BA (Hons) Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

Top in Wales for course satisfaction in Film Production and Photography. Guardian University Guide 2023

The BA (Hons) Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course at USW is the right choice for artists that have a passion for visual media and for those that know exactly where their career path is heading.

The visual effects industry is increasingly in demand from big budget films, high-end TV series to creative advertising, with motion design appearing in Film UI Design, TV title sequences, social media advertising, music live performance visuals and so much more.

This course prepares you for a successful career in the creative industries. With active industry experienced lecturers directly working with you to craft your projects and help you network with the leading Visual Effects and Motion Design studios across the UK.

Our award-winning students have gone on to work for big-name studios that we work in collaboration with; including ILM, DNEG, Framestore, MPC, Bait Studios, Nineteentwenty to name just a few.

See the amazing projects that our recent graduates have gone to work on at VFX.WALES

UCAS Code Study Mode
2023
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
W280 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

The course covers the skills and techniques required for the five main career sectors within Visual Effects and Motion Graphics: 

  • Compositing 
  • Digital Matte Painter 
  • 3D Artist 
  • FX Artist 
  • Motion Design Artist 

We will cover the theory and workflows of these specialist areas as well as technical workshops on a whole range of industry specialist software available on the course:

Year One

Within the first year of study you will gain a solid foundation within Introducing Previsualisation, Compositing, 3D and Motion Graphics.  
 
You will also gain hands-on camera, sound and lighting training. 

Contextual Studies 

  • Composition & Editing 
  • Colour Theory 
  • Story, Genre & Representation 
  • Brand and identity & Advertising 
  • History of VFX and Motion Graphics 
  • Idea Creation 
  • Research 
  • Concept Development

Image Acquisition Fundamentals 

  • DSLR 
  • Audio 
  • Portable Lighting 
  • Edit & Grade 
  • C300 Studio Cameras 
  • Greenscreen sessions  

Filmmaking Fundamentals 

  • Unreal Pre-Vis 
  • Storyboarding 
  • Photoshop & Premiere 
  • Shot Composition 

Sound & Vision 

  • NukeX 
  • Roto Techniques 
  • Basic Keying 
  • 2D Tracking 
  • After Effects 
  • Sound Sync Animation
  • Velocity & Momentum  

CG Foundations 

  • Cinema4D 
  • Animation & Lighting 
  • Physics & Dynamics 
  • UV & Materials 
  • HDRI Capture 
  • Compositing 
  • Plate Prep 
  • Lens Effects & Light Wraps 

Motion Production 

  • Title Sequences 
  • Open Project 
  • Green Screen Keying Fundamentals 
  • 2.5D Projection 

Year Two

Within the second year, you will explore a range of new areas including Environments and FX with Houdini simulations and procedural 3D work and Advanced Compositing techniques. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about studio workflows and pipelines while allowing the opportunity for a work placement in the industry.

Professional Practice 

  • VFX Industry & Pipeline 
  • Project Pitching 
  • Shotgrid 
  • Dailies 
  • Future of VFX 
  • Industry Connections 
  • Internships 
  • Showreels 

Critical Studies 

  • Historical & Critical analysis 
  • Infographics 
  • Believability 
  • Individual Tutorials 
  • Advanced Research 
  • Preperation for Dissertation 

Environments 

  • Houdini 
  • Digital Matte Painting 
  • 3D Environments 
  • Atmospherics 
  • Projection Techniques 
  • Advanced Keying 

FX dynamics 

  • Particle Workflows 
  • Rigid Body Destruction 
  • Weather System Simulations 
  • Trapcode Suite 
  • Visualising Music 

Creative Production 

  • Multi-Pass Compositing 
  • Projection Cleanup 
  • Channels & Expresssions 
  • Gizmos 
  • Pitch Presentations 
  • UI Design 
  • Technical Checks 

Year Three

The third year is focused around creating your standout showreel projects. Taking everything that’s been learnt and going further with the advanced techniques and industry practices. In the final semester you will gain an understanding on how to network, create a standout showreel and convert your studies into employment in the industry.

Professional Development 

  • Showreel clinic 
  • Online Portfolios & Networking 
  • Freelance & VFX Applications 
  • Individual Career Guidance 
  • Live interview assessment 
  • Reflective Writing 
  • CV & Covering Letter 
  • Interview Techniques 

Critical Research 

  • Dissertation or Practical report 
  • Idea exploration & research 
  • Report Structures 
  • Individual tutorials 

Minor Project 

  • Project Pitching 
  • Scheduling 
  • Budgeting 
  • Specialist Driven Project 
  • Dailies 
  • Bespoke Discipline Support 

Collaborative Project 

  • Project Pitching 
  • Scheduling 
  • Budgeting 
  • Collaborative Driven Project 
  • Project Co-ordination 
  • Dailies 
  • VFX Pipeline Practice 
  • Client Style Briefs

Major Project 

  • Project Pitching 
  • Scheduling 
  • Budgeting 
  • Managing major projects 
  • Industry standard pipelines 
  • Industry style dailies 
  • Individual project support 

Teaching

Studying on the course is primarily done through practical workshops in the computer studios under the instruction/supervision of the industry experienced lecturing team. This will teach a blend of technical software skills, industry standard visual effects and motion design techniques, as well as the theory behind these skills and processes. 

As part of the course, we invite industry in to give talks and masterclasses, as well as giving the opportunity for networking events with global recruiters. 

The emphasis is very much on giving you the tools and the means to learn through creating your own projects. To allow you to concept develop ideas, push the boundaries, problem solve, and most importantly, to find your voice as an artist. 

Assessment

The majority of your assessments are through practical productions, with remaining elements in visual presentation form or written. 

You will be expected to present your project ideas and concepts to your peers and leading VFX professionals, in a constructive and supportive environment that mimics life in a visual effects studio. 

Accreditations

This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the leading skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark, which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries. 
 
The course is also part of Film & TV School Wales, which provides students with up-to-date skills, opportunities and specialist training required by the Film, TV, commercials, VFX and games industries. 
 
We are also proud to be a SideFX certified course. SideFX, the developers of the award-winning procedural FX software Houdini, have acknowledged our high standard of training and have awarded us their certification. This strengthens links with industry and provides a wide range of employment opportunities upon graduation. 

Facilities

The course will directly make use of the specialist filming studios and range of camera equipment, giving you hands on instruction and direct access to book out the facilities and camera equipment for your use while studying on the Visual Effects and Motion Graphics course.  
 
Our facilities include: 

  • Green screen studio 
  • Motion capture suite 
  • Two full access computer studios 
  • TV and Film studios 
  • Grading and Editing suites
  • Two screening cinemas  

By providing state of the art industry level facilities and equipment, we provide hands-on industry focused training and teaching to make sure you are studio ready, but also to let you realise your creative ideas. 
  
To see them for yourself, take a look online at our Facilities

Lecturers

The team are professionally experienced and continue to work in the industry. Having worked across all sectors of VFX and Motion Graphics in Film, TV, advertising, online and social media content.

Thomas Tatchell, Lecturer

Geraint Thomas, Lecturer

Pete Hodges, Lecturer

Kris Francies, Technical Instructor

The wealth of knowledge and experience gained from professional training and years in industry at some of the leading global studios is infused throughout the course. Giving insight into the visual effects industry that isn’t easily found elsewhere.

Click here to Meet the Team

Software

Students do not need to run any specific operating system with students, usually using a mix of Mac and PC options, depending on their own preference.

All taught and assessed software is available with student licenses at no cost. The computer studios, equipped with iMacs running MacOS, are usually accessible outside of workshops for post-production use and even accessible via remote access if necessary.

The lecturing team will also sign-post where software educational discounts can be used for migration from the course at the start of your careers.

USW gives students the ability to book out any camera equipment, lighting, sound and a whole host of other accessories as well as being able to book the studios and suites across the campus.

All students are also given an Office 365 account with 1tb of online storage.

Computer Specifications

The below specifications can be used as a guide to the minimum required for the course and the software needs as well as what we would recommend to get the most from the software.

Minimum Specifications:
Processor: 2.4GHz (e.g. intel i5 or AMD Ryzen3)
Memory: 8GB
Storage: 250GB HDD
Graphics Card: Nvidia (1GB)

Recommended Specifications:
Processor: 3.0GHz (e.g. intel i7 or AMD Ryzen7)
Memory: 16GB
Storage: 500GB SSD
Graphics Card: Nvidia (3GB)

 

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. The University has a Contextual Admissions Policy, therefore, whilst most offers we make are at the top of the range, under the Policy we take certain aspects of an application into consideration and eligible UCAS applicants can receive a personalised offer or have results considered individually when you receive them.  Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy Statement.

Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable. 

 

 

Applicants in the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application. If you do not meet the entry criteria, you may also be required to provide a portfolio of your work to help us assess your suitability for the course.

Applicants outside the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and submission of a portfolio of your work which the Course Leader confirms is suitable for an offer to be made.

 

Typical A-Level Offer

BBC - CCC to include a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade B/C in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BB - CC at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Merit in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 112-96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 29 overall including 5 or above in English at standard level

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 96 UCAS tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course

 

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees


  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13700 

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees


  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £1000
MacBook or PC desktop or laptop
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £60
External Hard Drive (500gb minimum. Solid State SSD recommended)*
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £70
Wacom Tablet (Available free access as student)*
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) £100
Books / Magazines (Course required reading available via campus library)*
Field Trips £500
FMX/ Vancouver Trip (Year 2 or 3. Optional)

Funding

Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

Interview Portfolio

The portfolio is the most important part of your application.

We understand that a range of students from different educational backgrounds and different courses will be applying, so a portfolio that reflects your creativity through past assessments or personal work helps us to get a better idea of who you are as an artist.

Portfolio Tips

What should be the focus of the portfolio?

The portfolio should showcase your creative skills through a visual medium. The main aim is to show us that you have been active in creating media and starting to explore and develop your style as an artist.

The main points we’ll be looking for are:

• Creativity
• Technical skillset
• Composition


What should you include?

Essentially anything that shows your creative work. Primarily this should revolve around any film based projects, motion graphics and visual effects shots or photography. Previous portfolios have included a range of work from fine art to textiles portfolios though.

What form should this take?

We would expect to see a Showreel that curates your best and most relevant projects for the course. A short form video (.mov/.mp4) that you can bring on a usb stick or external hard drive. Please feel free to bring any physical form that your portfolio takes though.

Tips

- You don’t need to include everything. Keep it short and concise.
- Showreels are best around 1 - 2 minutes.
- Include the full projects in a separate folder in case we want to see more
- Show a range of your work if you can and if it’s relevant - we’d rather see 2-3 relevant projects that showcase your best skills than 10 projects showing the same skills though.

Interview Tips

You’ll will be invited in the form of an informal interview to discuss your portfolio as well as having the chance to ask questions about the course

- It really is a more informal chat to get to know you.
- It’s a chance for us to see if you're right for the course, but also for you to see if the course is right for you as well.
- Be prepared to discuss your projects that you’ll be showing in your portfolio.
- Bring your portfolio on a storage device but it’s also useful to have a backup using online storage just in case.
- Ask us questions about the course, campus or lecturing team.

UK students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International and EU students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Admissions statement

The course is completely geared towards employability. Not just offering the training needed to be studio ready as soon as you graduate, but offering bespoke careers advice from the team of industry professionals that have years of experience. The Professional Development module is aimed to prepare you with what you need to transition directly to employment, whether in a visual effects studio, or setting yourself up as a freelancer.  
 
The lecturers give individually tailored career guidance for each student, and graduates can expect to be ready for entry level roles in industry such as: 

  • Roto Artist 
  • Paint & Prep Artist 
  • Studio Runner 
  • Junior Compositor 
  • Motion Designer 
  • Data Capture Wrangler 
  • Matchmove Artist 
  • Environment Artist 
  • Digital Matte Painter 
  • CG Modelling Artist
  • Production Co-ordinator 

Check out this helpful VFX Industry guide from ScreenSkills

Alumni

We are proud to have a Graduate Alumni that work throughout the world, from Canada to London and the local area for places such as ILM, DNEG, Framestore and Bait Studios. Having credits on releases such as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Lion King, Avengers: Endgame, the Mandalorian, No Time To Die, Inception, Chernobyl, Wonder Woman, Black Mirror, the list goes on.

Our graduates are recognised every year for their industry work, from Academy Award OSCARS, Bafta, Emmy and the prestigious Visual Effects Society awards.

Through this course, you will be part of a thriving community that carries on even after you’ve graduated. Networking is vital in this sector and this course at USW has a vibrant, industry recognised network that spans the world.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.

Full-time