Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Computer Animation - MSc

2018

The Computer Animation Master’s programme at Kent is oriented towards current industrial needs, technology and practice. It is designed to be a direct route into this high-profile, modern and creative industry, and has been developed jointly by the School and our industrial partner Framestore CFC.

2018

Overview

Develop your knowledge and understanding of the animation process, software tools, techniques and packages, and the technical aspects of working in a professional animation environment. The MSc programme offers invaluable experience of working to professional briefs and under expert supervision of professional animators to prepare you for a career in industry.

Competition is fierce in animation and visual effects and success depends on your concentration levels, constant practise and ability to grasp the essence and modern techniques of animation. Successful former students are now working in animation and animation layout roles for companies such as Sony Games and Framestore CFC on major titles in games, television and film.

About the School of Engineering and Digital Arts

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts successfully combines modern engineering and technology with the exciting field of digital media. The School, which was established over 40 years ago, has developed a top-quality teaching and research base, receiving excellent ratings in both research and teaching assessments.

The School undertakes high-quality research that has had significant national and international impact, and our spread of expertise allows us to respond rapidly to new developments. Our 30 academic staff and over 130 postgraduate students and research staff provide an ideal focus to effectively support a high level of research activity. We have a thriving student population studying for postgraduate degrees in a friendly, supportive teaching and research environment.

We have research funding from the Research Councils UK, European research programmes, a number of industrial and commercial companies and government agencies including the Ministry of Defence. Our Electronic Systems Design Centre and Digital Media Hub provide training and consultancy for a wide range of companies. Many of our research projects are collaborative, and we have well-developed links with institutions worldwide.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Engineering and Digital Arts was ranked 21st in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.

Course structure

This intensively taught postgraduate course lasts a full year. It takes place in a dedicated computer laboratory where you have your own seat and computer for the duration of the course. The course lectures and workshops, whether led by visiting professionals or staff, are all held in this room. Demonstrations and showing of films are by means of an HD projector. By the end of the year, the lab will be where you live as much as your accommodation.

Student profiles

See what our students have to say.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

Animation Setup is an intensive 4-week, 15 credit module at the start of the Programme which has been designed to get all students up to speed regarding the complicated technical processes that surround current animation practice. This module is concerned with the skills and procedures employed professionally including modelling, rigging, skinning, muscle dynamics, texturing and lighting and is undertaken as a set of practical exercises where the student creates a scene with four organic characters and a machine, to be composited in a DV shot.

Delivery is by means of Lectures, Demonstrations, Workshops and Assessed Practical Assignments.

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15

Lecture Syllabus

Introduction to Animation Principles. Rules of Thumb 1: Keys and Breakdowns. Anticipation, Action, Reaction.

Rules of Thumb 2: Breaking up Actions. Successive Breaking of Joints.

Bouncing Ball: Timing, Spacing, Squash and Stretch.

Weight 1: Indicating Force and Mass.

Weight 2: Strain, Judders and Release.

Line of Action: Arcs, Intentionality of Movement.

Secondary Animation. Overlapping actions. Cloth. Hair. Wave motions. Spline Deformations.

Dynamics in Particles and Rigid Bodies. Fields, Fluids.

Critique of student tests.

Coursework

Assignment

There will be series of practical assignments delivered via workshops based on the fundamental animation concepts discussed in the lectures. These animation scenes will make up two assessed final portfolios.

Essay

There will be an essay on Professional Practice. Assessed.

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15

Lecture Syllabus

Basic figure drawing for animation. Basic perspective and plan views. Observation and invention.

Basic human anatomy for animation.

Comparative anatomy for animation.

Accurate mechanical motion description with simple graphic means.

Pinpointing facial expression and expression changes with drawing for animation.

Planning animation with drawn key poses.

Acting sequences, gestures and blocking with drawing.

Drawn and model animation techniques and tips applied to 3D animation.

Coursework

Portfolio

An assessed portfolio of artwork created over a series of practical assignments in Workshops and Studio Classes, including drawings, sculpture, 2D and 3D sequences.

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15

This module is a group project which allows the student to work on a model of an actual animation job provided by our industrial partner. Each group produces an animation from established plates and models to a 4 week deadline. The student works with a model of a production pipeline, becoming familiar with the production process, chains of approval and departmental divisions.

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15

Coursework

1. Production of a character design portfolio illustrating adaptation to various professional briefs, backed up by life drawing sessions.

2. Intensive research into surface anatomy and detail for the modelling project.

3. Production of a clean, animateable, basic 3D model with an even structure of vertices, quadratic face surfaces and form reflecting edge loops.

4. Production of image displacement, bump and normal maps in a sculpting programme using paint and sculpt tools and upon the previous model.

5. Application, rendering and final compositing of all maps upon the model resulting in a professional turntable render to create a final high resolution film.

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15

Overall techniques and methodology, modern solution to the problems, examples from productions.

Analysing and creating action - examples of extracting key and timing information from live action.

Biped locomotion 1 - walks and runs. Basic mechanics laid out, walks and runs analysed and discussed.

Biped locomotion 2 - sneaks, scrambles, stairs, climbs, trips, falls, collapses, halts, moving holds.

Quadruped locomotion 1 - walks, trots, runs or gallops.

Quadruped locomotion 2 - scrambles, turns, stumbles, falls, halts, moving holds.

Avian locomotion - flight, flaps, glides, take-offs, landing, falls, walks on ground.

Using clips in the Trax Editor, creating transitions.

Using path animation with cycles.

Creating crowd and herd shots - composition, hero animation, collisions and customisation. Detailed examples with multiple working versions.

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15

Observation and invention. Analysis of a major piece of animation character acting and its sources.

Theory and practice of acting. Acting theories and examples of practical methods.

Film acting - silent and dialogue - analysis of advice and tips from the world's best film actors and directors.

Schools of animated movement matched to acting performance.

Uses of character animation and motion capture techniques. Analysis of animation scripts and special effects uses.

Dynamics and problems of two-character interaction in 3D animation.

Advanced facial animation in Maya.

Animating to dialogue.

Analysis of highest achievements in character animation.

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15

Each student uses all the experience gained on the course to produce a video short in high definition which showcases his or her professional visual effects skills and forms a suitable entree to a professional career.

The subject, script, models and soundtrack of the piece are agreed with the academic staff, or is a project from an Industrial collaborator.

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60

Teaching and Assessment

Each module is assessed by practical assignments. The project work is assessed on the outcome of the project itself.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • enable you to develop your  knowledge and understanding within the field of 3D computer animation, which will equip you to become a professional in the animation and visual effects industry
  • produce professionally-trained animators who are highly skilled in using state-of-the-art 3D animation software for producing animated films
  • provide you with proper academic guidance and welfare support
  • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer you an environment where you can develop your potential
  • strengthen and expand opportunities for industrial collaboration with the School of Engineering and Digital Arts.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the computer animation production process and pipeline roles
  • the principles and practices of animated film development
  • the technical terms and methods used in film editing
  • the constraints and terminology of a professional animation environment
  • current developments in the computer animation industry and related market sectors
  • the relevance of animation within the contemporary television and film industries
  • contemporary business practice in the computer animation industry.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the analysis and interpretation of animation issues
  • the ability to work within an animation process and to contribute to this
  • the ability to identify and solve complex problems and issues in the generation of an animation
  • the ability to undertake constructive research and development of character performance in animation
  • the ability to demonstrate independence and creative and critical thinking
  • the ability to evaluate creatively evidence to support conclusions.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the use of appropriate software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop computer animated films or film segments
  • the ability to use drawing as a way of planning, visualising and explaining work in a time-based 3D medium
  • the ability to read and make storyboards and animatics at a professional level
  • the ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocation and execution of an animation project
  • the ability to prepare reports and presentations relevant to the design and production of computer animations.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
  • use of information and communications technology
  • personal and interpersonal skills, working as a member of a team
  • an ability to communicate effectively, in writing, verbally and through drawings
  • the ability for critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
  • the ability to manage time and resources within an individual and group project
  • the ability to learn effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development.

Careers

We have developed the programme with a number of industrial organisations, which means that successful students will be in a strong position to build a long-term career in this important discipline.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. We are committed to enhancing the employability of all our students, to equip you with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive, fast-moving, knowledge-based economy.

Graduates who can show that they have developed transferable skills and valuable experience are better prepared to start their careers and are more attractive to potential employers. Within the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, you develop the skills and capabilities that employers seek. These include problem solving, independent thought, report-writing, time management, leadership skills, team-working and good communication.

Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we offer many opportunities for you to gain worthwhile experience and develop the specific skills and aptitudes that employers value.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students on the programmes in Architectural Visualisation, Computer Animation and Digital Visual Effects work in a dedicated, state-of-the-art suite, equipped with leading-edge PC workstations running Alias™ Maya and Foundry Nuke. There is also a photographic studio and a production studio with green screen and motion capture facilities. The School is also equipped with a 3D body scanner – one of only two in the UK.

Support

As a postgraduate student, you are part of a thriving research community and receive support through a wide-ranging programme of individual supervision, specialised research seminars, general skills training programmes, and general departmental colloquia, usually with external speakers. We encourage you to attend and present your work at major conferences, as well as taking part in our internal conference and seminar programmes.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: IEEE Transactions; IET Journals; Electronics Letters; Applied Physics; Computers in Human Behaviour.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A 2.2 or higher honours degree in animation, digital effects, fine art, architecture, multimedia, illustration, digital arts, computing and film making.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Intelligent Interactions

The Intelligent Interactions group has interests in all aspects of information engineering and human-machine interactions. It was formed in 2014 by the merger of the Image and Information Research Group and the Digital Media Research Group.

The group has an international reputation for its work in a number of key application areas. These include: image processing and vision, pattern recognition, interaction design, social, ubiquitous and mobile computing with a range of applications in security and biometrics, healthcare, e-learning, computer games, digital film and animation.

  • Social and Affective Computing
  • Assistive Robotics and Human-Robot Interaction
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Mobile, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing
  • Sensor Networks and Data Analytics
  • Biometric and Forensic Technologies
    Behaviour Models for Security
  • Distributed Systems Security (Cloud Computing, Internet of Things)
  • Advanced Pattern Recognition (medical imaging, document and handwriting recognition, animal biometrics)
  • Computer Animation, Game Design and Game Technologies
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Digital Arts, Virtual Narratives.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Jim Ang: Senior Lecturer in Multimedia/Digital Systems

Human computer interaction; usability and playability design; computer game studies and interactive narrative; social computing and sociability design; virtual worlds; online communities and computer-mediated communication.

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Ania Bobrowicz: Senior Lecturer in Digital Arts

Human-computer interaction; computer-mediated communication; feminism and art history.

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Mr David Byers Brown: Senior Lecturer

Animation; digital visual effects; directing.

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Dr Les Walczowski: Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering

The development of dynamic web applications, mobile applications and e-learning technology.

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Professor Marc Cavazza: Professor of Intelligent Interactions

Intelligent interfaces, virtual characters, multimodal interfaces, affective and physiological computing, Brain-Computer Interfaces.

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Dr Rocio von Jungenfeld: Lecturer in Digital Media

The use of media in the production of creative outputs with focus on contemporary media art, portability, interactive and mediated environments, participation in public space, perception and media projections.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Computer Animation - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7750 £18400

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: