Studio 400A is a class where a group of students work on projects to learn about the production pipeline, gain experience, and create high quality pieces for their portfolio. Recently, the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was nominated for the Oscars and that was a film that Studio400A had worked on. With the recent Oscars and the protests by the VFX artists of there has been some backlash on AAU's Studio 400A as with VFX jobs being outsourced overseas, some people are worried that students are taking away jobs from professionals in the industry.
Catherine Tate, the instructor and creator of Studio400A, cares a lot about the projects coming in and what it would mean for the students. The work has to benefit the students in what they are doing, it's not just busy work of rotoscoping an item for fifteen weeks. Studio400A was set up to benefit students and to help independent filmmakers who do not have a budget for visual effects. Beasts of the Southern Wild had shopped around to the various VFX houses in the San Francisco area, as a local project working off a grant, but they were turned flat out by all of them. Thus Studio400A picked it up. Studio400A is doing independent films that no one else would do, they are not doing featured films.
However, the backlash is that Studio400A is potentially taking jobs away from professionals in the industry as they are working on films without pay and for films without a budget. A few are worried that this will cause other filmmakers to decide not to need a budget for visual effects if there are people willing to do it for free and that other universities will also start a similar classes. What those people wish Studio400A to do is to only work on shorts or student projects. This would greatly decrease the learning of the class for not only do the students learn about working in an environment with others but the students also get to work directly with the director and that is a whole different experience.
For industry professionals to feel threatened by what students are putting out is sort of a compliment.
There may be some changes to come for Studio400A, some contracts or such, but so far no word has come if any extreme changes to what they have been doing will occur. The director of the Animation and Visual Effects program, Chris Armstrong, has voiced his support for Studio400A.