The Digital Visual Effects MSc equips you with advanced skills, knowledge and understanding of high definition digital effects to help you become a highly skilled technical director (TD) in the visual effects industry.
This programme is entirely oriented towards current industrial needs, technology and practice and provides a direct route into the highly desirable creative industry. Our successful former students are working in London and for international companies in areas ranging from television graphics to architectural visualisation.
It covers 3D model building, texturing, lighting, rendering, procedural animation (cloth, hair, fur, dynamics), advanced compositing and high-definition digital effects. Although the thrust of the programme is towards high end film special effects and animation, the standards and techniques you learn will allow you to work in numerous other areas of digital effects.
Ayda talks about her Master's at the University of Kent.
About the School of Engineering and Digital Arts
The School successfully combines modern engineering and technology with the exciting field of digital media. Established over 40 years ago, the School has developed a top-quality teaching and research base, receiving excellent ratings in both research and teaching assessments.
As a postgraduate student in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, you receive support through individual supervision, specialised seminars and colloquia, usually with external speakers. If you study one of our taught Master's programmes, you also attend dedicated lectures and classes in your chosen field of study.
We offer a range of financial support options, including:
- Postgraduate Scholarship for International students: £4,000 one off payment to overseas applicants based on outstanding merit
- Postgraduate Scholarship for UK and EU students: £1,000 one off payment to UK and EU applicants based on outstanding merit
We undertake 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. There is a thriving student population studying for postgraduate degrees in a friendly and 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.
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.
The course is designed to train digital effects artists to work in industry. Our successful former students are working in London and for international companies in areas ranging from television graphics to architectural visualisation. Although the thrust of the course is towards high end film special effects and animation, the standards and techniques you learn allow you to work in numerous other areas of digital effects.
The primary industry jobs the course is oriented towards include: technical directors in assistant, creature development, lighting effects, look development roles, compositors in compositing, digital paint and roto roles, modellers and trackers/matchmovers. For a smaller project or company roles would include that of a 3D generalist, 3D artist, effects artist or compositor. These are not easy to achieve, as global competition is fierce and success depends on much better than average concentration and constant practise to grasp the essence and modern techniques of digital visual effects.
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.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
EL831 - Digital Visual Art set-up
Introduction to Modelling,Animation,Lighting, Rendering, Compositing.
Integrated project inclusive of outcomes
Step by step instruction on tackling the problems.View full module details
EL837 - Professional Group Work
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.View full module details
EL839 - Effects Animation
Particle tool and particle emitters, cycle emission, volume emitters, force fields, lifespan, constraints, adding springs, soft-body dynamics, active and passive rigid bodies, setting static and dynamic friction, damping, mass, bounciness, caching, rendering in software hardware and Mentalray.
2d and 3d fluid containers, emitting fluids from objects and curves, colliding
fluids with objects, explosions, creating atmospheric systems, realistic fire, explosion and smoke effects, interacting fluids with particles, combustible fluids.
nParticle, nConstraint, nSolver, cloth collision, collision layer, wind and gravity, nCache.
Students are required to assemble a portfolio contains various dynamic instances created, simulated and rendered using Maya tools.
Assessed.View full module details
EL863 - Advanced 3D Modelling
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.View full module details
EL864 - Pre-Visualisation
The module will start with a week or more of intensive exposure to the animation and post-production industry in the form of a field trip to visit a number of London studios and interview/lecture sessions with a large number of industry professionals. Students work on a substantial essay concerning the animation/post production industry using information obtained from these sessions and from further seminars. Simultaneously, students develop a showreel compilation which industry professionals comment on. From this experience, students develop a direction and then a treatment and storyboard for their final project proposal which they will present to the cohort. After comments, tutorials and revisions, this will be developed into a pre-visualisation movie, a schedule and asset plan which will also be presented to the cohort.
There are three assessments:
Assessment 1 - A portfolio of pre-visualization and animatic movies.
Assessment 2 - Essay on the student's understanding of the animation/post-production industry.
Assessment 3 - Submission of planning documents for a major piece.View full module details
EL867 - Technical Direction
Texturing & Lighting:
The physics of lighting,
Computer lighting models,
Surface shading fundamentals,
Photo realistic texture painting.
Advanced lighting techniques: light shaders, shadow generation, global illumination.
Software, hardware and mental ray rendering,
Rendering with Render Man.View full module details
EL868 - Digital Compositing
difference keys, luma keys, chroma keys, garbage mattes.
2D and 3D Tracking:
techniques to track elements from a live action background plate
blending modes, motion attributes, rotoscoping, using alpha channels.View full module details
EL869 - Film and Video Production
Workshops around tasks pertinent to producing high quality film pieces.View full module details
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
EL870 - Visual Effects Project
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.View full module details
Teaching and Assessment
Each module is assessed by practical assignments. The project work is assessed
on the outcome of the project itself.
This programme aims to:
- enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding within the field of digital visual effects, which will equip you to become a professional in the animation and visual effects Industry
- train you in the requirements and skills needed for work in high definition
- produce professionally-trained technical directors who are highly skilled in using state of the art 3D modelling and visual effects software
- 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.
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 fundamental concepts of digital video technology
- current developments in the visual effects industry and related market sectors
- the relevance of visual effects within the contemporary television and film industries
contemporary business practice in the visual effects industry
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 a complex visual effect
- the ability to identify ideas for enhancing a production’s aesthetic quality by the use of complex video effect
- the ability to demonstrate independence and creative and critical thinking
- the ability to evaluate creatively evidence to support conclusions.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the use of appropriate software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop complex visual effects
- the ability to use drawing as a way of planning, visualising and explaining work in a time-based 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 a visual effects project
- the ability to prepare reports and presentations relevant to the design and production of visual effects.
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, the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility as an individual and 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.
We have developed the programme with a number of industrial organisations, which means that successful students will be in a strong position to build long-term careers 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 can 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.
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.
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.
A 2.2 or higher honours degree in animation, digital effects, fine art, architecture, multimedia, illustration, digital arts, computing and film making.
Applicants are required to submit a portfolio to include the following:
- Web site or PDF that shows examples of concerted effort to produce striking images
- This can be in the form of drawings, paintings, photographs, movie files, animation, effects, or any other visual evidence that show your ability to concentrate on image making.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
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.
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
Research projects available within the Intelligent Interactions Research Group are available to view here.
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.View Profile
Ania Bobrowicz: Senior Lecturer in Digital Arts
Human-computer interaction; computer-mediated communication; feminism and art history.View Profile
Mr David Byers Brown: Senior Lecturer
Animation; digital visual effects; directing.View Profile
Dr Christos Efstratiou: Lecturer in Ubiquitous Computing
Ubiquitous computing, mobile computing, social computing, Internet of Things, wireless sensor networks.View Profile
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.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Digital Visual Effects - MSc at Canterbury:|
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 email@example.com
General additional costs
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
- University and external funds
- Scholarships specific to the academic school delivering this programme.
Kent Engineering and Digital Arts Postgraduate Scholarships
A one off payment for UK, EU and International applicants who meet the criteria set by the School of Engineering and Digital Arts. The scholarship is available across all postgraduate taught and research programmes in the School.
This programme attracts many applications from Chevening scholars. Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders, and Kent is a Chevening partner.
For details of the funding available, see our Chevening Scholarships page.