Undergraduate study
Computer Animation & Visual Effects

BA (Hons) Visual Effects

UCAS code: I706 BA/VE

UCAS code: I708 BA/VEFY for Year 0 entry
If you want to work in the animated film and TV industries then this course is for you. The course provides a clear focus on the creation of 3D and 2D visual effects and simulation for 3D animation, film and television.

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

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

  • 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.

 

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.

You learn skills in 3D modelling, scripting, rigging, animation, and especially in compositing visual effects into animated products. You also gain experience of the wider pre-production and production pipelines in team modules shared with other animation and technical effects disciplines, where you can work as a generalist on design, pre-production, rigging, lighting and shaders, or in more specialist effects animation roles in simulation, and post-production or rendering pipelines.

The course contains a strong technical strand, ensuring you are fully literate in the rapidly changing technologies of 2D and 3D effects animation and simulation, in small or large productions for a variety of visual contexts, from the small and often unnoticed to the large and spectacular. Unlike other courses in this area, you will benefit from being able to collaborate with all the other animation disciplines, from dedicated concept artists to creative 2D and stop-motion productions to students working on technical direction in the VFX area.

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

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.

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.

Problem Solving Principles

You are introduced to problem solving, using simple tools and techniques. You develop your logical thinking and problem solving abilities. From recognising and defining problems to selecting an approach to problem solving or decision making, to evaluating the difference between the current and the desired state.

You may use recreational problems, like games and puzzles, to convey the important concepts and provide a more limited context to work within.

Visual Scripting Principles

You are introduced to the principles of visual scripting, including variables, functions and operators. You use these concepts to implement functionality and interaction using a contemporary game engine.

 

Year 1 core modules

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.

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.

Imaging Techniques for VFX

The fundamental techniques of 2D image acquisition, manipulation and digital compositing to produce manipulated but believable 2D imagery are introduced in this module. You will also work with specialist resources such as the soundstage, colour-grading suite and digital cameras.

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.

VFX and Compositing

Visual effects and compositing pipeline in a range of contexts and the fundamental techniques are required to produce exciting visual imagery using industry standard software. You will develop skills in creating seamless composited motion sequences integrating live action, CG content and photographed elements.

VFX Scripting

You gain an introduction to scripting languages and their application in the visual effects and animation pipelines. You also gain an in-depth understanding of 3D fundamentals that will underpin your future learning. You will be taught the basic principles of procedural programming and case-studies will be used to illustrate how scripting can be used to streamline and ease the production process.

 

Year 2 core modules

Digital Compositing

Digital Compositing is an invaluable part of the tv, film and other commercial media industries. You work with layers of imagery from various sources to create seamless and believable shots, often a feature of visual effects films and music videos. These layers can include a combination of 3D computer graphics, live-action video footage, blue/greenscreen footage and additional still imagery.

The lecture series focuses on the theoretical concepts that underpin the practical processes. The teaching emphasis is on the practical lab-based work and visual problem solving needed to produce work of a highly detailed standard as required by this industry.

Throughout, you work on creating a portfolio of static composites as well as short video examples of compositing techniques. This culminates in you applying this knowledge in the production of a short visual effects shot of your own design for the final element of the ICA.

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.

Effects Animation

The underlying theories underpinning common simulation techniques and apply them using industry standard software are introduced. Through the analysis of observed phenomena and visual effects used in both film and television productions, you will create professional quality simulations and critically analyse them.

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 VFX Production

You deepen your skills in visual effects, working in a wider team on a short film production where you take on a specific role to cultivate expertise in specialist areas of VFX. You engage with a range of advanced topics in visual effects production, which are supported with specialist workshops and lectures, as well as directing your own learning in creative or more technical specialisms.

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.

Visual Effects Project

The final year project on the visual effects pathway is a large scale piece of individual coursework, completed under the supervision of a project supervisor and a second reader. The project parameters are agreed on an individual basis by you and your supervisor. The aim is to produce a substantial artefact related to your chosen specialism and career aims. The process begins with a pre-production document and culminates in a written reflective report, and a viva where the artefact is presented and defended.
 
You are guided to develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook. You are also expected 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 explore a chosen subject area in depth, and thereby demonstrate the ability to analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what has already been studied on the programme whilst demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.

 

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.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
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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 I708 BA/VEFY.

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

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information