Undergraduate study
Computer Animation

BA (Hons) Computer Animation

UCAS code: I152 BA/CA

UCAS code: I154 BA/CAFY for Year 0 entry
If you are aiming to work as an animator or motion capture artists in the games, film and TV industries, then this course is for you. This course has a clear focus on the creation of 3D computer animation for games, film and TV, and begins with fundamental skills common to all animation roles, in drawing and pre-visualisation, cinematography, asset design and modelling, 2D and 3D key frame animation and simulation.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years including a work placement) or 4 years including foundation year (or 5 years including a work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

 

The inclusion of motion capture, performance capture, and modules from the computer games courses make this a distinctive course, and gives you an opportunity to experience working in a large development team, producing animation within the context of computer games. It equips you with valuable skills in this growing area of animation, which is used in both games and film animation production.

You also gain experience of the wider animation pre-production and production pipeline in team modules shared with the games pathways where you can work as animators or motion capture artists.

Professional accreditation

Creative skillset We are delighted to announce that this course is accredited by Skillset, the industry body that recognises courses that deliver an education that fulfils professional criteria and best prepares students for the world of work.

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

Creativity and Design

You develop your design and drawing styles, essential for the creative development of interesting and innovative visual solutions.

You are guided through a range of techniques and encouraged to push your ideas and designs in alternative directions, expanding your creative thinking and developing your ideas in new ways.

You produce a range of visual images and worksheets to develop your drawing and image-making styles and process. Throughout the module, you are encouraged to experiment with a variety of drawing and mark-making media and techniques.

You are also encouraged to make connections between seemingly unrelated beginnings and outcomes with briefs that allow creative freedom and broad interpretation.

Critical and Contextual Studies

You gain an historical and contextual overview of the history of art, animation, film and games. Aimed at technical, arts, games and animation students, this module equips you with an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen field of study.

Through a series of lectures and seminars, you engage in research and discussion based on your chosen areas of art, animation and game history. You learn how to effectively seek out appropriate academic sources on which to base and construct these discussions in seminars and in writing.

Drawing Principles

In this module you gain confidence in creating rudimentary images using traditional tools such as pencil and charcoal. The teaching enables you to develop your drawing technique and approach, and helps you produce images that effectively communicate simple ideas.

With a range of traditional materials, you are encouraged to experiment with different approaches to drawing. You learn methods and techniques to improve your observational skills in relation to still life drawing. This module also looks at other formal elements including tone, proportion, perspective and basic human anatomy.

Foundation Project

You are guided through the production of a small-scale individual project, defined in part by you with guidance from your tutor. The foundation project guides you to a more autonomous working approach developing your project management skills and consolidating other skills already learnt in other modules.

You develop original ideas and concepts for the pre-production of an appropriate project in your chosen field of study. This may take the form of a game design document, modest game prototype, animation or game pre-production, concept art or another appropriate form related to the games, animation and film industries.

Modelling Principles

You learn some of the basic principles of 3D computer modelling, lighting and texturing. You use 3D software to produce a simple 3D model that will be textured and rendered with basic lighting. Through guided tutorial tasks, you learn some of the first principles of 3D modelling with the view to creating a small collection of elementary assets for computer games and animation. You create simple textures in appropriate software, such as Photoshop, and consider basic CG lighting.

Narrative Principles

You are introduced to the theory and practice of narrative construction within animation and games. You focus heavily on narrative structure and plot through the group production of a story overview, script and animatic or other appropriate form.

You study the basics of story writing for animation and games including character, story arcs, point of view, creating and formatting scripts, storyboards and animatic, and non-linear stories which may be implemented in software such as Twine.

 

Year 1 core modules

2D Animation

Through a series of animation exercises, you are provided with an opportunity to learn animation principles in a traditional animation studio setting. This takes place in the first six weeks. The application of animation principles to a short character sequence features in the remainder of the module.

3D Animation

You learn how the basic laws of physics are described through the 12 principles of animation and how they are applied to create convincing movement in 3D.

You are introduced to industry standard 3D software tools and techniques and use supplied character rigs to create a number of short animated sequences.
You complete a series of exercises that are assessed in order to demonstrate your understanding of the principles of animation as applied in 3D.

3D Simulation

You are introduced to common dynamic simulation techniques and their implementation in industry-standard software which acts as a supplement to standard key-framed animation techniques.

You implement simple dynamic simulations involving rigid body dynamics (RBD), cloth simulation, particle systems, character hair and fur, and fluid and liquid simulation, designed to augment and improve a character animation scenario.

Asset Design and Modelling

You develop your abilities to design and create 3D Models, focusing on hard-surface modelling. You consider creative design and development processes for complex objects before evaluating the practicality and deployability of your designs within appropriate 3D scenarios.

You develop the skills to create your designs effectively and efficiently, considering their fitness for purpose as props, animated objects, or supports for other activities such as matte painting. This consideration includes topology, polygon resolution and the object’s general aesthetic.

Drawing for Games and Animation 1

This module develops your visual perception and drawing skills – these are essential for a productive artist to communicate ideas effectively, swiftly and efficiently.

You are guided through a range of drawing exercises including figure drawing, environment drawing, and still life, enabling you to work through a variety of approaches to drawing. These exercises develop your observational and imaginative drawing abilities, and build on your artistic skills and range of techniques, using traditional tools.

Pre-vis and Cinematography

Pre-vis (short for pre-visualisation) including storyboarding and cinematography is essential when planning and visualising sequences for animation, live action or a combination of both.
In recent years pre-vis has become increasingly used for both animated and live action films. Some larger post-production companies now have dedicated pre-vis departments and a number of companies now exclusively specialise in pre-visualisation.

You are introduced to the context and art of cinematography and learn about basic film language. You learn the techniques for creating a static and moving storyboard (animatic) with sound, developing your drawing and visualisation skills and applying your knowledge of cinematography to your own work. You are also given an introduction to the 3D pre-vis process.

 

Year 2 core modules

Creature Animation for Real Time

The skills required to produce creature animation for use in a real-time environment are the main focus in this module. Emphasis will be placed on further developing core animation skills and applying these to non-human animation in a game engine context. You gain the creative and technical skills required to produce non-bipedal animation for use in a real-time environment and the tools available. You are encouraged to practice your observational skills and select appropriate references to develop believable animation.

Digital Sculpting

This module extends your sculpting experience developed at Level four to include significant consideration of organic modelling. You explore the creation of anatomically aware characters and creatures. Consideration is made of the different scenarios, including the creation and sculpting of clothing and props, for which models are created from high end VFX through to matte painting visual aids. You also focus on techniques only deployable in non real-time development such as dynamic subdivision for displacement.

Journeyman

You work in a team to produce a game experience within a current game engine. This provides you with experience of working within a production environment, and also with an opportunity to target specific production skills within your chosen field of study.

Lighting and Look Development

You develop your skills in general CG lighting practice and art direction for VFX and Animation. The module outlines strategies for fast, flexible asset management that will allow models, lighting and camera rigs etc to be deployed efficiently in different lighting, visual style and environment scenarios. You are expected to use this good practice and asset management strategies throughout your university career and beyond. You develop work using a lighting and look development strategy recognisable to the industry.

Motion Capture

You are introduced to the skills required for producing animation using motion capture techniques and technologies. Emphasis will be placed on developing technical skills in various motion capture hardware and software tools appropriate to animation production, along with further development of keyframe animation skills. You will be taught how to plan, capture, clean, retarget, loop and blend motion capture data as well as how to layer keyframe adjustments to correct and enhance motion.

 

Final-year core modules

Beta Arcade

You gain experience of working as a member of a games development team that is as close to industrial practice as possible. Beta Arcade simulates the working criteria and mix of development skills that are required to produce a polished prototype of a computer game concept which would be suitable for publication.

Computer Animation Project

You carry out a large scale piece of individual coursework, under the supervision of a project supervisor and a second reader. Your project parameters are agreed by you and your supervisor. You produce a substantial artefact related to your chosen specialism and career aims. You complete a pre-production document, a written reflective report, and a viva to present and defend the artefact.
You develop work-discipline with a professional outlook and you consider legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what you have studied on the programme.

Contextual Research and Development

You develop your practice, innovation and professional skills through practice-based research in your area of computer character animation, computer animation or visual effects. You investigate a topic relevant to your chosen area to explore and expand your practical and theoretical knowledge.

Performance Capture

You develop skills in producing dramatic, cinematic animation using motion capture techniques and technologies with a focus on capturing the best possible performance. Emphasis will be placed on developing creative, directorial and cinematic skills using various motion capture hardware and software tools appropriate to animation production, along with further development of motion capture skills. You will be taught how to plan, work with actors, scripts, capture, clean, retarget, and edit motion capture and audio data, and how to present captured performances cinematically.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

A variety of learning and teaching methods are employed throughout the programme. The methods adopted reflect active learning using authentic approaches, due to the vocational nature of the course. Team working is featured throughout the course will prepare you for the formal group assessment in years 2 and 3. External guest speakers, seminars and workshops on current research and emerging topics are also a course feature. These will include inquiry-based learning and activities that mirror research process in the discipline. Additionally, they provide you with a bibliography of important and recent academic and professional research publications in the discipline.


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Career opportunities

You are encouraged to think about your future career from the outset. We have a number of events that develop your employability: our ExpoSeries is integral to your course and is an opportunity for you to interact with employers at each level of your course via ExpoTential at the end of the first year, ExpoTalent at the end of the second year and ExpoTees at the end of the third year. Each event is open to the public and has invited industry guests, ensuring that you have the opportunity to showcase your work to peers, the public and potential future placements or employers at regular intervals throughout each level of your studies. The Expo Series underlines the School's commitment to employability by making this integral to your learning journey.

Entry requirements

A typical offer is 96-112 tariff points including at least two A levels (or equivalent), or 64-80 for entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year). You're required to attend an interview and present a portfolio demonstrating basic skills in drawing and visual invention.

If you’re applying for entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year) please use UCAS code I154 BA/CAFY.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

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Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years including a work placement) or 4 years including foundation year (or 5 years including a work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information