The Visual Effects Art and Design program focuses on providing graduates with a solid foundation in the technical and artistic skills needed to be successful in the visual effects, animation, and CGI industries. You will gain a genuine understanding of storytelling, animation, modeling, compositing, and a solid foundation in artistic techniques.
You will learn colour theory, design fundamentals, life drawing, and industry standard software, and apply this knowledge to the production and animation of 3D characters with appropriate lighting and texturing and visual effects.
Upon graduation, you will be ready for a career in a variety of CGI-based industries including computer animation studios, game development companies, and post-production and special effects studios. You may also find work with industrial design firms and software producers, or for companies that require the production of 3D graphics and animation.
Upon successful completion of the program, you will be able to:
- Work with major trends in visual, digital, and special effects arts
- Apply critical thinking and creative expression techniques
- Analyze and critique a production
- Produce a concept sketch
- Shape a model
- Stage a scene
- Develop a storyboard
- Produce computer-generated images
- Produce highly realistic 3D models of props
- Prepare highly realistic 3D models of characters
- Represent movements in three dimensions
- Animate characters
- Create highly realistic digital visual special effects
- Apply digital visual special effects in a variety of character and environmental contexts
- Present a professional portfolio
- Grade 12 or mature student status (19 years or older).
- Pass the college's admission test where an applicant's first language is other than English, and has not completed secondary (or higher) education in English
VFX101 - Colour & Design
This course introduces students to the fundamental principles of design and colour theory, layout, composition, balance, and creative colouring. These concepts will be presented in theory as well as reinforced through specific practical exercises and activities that will serve to demonstrate how each of the concepts is integrated into good design. Topical coverage will include the terminology of design, composition, negative space, colour systems, colour and light, tone, hue, saturation and value of colour,and human elements of colour.
VFX102 - Life Drawing I
This course is an introductory course that prepares the student to accurately human and non-human forms. The course covers the fundamentals of drawing. Students will work with traditional and digital media tools. This course will also emphasize accurate representation of anatomically correct proportions of the human body and the accurate portrayal of muscles and other landmarks by applying various techniques of shading and lighting, views, and perspective.
VFX103 - Photoshop I
This course introduces students to industry standard image-editing software so that they become competent digital image producers. Students will learn the fundamentals of graphic design, web design, and print output. Students will be able to create and enhance digital visual imagery using tools that will allow them to apply special effects to original and composite images.
VFX104 - 2D Animation Foundations
In this course students will learn the basic principles of 2D animation. Students will participate in several practical projects designed to illustrate the fundamental processes of animation. The course will explore traditional techniques of animation and how they apply in the modern world of CG animation. The course will explore a variety of types of animation including stop-motion, visual effects, traditional animation, and CG.
VFX105 - Visual Effects - Film Studies
This course introduces students to the history of film with an emphasis on the role of visual effects, its impact on the image and the story, and the impact of digital technologies on film production and VFX production. Production workflows and pipelines will be introduced along with production roles and responsibilities.
VFX201 - Maya I
This is an intensive introduction to the complexities of working in a 3D application. The first portion of the course will focus primarily on the tools within Maya with interface navigation as a key element. Students will learn through simple and intermediate projects how to work in 3D. Time will then be spent introducing modeling in both NURBS and polygons. After which, students will learn simple texturing and UV unwrapping procedures while gaining understanding of the complexities of UVs. Basic lighting methodology will be covered to ensure that the projects developed in this term can be presented in a professional manner.
VFX202 - Live Action Studies
This course introduces students to digital photography and film, emphasizing the important relationship between still photography and video. Technical aspects of content and process will be explored from ‘behind the camera’ with the goal of producing ‘usable footage.’ Green screening will be introduced in the latter portion of the course. Time will also be spent in the video-editing suite to ensure that footage is managed and catalogued.
VFX203 - Character Design
This course introduces students to the design and production of characters for the animation, film, and video game industries. Students will learn the principles of character design, from research to final detailing, while focusing on character development, style, and personality. Students will apply principles and techniques of design and anatomy to achieve expressive, well-developed, appealing characters for both traditional and 3D animation.
VFX204 - Story Boarding - Project Planning
This course introduces students to the concept of storyboarding for film and animation. Students will learn how to plan for and create clear, concise industry standard storyboards. Students will explore the elements that contribute to the final production of a storyboard, including a 30-second commercial, a television show, a cinematic for computer games, and a feature film. Topics will include conceptual development, pitches, concept and production boards, thumbnail sketches, design, character staging, model sheets, art direction, background (layout) design, and camera positioning.
VFX301 - Environmental Modeling
In this course students will learn how to design and develop 3D environmental models. Students will learn how to observe real-world environments and then translate their observations into producing detailed interior and exterior environments. Students will also learn to consider staging and environmental mood into the design and structure of the final model. Topical coverage will include effective environment design, interior and exterior environments, creating the illusion of depth, matte painting (fundamentals) camera action and displacement prop, effects, and strategies for creating mood and atmosphere.
VFX302 - Compositing I
Students will explore the basics of digital effects animation and compositing. Students will be introduced to Nuke along with its interface and tools. Managing workflow and basic principles of compositing will be examined. A broad overview of compositing as a role will also be explored. Rendering of final footage will be explored along with various types of image sequences and aspect ratios. Keying footage will be analyzed along with high dynamic range with its use and purpose.
VFX303 - Technical Artistry
This course explores the process of preparing the setup of a character models for future animation of characters. The course will take the students through the initial steps of character modeling and animation with a focus on the rigging of the characters. Students will learn how to prepare and set up character rigs, bind structures to geometry and work with meshes and armature. Students will learn to rig facial expressions and lip movement as well as rigging and animating armature.
VFX304 - Animation II
Building on skills and techniques learned in Maya I, this course will introduce students to intermediate 3D animation techniques. Students will create movement in a 3D character they will have previously developed. Topical coverage will include key framing, modifiers, basic morphing techniques, and linear and non-linear animation.
VFX305 - Character Modeling II
This course continues the study of character design principles and the conceptualization stage of 3D character production. It then contextualizes this process by continuing the production of a 3D character through to a complete textured, rigged, posed, and rendered character. Building upon previous character design courses the aim is to have students produce an appealing, stylized character with unrealistic yet believable anatomical exaggeration.
VFX401 - Pre-Production
This conceptualizing and planning course is for the development of the final student demo reel and portfolio. Students will discuss, create a plan, and consider their options while developing designs and storyboards. Various preproduction elements will be developed with design, colour, and composition. Time will be spent considering the timing of the final video presentation and the overall aesthetic of the final reel.
VFX402 - Matte Painting
This course continues the development of artistic digital skills, with an emphasis on the application of advanced techniques in masking, maps, channels, and compositing. Both organic and hard surface elements will be examined along with tools to add depth to matte paintings. Composition and colour will also be explored to ensure that images will meet technical requirements in compositing and video projects.
VFX403 - Digital Sculpting
In this advanced course, students will develop detailed designs working between both Maya and ZBrush. Digital sculpting, texturing, and painting will be the fundamental focus of this class. Students will learn the interface and tools in ZBrush while designing and modeling their own complex characters. By the end of this course, students will have an understanding of the industry approach to creating models through advanced techniques. Students will assess their goals in this class and consider various options for portfolios.
VFX404 - Animation III
This course focuses on acting and intermediate animation techniques. Students will improve on their skills from term one and refine timing, anticipation, follow through secondary action, and cycles. Students will use live reference to enhance their animation. Students will improve both technical and acting techniques to prepare for advanced animation and portfolio development. Students will be encouraged to act and record their action to intensify animation and scene development.
VFX405 - Lighting & Testure
This course addresses the creation of multilayer textures for environments and high-resolution textures for character and environmental models. It also seeks to provide students with the various production contexts in which the techniques are applicable, from texturing characters faces for film and games, to developing environment textures for next-gen game environments. In addition, the course seeks to provide students with an in-depth look at various direct lighting tools and controls available when lighting 3D assets.
VFX501 - Production & Rendering
This course explores production and rendering techniques for the purpose of showcasing models, textures, and scenes in a professional manner. This course will examine challenges and practical solutions to nighttime lighting, indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, and advanced rendering features available in Mental Ray. Students will make informed choices about which light rigs and rendering features make the most sense for their scenes.
VFX502 - Animation IV
In this advanced animation course, students will deepen their understanding of the 12 principles of animation as originally described by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. Students will further develop their observation skills so that they will be able to apply key principles from film and life to apply to their animation. Students will learn to apply advanced software techniques while pushing their creative boundaries in the context of design problems that will extend their artistic talents
VFX503 - Effects Animation
This course is explores digital effects with ‘particles’ using Maya and Houdini. Fire, water, and smoke will be examined. Design and timing will be explored along with compositing tools to enhance the visual appeal of these effects. Final compositing of these effects will be reviewed and placed in a variation of environments. Animation of these effects will also be explored so as to push the boundaries of a students’ skillset.
VFX504 - Practical Effects
This course explores the traditional development of effects and compositing. Traditional examples will be studied and students will be required to work through many practical exercises. Time will be spent incorporating effects into sequences and ensuing that these effects are as realistic as technically possible.
VFX505 - Portfolio I
This course is aimed at preparing the students’ transition to the professional world. The focus of this course is to prepare students for job interviews by helping them compile and defend a first draft of their portfolio. The portfolio will contain pieces produced by the students that demonstrate their skills in conceptualization, design, modeling and animation. This will be the first step in assisting students to identify a preferred skill set and to select distinguishing portfolio pieces that showcase this skill. This will then provide them with a focus for polishing their technique and developing a unique style. Feedback will come in the form of industry, instructor and peer critique.
VFX601 - Advanced Compositing
This advanced composting course focuses on the video presentation aspects of the final demo reel. Students will work with final touches to their presentations. The course will focus on small projects that will help the student understand the complexities and tools of compositing and editing. Match moving and rotoscoping will also be examined in this course.
VFX602 - Editing
This course will introduce students to industry standard editing principles and techniques. They will apply these principles to editing their final demo reel. Colour correction, output, and rendering techniques will be applied.
VFX603 - Advanced Lighting
This course builds upon previous learning, taking students beyond basic light sources and shadows, and explores lighting and texturing as an art. Students will learn advanced skills and techniques and how to apply them to their final projects. Students will also learn to select the appropriate light type for a particular situation as well as the correct 2D and 3D textures. Topical coverage includes lighting colour and composition, Maya light types, high quality shadows, and effects.
VFX604 - Portfolio II
This course will prepare students for graduation and final portfolio presentation. A final demo reel will be developed to showcase the strengths and talents of each student in a branded visually appealing presentation. Time will be spent focusing on content that showcases each student’s selected primary skills. There will also be an opportunity to plan and showcase secondary abilities to increase the potential opportunity of employment. Planning and production pipelines will be followed to meet deadlines.
VCAD Portfolio Show - Summer 2017
Recent graduates showcased their talents at the Summer 2017 Portfolio Show and shared what it was like to be a VCAD student.