VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design BA(Hons)
UCAS code: W200
Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies
Normally three years full-time.
|Fees and Bursaries||
2013/14, full time:
Typical offer: 240 UCAS points. A Levels: CCC. BTEC: MMM Foundation Art and Design. All applicants are individually assessed via portfolio and interview.
|Application||Full-time: via UCAS
Part-time application form
A specialist course aimed at producing designers / artists for the film or game industries
Excellent industrial links - both in UK and abroad
Creative studio-based atmosphere supported by excellent facilities, workstations, games engine and CINTIQs
VFX : Visual Effects and Concept Design is predominantly about ideas, concept generation and content for the film and games industries - ranging from characters, vehicles, products, clothing, sets and environments. Applicants usual have either 2D or 3D aspirations upon enrolment, and these skills are developed over the three years, as well as exposing them to allied skills that will improve their work-flow and productivity.
Practical ‘design’ projects are supported by dedicated modules focused upon 3D modelling (using Maya), 2D digital presentation (using Photoshop / Painter), digital content for games environments (using Maya : Cry Engine 3 pipeline) and post-production / compositing using our green screen facilities and After Effects, PF Track and NUKE software. By the final year students have usually focused upon either 2D, 3D or post-production biased projects.
Design methodology, concept origination exercises and speculative design projects will provide credible ‘scenarios’ to propose ideas against. Hand drawn and digitally derived artwork will be generated to develop ideas, whilst software such as Autodesk’s Maya, Crytek’s Cry Engine 3, or the Foundry’s NUKE software will provide more contemporary means for visualising concepts, statically or dynamically via animations. The award is supported by high end workstations running both Cry Engine 3 and Maya, and is currently the only one in the UK to own and use a Spheron VR AG HDR camera system to support academic delivery and commercial project work. Students will experience the workflows associated with this system in the final year.
Project work will be undertaken individually and as part of a team, with opportunities for placement work in the vacation period, or by taking a year out. There may also be opportunities to study abroad during the second year.
Image credit: Digital ‘set design’ in Maya by Ben Nixon
The broad emphasis of the teaching and learning strategy is on exploring creativity and practice through research, theory and studio projects. A variety of methods are used to assess students' learning and progression, as outlined below, but they are all designed to reinforce the strategy of integrating the intellectual and experiential processes of learning in a creative environment.
The Core Modules will often be based on a brief set by the award or module leader or an external agency or company. With heavy reliance upon external, part time staff to deliver key skills, these staff often bring a great deal of `industry knowledge / work practice' with them. Commonly there will be a starting point - a brief, a project introduction, or specified area of investigation - set against the intended outcomes detailed in the module descriptor and activities that promote relevant learning and facilitate assessment of those outcomes - with a common end point, usually in the form of an individual or group presentation of work for assessment. In this kind of learning model the focus is on the research processes, creativity and problem solving that the studentsfollow to satisfy the requirements of the module.
Staff : Student contact will often fall into several distinct categories, namely studio based contact, where either 1:1 or group tutorials will takes place, often focused upon an individual or team approach to specific assignments. The purpose of these slots is to both direct and appraise ideas, towards a goal that satisfies the assignment deliverables.
Technically based modules will often involve self-directed study (via online media), complemented by staff and technician demonstrations. Often with software biased modules, staff will direct students to a potential method for resolving problems, with students expected to refine those techniques and explore alternative solutions. With most software based modules, there is rarely any one, single, correct solution ' so
investigative work is encouraged.
Project supervision usually takes place when there are TEAMS of students engaged on a specific task / assignment and will take place with staff on a weekly basis to plan, discuss, and monitor progress. These meetings often involve the demonstration of progress and discussions over such, technical issues, group dynamics.
Supervised time in studio/workshop
Generally, outside of designated, timetabled slots, VFX students are not supervised within computer labs / workshops. Staff may be working within the same lab, and where possible may assist students, provided there is time to do so.
Fieldwork - Practical work conducted at an external site.
Occasionally, work is conducted outside, e.g. Spheron HDR and backplate capture or video footage capture. These activities will take place under staff supervision, and only occur via designated module timetabled slots or via planned, negotiated booking with VFX award staff only.
Currently, the principle event that VFX staff direct students to is FMX, Germany. This event is a recruitment and technical forum, to which we direct L5 VFX students too. This is NOT an organised `field trip as recruitment panels have expressed their admiration for students organising this event themselves, as it shows commitment and dedication to their pursuit of employment within both the film and games industries.
Placements / Study Abroad
Currently, the VFX programme does not offer any work placements, as it would be unable to guarantee all students appropriate experience.
VFX award staff will direct students towards any opportunities it feels are appropriate, e.g. the Cinesite INSPIRE programme.
Negotiations are being held with European academic partners regarding exchanges.
The Learning Outcomes detailed above form the structure around which the assessment of modules is built. The University has designated 8 generic Learning Outcomes for all undergraduate awards and allowed for up to two further to be specified for each award. For the VFX award, as with other awards from the field of Art and Design two award specific outcomes are included: Visual Analysis and Working with Others. The award team see this as a significant additional marker of highly significant transferable skills that employers inside and outside the Design Industry and other Creative Industries look for when recruiting graduates (this information has been gleaned from discussions with industry practitioners we are linked to as a team).
Assessment of Level Outcomes is organised across the award so that each of the 10 Level Outcomes can be tested at least once within the Core modules at Levels 4, 5 and 6 Module grades are achieved through formative and summative assessment strategies, which uses a variety of modes that are designed to be exploratory and experiential and to reflect the process of accumulating the ranges of knowledge, skills and understanding through the award. The integrated approach to teaching outlined above favours a continuous process of assessment, as opposed to exam based assessment, the award team is confident that these outcomes are tested more effectively overall through the range of coursework and presentation tasks set through the award. Formative and summative assessment of the learning outcomes identified for this award is an effective method, as long as the processes of tutor feedback and student self-evaluation are well supported.
Most modules carry single assessment tasks/activities, based on the submission of coursework, the nature of which is determined by the project/s or assignment/s set within the module, which are documented within the Module Descriptor and Blackboard VLE area.
Coursework carried out in response to assignments, project briefs or self initiated proposals, and presented in forms appropriate to professional practice, allows students to demonstrate the acquisition of learning outcomes through a variety of strategies, namely.
Formative assessment is normally carried out in tutorial and critique situations (either one on one, in peer groups or studio working teams) and can be provided to the student orally with a written record then kept by either the student or tutor. This can be produced as a result of peer group or self assessment exercises where the reflective process can result in the drawing up of an action plan. In more formally scheduled academic tutorials, these are recorded on an academic tutorial record form, completed and agreed by both student and tutor with one copy of the form retained by the student.
Summative assessment takes place at the end of a module where written feedback and indicative grade point are provided. The feedback forms directly link the assessment tasks and student performance to the identified learning outcomes and it is intended that this feedback will be provided within two weeks of the assessment wherever possible.
Anonymous assessment is undertaken where appropriate, namely where the assessed output is individually written. Practical, design based projects would be impossible to grade in this manner.
With a high degree of very transferable skills, VFX graduates are equipped to look beyond immediate employment within film or games industries, for example architectural visualisation, web media, advertising media, teaching etc.
VFX were an official partner at the 17th Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia in Stuttgart, Germany (8th-11th May)
VFX graduate, Peter Salter is working as a Match Mover for Moving Picture Company, who have contributed to blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean 4, On Stranger Tides and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two.
Download course guide
BA(Hons) VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design course guide (PDF, file size: 313.45KB)
This award will provide a direct career path into mainstream CGI visualisation, gaming or films (set / prop design) or post-graduate study. As with our other awards there will be a high degree of transferable skills, enabling graduates to enter other areas of design, teaching and further study. With an award as practical as VFX, the expectation would be that graduates would seek employment within the film and games industry or any other area demanding visualisation of ideas to this standard e.g. architectural or advertising material and commercials.
Image credit: Traditional character development by Jack Milton
Have you also considered?
- BA(Hons) VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design Programme Specification (PDF, file size: 91.43KB)
For more information about VFX: Visual Effects and Concept Design (W200) please contact:Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies Admissions
Stoke on Trent
t: +44 (0)1782 294400