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Visual Effects (VFX) for Film and Television

Britain leads in the production of high-quality visual effects 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.

Since the Harry Potter boom in the early 2000s, alongside a recent influx of new releases from studies, 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 Visual Effects work and created an unprecedented demand for fresh, highly-trained graduate talent from the UK education system. The course was created in response to an industry demand for visual effects 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, 125 you will learn what it takes to create your own feature film quality visual effects.

Our 2D workflow uses Nuke for all compositing, and Maya/Zbrush and Arnold for 3D, while 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 of our VFX labs are equipped with top of the range industry-level workstations and are supported by our render 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 will experience a team-based production process that replicates industry best practice; including previsualisation, concept development, on-set data acquisition, asset building, and compositing. We’ll introduce you to the underlying concepts and fundamental principles of Visual Effects 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 will be taught by industry professionals that between them have worked at studios, including ILM, Framestore, Double Negative, Electronic Arts, MPC, Image Engine, Weta Digital and many more. We have taken the knowledge gained at these studios and have brought it into the classroom. Having worked in the industry at the highest levels, we not only know what makes a strong artist, but also what the visual effects industry is looking for. We are focused on our graduates’ successful entry into the VFX industry, as well as them having a long and successful career.

The visual effects industry community is very close, much like a family where everyone knows each other. Through the personal connections of our industry experienced staff we are able to bring in top class guest speakers, such as Christian Manz, Creative Director, Film at Framestore and Sue Lyster, Director of Studio Operations, and ILM, to name a few recent guests.

Level 4 (first year)

The BA (Hons) Visual Effects Design and Production course has been created in response to an industry demand for visual effects artists who possess strong observational skills and the ability to apply these skills in the composing of a final moving image.

In order to cultivate these abilities, the course aims to develop traditional art and design skills as part of a VFX training programme. You will experience a team-based production process that replicates industry best practice; including concept development, on-set data acquisition, asset building, animation and compositing.

At Level 4, we’ll introduce you to the underlying concepts and fundamental structural principles of visual effects work. You’ll develop an ability to evaluate and interpret the application of complementary art and design skills within visual effects practice.

We’ll teach you the technical and technological disciplines necessary for visual effects work, helping to develop an appropriate knowledge of 2D and 3D software in preparation to develop new skills at Levels 5 and 6.

You’ll attend a series of practical workshops, lectures and seminars, building competencies in the generation of concepts, the construction of digital assets and the processing of live action footage.

Alongside processing moving imagery, you’ll develop an aesthetic awareness through observational drawing and painting, utilising both traditional materials and digital solutions. This helps to develop an ability to evaluate different approaches to solving production problems.

You practice is underpinned by an engagement with historical and cultural contexts, and you’ll develop essential research and study skills which help you develop an ability to present, evaluate and interpret information from multiple sources.

Level 5 (second year)

In your second year, you’ll develop a more nuanced understanding of the specialist roles involved in a collaborative production process by working both independently and as part of a team.

You’ll build on the skills that you developed at Level 4, applying aesthetic awareness and technical knowledge in a production context that reflects industry best practice. You’ll work with increasing independence as part of a production team to take a visual effects sequence from concept and pre-visualisation stages through to live action acquisition, asset creation and compositing.

Production roles specialising in either 2D or 3D processes are negotiated with staff members and defined through the use of Learning Agreements, and you’ll be assessed on your individual contribution to your collaborative projects.

By deploying key techniques in processing imagery from multiple sources, you’ll begin to develop a specialist portfolio of skills relevant to an industry context. As part of the process of becoming an independent learner, there are also potential opportunities for industry placements or overseas study visits.

You’ll also work independently to research and develop your own visual effects sequence in preparation for a pitch process at Level 6. This developmental work will require the application of a range of established design techniques and research methods, including a sustained piece of academic writing, to effectively communicate ideas and identify limits of knowledge.

Level 6 (third year)

At Level 6, you’ll demonstrate a systematic understanding of visual effects practice by applying your specialist skills to a collaborative production process. The intricate nature of visual effects design and production necessitates negotiating a complex body of knowledge, drawing on both artistic and technical skills in generating a final image sequence to an industry standard.

Effective team work is paramount in successfully achieving a professional standard of production, and Level 6 develops critical awareness of co-operative roles and personal responsibilities that are required to make an ethical practitioner.

There are opportunities for this collaborative production process to include working alongside other courses in the university. At this level, you’ll work more independently in your production role, requiring effective time-management and organisational skills to evaluate concepts, make judgements and frame appropriate questions to solve production problems.

Through your written Investigative Study, you’ll engage in research activity, making appropriate use of literary and audio-visual resources in exploring the conceptual limits of their discipline. Individual research activity also takes the form of a Professional Development Portfolio, where students investigate an area of contemporary practice relevant to their career ambitions, and develop a portfolio appropriate for pursuing post-graduate study or initiating professional practice.

On completing our degree course, you’ll be able to apply your creativity and technical knowledge to enrich the storytelling aspects in a range of films and related projects.

All students are registered for the award of BA (Hons); however, exit awards are available if you leave the course early, having successfully completed one or two levels. If you successfully complete a level of the course, you will automatically be entitled to progress to the next level.

For the award of a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the first year of your course.

For the award of a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 240 credits of which a minimum of 120 must be at Level 5. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the second year of your course.

For the award of a BA (Hons) you must have achieved a minimum of 360 credits of which a minimum of 240 must be at Level 5 or above, of which a minimum of 120 credits must be at Level 6. This qualification will be awarded upon successful completion of your course.

A BA without Honours may be awarded if you have achieved 300 credits, at least 180 of which are at Level 5 or above, and at least 60 of which are at Level 6.

AUB has been producing talent for the film industry for years. Our lecturers know the industry inside out – many of them are working on high profile feature films whilst also teaching on the course.

We make sure that you’re as prepared for the industry as possible by creating an industry on campus. Along with an impressive set of skills, you’ll leave AUB with a ready-made network of professionals that you worked with while studying.

We’ve also got a network of artists at your disposal. They can use you and you can use them – at AUB and in your career.

You can find out more about staff on the course by browsing their profiles below.

Sarah Von Fersen headshot

Sarah Von Fersen

Sarah became course leader of the BA (Hons) Visual Effects Design and Production course at AUB in June 2018...

AUB Course team fallback

Dr Matt Nicholls

Dr Matt Nicholls is a Lecturer in Theory for BA (Hons) Visual Effects Design and Production...

AUB Course team fallback

Carl Reader

Carl joined the animation team in January 2015. While at university he studied Film Production specialising in post-production...

Paul Hilton

Paul lectures in several areas including 2D animation principles, life drawing and in teaching 3D computer animation techniques...

Ceri M from the AUB Student Union

Ceri Miles

Ceri Miles is a technician demonstrator at AUB and enjoys supporting and working closely with students across all year groups...

How to apply

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. All of our courses take place on one site, so we don't have a campus code. 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.

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 will 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.

Bournemouth Film School

We work closely with partners in AUB’s Bournemouth Film School to shoot live action footage for our visual effects project work. This is undertaken within our bespoke green screen facility, with high-end industry standard camera and set equipment.

Our students engage with the filmmaking process, being on set as VFX supervisors and directors. Engaging with this acquisition end of the production process ensures our students understand technical and artistic requirements.

Our bespoke Drawing Studio allows students to engage with a variety of traditional disciplines and approaches to drawing, painting and art history.

What graduates are doing

Since the Harry Potter boom in the early 2000’s, 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 Visual Effects 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 both Framestore and Industrial Light and Magic in fully paid positions, as part of the teams creating VFX for movies such as Dr Strange and Transformers.

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

Your interview and portfolio

We want to see what you’re capable of and how important VFX is to you as a career. You can download our portfolio guidelines for BA (Hons) Visual Effects Design & Production to help you prepare. You will need to exhibit the skills required for this team-based course and show a commitment to improving your proficiency in the use of 2D and 3D software. Having a positive collaborative attitude is just as important as the quality of your portfolio.

Due to Covid-19 and the need for social distance, we will not be able to offer on campus interviews to applicants this cycle. For courses that require a portfolio review or an audition, the Admissions team will be in touch with you and request a digital portfolio or audition.

We will hold Offer Holder days in Spring and invite applicants to visit the campus and meet the course team, or if you are unable to visit us you will be able to attend a virtual Offer Holder Day.

This course aims to develop your observational and design skills alongside increasing your technical competence in 2D and 3D software. Listed below are a number of suggestions to help you when you are collecting your work together:

  • Coursework portfolio including examples of visual work across a variety of mediums; your portfolio should illustrate your working process
  • Evidence of interest in the use of 2D and 3D computer software
  • Examples of photography, image composition, design and concept work; you do not have to evidence each one of these but a sample of your best work highlighting your main area of interest and skill would be acceptable
  • Showreel of work if possible, but not compulsory (no longer than 3 minutes).

Universities interviewing for creative courses will expect to be presented with a portfolio to help them understand your ability and range of work. Your portfolio could be your golden ticket into receiving an offer so making sure it’s presentable, well-organised and accessible is essential.

If you can imagine it, you can create it. That’s the true beauty of Visual Effects. As visual storytellers, we make the unimaginable come alive. Using a magical blend of creativity and the latest cutting-edge technology, we can create truly stunning visuals. If you are passionate about film and television, and are driven to create beautiful, original, technically challenging art, then VFX might just be for you.

Sarah von Fersen, Course Leader

See more of our student work

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