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BA (Hons) Visual Effects (VFX) for Film and Television

  • Duration: 3 or 4 years full-time
  • Placement year: Optional 1 year
  • Course code: 245K (UCAS)
  • Institution code: A66 (UCAS)

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Overview

Britain is a leading country in the production of high-quality visual effects for film and television.

Visual Effects (VFX) for Film and Television course information

Underpinned by training in traditional artistic techniques such as drawing, colour theory, perspective, photography and composition, you’ll learn what it takes to create your own feature film quality visual effects.

From dramatic depictions of impossible worlds to subtle enhancements of everyday reality, blending art and technology calls for practitioners who are technically skilled and aesthetically aware. We believe it is essential that these skills are developed in an integrated filmmaking environment.

The British film industry is hungry for new talent and our visual effects (VFX) course is designed to feed it with highly skilled graduates of the required professional standard. Since the Harry Potter boom in the early 2000s, alongside a recent influx of new releases from studios, such as Disney and Marvel, the film and VFX industry is expanding at an exponential rate. This has firmly established the UK as a leading country for high-quality VFX work and created an unprecedented demand for fresh, highly trained graduate talent from the UK education system.

The course was created in response to industry demand for VFX artists who possess strong observational skills and the ability to apply them collaboratively in the workplace.

Designed from the ground up by industry professionals, specifically to address this demand, the primary ethos is to create the quality required for employability within the industry. Developing a foundation in traditional artistic techniques, such as drawing, colour theory, perspective, photography and composition, you will learn what it takes to create your own feature film-quality VFX.

Our core software is all node-based, which enables a faster learning overall learning curve, so you can work on and produce more complex effects faster. For the 2D side, we use Nuke for compositing, roto and prep work. For the 3D side we use the industry-standard Houdini for simulations and procedural modelling and ZBrush for sculpting. For complex matchmove, we use 3DE. Our colour pipeline is based on an industry model with custom LUTs to ensure accurate monitoring of colour in our fully calibrated VFX labs.

All our VFX labs are equipped with top-of-the-range, industry-level workstations and are supported by our ender farm, fibre network and clustered storage. With smaller class sizes, students have full access to the VFX labs and workstations on specified lab days alongside a more personal teaching approach. You’ll experience a team-based production process that replicates industry best practice, which includes pre-visualisation, concept development, on-set data acquisition, asset building and compositing. We’ll introduce you to the underlying concepts and fundamental principles of VFX work and teach you the necessary creative and technological disciplines, developing your knowledge of 2D and 3D software.

The course prides itself on the currency of its staff. You’ll be taught by a small core of very experienced academics and industry professionals who know the VFX industry inside-out – they’ve worked at studios including ILM, Framestore, Double Negative, Electronic Arts, MPC, and Image Engine.

We’ve taken the knowledge gained at these studios and brought it to the classroom. Having worked in the industry at the highest levels, we not only know what makes a strong artist but also what the VFX industry is looking for. We’re focused on our graduates’ successful entry into the VFX industry, and having a long, successful career.

Course duration

3 or 4 years (full-time)

Placement

Option of a 1-year placement

UCAS course code

245K

UCAS institution code

A66

Placement year

All undergraduate courses at AUB offer an optional placement year, to be taken between your second and third years of study.

If you’re unsure about this optional placement, you don’t need to decide now. Once you’re here and studying with us, the course team will discuss the placement options with you, so when the time comes, you can make a decision that’s right for you.

If you’re required to have a Student Visa to study in the UK, it won’t be possible to undertake the one-year placement option; there’ll be other opportunities for you to engage with industry during your study at AUB.

Level 4 (first year)

In your first year, we take you on a journey through the visual effects pipeline, covering all the major roles within the industry. We’ll show you how we go from on-set data acquisition, through pre-visualisation, asset creation, Matchmove, concept, roto/paint, digital matte painting, compositing and simulations (including destruction and fabric) to give you a full understanding of the 2D and 3D pipeline respectively. Your practice is reinforced by an engagement with the historical and cultural contexts in film, which develops essential research and study skills.

Level 5 (second year)

In this year, you’ll develop a more focused understanding of the specialist roles involved in a collaborative process. You’ll start the term by focusing your time on look development, utilising both the 2D and 3D part of the pipeline. You’ll go deeper into specific areas such as texturing and compositing with a strong focus on recreating reality through the look development process. This is an opportunity to refine your skills and start to focus on your specialist area.

You’ll then be working on the ‘Specialist Production’ unit, where you’ll collaborate with third-year BA (Hons) Film Production students, who’ll provide a film script for which you’ll be asked to create the visual effects for. In this part of the course, you’ll be fully engaged in your role as a visual effects artist, where you can creatively design and construct 2D and 3D visual effects to fulfil your vision of what a visual effect might look like for a specific shot, according to the director’s storytelling and idea.

By developing key techniques in processing imagery from multiple sources, you’ll begin to develop a specialist portfolio of skills relevant to industry best practice.

Placement year

All undergraduate courses at AUB offer an optional placement year, to be taken between your second and third years of study. If you’re unsure about this optional placement, you don’t need to decide now. Once you’re here and studying with us, the course team will discuss the placement options with you, so when the time comes, you can make a decision that’s right for you.

If you’re required to have a Student Visa to study in the UK, it won’t be possible to undertake the one-year placement option; there’ll be other opportunities for you to engage with industry during your study at AUB.

Level 6 (third year)

In your final year, you will have an opportunity to work on your choice of projects, focusing on delivery of high-quality technically complex shots. You’ll also be researching and developing your knowledge in your chosen specialism, whilst working as a team. Your final group project will be screened to an audience, including industry guests at a premiere viewing at the BFI in London.

By the end of the course, you’ll have developed a professional portfolio relevant to your career ambitions. Throughout your degree, we highlight the importance of a good work ethic alongside exceptional artistic ability. As a result of developing a complete portfolio package before graduation, including a CV, cover letter and demo reel, you’ll be fully equipped for future employment opportunities.

Course team

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Application process

Once you've found the perfect Undergraduate course, you can apply to study via UCAS, including direct entry applications to second and third year.

When applying through UCAS, use the institution code A66 for courses taught at Arts University Bournemouth. For courses based at Bournemouth and Poole College, use code B49. We'll then use your completed UCAS form to make decisions about your application. You can find out more on entry requirements in our apply section.

When you apply to one of our courses, it's important that you help us get a good picture of both you and your work – so you'll need a great personal statement. We want to know more about why you're interested in the course, your key influences, and what you hope to do after your studies.

If you're invited for an interview, many of our courses will ask to see a portfolio of your work so we can get more insight into your ideas and abilities. To help you, we've created guidelines outlining what we expect from your portfolio for each course.

The fee that you pay the Arts University Bournemouth provides the necessary equipment and training for you to complete your course.

You may also choose to buy some items of personal equipment such as a laptop or tablet computer, but this is not required; desktop and laptop computers are available for you to use in common study areas, including a loan system in the Library.

If you decide to undertake an optional placement year, the tuition fee is £1,850. This is subject to inflationary increases based on government policy, and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

For the majority of our courses, we'll ask you to digitally submit a portfolio as part of the application process.

Portfolios should show examples of your work – both finished and work in progress – that demonstrate your interests and skills. We expect to see around 10 slides/images in your portfolio that shows your identity as an artist.

If we ask for a digital portfolio then we'll give you 30 days to submit it. Sometimes we'll need a portfolio submitted quickly if there's a UCAS set deadline approaching, but if you need more time, just let us know and we'll try to help.

We've created specific portfolio guidelines for each of our courses, you can take a look at these below.

If you've applied to study an online postgraduate (MA) degree, please refer to the AUB Online portfolio guidelines.

None of our courses currently require an interview.

The only course requiring an audition is BA (Hons) Acting and if you're invited to one you'll have at least 10 days notice.

Studios and resources

The VFX course is extremely well resourced with state of the art hardware and industry-standard software tools. You’ll use the same equipment as the professionals and produce industry standard work. The course is committed to high quality production values and you'll have access to state-of-the-art facilities.

This will help equip you with a strong portfolio of visual effects work tailored to a specific production role, and prepare you for entry positions into the VFX industry.

We take students on a traditional journey that is inherently connected to the artistic discipline that is today’s VFX world. We work with nude models, costumed figures, martial artists, still life and digital reference material to refine our students’ “eye”.

The computers in our VFX “lab” are blisteringly fast and configured to mirror industry best practice in colour management and rendering distribution.

We don’t confine our students to the lab. We make sure that students enjoy their time with us on the course and we regularly organise social events, ranging from paint-balling to boat trips and more industry-driven social events with influential industry partners.

We make the studio a fun and engaging place to be where students feel at home, encouraging team working and collaboration. When you come and visit us, look out for the extensive Star Wars figure collection!

This is a major part of the VFX industry culture and consequently part of our environment at AUB. Work hard and enjoy yourself is very much our motto.

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Bournemouth Film School

With a history spanning over 50 years, BFS sits at the heart of AUB, setting the standard for turning creativity into careers

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Drawing Studio

Our iconic, blue Drawing Studio is used by student from all courses and was designed by Alumnus, Sir Peter Cook​

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3D Workshop

Our 3D workshops with manual and digital manufacturing equipment and computers

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Digital Suites

Our Digital Suites offer a digital post-production facility and digital teaching space.

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The Library

The Library at AUB holds an excellent range of print and online collections

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Lecture Theatres and Seminar Rooms

We have a number of lecture theatres and seminar room scattered around campus to assist students with their studies.

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Central Media Store

The Central Media store houses a diverse array of equipment, offering students the means to craft and capture...

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Innovation Studio

The Innovation Studio operates as a lab for creative technologies, a nucleus for start-ups and enterprises and an industry engagement hub.

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Printroom

The Printroom and Passiv Haus are two great facilities available to all AUB student

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Letterpress and Bindery

The Letterpress and Bindery studio is a central resource, where students can learn and explore bookbinding and letterpress printing.

What graduates are doing

Since the Harry Potter boom in the early 2000s, alongside a recent influx of new releases from studios such as Disney and Marvel, the film and VFX industry has expanded at an exponential rate. This has firmly established the UK as the leading country for high-quality VFX work and placed an unprecedented demand for fresh, highly trained graduate talent on the UK education system.

Since the course conception in 2015 we have successfully placed students at studios like Industry Light and Magic, Framestore, One of Us, The Third Floor, Cinesite, The Mill, Outpost VFX, Territory Studio, Dupe VFX in fully paid positions, as part of the teams creating VFX for movies and series such as The Mandalorian, The Witcher, Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, Paddington 2, Lady and The Tramp, Black Mirror, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Suicide Squad, His Dark Materials, Watchmen, The ABC Murders, The Boys, Brave New World, Mulan, The Aeronauts, Captain Marvel, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Detective Pikachu, Avengers: Endgame, Alita: Battle Angel, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Catherine the Great, Raised by Wolves and others.

Our Careers and Enterprise team is dedicated to supporting you in turning your creativity into a great career. You can read more about this here.

Watch the video below to hear from some of our alumni.

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Britain leads in the production of high-quality visual effects for film and television.

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