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Undergraduate study
Computer Character Animation

Computer Character Animation
BA (Hons)

G455 BA/CCA (G457 BA/CCAFY for Year 0 entry)

 
 

Course overview

If you would like a creative career as an animator in film, television or games then this is the course for you. As well as giving you professional skills in key areas including 3D character animation, modelling, rigging, motion graphics and look development, this course allows you to explore your own specialism through working as part of a team on industry led briefs and short films. This course includes an optional work placement year, at no extra cost.

Character Animation showreel

Character Animation student work showreel

As well as dedicated 3D animation studios, you have access to dedicated life drawing spaces, recording and motion-capture studios, and a fully equipped sound stage including green screen facilities and motion-control cameras.

Graduates can be found in the world’s top studios working on block buster movies, television series and games.

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).

Alongside the optional work placement year, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities. Find out more

Watch this BBC video, Tees cartoons: How Middlesbrough is animating the future.

Image credit: David Rig By Gabriel Salas

Professional accreditation

ScreenSkills This course is recognised by ScreenSkills, the skills body for the UK’s screen-based industries. Upon completion of this course you are prepared for a career in the screen industries having completed a course carrying the ScreenSkills Select quality mark.

 
 

Course details

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

2D Digital Art

You are introduced to the creative possibilities of image making using digital tools. The fundamental principles of design and composition will be addressed and a range of image creation techniques will be explored using appropriate graphics software. Skills and topics introduced include: layers, transparencies, vectors, bitmaps, Outcomes & reproduction (web/print/screen) and Input devices

Case Studies

This module provides tools in your reading of cultural texts. Focusing on computer games, animation and film, you gain an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen fields of study.
As well as looking at the historical and contextual overview of the history of animation, film and computer games, you also look at how we interpret these types of media historically and materially. You choose a text from within your area of interest and undertake an analytical review in the form of a case study.

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.

Drawing Principles

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. You also look at other formal elements including tone, proportion, perspective and basic human anatomy.

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.

Storytelling

Here, you apply acquired knowledge and skills to a selected project according to an area of your individual interest or specialism. This module provides an overview of professional graphic practice and enables you to reflect on your own learning and personal career aspirations. You review work from modules through your portfolio presentation and set goals for the next stage.

 

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.

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.

Technical Animation

Nearly all modern blockbuster films are full of fantastic eye-catching visual effects and mind-boggling animation.
Using industry-standard software packed with incredible technical tools, you learn how to create believable and dynamic fluid, liquid and particle simulations, as well as technical character-based techniques such as character rigs, cloth, hair and fur.

 

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.

 

Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment, including communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits include:

· improved job prospects
· enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
· a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
· a better degree classification
· a richer CV
· a year's salary before completing your degree
· experience of workplace culture
· the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.

 

Final-year 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.

You develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook and are 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 are required to 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.

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.

 

Modules offered may vary.

 

How you learn

You study through a mix of lectures, studio sessions and video tutorials which allow you to learn at your own pace. You also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry professionals.

As an artist working in the industry, you are expected to have an understanding of what it takes to create a finished film. To prepare you for this, in year one we have modules covering a range of animation and visual effects disciplines to give you the chance to find out which areas you love and what you are best at.

In year two you begin to specialise in your chosen area through core character animation modules as well as working in your chosen role as part of a multi-disciplinary team to create a sequence of film shots.

In your final year you are encouraged to think about your employment goals and tailor your learning to give you the best possible chance of achieving your ambitions. You do this through working in a team to create a short film in semester one followed by your final project where you work to create your final showreel.

How you are assessed

We believe that is 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 semester. You develop a portfolio of animation work throughout the course. In Year 2, the Kino module provides you with essential teamwork skills ready for industry. The Project in the final year allows you the freedom to set your own project based on your skills, interests and career aspirations.


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

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 will be invited to an Open Day as well as an Applicant Experience Day, where you can meet some of the staff that will teach you and also experience what it is like to study at Teesside University. You will also have the opportunity to present a portfolio of your work demonstrating basic skills in drawing and visual invention.
Your portfolio should demonstrate basic skills in drawing and visual invention. Get some advice on how to develop a portfolio

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

If you’re applying for entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year) please use UCAS code G457 BA/CCAFY.

For general information please see our overview of 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

Work 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 develop your professional skills and links with industry through our Expo Series, Animex and Student Futures activities.

Graduates from this course can be found in studios around the world working on film, television and games content such as blockbuster movies and AAA games. They work in a range of areas including, character animation, modelling, rigging, production, previs and visual development. Companies include Framestore, Double Negative, Industrial Light and Magic, Cinesite, Weta Digital Rock Star, Cubic Motion, One of Us, The Mill, Moving Picture Company, Passion Pictures and many more.

 

Information for international applicants

Qualifications

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

Select your country:

  
 

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 2021/22 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 with a work placement) or 4 years including foundation year (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: G455 BA/CCA
    G457 BA/CCAFY for Year 0 entry
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 tariff points and portfolio

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS

 

Part-time

2021/22 entry

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

More details about our fees

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

Apply online (part-time)

 
  • Student work

    BA (Hons) Computer Character Animation – student work

    Students Jake and Benjamin talk about their film MagnumO’Pup

     
  • Student and graduate profiles
     
  • News

    Animex Expansion plans announced for major animation and games festival
    Teesside University’s internationally-renowned Animex festival is expanding in a drive to get the wider community engaged and enthused about the annual event.

    Read the full story

    Global ranking for animation at Teesside
    Teesside University has again been ranked among the world’s leading animation schools and placed in the top three in the UK in a new league table.

    Read the full story

    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

     
 
 
 

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 up to £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

 

Get in touch

 

Open days

 
 

Foundation year

Part-time

Part-time DiscoverUni data