Undergraduate study
Computer Character Animation

This course is in Clearing Clearing 2017

BA (Hons) Computer Character Animation

UCAS code: G455 BA/CCA

UCAS code: G457 BA/CCAFY for Year 0 entryIf you have a passion for designing and animating computer characters seen in film, advertising or games then this is the course for you. Character animation involves creating the illusion of thought and emotion through a character’s physical actions. Without this the humour, eccentricity, energy, sadness or fear in a character wouldn’t be communicated.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3, 4 or 5 years dependent on whether you undertake the foundation year, placement year or both.

More full-time details

Entry to 2017/18 academic year

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

£500

£500 available to kick-start your degree – for travel, accommodation or other living expenses

Eligibility criteria apply

£270m

Over £270m invested in our town-centre campus for your improved student and learning experience

More about the campus

89%

89% overall satisfaction with their course
(National Student Survey 2016)

Why choose Teesside
 

Note: this course is for Year 0 and Year 1 entry only in 2017. We currently operate a different structure for entry to Year 2 and final year. Please contact scm-enquiries@tees.ac.uk for more information.

We place great importance on your drawing skills, observation and the principles of animation. You are also taught acting theory and body language as applied to animated characters. We develop your creative talent so you can also design, model and rig your own characters prior to making them move. You learn using traditional character animation techniques as well as the latest state-of-the-art production tools. Disciplines covered in the course include:

  • drawing and concept art
  • 2D and 3D character animation
  • character design and modelling
  • acting for animation
  • script writing and storytelling
  • professional portfolio development.

Teesside University is ranked #187 in the Animation Career Review list of top international animation schools.*This course has a foundation year for applicants who don’t meet the requirements for Year 1 entry.

Professional accreditation

Creative skillset This course is accredited by Creative Skillset, the industry body that recognises courses that deliver an education that fulfils professional criteria and best prepares you 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

3D Character Animation

Develop your skills acquired from the 3D Animation module. There is a reference to character animation in a 3D environment.
You gain a thorough understanding of animated performance using tools that are widely used in the film, television and gaming industries. You use professional animation workflow, acting theory, anatomical study and observation through video reference to get the best performance from your characters.
You continuously practice animating characters in different situations to develop and improve your skills throughout the module.

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.

Kino

You work in teams to produce an animated short film to a given brief. This module is designed to give you the experience of working within a production environment and provides 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.

 

Final-year core modules

Advanced Character Animation Production

You build on your learning from years one and two and develop your chosen specialist skills in your individual work, as part of the production of the short film team project. You explore a range of advanced topics specific to the character animation course. You take part in lectures and subject specific workshops.

Computer Character 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.

Short Film Production

You build on your learning and team work to produce a short film. You work within small production teams in individual roles, based on their area of specialisation to create and produce a short film to an original concept. The completed film should be suitable for festival submission, television broadcast, or other industry events and competitions. It should also provide a high-end showpiece for your final portfolio.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

Each module is delivered through a structured series of lectures and tutorials. Lectures provide you with specific theoretical information related to the subject, while accompanying tutorials focus on developing practical skills and work on assessments. Tutorial sessions are also used for feedback and advice from tutors. Further support is offered online in the form of extra learning material where necessary. You are expected to manage your time to complete assignment work outside the tutorial sessions.

You have the opportunity to attend keynote lectures throughout the year from industry speakers. Also, the animation department runs supplementary fortnightly feedback sessions where you can meet with students from all years and demonstrate work-in-progress.

In your final-year, you work together in teams to develop, create and market a short animated film. These films are submitted to international film festivals and many have achieved award-winning success.

How you are assessed

We believe that it is essential for you to learn through the experience of doing. Assessment for the majority of modules is in the form of practical projects, which you work on throughout the academic year. You develop a portfolio of design, 2D and 3D character animation, modelling and visual effects work in Years 1 and 2. In the final year you specialise in your chosen field through the production of two key pieces of work. The final year project allows you the freedom to create your own brief based on your skills and interests. In the Group Animation module you work collaboratively with other students to develop essential team working skills to prepare you for employment.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

Professional placement

Being able to include work experience on your CV makes you a much more attractive applicant. You have a much higher chance of improving your degree classification and the boost in confidence will give you the edge in job interviews.

98% of our students who complete a work placement achieve a high level degree classification and are offered a graduate job within six months of graduating.

We have established excellent long-term relationships with businesses giving you the opportunity to apply for summer, year-long and graduate placements with key organisations such as: Microsoft, Lift Studios, BMW, MediaMonks, Hammerhead VR, Animmersion, Dojo Arcade and Moments 3D

Student selection is carried out by employers through competitive interviews and often skills tests. Placements are not compulsory but are assessed and contribute to your final degree award.

Our placements team gives you help and support throughout the placement process, including guidance on applications and interviews, to help you get a placement that suits you.

Career opportunities

You are ideally suited to a career in the animation, visual effects or games industry. Graduates from our computer animation degrees have gone on to enjoy careers with a wide range of companies including Double Negative, Moving Picture Company, Glassworks, Cinesite, Passion Pictures, DreamWorks, Pixar and Framestore.

Entry requirements

Call us on 0800 952 0226 about our entry requirements

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

What is KIS?

How to understand the Key Information Set

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3, 4 or 5 years dependent on whether you undertake the foundation year, placement year or both.

More full-time details

Entry to 2017/18 academic year

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information