Undergraduate study
Computer Character Animation

BA (Hons) Computer Character Animation

UCAS code: G455 BA/CCA

If 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 years (or 4 including a work placement year)

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
  • Facilities

    Computer Animation & Visual Effects

    Teesside is one of the best-equipped learning environments for anybody seeking a career in animation or visual effects. We have purpose-built facilities housing dedicated life drawing spaces, recording studio, motion-capture studio and a fully equipped sound stage including green screen facilities and motion-control cameras.

  • Student work

    2013 Animation Showreel

    A showreel of student work from BA (Hons) Computer Animation and Visual Effects, BA (Hons) Computer Character Animation, MA Digital Character Animation

  • Student profile
  • Staff profile
  • News

    Students exhibit their work at Double Negative studios during ExpoTees London
    Animation and Visual Effects students from the School of Computing had the opportunity to exhibit their work at Double Negative’s London studios this summer. Staff and students took the renowned ExpoTees brand to the country’s capital city to meet some of the industry’s leading players.

    Read the full story

 

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 #187in 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.

Modules

Year 1 core modules

Animation Pre-Production

This module will enable you to become proficient in the creation of the key components of the animation pre-production process. This includes project planning, development, concept art, character, environment and prop design, scriptwriting, layout, storyboarding, art direction, cinematography, directing, animatics and animation bibles.

You will be exposed to a range of significant animated and live action films to develop an understanding of film language. This will enable your practical work to develop in a professional context to recognised pipelines.

The assessment for this module requires you to pitch a proposal for a short animated film project to a live client.

Drawing for Animation

In this module you will develop your visual perception and drawing skills, and learn how to communicate your ideas effectively, swiftly and efficiently.

We guide you through a wide range of drawing exercises including figure drawing, environment drawing, sketching layouts, props and character design. These exercises develop your observational and imaginative drawing abilities, as well as build on your artistic and technical skills.

The assessment requires you to complete a cohesive portfolio of work consisting of a range of drawings using traditional and digital techniques.

Introduction to 2D and 3D Computer Animation 1

You learn and practice the principles of animation, such as squash and stretch, anticipation, follow-through, timing and appeal. This knowledge will be applied to the production of bipedal and non-character sequences in 2D and 3D. You shoot, source and analyse video footage as reference for animation.

You learn the traditional processes related to 2D computer animation, including the use of field guides, x-sheets, layout and line testing. For 3D, you earn how to apply a solid workflow starting with strong poses and blocking out a sequence through to spline animation.

You develop walk cycles and run cycles before going on to animate more complex actions with a character to express weight. ?You will also learn how to render an animated sequence and utilise non-linear editing to cut sequences together.
The assessment requires you to complete two sets of animation exercises, one in 2D and one in 3D.

Introduction to 2D and 3D Computer Animation 2

You learn and practice the principles of animation, such as squash and stretch, anticipation, follow-through, timing and appeal. This knowledge will be applied to the production of bipedal and non-character sequences in 2D and 3D. You shoot, source and analyse video footage as reference for animation.

You learn the traditional processes related to 2D computer animation, including the use of field guides, x-sheets, layout and line testing. For 3D, you earn how to apply a solid workflow starting with strong poses and blocking out a sequence through to spline animation.

You develop walk cycles and run cycles before going on to animate more complex actions with a character to express weight. ?You will also learn how to render an animated sequence and utilise non-linear editing to cut sequences together.
The assessment requires you to complete two sets of animation exercises, one in 2D and one in 3D.

Introduction to 3D Modelling, Texturing, Lighting and Rendering

You are introduced to the essential tools and techniques for modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering using industry standard 3D computer animation hardware and software.

You learn how the tools work on a theoretical and practical level and develop your observational skills in relation to form, structure, surfaces and light. You learn many different techniques including the role of shaders, modeling types, masking, UV unwrapping, different types of lights and the essentials of rendering.

The assessment requires you to model, texture, light and render a selection of 3D assets.

Introduction to Digital Visual Effects and Compositing

We introduce you to visual effects and compositing in a range of contexts and the fundamental techniques required to produce
exciting visual imagery using industry standard software.

You also experience some of the specialist resources available at the University such as the green screen studio and motion control rig.

You will use the work you complete in the year one module Introduction to 3D Modelling, Texturing, Lighting and Rendering in the assessment for this module. The skills you acquire will be expanded upon in the year two module Digital Visual Effects and Compositing.

Your individual assessment is a portfolio of VFX and compositing based practical work demonstrating a range of technical skills, and that is comprised of a final VFX motion sequence, including shot breakdowns. You support this with written and illustrated 1200 word report documenting your approach to the practical work throughout the module.

 

Year 2 core modules

2D Character Animation

You develop further the drawing and animation skills developed in year one with particular reference to character animation in a 2D environment.

You further develop your 2D character animation skills and learn how to animate creatures and non-character based objects. You also create special effects animation such as fire and water. All of this work reference real world observation, but you are also encouraged to develop your own visual style.
The assessment requires you to complete a portfolio of polished 2D animated exercises plus a final short animated piece.

3D Character Animation 1

You take the basic animation skills developed in year one and develop them further with particular reference to character animation in a 3D environment.

You study the principles of acting theory and apply this knowledge to the production of animated character performances. You develop your animation skills in full body and facial animation of humanoids and creatures. You also examine how to bring inanimate objects to life and study how professional 3D animation tools can be used to achieve the most convincing results.

The assessment is in two components. Component one comprises a number of exercises and component two will consist of a longer sequence with sound.

3D Character Animation 2

You take the basic animation skills developed in year one and develop them further with particular reference to character animation in a 3D environment.

You study the principles of acting theory and apply this knowledge to the production of animated character performances. You develop your animation skills in full body and facial animation of humanoids and creatures. You also examine how to bring inanimate objects to life and study how professional 3D animation tools can be used to achieve the most convincing results.

The assessment is in two components. Component one comprises a number of exercises and component two will consist of a longer sequence with sound.

Animation Production

After developing ideas for an animated short film in year one, you work in a small team to develop one of these proposals and produce the final film.

You bring your own individual expertise and skills developed on the course and take on specific roles in a team-based production environment. You conduct yourself in a professional manner to ensure that your film is produced and delivered to a standard that will enable them to be broadcast on a variety of platforms.

The assessment for this module is the production of a professional short animated film.

Modelling and Rigging for 3D Computer Animation

You develop the modeling and rigging skills developed in year one and learn how to complete complex character modeling and rigging tasks. You learn about the various pipelines and alternative workflows used in modeling and rigging for 3D animation. You also study human and animal anatomy and understand how design impacts on the modeling and rigging process.

Complex techniques such as digital sculpting tools, painting textures directly onto models, soft surfacing modeling to create organic forms, skinning and weight painting will be taught.

The assessment requires you to model and rig characters and other elements to demonstrate that you understand how critical these processes are to the success of 3D computer animation.

Visual Development for Animation

You take the drawing and animation pre-production skills developed in year one and further develop your art and design skills for animation. This enables you to develop an individual artistic style and learn how to create original designs based on first hand research.

You study and analyse character design, visual concepts, settings and scene layouts from successful animated films and learn how good design elements can enable animators to create effective performances and engaging narratives. You learn advanced creative techniques with traditional and digital tools to produce advanced concept artwork including drawn and sculpted assets suited to animation.

The assessment requires you to work to a brief and create designs of characters, sets, props and environments. Your work is presented as a set of concept design artwork in a design dossier, demonstrating key designs that would be required for the development of an animated film.

 

Final-year core modules

Advanced Animation Pre-Production

You work in small production teams to create all of the development and pre-production assets for a major short film. This includes the script development, concept artwork, storyboards and character design. Each team member takes on a number of development roles depending on their course or chosen area of specialism.

Key lectures and workshops inform the assignment and provide inspiration for innovative ideas development including scriptwriting for animation, visual narrative and storyboarding, aesthetics and design for animation, planning and advanced pre-production.

In the tutorials your team tutor guides you on the animation pre-production pipeline and provides regular individual and group feedback.

You are be assessed for your individual and group work.

Animation Short Film Production

You continue working in your small teams to produce a major short film that you developed in Advanced Animation Production.

You assume an individual animation production role based on your course or area of specialisation – such as computer animator, character animator, visual effects/compositor, editor/post-production, director or a combination of roles.

Key lectures and workshops inform the assignment work, including advanced aspects of computer animation production and character animation in 3D and 2D, visual effects and post-production, marketing and distribution. Guest lecture talks, by designers, animators or directors, provide you with an industry context. In the tutorials your team tutor guides you on the animation production pipeline and provide regular individual and group feedback.

You are assessed for your individual and group work. As an individual you are required to create a ‘making-of’ reel, a high-end showpiece for your final portfolio. Your final film should be suitable for film festival screenings, TV, or other industry events or competitions, potentially including international events or competitions.

Computer Animation Project

This module is a large scale, individual piece of work, which you undertake under the supervision of a member of the academic staff.

It takes place over 20 weeks, starting near the beginning of the academic year and involves the production of a substantial artefact and culminates in the writing of a report and a viva consisting of the presentation, demonstration and discussion of the artefact.

You are guided to develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook. We expect you to take responsibility for the planning and execution of an extended piece of work including the consideration of associated legal, social, ethical and professional issues.

You are able to explore in depth a chosen subject area, and demonstrate your ability to research, analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply new and existing knowledge while demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.

This 60 credit practical project is specifically intended to allow you to achieve considerably more in terms of the scope and depth of your product development.

This module aims to:

  • develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline in the planning and execution of an extended piece of work
  • allow deeper exploration of your chosen subject area, to the extent you acquire the expertise to discuss its issues authoritatively
  • develop your documentary communication ability in preparing a comprehensive report on the project
  • where appropriate, build upon your experiences in your work experience year
  • provide you with the experience of undertaking a substantial individual practical piece of work from conception to conclusion
  • develop your ability to research, analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what you have already been studied
  • give you an opportunity to demonstrate critical and evaluative skills
  • allow you to develop and demonstrate a professional outlook on and approach to the production of a significant artefact.

Assessment
We assess the submitted written project report in terms of both subject matter and its presentation. The assessment of the report will contribute 50% to the overall project mark. It will be read by the supervisor and a second reader (another member of academic staff). The two assessors are expected to agree a mark for the report.

The artefact-related assessment consists of a viva (to include the presentation, demonstration and discussion of the artefact in an ‘exhibition’ context) and will account for 50% of the total mark. This part of the assessment is the responsibility of the Supervisor and Second Reader together.

Generic guidelines on the management and assessment of this artefact-related element of the project are provided.

 

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.

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.

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

A typical offer is 104-120 tariff points including at least two A levels (or equivalent). You're expected to come for an interview and present a portfolio of your artwork.

If you don't have an appropriate educational background for this course, you may receive an offer in a related but more suitable area.

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

What is KIS?

How to understand the Key Information Set

Course information

Full-time

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

More full-time details

Entry to 2017/18 academic year

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information