BSc (Hons)

Computer Animation and Visual Effects

Attend an open day How to apply
Attend an open day How to apply

Overview

Designed with the animation and visual effects industries at its core, this course focuses on the technical aspects of content creation. It allows the creative freedom for you to develop and work with your own ideas and concepts and bring these through to realisation. You will create your own assets for integration with virtual environments and composite with live-action footage to create complex visual effects.

Character design, development and animation will be studied with a focus on the technical considerations for animating a deformable, organic 3D mesh. Surface capture and architectural visualization will also form part of your study, empowering you with the knowledge and tools to create photorealistic computer generated imagery.

Team-based and individual study will prepare you for work within a dynamic and exciting industry. The degree will produce graduates able to work in a rapidly expanding digital sector including, but not limited to, film, games, education and engineering. Career opportunities for a Computer Animation and Visual Effects graduate include modelling, rigging and VFX technicians, lighting and texturing artists, 3D animators, camera trackers and compositors, as well as individual entrepreneurship. 

Features and Benefits

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

Career Prospects

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.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

These typical entry requirements apply to the 2018 academic year of entry and may be subject to change for the 2019 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 Production 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

Course details

Typical areas of study include digital asset production, computer games fundamentals, introduction to web design and development, modelling and animation fundamentals, 3D character development, dynamic animation for special effects, production and compositing techniques and professional development. In your final year, typical units will include character animation techniques, dynamic systems and VFX integration, post-production techniques for film, games and TV and a project.

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.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

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.

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.
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.

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.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

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
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.
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.

Professional Development

The unit covers professional, legal and career development issues in the Computing and Digital Technology industries and includes a pathway-specific group project.

The current legal framework of Computing and Digital Technology is examined e.g. data protection legislation, intellectual property rights, computer misuse, freedom of information, computer contracts and employment contracts as is an overview and comparison of workable ethical theories eg utilitarianism and duty based approaches. Important issues regarding professional bodies in computing are also addressed including their role, structure, codes of conduct and practice. You will also investigate employability factors and learn about the employment application process and the importance of continuing professional development. A themed case study mini-project linked to the subject pathway, which may include the opportunity to work with an external company. This will help you to develop your skills and understanding of project planning and control concepts, planning techniques (eg Gantt charts) and monitoring, academic research, software prototyping and report writing.

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.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

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
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
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.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

Study
Assessment

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.

Placements 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.

School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology

Our School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology is a vibrant community of staff and students, which prides itself on internal and external collaboration.

The department is committed to teaching and research that addresses societal challenges through disciplines like artificial intelligence, big data, computational fluid dynamics, cyber security, dynamical systems, the internet of things, smart cities, robotics and virtual reality.

More about the department

Taught by experts

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.

Meet our expert staff

Fees

Tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year are still being finalised for all courses. Please see our general guide to our standard undergraduate tuition fees.

Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.

Additional costs

Specialist Costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 each year for books and printing.

Placement Costs

Students can choose to go on a placement which might incur additional travel and accommodation costs - these would be offset by salary on a paid placement and will vary by location.

Professional Costs

Students can choose to join the BCS at any point in their study. It is not required but is useful. The annual charge is identified for every year there is also an option to take course membership for £57

Other Costs

Students who do the Schools units that relate to computer games or animation may incur costs for external storage media such as USB or HDD drives. Level 5 students may complete a Live Project on the Professional Development unit - this may incur some travel costs.

Funding

For further information on financing your studies or information about whether you may qualify for one of our bursaries and scholarships, follow the links below:

Bursaries and scholarships

Money Matters

Want to know more?

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS.

Apply now

UCAS code(s)

C5V8

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

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.

MANCHESTER IS YOUR CITY. BE PART OF IT.

Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

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. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

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The Office for Students is the principal regulator for the University. For further information about their role please visit the Office for Students website. You can find out more about our courses including our approach to timetabling, course structures and assessment and feedback on our website.

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