate and graduate programmes are suitable places for those who want to become creators of animated films. The goal is to provide an
academic higher education in animation, and to prepare the students for work as
animated film directors, scriptwriters, artists and members of creative animated film teams, or as digital media specialists. The students become acquainted with the theories of animation and acquire practical skills and technologies.

When completing the undergraduate programme, one acquires the basic theoretical and practical skills associated with the profession. The various techniques and components of animated films are learned in depth, and two animated film projects are completed. A systematic idea is created of animation as a specific media form, and the skill to orient within it is acquired. After graduation, the students are able to apply their acquired skills to creating original works of animated art, and to work individually, or as part of a studio team, to create animated films. After completing the undergraduate programme, the students can also apply to continue their studies in the master’s programmes for animation or in some other field.

Upon completion of the graduate programme, the students have acquired in-depth
theoretical and practical animation skills. The students can specialise in specific animation techniques, and create individual graduate projects in the appropriate technique. This is an international undergraduate programme, and instruction is conducted in English. After graduation, the students are qualified to realize themselves as animated film creators, or as professionals in their field, on
the cultural landscape; to teach in their field, or to realize themselves in
creative industries. Students who have completed the graduate programme are
also qualified to continue their studies and pursue a doctoral degree.

The studies are conducted as lectures, seminars and master classes, as well as individual and tutorial classes. Generally, tutorial classes make up 60% to 70% of the curriculum; other classes include practical and independent work. Studies are conducted in cooperation with almost all the schools of higher education in Tallinn. The students actively participate in lectures at the Baltic Film and Media School (BFM) and Tallinn University. Cooperation also takes place with the Estonian Animation Union and Estonia’s larger studios. The department’s instructors and lecturers are active artists and specialists in their field, whose work is presented at international events.

Animation at the Academy of Arts

In the past, the teaching of animation in Estonia was studio-based – those who were interested in animation, and wanted to realize themselves in this field, had to join a studio and learn the work methods employed there. In some sense, this
approach can be compared to the medieval learning process, where there was no
theoretical base, and training was conducted on the apprentice-journeyman-master relationship. Since the development of animation as an art form, is directly
related to the development of techniques, and primarily of computers, as well
as to the broadening of opportunities, the old studio-based animation studies
can no longer produce competitive and internationally successful animators. As
the techniques developed, animation has become much more complicated. And an
apprentice who only observes the work process in a studio, and does not acquire
the newest technical knowledge and necessary theoretical base, can no longer develop into a master on his or her own.