Visual Effects

Courses

100 Level

  • VSFX 101 Survey of Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 101

    Survey of Visual Effects
    This course introduces students to the history and development of visual effects through lectures, readings and screenings of important work. Students examine the various ways in which artistic and technological tools have been used to create convincing visual effects for film, television and games. Studies focus on the variety of ways in which visual effects techniques have evolved to keep up with increasingly discerning audiences. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 130 Visual Effects-based Cinematography
     

    VSFX 130

    Visual Effects-based Cinematography
    This course explores the foundations of cinematography relating to the visual effects industry. Introductory concepts are explored, including shot definition, framing, technique and technology. Students shoot short subjects with an emphasis on the technical aspects of the art. Prerequisite(s): CMPA 110.
  • VSFX 160 Introduction to Visual Effects Programming
     

    VSFX 160

    Introduction to Visual Effects Programming
    In this programming course, students are introduced to workstation text editing, LINUX/UNIX file management, the LINUX/UNIX environment, LINUX/UNIX shell scripting and basic object-oriented programming. Prerequisite(s): CMPA 110.

200 Level

  • VSFX 210 Digital Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 210

    Digital Visual Effects
    This course explores space environments, including the foundations of modeling techniques for the creation of digital sets and effects. Shading techniques and natural and studio digital lighting are introduced. Motion studies specific to camera animation, special effects motion, complex parenting techniques, keyframe interpolation techniques and basic expression animation techniques are covered. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 130.
  • VSFX 270 Compositing
     

    VSFX 270

    Compositing
    This course covers methods of composing computer-generated imagery and live images, along with layering, keying and matting, effects creation, motion control and tracking, film and lighting effects, image manipulation, retouching, color correction, painting, stabilization, and rotoscoping. Feature film-level composing tools are used to develop skills and presentations with meaningful effects. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 130, VSFX 160.

300 Level

  • VSFX 310 Matte Painting
     

    VSFX 310

    Matte Painting
    Digital matte painting explores the techniques of 2-D image creation for use as backgrounds and set extensions. Students are introduced to the digital tool set and techniques for matte painting, as well as the history of the art. Projects and skills may complement courses dealing with related fields such as live action, 3-D and compositing. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 130.
  • TECH 311 Digital Materials and Textures
     

    TECH 311

    Digital Materials and Textures
    This course explores advanced concepts in materials and texturing as applied to the 3-D character model. The course explores material and texture application based on age, size, mobility and species, as determined by character environment, health and social characteristics. The course integrates information gleaned from reference materials into the 3-D world. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or VSFX 210.
  • TECH 312 Advanced Application Scripting
     

    TECH 312

    Advanced Application Scripting
    This course explores the use of MEL, Autodesk Maya's embedded scripting language, Python and other modes of shell scripting as tools for automating repetitive tasks, customizing the user experience, utilizing external data sources and extending the basic toolset with custom features. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or VSFX 210.
  • TECH 316 Digital Lighting and Rendering
     

    TECH 316

    Digital Lighting and Rendering
    Topics covered throughout this course include the practices of 3-D lighting design and rendering methodology. Students develop lighting models and rendering solutions for 3-D scenes. Students study cinematography and practice the application of lighting theory in a 3-D environment. Students become familiar with lighting tools and basic shading technique, and seek to emulate believable lighting situations by using these tools. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 319 Programming Models and Shaders I
     

    VSFX 319

    Programming Models and Shaders I
    This course covers intermediate concepts in programming, with an emphasis on understanding the foundations of 3-D modeling, lighting and shading, and the use of C/C++ and Pixar's RenderMan scene description languages. Students also learn Pixar's shading language for rendering special effects. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 321 Digital Fine Art
     

    VSFX 321

    Digital Fine Art
    This course exposes students to the process of generating digital imagery for purposes of display in a gallery setting. While the tools and techniques are similar, producing digital fine art is very different from producing images intended for film, games or animation. The role of the artist and his or her means of self-expression using digital tools are explored along with the specific techniques used to produce gallery-quality work. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or MOME 401 or VSFX 210.
  • TECH 326 Motion Capture Technology
     

    TECH 326

    Motion Capture Technology
    Students utilize motion capture hardware/software to collect data from a live actor and evaluate, edit and export the data to a 3-D digital character. The course emphasizes motion capture technology from the point of view of a technical director through managing, analyzing, importing and applying data as a structured process. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 258 or MOME 401 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 350 Procedural Modeling and Animation Techniques
     

    VSFX 350

    Procedural Modeling and Animation Techniques
    Procedural modeling and animation techniques allow animators to create environments of limitless complexity. Scenes are defined by relationships rather than singularities. Students are expected to utilize programming and text editing skills to develop dynamic digital effects. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 360 Stereoscopic Imaging
     

    VSFX 360

    Stereoscopic Imaging
    Stereoscopic imaging is being used increasingly in fields ranging from the sciences (medical imaging and scientific visualization) to entertainment (immersive rides, games and movies). Historical, current and future techniques for the presentation of stereoscopic images are explored in this course. Integrating a combination of 2-D and 3-D software tools, projects include the creation of still and moving stereoscopic images, both from scratch and from pre-existing source materials. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or MOME 309 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 375 Advanced Programming for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 375

    Advanced Programming for Visual Effects
    In this course, students learn programming techniques and skills using C++. They explore and apply computer science concepts, control structures, data structures, use of program-development environments, program logic, problem-solving and object-oriented programming methodologies as it is practiced in the professional field of visual effects. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 160.

400 Level

  • VSFX 401 Visual Effects Supervision
     

    VSFX 401

    Visual Effects Supervision
    This course teaches efficient and creative use of visual effects for narrative film and television, through projects emphasizing technical problem-solving and creative planning and execution. Specific emphasis is given to on-set supervision and collaboration with directors and producers, camera, art and editorial departments. Students gain awareness of the capabilities of both digital and traditional techniques (practical effects, models and miniatures, prosthetics and animatronics, etc.). Prerequisite(s): FILM 210 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 406 Concept Development for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 406

    Concept Development for Visual Effects
    In this course, students are expected to develop methods for cultivating ideas and an understanding of narrative storytelling as it relates to film language, screen design and concept development. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 160, VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 408 Visual Effects Studio I
     

    VSFX 408

    Visual Effects Studio I
    In this course, students are introduced to the preproduction phase including analysis and critique, organization and scheduling. The goal is to create a coherent body of work expressing students’ artistic visions through acquired skills. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 406.
  • VSFX 409 Professional Development for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 409

    Professional Development for Visual Effects
    Students are prepared for professional careers by developing a strategic self-promotion plan through investigation of current visual effects industry practices. Professional quality demo reels, résumés, and websites are created in support of career aspirations and professional development. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 406.
  • VSFX 419 Programming Models and Shaders II
     

    VSFX 419

    Programming Models and Shaders II
    This course explores programming concepts used to create 3-D lighting scenarios and environments with a focus on developing a personal aesthetic. Students apply these concepts to create code-based shaders, scripts and other procedures to develop aesthetically strong visuals for long formats. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 319.
  • TECH 420 Technical Direction for Compositing
     

    TECH 420

    Technical Direction for Compositing
    This course provides the foundation for students to produce complex composite images used in the animation, broadcast design, interactive, game and visual effects industries and equips students with the technical, theoretical and conceptual skills required to combine moving images. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 424 Digital Visual Effects II
     

    VSFX 424

    Digital Visual Effects II
    This course examines advanced techniques in the production of 3-D, noncharacter-based models and environments. The course also expands on and extrapolates from additional foundations set in Digital Visual Effects I with an opportunity for individual exploration. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 425 Photorealistic Rendering
     

    VSFX 425

    Photorealistic Rendering
    This course explores concepts in 3-D digital materials, lighting and rendering and developing techniques to create the illusion of a "real" world utilizing 3-D computer graphics. Students gain understanding of and skills with lighting tools, including 3-D and 2-D applications, as well as a variety of rendering techniques. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 250 or ITGM 236 or MOME 401 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 428 Particles and Procedural Effects
     

    VSFX 428

    Particles and Procedural Effects
    This course investigates visual effects techniques including particle systems, rigid body dynamics and fluid simulations. Students explore aspects of particles and procedural effects. Professional workflows and presentation skills are also emphasized. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 350.
  • VSFX 430 High Dynamic Range Imaging
     

    VSFX 430

    High Dynamic Range Imaging
    High dynamic range imaging emphasizes the integration of computer-generated objects or characters into real-world video or film footage. This course teaches students vital skills to develop photography, lighting and rendering, and integrate them into various 3-D and 2-D software applications by utilizing digital images. More effective than traditional digital imaging means, the process of high dynamic range imaging is mastered by students through this course. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 437 Advanced Compositing
     

    VSFX 437

    Advanced Compositing
    In this course students gain proficiency in complex and state-of-the-art digital compositing techniques and apply these skills to the creation of professional portfolio pieces that showcase technical and artistic mastery. Individual research and personal creative direction is encouraged and supported. Topics of study include advanced green screen techniques, 3-D matchmoving and integration, depth compositing, stereoscopic compositing techniques and other developing techniques and areas of interest. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 270.
  • VSFX 447 Models and Miniatures
     

    VSFX 447

    Models and Miniatures
    Students learn traditional hands-on techniques for the building of models, miniature environments and set extensions. Methodologies to combine these creations into believable visual effects scenes both with and without live action elements are explored. Through direct and hands-on exposure to miniature construction, finishing and photography, students develop the skills required to produce a visual effects shot utilizing models-rather than or in addition to computer graphics or optical effects techniques. The context of these types of practical effects is set through the use of film clips and examples, as well as discussion of the methodologies used throughout film history. Prerequisite(s): PROD 221 or VSFX 210.
  • VSFX 448 Visual Effects Studio II
     

    VSFX 448

    Visual Effects Studio II
    Students collaborate to produce a visual effects product from start to finish that includes analysis and critique, organization and scheduling. The goal is to create a coherent body of work expressing students’ personal artistic visions through their acquired skills. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 408.
  • VSFX 479 Undergraduate Internship
     

    VSFX 479

    Undergraduate Internship
    Internships offer students valuable opportunities to work in a professional environment and gain firsthand experience to help them prepare for careers. In an approved internship setting, a student typically spends one quarter working with an on-site professional supervisor and a faculty internship supervisor to achieve specific goals and objectives related to the program of study. Prerequisite(s): 90 credit hours, 3.0 cumulative GPA.
  • VSFX 495 Special Topics in Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 495

    Special Topics in Visual Effects
    The topic of this course varies from quarter to quarter. Each seminar focuses on various problems in the field of visual effects and allows advanced students to pursue individual or collaborative projects related to the subject of the course. Prerequisite(s): Vary according to topic.

500 Level

  • VSFX 501 Digital 3-D Effects
     

    VSFX 501

    Digital 3-D Effects
    This course covers many of the essential aspects of 3-D modeling, texturing, lighting and effects animation for use in the visual effects industry. Professional workflows, techniques and presentation skills are emphasized throughout the course. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 502 Programming 3-D Models and Shaders
     

    VSFX 502

    Programming 3-D Models and Shaders
    Students taking this course are introduced to the RenderMan Scene Description Language (RIB) and the RenderMan Shading Language (RSL). Pixar's RenderMan is a widely used rendering technology used for feature animated and special effects film production. The basics of Python and MEL scripting are also covered.  Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 503 Cinematography for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 503

    Cinematography for Visual Effects
    This course explores the art and technique of photography for films with visual effects. Students learn the technical and aesthetic aspects of practical camera work.  They also study camera composition and motion specific to a 3-D digital space as part of the process to visualize scenes in a movie before filming begins. Other concepts, such as shot definition, framing and timing, are addressed. Prerequisite(s):

700 Level

  • VSFX 705 Programming Concepts for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 705

    Programming Concepts for Visual Effects
    Students gain introductory knowledge of the LINUX/UNIX environment and how it relates to text editing and file management. In addition, the foundations of programming languages are covered utilizing LINUX/UNIX shell scripting, PERL, MEL, C++ or similar programming. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 708 Modeling for Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 708

    Modeling for Visual Effects
    This course covers many of the essential aspects of 3-D modeling, texturing, lighting and animation for use in the visual effects industry. Professional workflows, techniques and presentation skills are emphasized and encouraged throughout the course. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 709 Visual Effects Theory and Application
     

    VSFX 709

    Visual Effects Theory and Application
    In this course, theoretical and practical study methods are used to inform and develop students’ practices. By integrating historical studies, theory and practice, students address issues central to the visual effects industry and develop conceptual ideologies. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 715 Digital Compositing I
     

    VSFX 715

    Digital Compositing I
    This course introduces high-end digital multilayering. Techniques and aesthetic issues are explored to produce time-based imagery. Students acquire and integrate aesthetically driven live-action imagery into broadcast or visual effects projects utilizing a wide range of media formats. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 721 Procedural Modeling and Animation for Production
     

    VSFX 721

    Procedural Modeling and Animation for Production
    Students learn about the techniques of procedural modeling and animation used in visual effects film. Students use procedural modeling techniques and camera techniques and prepare documentation required in visual effects productions. The end result is a visual effects portfolio of professional quality. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 705.
  • VSFX 728 Particles and Procedural Effects
     

    VSFX 728

    Particles and Procedural Effects
    This course explores advanced visual effects techniques including particle systems, rigid body dynamics and fluid simulations. Using industry standard software, students explore innovations in atmospheric effects, aspects of particles and procedural methodologies. Professional workflows and presentation skills are practiced and emphasized throughout the course. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 721.
  • VSFX 735 Visual Effects Studio I: Preproduction
     

    VSFX 735

    Visual Effects Studio I: Preproduction
    Students define a personal vision creating visual effects for film. Concentrating on the design of visual effects sequences, specific attention is directed toward the development of scripts, storyboards, shot breakdowns, animatics, technical direction documents, estimates and schedules in the planning process. As preparation for thesis work, this course is flexible with a strong emphasis on critique. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 748 Visual Effects M.A. Studio
     

    VSFX 748

    Visual Effects M.A. Studio
    This course focuses on production of visual effects for student demonstration DVDs and reels. Students choose sequences and software, while the professor oversees production and completion. Collaboration between students with complementary technical and creative specializations is stressed as a reflection of professional industry practice. Emphasis is placed on creative and technical problem-solving for image acquisition, image simulation, visual composition and element compositing. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 749 Visual Effects Portfolio
     

    VSFX 749

    Visual Effects Portfolio
    Students focus on the integration of imagery, websites, video and various elements into a visual effects portfolio. Students are expected to learn and apply effective tools for self-promotion, including a reel, CD compilation, website, cover letter and résumé. Proper and effective marketing techniques, interviewing techniques, job search strategies and business practices are covered to provide an understanding of operations in the effects industry. M.A. students enroll in this course during their final quarter of the visual effects program. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 709 and completion of the review for candidacy.
  • VSFX 752 3-D Color, Lighting and Rendering
     

    VSFX 752

    3-D Color, Lighting and Rendering
    Students develop believable lighting and rendering solutions for environments in both live-action integration and computer-generated scenes. Students understand the lighting tools available as well as a variety of rendering techniques to create believable lighting situations. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 753 Motion Capture and Integration
     

    VSFX 753

    Motion Capture and Integration
    Exploring concepts in motion capture technology, students establish the skills required to create precise data based on a live action actor. They refine their data editing skills for applying this skeletal motion data to previously rigged characters, which results in a 3-D representation of realistic motion in a visual effects context. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 708 or VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 755 Procedural 3-D and Shader Programming
     

    VSFX 755

    Procedural 3-D and Shader Programming
    This course is an in-depth study of programming techniques used to develop the artistic vision of a 3-D environment. Industry-standard shader language is used to create rendering effects for the production of still images and animations using the most prevalent software in the industry. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 705.
  • VSFX 757 Visual Effects Creature Look Development
     

    VSFX 757

    Visual Effects Creature Look Development
    Exploring the challenges of integrating photo-real creatures into live action films, students establish the look and style of 3-D creatures through the definition of surface attributes. Students refine their previsualization skills and abilities to create a final rendered look for a digital creature. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 708 or VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 758 Digital Compositing II
     

    VSFX 758

    Digital Compositing II
    In this course, students learn advanced multi-layering techniques combining CGI, live action and graphics to resolve complex problems in motion design and visual effects technologies. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 715.
  • VSFX 762 Matte Painting
     

    VSFX 762

    Matte Painting
    This course addresses the role of digital matte painting in augmenting the visual environment; students apply this technique to the re-creation of both realistic and fantasy scenes. Issues such as color, space, depth and perspective as painting techniques are explored. The elements created in the course may be used with 3-D elements and composited for other projects. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 708.
  • VSFX 763 3-D Environment Rendering
     

    VSFX 763

    3-D Environment Rendering
    Exploring concepts in digital environments, students establish the look and style of a completely 3-D environment. Students define surface attributes and shading networks for a variety of environment surfaces to refine their previsualization skills. They develop styles of 3-D environments to enhance the storytelling process. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 708 or VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 768 Photorealistic Modeling
     

    VSFX 768

    Photorealistic Modeling
    This course focuses on techniques such as subdivision surfaces, and image- and brush-based modeling. Although generating efficient, high-quality 3-D models is the primary emphasis, a secondary emphasis is placed on accurate and efficient texturing. Various 3-D modeling and 2-D painting applications are covered. Prerequisite(s): ANIM 709 or VSFX 708 or VSFX 709.
  • VSFX 775 Visual Effects Studio II: Production
     

    VSFX 775

    Visual Effects Studio II: Production
    Students analyze the possibilities and constraints of visual effects design as they refine an entire visual effects vision for visual effects sequences. The course is flexible with a strong emphasis on thought processes, aesthetics and research. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 735.
  • VSFX 779F Graduate Field Internship
     

    VSFX 779F

    Graduate Field Internship
    Students in this course undertake a field assignment under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite(s): 15 graduate credit hours, good academic standing.
  • VSFX 779T Graduate Teaching Internship
     

    VSFX 779T

    Graduate Teaching Internship
    Students in this course undertake a teaching assignment under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite(s): 15 graduate credit hours, good academic standing.
  • VSFX 780 Special Topics in Visual Effects
     

    VSFX 780

    Special Topics in Visual Effects
    This elective course provides an opportunity for students to focus on particular issues in the field or to study advanced techniques and processes. Faculty course content and prerequisites vary each time the course is offered. The course may include lectures, discussions, individual projects and critiques, depending on the nature of the topic. Prerequisite(s):
  • VSFX 790 Visual Effects M.F.A. Thesis
     

    VSFX 790

    Visual Effects M.F.A. Thesis
    Visual effects M.F.A. students develop an innovative and theoretically informed body of work that is exhibited in a manner and context that supports its creative content. A written component that addresses the theoretical premise of the work is also required. Prerequisite(s): VSFX 735 and completion of the review for candidacy.