Manchester Metropolitan University

BSc (Hons)

Computer Animation and Visual Effects

2018 entry

Features and benefits of the course

  • Accreditation is currently being sought by the British Computing Society, the chartered professional body for IT and will be retrospectively applied once successful accreditation has been achieved. This will allows you to gain Chartered IT Professional status and become a graduate member of the BCS.
  • You will study a curriculum designed in conjunction with industry to equip you with the range of skills and strengths that employers demand.
  • The four year sandwich route gives you the opportunity to spend your third year on industrial placement boosting your employment prospects on graduation.
  • You will experience what it's like to work as part of a professional team finding solutions to complex problems via group projects. You can also get involved with extracurricular work to further apply your skills, for example, gaming events and the student computing society.
  • We recently invested £300k in hardware upgrades across the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Our excellent facilities include ten new state-of-the-art teaching laboratories equipped with high-specification PCs and Apple Macs with high performance systems and specialist software tools which work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. 
  • Teaching and research laboratories have advanced graphics workstations, clusters of graphical processing units and NEC SX61 and SX8 vector supercomputers. Our usability lab captures and analyses human behaviour as we interact with digital content.

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

Placement options

The full-time four year sandwich route provides the opportunity to spend your third year on placement in industry. The School offers help with finding suitable placements and experience has shown that taking a placement year can lead to improved performance in the final year of your degree as well as improved employment prospects after graduation.

About the course

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

You will learn a core set of skills in the creation of digital assets in 2D and 3D environments for output of computer-generated imaging across different platforms. You will study web development to give you the skills to develop an online portfolio to showcase your work. You will also study a games unit, giving you wider skills in an area in which animation skills can be applied.

Core Units
Digital Asset Production

Key to the art of modern cinematography is an understanding of both the physical and the virtual camera, geometrical optics, lens and image physics. Applying the same studio camera principles within the virtual world allows for the photorealistic computer generated imagery essential to the visual effects professional. This unit will lay out the foundations of image capture and adjustment, in a variety of formats, for a range of applications. Technical photography and lighting principles will be explored in order that digital images can be produced and used as assets within virtual or synthetic environments. Colour management and calibration will also form an important aspect of ensuring that what is seen on screen is an accurate representation of the digital asset you have created.  Your digital painting skills are also developed through the use of industry standard hardware, empowering you to express the creativity you possess on a digital platform.

Computer Games Fundamentals

This unit provides a practical and theoretical overview of programming for computer games, games design, industries and audiences. Students will learn how to critically evaluate current debates in games design and apply practical production skills. Includes industries and gaming cultures, narrative and storytelling in games, alternative and serious games, design strategies, game rules and prototyping, the architecture of a computer game, game flow and logic, user interaction, device input and game state feedback, 2D and 3D game environments, game characters, animation, sound, scene control and scripting, introduction to game physics, introduction to artificial intelligence for games, controlling behaviour of non-player characters, chasing and evading, simple pathfinding.

Introduction to Web Design and Development

Introduces the modern context of web design and development, the core development technologies and standards and design methods that cater for different current platforms. The key theme of the unit is the efficient design and development of effective and robust websites for the range of popular platforms using the most modern technologies and techniques.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to the client-server model, web standards, HTML5 semantic mark up, control of presentation via style sheets, interactivity via JavaScript on the client side and PHP on the server side
  • The use of high-level tools for design and development
  • DOM element selection and manipulation via script libraries such as jQuery
  • The production of standards compliant HTML5 video. Students will create dynamic web pages with AMP systems and script on the server side using PHP with MySQL. The key theme for scripting will be the understanding and development of readable code that listens for and responds to browser and user events by manipulating DOM elements.

Modelling and Animation Fundamentals

Here we will introduce you to 3D modelling techniques and the principles of animation. You will use various techniques to develop non-deformable models used in the development of virtual environments. We will look at how 2D images can be mapped onto the 3D models in order to provide surface information and texturing. Virtual lights and cameras will be a focus in order to produce photorealistic rendered imaging, and different render engines will be explored. Material and volumetric shaders will be studied within render engines, looking at the physical properties they simulate and how they can be used to produce a range of visual output.

Year 2

In your second year you will develop your skills in 3D modelling and begin to look at character design and development. Topology flow for a deformable organic mesh will be discussed as will laying out a texture map for the application of 2D images onto a 3D object. Dynamic systems for animation will be introduced, analysing real-world physics and applying this to animating within a virtual environment. The integration of CGI with real-world footage will be introduced and post-production effects and compositing techniques developed.

Core Units
3D Character Development

This unit will cover techniques for digital character production and development, including: techniques for polygon box modelling, NURBS patch modelling and associated workflow to produce a 3D asset for character designs, breaking down a 3D model for 2D texture application, digitally painting a UV map template for application and implementing dynamic systems.

Dynamic Animation for Special Effects

This unit concerns the simulation of natural phenomena within a virtual environment for the purpose of generating visually conceivable special effects. Students will simulate natural phenomena in a virtual environment to produce dynamic animation and integrate this within 3D scenes to produce special effects to a design brief. Includes:

  • Particles - particles and emitters, particles and rigid bodies, particle collisions, rendering particles, compositing
  • Fluids - Maya fluid containers, 3D fluid effects, reactive fluids, texturing and shading fluids, open water effects
  • Render layer separation
  • Post-production compositing and post-production effects.
Production and Compositing Techniques

This unit covers a range of techniques for production and post-production for the film industry, including:

  • How to create 2D and 3D effects and composite them with real film footage
  • Filming for 2D and 3D productions
  • Compositing techniques, including – keying, tracking, colour matching, stabilisation, lighting and light effects, and incorporating 3D animation elements into live action
  • Layering and separation of 3D elements to add value and flexibility to the post-production pipeline
  • Technical aspects of images, such as alpha channels and colour correction
Professional Development

The unit covers the related areas of professional and legal issues and professional and career development and includes a pathway-specific group project.

The current legal framework of computing e.g. data protection legislation, intellectual property rights, e-waste recycling law, computer misuse, freedom of information, computer contracts and employment contracts. Overview and comparison of workable ethical theories e.g. utilitarianism and duty based approaches. Professional bodies in computing – role, structures, codes of conduct and practice. Employment application process and continuing professional development. Themed case study mini-project linked to subject pathway which may include the following elements: project planning and control concepts, planning techniques (e.g. Gantt/PERT charts) and monitoring, individual reflective diary/log book, academic research, software prototype and project report.

Year 3

If you opt for the four year sandwich route, your third year will be spent on a relevant industrial placement. 

The third taught year will develop your skills in post-production and compositing, integrating computer generated visual effects with real-world footage. Cinematic techniques will be explored in both the real and virtual environment. Digital character animation techniques will be developed, applying the principles of animation to a custom built character control rig. Manual animation techniques as well as motion capture technologies will be explored. In this final year, you will embark upon a self-directed project bringing your knowledge and skills together.

Core Units
Character Animation Techniques

This unit introduces character rigging, animation and motion capture. You will gain experience of using the various technologies for capturing motion from a subject as well as the processing of the data and its application onto a virtual character for a variety of digital applications. These include:

  • The creation of skeletal systems and mesh deformation systems for digital animation
  • Development and implementation of control systems for forward and inverse kinematic animation
  • Calibration and operation of motion capture equipment for capture of human motion
  • Application, retargeting and manipulation of motion capture data
Dynamic Systems and VFX Integration

This unit teaches you how to simulate natural phenomena within a virtual environment for the purpose of generating visually conceivable special effects. You will cover:

  • Particles – particles and emitters, particles and rigid bodies, particle collisions, rendering particles, compositing
  • Fluids – Maya fluid containers, 3D fluid effects, reactive fluids, texturing and shading fluids, open water effects and render layer separation
  • Post-production compositing and post-production effects

Post-production Techniques for Film, Games and TV

This unit develops your knowledge and skills in advanced post-production techniques used in industry to integrate visual effects with live action footage and the application of audio principles and recording techniques to provide Foley and narrative.

Project

Provides experience in the critical review of literature and the design, implementation, evaluation and writing up. Working with your supervisor, students develop their project description and specify aims, objectives, methodology and timetable for completion. Final year projects are normally pathway-specific. For group projects, individual and collective aims, objectives and plans are specified.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Methods of Assessment

You will be assessed by examinations and a wide range of continuous assessment including laboratory reports, poster presentations, oral presentations and online assessments.

Assessment Weightings and Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A 3 year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:

Study
  • Year 1 25% lectures, seminars or similar; 75% independent study
  • Year 2 25% lectures, seminars or similar; 75% independent study
  • Year 3 20% lectures, seminars or similar; 80% independent study
Assessment
  • Year 1 100% coursework
  • Year 2 100% coursework
  • Year 3 100% coursework

Additional Information About this Course

Students are expected to behave in a professional and business like manner when on placement or conducting projects with external partners.

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at: http://www.scmdt.mmu.ac.uk/our-staff/

Typical entry requirements

These typical entry requirements apply to the 2017 academic year of entry and may be subject to change for the 2018 academic year. Please check back for further details.

UCAS Tariff points/Grades required

104-112

104-112 UCAS Tariff Points at A2 (Grades BCC-BBC).

BTEC National Diploma or National Extended Diploma at Level 3 (Grades DMM) in IT/Computing. Creative Media Producation accepted with Merit or above in the following mandatory Units:
1. Media Representations
3. Digital Media Skills

Plus at least 4 Merits in the following optional units, at least one of which should be a 3D (*) unit:
12. Website Production
13. Digital Games Production
20. Single Camera Techniques
21. Film Editing
27. Digital Photography
28. Image Manipulation Techniques
29. 2D Digital Graphics
31. Coding for Web Based Media
32. Concept Art for Computer games
33. 2D Animation
34. Game Engine Scripting
40. 3D Modelling*
41. 3D Environments*
43. 3D Digital Animation*

Pre 2016 - BTEC Creative Media Production considered with 60 relevant credits at Merit.

Specific GCSE requirements

GCSE grade C or grade 4 in English Language, Science and Mathematics. Level 2 Functional Skills English also accepted.

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Pass Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject (ICT/Computing/Science) with a minimum 106 UCAS Tariff Points.

International Baccalaureate points

26 IB Diploma points (to include IT at HL 5)

IELTS score required for international students

6.0 with no element below 5.5

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

Further information

Applications are considered individually and you are advised to contact our Course Enquires team via the web form www.mmu.ac.uk/course-enquiry

Your career prospects after the course

A degree in computer animation will prepare you for a wide range of careers in a fast growing industry.

Research from the government-funded NextGen Skills Academy in April 2015 indicated that 47% of companies in the visual effects, animation and video games industry were experiencing a skills shortage - compared with 5% of employers across other areas of the UK economy.

Jobs in animation and VFX include; CG Generalists, animators, lighting or texturing artists and technical director roles such as riggers and compositors.

In addition, the skills you learn on this degree are highly valued by a range of employers and opportunities may exist in areas such as games, film, advertising, medical science, engineering and education.

Manchester is a major hub for the digital media industry.

The close proximity of MediaCity and local initiatives such as the 100bps Oxford Road "Corridor" broadband project are attracting key players in the digital media sector, along with smaller web design and new media agencies, to the city.

94%

In 2014, over 94% of our graduates went directly into work or further study within 6 months of graduation

DHLE survey 2014, for all respondents available for employment or further study and whose destinations are known

How do I apply for this course?

Applications through UCAS

Remember to use the correct institution code for Manchester Metropolitan University on your application: our institution code is M40

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.

Undergraduate Study