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Undergraduate study
 
 

Course overview

If you have a passion and aptitude for both the creative and technical side of the visual effects industry, this is the course for you.

This programme has the additional advantage of a master’s-level year with advanced and more deeply applied and deconstructed technical expertise in visual effects for 3D animation, film, television and physical simulation. The master’s year allows you to deepen your understanding of visual effects in more advanced technical ways, as well as providing a route to advanced degrees (for example, a PhD) and world-leading technical research in the visual effects area. For this reason you are expected to maintain a good grade average throughout your studies.

Discover what it would be like to study one of these degree subjects and get advice on careers in the industry with one of our interactive STEMulate12 sessions.

There is a clear focus on the technical simulation and systems side of the visual effects production pipeline. You will learn skills in 3D modelling and surface shader creation, but especially in the technical development of tool plug-ins and implementation of physical simulations in realistic film and TV productions such as particle effects and water.

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 effects look development, pre-production, surface shaders, or in more specialist effects direction roles in simulation or rendering pipelines. The course contains a programming strand, ensuring you are fully literate in the languages needed to develop and implement leading edge tools and systems for 3D effects animation and simulation, in small or large productions for believable photo-real effects, from the small and often unnoticed, for example water,to the large and spectacular, for example explosions.

Ranked 3rd in the UK in the Animation Career Review College Rankings 2020. (192 colleges considered. Find out more at tees.ac.uk/source).

Ranked 14th in the world in the Animation Career Review International Animation School Rankings 2020. (185 colleges considered. Find out more at tees.ac.uk/source).

 

Course details

Course structure

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.

Rigging and 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.

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.

 

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.

 

Year 3 core modules

Final Year Project

The Final Year Project is a large-scale piece of work, undertaken under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The project involves the production of a substantial artefact related to your subject area.

Professional Industry Practice

You work with students from a range of courses and build on your learning from years one and two and develop your chosen specialist skills through individual work as part of the production of the short film team project.
You engage with a range of advanced topics specific to areas covered on the course.

Short Film Production

You build on your learning and team work to produce a short film as group work and expand your professional development through individual research.
You produce a short film in the media of your choice, such as 3D animation, live action and visual effects, or 2D animation and stop motion. You work in individual production roles within small teams to create an original short film.

 

Final-year core modules

Advanced Compositing

Build upon your compositing knowledge and further develop specialist practical skills in footage acquisition, green screen studio setup, CG integration with live action, effective lighting, deep compositing, camera projections, set extensions, digital matte painting and look development including the colour pipeline.

Negotiate your personal learning goals and specialisms with your tutor(s) to develop your practice as a 2D/3D digital compositor. Practical sessions and seminars enable you to produce and manipulate 2D assets, including live action footage and incorporate elements from the Effects Animation module. You explore real-world complex compositing and VFX scenarios.

Advanced Effects Animation

This module focuses on dynamic simulation tools and techniques using SideFX Houdini. You focus on problem-solving and simulating natural phenomena. You also study particle and fluid simulation, rigid body dynamics and finite element method solvers.

R & D

You explore and research an area of your choice within the CG pipeline to improve your specialised skills and knowledge.

Emphasis is on a research informed workflow where you iterate through a process of research, design and evaluation to develop a working prototype or proof of concept, which demonstrates high-level techniques related to games, animation or visual effects.

You test your ability to solve industry relevant production problems through research informed design, assessment will be on the success or functionality of the prototype produced, alongside a written evaluation of the workflow used.

VFX Group Project

You take an innovative approach to the analysis and solution of problems in visual effects production. In small production teams, you assume individual roles based on an area of specialism that demonstrates an understanding of the interrelation of creative and technical factors involved in the visual effects production pipeline.

VFX Individual Project

You undertake an in-depth individual study in an aspect of your course, usually drawn from film, games and television industry based problem areas. You engage in researching and investigating aspects of your area of study and produce a major deliverable, such as a rig, film, prototype or highly visual proof of concept. You also critically evaluate your major deliverable, including obtaining third party evaluation where appropriate.

 

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 programme. You Students also gain experience of the wider production and post-production pipelines in team modules shared with other animation and visual effects disciplines, where they can work as generalists on effects look development, pre-production, surface shaders, or in more specialist effects direction roles in simulation or rendering pipelines.

How you are assessed

It's essential for you to learn through the experience of doing. Assessment for all modules is in the form of practical projects, which you work on throughout the year. You develop a portfolio of design work throughout the course. In Year 2, the Kino Project provides you with essential teamwork skills ready for industry.


Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

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

 
 

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Typical offer
112-128 points and portfolio

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS tariff calculator. If your qualifications are not listed, contact our admissions team as we may accept alternatives.

We may also be able to help you meet the entry requirements through our Summer University modules.

Portfolio
Your portfolio should demonstrate basic skills in drawing and visual invention.

Maths and English
Acceptable qualifications in maths and English include:
• GCSE grade 4 (or higher)
• Level 2 Key Skills (Communication and Application of Number)
• Level 2 Functional Skills.

We also accept alternative equivalent or higher level qualifications.

For additional information please see our entry requirements

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

 

Employability

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 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 ExpoSeries underlines the School's commitment to employability by making this integral to your learning journey.

 

Information for international applicants

Qualifications

International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser

 
 

Full-time

Entry to 2020/21 academic year

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

The final year is discounted from £9,250 to £6,500

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

The final year is £12,045

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 4 years (or 5 years with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: I701 MComp/VE
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 112-128 points

Apply now through Clearing

 

Part-time

2020/21 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: Up to 6 years
  • Attendance: Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

 
 

Facilities

ExpoTalent is a unique opportunity to meet businesses to secure placements, internships and future employment opportunities.

 

Choose Teesside

iPad

Are you eligible for an iPad, keyboard and £300 credit for learning resources?

 

Accommodation

Live in affordable accommodation right on-campus

 

Campus

Study in our town-centre campus with over £270m of recent investment

 

Industry ready

Benefit from work placements, live projects, accredited courses

 

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