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The animation education in France consists of many world-renowned animation schools and courses, delivering talents to the global animation industry. It has a strong new brand, Ecole MoPA, from 2015.

The history of MoPA started in 2000 when Supinfocom, one of the top CG animation schools in France and the world, established their new school in Arles, France. Since then, over 500 graduates from the school turned out to be top-level professionals in the global animation industry in over more than a decade of its history as part of Supinfocom. In 2015, the prestigious school, which is entirely dedicated to CG imaging, became MoPA, a new independent world-class CG animation school.

The 2016 student graduation film Garden Party is currently nominated for the 2018 Oscars in the category of Best Animated Short Film. And the 2017 student graduation film Hybrids has just won the prestigious Visual Effects Society award for Outstanding VFX in a student project during the VES awards ceremony 13th February 2018 in Los Angeles.

We had a special opportunity to have an email interview with Anne Brotot, the director of MoPA. Hopefully you can find out what you can expect by learning at MoPA and can help your decision of your future learning.

Interview with Anne Brotot

Animationweek (AW): Why was Supinfocom Arles renamed to MoPA? What and how did the school change after becoming MoPA?

Anne Brotot: Supinfocom Arles was created in 2000 as a sister school to Supinfocom Valenciennes. After some years, the Arles campus really began to spread its wings, winning an increasing number of international festival nominations and prizes (Siggraph, Oscars, etc.) In 2015, Arles made a mark with its growing autonomy and its specific teaching approach by changing its name to MoPA (Motion Pictures in Arles). MoPA was able to optimize and continue its focus on animated filmmaking, rather than on design or gaming.

AW: What do you think are the unique characteristics of MoPA?

Anne Brotot: MoPA is characterized by a unique combination of creativity and technical know-how. Rather than training students to be skilled on isolated technical tasks, MoPA offers really comprehensive training in all aspects of CG filmmaking all the way through the production pipeline, from story development to the final post production stages. One very important asset we have is our dynamic teaching staff who, for the most part, share their time between teaching and working professionally. The students benefit from hands-on, real-world feedback and guidance from professionals in their fields.

High standards and a strong school spirit of cooperation and innovation also drive our students to reach for their full creative potential.

AW: Could you please give us an overview of the curriculum of the courses in MoPA?

Anne Brotot: Our students enter MoPA after obtaining a high-school diploma, and we offer a five-year state-accredited course in CG animated filmmaking (a level 1 advanced diploma). Study Cycle 1 is made up of three years’ study, giving students solid skills in the areas of artistic practice (drawing, anatomy, painting, sculpture), cinema & art studies (art history, film analysis, creative writing, storyboarding), technical skills (Photoshop, After Effects) and animation (3DSMax, 2D stop-motion and 3D animated projects). Importantly, in the 3rd Year, all our students have to work on a solo one-minute film, which gives them the work skills and maturity they’ll need to tackle the crucial two-year Study Cycle 2.

In Study Cycle 2, students really enter a phase of becoming professionals and honing their skills. In the 4th Year, they train in aspects of character animation and image work, like character design, rigging, acting, human and animal walk cycles, facial expressions, posing and blocking, as well as training in concept art, modeling, texturing, surfacing, matte-painting, lighting, compositing, hair & fur, clothing, and particles, etc.

The 5th and final year of Study Cycle 2 is dedicated to the team graduation film, which really serves as their CV for their future careers. Each student plays a particular role and has a set of responsibilities depending on their specialization. Through the years, these films have won numerous national and international awards (notably nominations and awards from the Oscars, VES, Siggraph, etc.) and are popular on the festival circuit, assuring our students get a great amount of exposure and allowing them to launch truly ambitious careers.

We also have an International Class taught in English, which opens up the Advanced Study Cycle to transferring candidates who wish to take their skills further.

AW: How are you developing your students’ creativity?

Anne Brotot: On several levels. Firstly, through technical exercises in all subjects (drawing, sculpture, creative writing, storyboard) that stimulate that creativity, obliging them to position themselves, make the decisions that make them real creators.

We also give them a work methodology; a solid tool for being able to complete a creative project from start to finish. This enables them to have a real foundation in which to structure their projects and find real creative fulfillment, and express their artistic and technical potential.

AW: Could you please let us know what is the career vision, that prospective students can expect by learning at MoPA?

Anne Brotot: The market for talent in animation is booming at the moment, particularly in France but also internationally. MoPA graduates enjoy a near-100% recruitment rate. This is of course because of their excellent artistic and technical level, but also because of the reputation of the school which every year attracts recruiters from major studios like Double Negative, Mikros, MPC, DreamWorks, and Aardman, who come to the school and our recruitment events that we organize here in Arles and Annecy. There’s also an extensive network of alumni working all over the world and this helps graduates transition into the professional world.

What’s most important to note however is that our graduates have a fast-track into truly ambitious careers.

AW: What are you looking for in prospective students? What kind of characteristics or skills do you want your prospective students to have when they apply?

Anne Brotot: We’re looking for profiles that are quite specific; firstly, we’re looking for young people that are passionate about the field because it’s a sector that demands a lot of commitment and drive. There’s also the need to have creative talent and an interest in developing that. Prospective students also need to enjoy using technical tools, and also to be able to work together in a team. All of which they’ll need later in their professional careers!

AW: Could you please let us know the benefits of learning CG animation at MoPA for international students?

Anne Brotot: MoPA students gain a unique combination of creative and technical skill sets that are difficult to find in other schools. Our candidates often approach us because they’ve graduated from a degree or diploma in animation but can’t find a teaching institution that can take them further in their ambitions in their home countries. On a global level, the school fees are very competitive, and students get to enjoy the unique setting here in Arles which is not only one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but has a lively cultural life and is more affordable than many other European cities. In 2018 we’re ranked Number 3 of International Animation Schools (AnimationCareerReview). This reputation, developed over the last 17 years, gives us strong visibility among international CG studios who come directly to us to recruit our graduating talents.

AW: If possible, could you please share your future vision of MoPA with us?

Anne Brotot: There’s an exciting future for the French animation market and also of course for our graduates. Building on the long history of excellence at the school and our close industry contacts, we’re able to adapt to changing tools and studio needs. We’re a certified Houdini training partner, and we’re able to provide Unity Realtime training. We also wish to continue the strong storytelling aspect to our approach that makes our films stand out. We’re attracting more and more international candidates, and are increasing our international academic outreach via partnerships for student and faculty exchange.

AW: If you have any, could you please give us a message to prospective students?

Anne Brotot: It’s important to have a curious, open mind, and explore all the wealth of cultural and artistic content available via new medias and technologies, but also explore the rich history of cinema, art and animation. Keep learning, develop a good portfolio of personal works and show us your curious open mind, creative spirit, and your passion for a career in animation.