Visual Effects BA (Hons)
About the course
On the Visual Effects degree you are only limited by your imagination. This degree is for anyone interested in creating the amazing visual effects that we see every day from the latest Hollywood blockbuster to the wild creativity of high impact TV adverts. Using the latest technology, this course covers the seamless integration of photo real computer-generated creatures, crowds, objects and stunt doubles. You also cover particle effects such as fluid and fire, object dynamics, match lighting, crowd simulation and many more current techniques. You will be working in close collaboration with film students and the best central London production houses on professional level projects.
The Visual Effects degree has a common year 1 with the other digital animation degrees for core subjects and then specialises at year 2 and year 3 so those not sure about which pathway to follow can make an informed decision.
Why choose this course?
- Students from the Visual Effects degree have worked on live projects including the BBC's 2010 Olympics presentation and music videos for Richard Ashcroft.
- Teaching for the Visual Effects degree is based on the extensive industry knowledge of our lecturing team. We have worked with high profile organisations and companies such as the BBC, The Mill, Red Vision and many others.
- Many students are currently on work experience programmes with London visual effects companies.
- Find out for yourself and watch our video!
- Watch our Animation Showreel to see the great work of our students.
280 points from GCE A Levels (or equivalent) including a qualification in an art related subject plus GCSE English language and Maths at grade C or above and Key skills are accepted as equivalent. Selection is based on a portfolio interview, after which you may be required to complete a Foundation Year or Foundation Diploma before progressing to the degree course.
- Full Time, 3 Years
- Sandwich, 4 Years
- University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield
Graduates will be capable of working in the growing and exciting area of computer animated visual effects. Seamless integration of effects into live action in feature film, TV and increasingly games includes the creation of photo real computer-generated assets, particle effects such as fluids, fire, physical recreation of object dynamics, crowds, creature animation and compositing, matt painting and camera matching.
Graduates may also progress to advanced academic studies and research.
Teaching is intensive hands-on workshops, lectures and seminars.
Work placement can take place during Semester B at Level 2 or during the summer. Students may undertake a year-long placement between the second and final year. Work placements are an opportunity to improve employment prospects and develop new skills.
Digital Systems: Digital Animation
This module introduces and develops an understanding of the underlying concepts of computer graphics and particular aspects of digital animation in both practical and knowledge based domains.
Animated Thinking: histories, theories, contexts
Understanding how animation, in its many forms and contexts, works to communicate stories, spectacle, ideas, and feelings, is crucial to effective creative practice within the field. Animated Thinking extends knowledge and understanding of the position of animation as a fundamental aspect of contemporary culture. It approaches this through a mapping of animation and related media histories, traditions and processes, and an exploration of its role in the emergence of the modern world. Focusing on theories drawn from film, art, communication and cultural studies, and applying these to specific and varied examples of animated practice, the module enables students to develop informed and systematic approaches to analytical thinking, together with an ability to communicate critical responses clearly and accurately in a variety of forms. The module is structured around a core series of lectures and seminars, with assessment based on the demonstration of skills in enquiry, information handling, analysis, and argument.
Digital Imaging for Animation and Games
This module starts with lectures, seminars and workshops in bitmap image appropriation and manipulation, digital painting, and simulation of the physical world (such as image maps, algorithmic texture generators, bump maps, transparency maps, map projection and scale). Software packages for the generation of two dimensional and three dimensional imagery are explored and used as a vehicle to develop necessary skills in 2Ddesign, as well as digital processes and to explore the important use of the bitmapped image in the animation process be it virtual materials, sets, backgrounds, matte painting. Issues of lighting and compositional form and art and design research and sketchbook methods are explored.
Moving Image for Animation and Games
Time based animation processes and technologies such as flash, 3D digital, claymation, stop frame animation and film practices such as editing and compositing and sound are explored within the context of narrative ideas. Such issues as keyframes, timelines, animation curves, green/blue screen work, cross platform working and group dynamics are addressed. This module extends the student experience of digital animation.
Visualisation and Narrative for Animation and Games (30)
Effective communication in digital graphic media requires an understanding of the factors such as composition, colour, media that affect acts of visualisation. That understanding is informed by practical activities which develop skills of observation and expression in a range of visual media and drawing, and in a number of different situations. These skills are then applied to narrative ends using fixed images juxtaposed to tell stories that inform, entertain and communicate.
This module addresses both core visual effects practices (one of the most technically challenging areas where art and cutting edge computing meet), it also extends skills in digital animation related areas and key art skills. The module may also include electives that will allow the student to further their particular interests within 3D digital animation and visual effects.
Digital Cinematography: Digital Animation
The Digital Cinematography module explores and develops the student's understanding of the digital animation process from pre-planning through production, to post-production and game production. This module looks at the current use of film and game practice and tradition in digital animation and the impact of technologies on film practice. Cinematography includes such essential skills for digital film-makers and animators as editing, compositing, use of sound for storytelling and emotion, mise en scene, lighting, camera work and composition that all potential animators and game artists must acknowledge and master. Employment patterns demand knowledge of this production pipeline and of current practice. This leads on to identifying employment aspirations and placement within studio practices and pipelines.
Extended Project: Digital Animation
This module offers a period of sustained practice which consolidates and extends digital animation skills established and developed earlier in the course. It enables the student to see through a whole project, or projects which may be used as part of locating or pinpointing their employment or professional aspirations. The project will usually be within a group and could be personal or live projects in collaboration with third-parties, work experience, faculty projects or combined projects with students on other years or on other programmes. Students can develop their own brief through negotiation with staff and work within a choice of specialist interests. Alternatively, students may undertake a faculty work experience instead of this module, subject to agreement with the Programme Tutor.
Moving Visions: perspectives on digital animation
Building on learning in the Animated Thinking module at Level 4, Moving Visions further develops knowledge and critical understanding of the contemporary uses of animated forms. Requiring students to identify their own areas of critical interest in relation to both the long traditions and contemporary contexts of the discipline area, the module is crucial as an introduction to the kind of ‘open’ critical enquiry that will characterise Level 6 contextual study. A core series of ‘catalyst’ lectures and seminars introduces new critical, theoretical and contextual ideas, while supporting students in a reflective exploration of both the broad field of animation and their specific practices of 2D, 3D, Games Art or Visual Effects. Undertaking a detailed survey of traditions, locations, and perspectives, students define a topic of study, formulate a research question or title, and carry out a carefully documented enquiry leading to the submission of an ‘essay’-style outcome in an appropriate form.
Professional Work Experience 30: Screen
Students may identify a work experience opportunity or have a work experience suggested to them. Before starting students meet with the Programme Leader or their nominated tutor, to discuss the impending placement. All aspects of the intended experience are addressed from health and safety to client confidentiality and students are given guidance on behaviour and how to manage expectations. Proposals need to identify an outline work programme, the number of days in placement and the main learning outcomes; and are subject to agreement of the Programme Leader.
C&CS L5 Creative Arts
This module will run in parallel programme specific Critical and Cultural Studies modules at Level 5 during Semester A, should there be a need for the school to provide a single semester (15 credits) option for its students. For example, to aid in transitional arrangements stemming from the development of C&CS in the school (2012/13), or to provide a 1 semester option to international students who will be studying at UH as part of an exchange from a recognised partner institution.
CCS L5 Creative Arts
This module will run in parallel programme specific Critical and Cultural Studies modules at Level 5 during Semester B, should there be a need for the school to provide a single semester (15 credits) option for its students. For example, to aid in transitional arrangements stemming from the development of C&CS in the school (2012/13), or to provide a 1 semester option to international students who will be studying at UH as part of an exchange from a recognised partner institution.
Sandwich Year (Creative Arts)
The optional 'Sandwich' placement year may be undertaken between the levels 5 and 6. Students undertake the placement within a commercial, public or not for profit setting that is able to provide an appropriate learning experience related to the creative and cultural industries. A placement could take a variety of forms, including: * working in an external organisation; * working with a University company or professional team within the University; * self-employment within defined context and externally refereed. The placement duration would typically be sustained for at least 48 weeks, though may be sustained for a full year. While the Faculty/School actively supports the placement process, ultimately it is the placement provider that will agree to manage and select students, normally through an interview process. During the placement a member of the academic staff will be assigned to the student as a tutor and will monitor the student's progress during the placement period.
Degree Project: Digital Animation
The Major Project module forms the major contribution of degree study. The students work with staff to negotiate the scope and structure of their studies and to perform processes within simulated or live professional production environment structures. The results of the project will demonstrate their overall abilities for employment or postgraduate studies in the fields of digital animation. Examples of potential employment opportunities are working for a production house, as part of a computer animation company (in Games, TV, or film VFX) or as a freelance animator.
Critical and Cultural Studies: L6 Enquiry / Report / Essay (Screen)
The content of this module allows students to engage with research, enquiry or critical processes appropriate for their subject area. Students select a topic related to their area of study as the basis for an extended enquiry. Usually the topic will have a close relationship with some of the ideas, approaches and content of the student's final project. This work may explore ideas, examine artefacts or set out to solve a problem through an enquiry of some kind. The module allows students to develop their broad understanding of issues of significance, meaning and value that are implicit in their project idea or to engage in a process arising from a question or problem they have identified from their subject area aimed at providing recommendations or explanations which are supported by valid evidence. The module is delivered through a mix of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials with a strong emphasis on independent learning.
Professional Practice in the Digital Animation and Games Industries
The Professional Practice module engages students with the world of employment and places their work in the context of the standards required for employment entry. Students are expected to produce material, for example a showreel, with which to engage with prospective employers. Students are expected to complete study assignments and to use independent study time to develop their awareness of employment opportunities. During semester C (between L2 and L3) students may undertake a faculty work experience, with the agreement of the Programme Tutor. This will contribute 5 credits towards this module with the assessment submission made during the period of this module. See section 19 for detail.
Pre-production for Visual Effects
Traditional design decisions underpin any successful digital visual effects project. This module takes the student through the design process inherent in the pre-production for digital visual effects. This will be delivered through the application of a series of set tasks to create two artefact outcomes. The first will be a pre-production portfolio that the student may or may not wish to take through to production in the Degree Project. The second will be the pre-planning for the visual effects pieces including research and development.
Fees & funding
Full time: £9,000 for the 2014 academic year
Additional course costs
In addition to the fees there are some compulsory course attached to this course:
Printing, stationery, plastic wallets, folders £50-£150
Portable hard disk £50-£70
Printing, stationery, plastic wallets, folders £80-£100
Printing, stationery, plastic wallets, folders £50-£150
Other financial support
Living costs / accommodation
The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.
Key course information
- Institution code: H36
- UCAS code: W614BA (Hons) Visual Effects,
- Course code: CCANM
- Course length:
- Full Time, 3 Years
- Sandwich, 4 Years