Visual Effects for Film and Television BA (Hons)
About the course
On the Visual Effects for Film and Television (VFX) 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 for Film and Television (VFX) degree has a common year 1 with the other 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 for Film and Television degree have worked on live projects including the BBC's 2010 Olympics presentation and music videos for Richard Ashcroft.
- Teaching for the VFX 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 visual effects companies in London.
300 points or more from GCE A Levels, BTEC, Arts Foundation or equivalent. These must include a post 16 Art qualification where skills such as life drawing, photography, film-making, observational drawing and sketching have been developed. A-levels or BTECs such as multimedia, product design, graphic design and 3D design are discounted as they usually do not include the relevant skills. These qualifications however are very welcome, if in addition. If the applicant feels that their candidature is worthy despite not having the art qualification they are very welcome to contact course tutors directly or ask for more advice.
In addition GCSE Maths at a grade C or above and English Language at grade C or above is needed- key skills are accepted as equivalent. Final selection is based on an art portfolio interview. In rare cases this may be by online portfolio and telephone/skype if the candidate is unable to come physically.
The University also accepts a number of other equivalent qualifications including IB and Access courses – to find out more about the requirements for these and other equivalent qualifications please go to:http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/explore-your-options/entry-requirements/tariff-tables
Our offer for the International Baccalaureate (IB) is made outside of the UCAS Tariff and is calculated by dividing our tariff point offer by 10 i.e. 300 UCAS points equals 28-30 IB points.
All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency with IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any band). If you do not have the required level of English for entry, our academic English and foundation courses can help you to achieve this level. Other English language tests are accepted. Please see our international pages for information or contact the International Office for details.
Lecturer in Visual Effects for Film and Television
Find out more about Mark Wallman
Programme Leader of Animation
Find out more about Stephen Hunt
- 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 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.
This course offers you the opportunity to study abroad through the University's study abroad programme.
Study abroad opportunities are available worldwide and in Europe under the Erasmus+ Programme.
Find out more about Study abroad opportunities
Animated Thinking: histories, theories, contexts
Understanding how animation, in its many forms and contexts, works to communicate stories, spectacles, 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.
CG Practices and Techniques
This module introduces and develops an understanding of the underlying concepts of computer animation both 3D and 2D. It addresses particular aspects of digital animation in both practical and knowledge based domains.
Creativity, Concept and Story
Effective communication in the digital animation industries requires an understanding of factors such as narrative construction, composition, colour and character and environment design. This understanding is developed during the module via practical activities that focus on skills of creativity, observation and expression across a range of visual media. These practical skills are used in the creation of concept artwork and short visual narratives that inform, entertain and communicate ideas. The whole process is underpinned by the development of research skills and an awareness of the importance of research into visual and aesthetic traditions, practitioners and audiences.
This module provides students with an introduction to a variety of two and three dimensional digital and traditional art techniques that are relevant to the animation, games and visual effects fields. It helps students to develop an understanding of a range of digital and traditional image generation techniques via lectures and practical workshop-based activities. The module teaches the students to work creatively and imaginatively while providing the technical training required to create their work. The students learn to apply concepts such as composition, proportion, anatomy, perspective and colour theory to their art, whether it is static or animated, traditional or digital. The students are also taught how to analyse the world around them visually in order to create work based on it successfully.
Time based digital media technologies and compositing are explored and applied to practical outcomes in the field of animation, games art and visual effects. Film practices such as editing and sound are engaged with, both theoretically and practically, within the context of narrative ideas. Students will gain an understanding of group dynamics, collaboration and organisational strategies required to enable them to function in a professional working environment. This module extends the student experience of digital animation and includes film, animation, visual effects and game showings from an historical perspective that could inform current digital practices.
Advanced Specialisms for VFX
This module addresses both core visual effects practices (one of the most technically challenging areas where art and cutting edge computing meet), and extending skills in digital asset creation areas and key art skills. The student may also pursue interests in such things as organic modelling or the more technical side of visual effects such as rigging and coding within the module.
This module offers a period of sustained practice which consolidates and extends digital animation, visual effects and games art skills established and developed earlier in the course. It enables the student to see through the production cycle of a whole group 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 large group and could be a live project in collaboration with third-parties, work experience, faculty projects or combined projects with students on other years or on other programmes. The experience gained is then used to pinpoint and enter into a planning cycle for a potential small group project. This is a pre-production cycle in smaller groups that could be preparation for level 6 studies or used as a stand-alone pre-production unit. Use of live action footage as reference may be an important part of both projects which should also include attention to sound design. The use of motion capture should be considered for Games Art and Visual Effects. Anatomy studies accompanies this module, alongside film, games, and animation showings, and discussions and debates around digital issues inform and accompany this module.
Digital Cinematography for VFX
This module concerns itself with simulating film practices digitally to create invisible effects, which is the core work in the visual effects industry. The module covers concepts including HDRI lighting and analysing on set data for recreation in software to aid with greater levels of photorealism, photographic practices including technical and creative uses of cameras and on film set procedures and skills. Digital lighting, lighting theory and the rendering of images are looked at in detail, considering the technical and aesthetic requirements of the area. Compositing is taught as an essential means of simulating film practices from integration of CG elements with film, depth of field, motion blur, colour grading, matte painting and set extension. The module explores and develops the student's understanding of the use of film languages, the simulation of photorealism and use of post-production in visual effects.
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.
VFX Professional Practices
The visual effects students engage in a series of live projects set up with companies. The work is completed in the university environment with a mix of professional and university tutors. This includes visits to companies and direct feedback from those companies. 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 and the creation of a self branding and CV in preparation for potential work experience between Level 5 and 6, and Level 6 study.
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.
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.
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 environments. 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 videogame development, TV, or film VFX) or as a freelance animator.
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 show reel and employment package, CV etc. 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. Qualifying work experience can be undertaken either during the previous summer vacation (between L5 and L6) with appropriate evidence, including a reflective report, submitted to be accredited within the module; or during term time in place of one assessed component within the module, or alternatively included as part of a larger portfolio of work. Other professional activities deemed relevant could be taken into account for credits. It is the responsibility of the student to negotiate the detail of their work placement; further information is available in the programme specification and School’s Accredited Work Experience Handbook.
Pre-Production for Visual Effects
On this module students explore and develop their understanding of pre-production and design processes within the visual effects industry. While the module is freestanding it provides an opportunity to undertake the lengthy pre-production work needed for any ambitious visual effects project. In carrying out a series of sustained design activities, students on the module are encouraged to enhance their level of expertise and knowledge of pre-production processes. The outcome of this activity is the development of a project proposal that may form the basis for a major project in Semester B. The module draws on negotiated briefs of a standing appropriate to the requirements of Level 6 degree study. This enables the student to engage in a sustained process of pre-production and planning enquiry.
Fees & funding
Full time: £9,000 for the 2016 academic year
Full time: £11,500 for the 2016 academic year
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: W614 BA (Hons) Visual Effects for Film and Television
- Course code: CTDANM
- Course length:
- Sandwich, 4 Years