MA Visual Effects Production (Compositing)
London campus or live online
19th February 2024
Mode of study
London campus (UK residents): £17,995
Live online: £15,450
An undergraduate honours degree in a field related to visual effects
Degree awarded by
Become a master of make-believe, create the illusion of reality.
Compositors, also called Finishing Artists, compose the final images in a VFX or motion picture sequence, creating VFX that make the impossible, possible!
Studios are crying out for skilled Compositors. With the rise of online streaming platforms, demand is ever-growing, and this really is the place to be. In 2021, streaming services led to over $220bn in total content spend worldwide (source Ampere Analysis via Fierce Video).
Common with our Advanced Compositing short course, the first 18 weeks will be hands-on tuitions with industry-trained tutors who worked on the likes of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Kingsman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. You’ll learn how to use 2D tools, exploring stereoscopic compositing and understanding how 2D and 3D VFX integrate. The remainder of the course is made up of two major projects, collaborative and individual, where you’ll apply the skills you’ve learned to an industry-relevant brief with help from your tutors and industry guests.
By the end of the course, you’ll graduate with a masters qualification, have a strong showreel of advanced work and the technical skills you need to get hired. Industry guest speakers and our talent development and Aftercare services will help you build your network and land your first job in the industry.
Why choose this course
Ranked 2nd in the UK - and 10th in the world for Visual Effects Excellence by The Rookies
Based in London - home to some of the best animation studios in the world
Industry feedback - receive industry-standard critique from an expert in their field. Previous studio partners for our compositing course have included Industrial Light & Magic, The Mill and Outpost VFX
Industry briefs - work on industry-standard briefs and experience real-life scenarios, just like in a professional studio
Professional input - our advisory board of experts, from the likes of DNEG (Avengers: Endgame and Oscar-winning Dune) and MPC (The Lion King and 1917), help develop and keep this degree relevant
Successful alumni - you'll join our community of thousands of Escapees, many of whom have gone on to work at some of the world’s top studios. 47 Escapees worked on Avengers: Endgame, 36 on No Time to Die and 16 on Stranger Things
Aftercare package - we'll help you polish your showreel and find the right job, with access to our studios and showreel clinics for 12 months
Industry-standard facilities – study in a studio environment that mirrors current industry practice, using professional software such as Nuke and Silhouette
Flexibility - choose to study live online if you can’t travel or need a visa to study in the UK. The final 24 weeks are project based and can be organised around a part-time job or personal schedule
Recognised degree - graduate with a postgraduate MA qualification from the University of Kent which will boost your employability around the world.
But what is compositing?
Compositing and Finishing (sometimes called 2D or 2D VFX) is a crucial part of any VFX project and is used across films, TV and commercials. It's the final step of the visual effects pipeline, which consists of seamlessly integrating all of the CGI elements together, in order to present a complete and finished product.
This programme is a one-year course including 18 weeks of direct teaching time, a 12-week collaborative project and a 12-week final project.
The interface: premultiplied images
Production pipeline and light
Digital images, formats and resolution
Film properties and behaviour: log vs. linear
Introduction to Nuke
Transformations and rotoscoping
Transformations and introduction to tracking
Planar tracking and refining track data
Introduction to rotoscoping
Rotoscoping human movement
Rig removal composites
Rotoscoping in Silhouette (SFX)
Tracking in SFX
Painting in Nuke
Generating clean plates
Advanced paint and prep work
SFX prep techniques
Warping and morphing
Advanced prep work
Matching film grain
Introduction to keying methods
Keylight node and the despill process
Primatte and IBK keyers
Compositing outside the keyer
Pre and post processing: refining the key
Colour correction and grading
Exposure, gamma and curves
Density and colour matching
Filters, motion vectors and time-based effects
Foreground and background edge integration
Introduction to the 3D interface
Projection types and 3D
Projection workflows and camera tracking
Nuke camera tracking
Projection rig removal methods
Utilising camera data
Introduction to render passes
2D and 3D motion blur
CG production pipelines: Framestore, MPC and The Mill
CG and 2D element integration
Edge pre and post treatment
Integrating CG and live action
Redefining your composites
Advanced keying and edge treatments
Finalising your shots
Developing your demo reel
End of course presentation
Advanced compositing craft 1
Advanced CG compositing with AOVs
UV unwrap techniques for 2D
Advanced projection techniques
Compositing TD (Technical Director)
Expression node and filtering: Matrix and Laplacian Pyramid
Position/normals, relighting, distortion
Expressions, Gizmo’s, OpenGroups and menu.py/init.py
Scripting: Python, TCL and Bash
Advanced compositing craft 2
Seamless cuts with projections
Projections for DMP (Digital Matte Painting)
Beauty retouching and basic face tracking
Nuke rayrender, 3D lighting and rendering techniques
Senior/Lead Compositor skills
Nuke Studio project management and pipeline
Shotgun project management and pipeline
Receiving and giving feedback in dailies
Estimating project requirements
Consistency and continuity
Emerging compositing techniques
Volumetric rendering with Eddy for Nuke
VR and 360 images with Cara VR
Geo tracking and face tracking with KeenTools
Job hunting tips
For this module, you will work on a project as a group, to demonstrate your ability to choose correct techniques and approaches, and to apply them to a specified professional brief.
You might be paired with a student from the 3D course to seamlessly integrate their CG renders with live footage, like you would in a VFX production.
For this module, you will work on a final major project with feedback and guidance from your tutors and industry professionals. It will allow you to showcase your in-depth knowledge of your specialism area, ready for use in a portfolio.
Call our Admissions Advisors on +44 (0) 203 441 1303
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reach us on chat Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm
A strong internet connection
An external hard drive (minimum 2TB) to back up your work during the course
A three-button mouse (or optionally a Wacom tablet or similar)
A computer microphone (and optionally a webcam)
Escapee Aftercare and career support, including help and advice on your CV, showreel and job applications for 12 months after the end of your course.
Free Autodesk student registration allowing access to educational versions of software such as Maya and Arnold.
18 weeks of classroom study followed by 12 weeks of remotely directed learning and a 12 to 15-week remotely directed final project. All with feedback from your lead tutor and from an industry professional.
Practical project – 60%
Production logbook – 30%
Individual presentation – 10%
Group project – 80%
Retrospective group presentation – 20%
Production project – 60%
Written retrospective – 40%
To apply, complete an online application form which includes a link to submit your portfolio. Our Admissions Team will get in touch to take you through the next steps.
If you have any questions about your application, your portfolio or our entry requirements, get in touch!
As part of the application process, you will need to agree to our terms and conditions for your place on the course to be secured.
An undergraduate honours degree in art and design, architecture, computing or engineering-related subjects.
Applicants without a degree who have significant industry experience in VFX or related creative subjects will be considered.
Suitable applicants will be asked to submit a creative portfolio.
International students can choose our live online mode of study. You must be living and have the right to study in the UK to study a postgraduate degree on campus. If you require a visa to study in the UK you will need to choose our live online mode of study.
English language requirements
All our courses are taught in English. If your first language is not English, you may need to complete an English language test, such as a Pearson English language test (PTE Academic) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, to demonstrate you have the language skills needed to complete your degree.
|IELTS||6.5 IELTS (with a minimum of 6.0 in Reading and Writing and 5.5 in Speaking and Listening)|
|PTE||62 including 60 in each subtest|
|Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency||176 (with a minimum of 169 in Reading and Writing and 162 in Speaking and Listening)|
|Internet-based TOEFL||90 Overall including at least 22 in Reading, 21 in Writing, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking|
If you’d like to discuss your circumstances before applying, contact us on email@example.com or +44 (0)203 441 1303.
We can provide remote access to our workstations during teaching time. Due to availability restrictions, we highly advise you to have your own set up at home to study in your own time.
More things you’ll need:
If you have any questions about learning online or if you need help with what to buy, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
London campus: £17,995
Live online: £15,450
Our postgraduate fees are payable within the first 18 weeks of the course, with a deposit to be paid before the start of the course. Please note, we review our fees every year.
Funding for UK students
To be eligible for funding from Student Finance England, you must be studying on an eligible course at a provider registered with the Office for Students (OfS). Escape Studios is registered with the Office for Students and our Master’s programmes are eligible for funding.
Visit www.officeforstudents.org.uk for more information.
We offer a range of payment plan options for all courses. Following an initial deposit at registration stage, your chosen payment plan will break down your remaining fees into up to six equal instalments, to be paid over the course length.
We want anyone with great creative potential to have the opportunity to succeed on our degrees. That’s why we offer an £8,000 scholarship to one applicant per discipline for each cohort of our postgraduate courses.
You’ll automatically be considered for a scholarship if you apply for a postgraduate degree and submit a creative portfolio by the announced deadline. Check out our creative portfolio guide to know what we expect to see in those.
Find out more information about our scholarship offer and how to apply.
Our 3D Animation, Game Art and VFX postgraduate programmes are also eligible for a BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme.
"In compositing we have the unique pleasure of coming at the end of the pipeline. That means everything we do directly appears in the finished product on screen. That combined with the perfect balance of creative contribution to the finished product and technical problem solving, means that the scope of work is broad and no two days are ever quite the same." Chris Fryer, Digital Compositor at Industrial Light & Magic
You’ll graduate with a postgraduate qualification and a killer portfolio put together with advice from tutors and industry professionals. Ready to apply to start your career in the industry!
Some of the opportunities you can consider once you’ve finished your studies include:
Compositors often start out in junior roles or as Rotoscope Artists to then rise to mid-level and senior roles such as Compositors and Compositing Supervisors, opening the path to becoming a VFX Supervisor.
Our students have gone to work as both specialist and generalist artists in creative studios, across TV shows, films and commercials, at companies including Industrial Light & Magic, Cinesite, Pixomondo and Milk VFX. Read some of our VFX Escapee success stories.
Check out our Careers Guide for more information about career opportunities and progression routes.
The assessment methods employed in this programme have been developed to mirror industry practice as far as possible. We balance feedback from tutors and industry experts. It is crucial that, as a student, you learn how to accept and work with feedback from your superiors and peers, as this will be the norm when you work in industry. You also need to develop a keen self-critical eye, to be able to step back from your work and see what you could improve, and to have the ability to look at yourself and your working practices and make changes where necessary.
This is one of the most important aspects of your work. You will receive regular feedback from your tutor, studio assistants and peers during your modules. This will often be oral feedback on your work, sometimes on a one-to-one basis, sometimes in a group feedback session or daily. All of this should help you build on your strengths and develop your skills as you progress through the course.
This will be specifically designed to measure how well you meet the learning outcomes of the module. They will usually involve a task to meet a brief set by your tutor and will allow you to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that you have learned during the module. You’ll need to decide exactly how to complete the task, choosing particular techniques and approaches, and making decisions on the aesthetics and style to meet the given requirements.
Each module will have a practical element (usually a practical project, where you make something) and a written element (usually a journal or blog, where you reflect on what you’ve made). Sometimes you will also have to give a presentation to demonstrate your work. All these elements are essential to your development, by showing that you can deliver to a required level and that you understand why you can and how you could improve.
Summative assessment breakdown
For your pathway modules (compositing 1, compositing 2, advanced compositing for visual effects), you will be assessed as follows:
For the collaborative module, you will be assessed as follows:
For the production project, you will be marked as follows:
For more information, see full programme specifications.
Your overall workload will be divided between teaching sessions and independent learning.
During your course, you’ll be able to develop your knowledge and skills in a number of ways. Some learning time will be closely directed and supervised by your tutors, at other times you’ll be free to organise your own study with guidance. All your scheduled studio time, except for some information sessions and presentations, will be in smaller groups based on specialism.
For your team project, you’ll be working with a smaller team, collaborating to meet a shared brief. This will give you ample opportunity to get the support and assistance that you need.
The first three modules have a high contact time (180 hours for each module), as this is where you will learn the knowledge and skills associated with your chosen subject, directed and informed by your tutors’ expertise and experience. These will normally involve a large part of each day with your tutor and studio assistant, following demonstrations and working on set exercises to help you develop your craft.
The Studio Project and Production Project modules will have a lower contact time (15 hours and 30 hours respectively), with your tutors taking on the roles of supervisors or studio leads. You’ll meet with them regularly to get feedback and help you stay on the right path, but these modules are much more about you managing the learning experience to meet your objectives. You’ll be free to organise your work either as a team or an individual to best suit your project requirements.
Each module has its own area on our Online Learning Environment (OLE) where you will find information about the module and the resources that are provided to support your learning. Some of this information will be dedicated to the module, other elements may be shared across different modules and some may be external assets that can help with your further study. There may be links to videos, online journals and e-books, and you should take advantage of these to enhance your development and take it beyond the studio experience. Tutors may highlight some of these during their sessions.
Students with additional needs or disabilities are supported by our Student Services team.
This programme has two entry points each year. It is divided into two stages. Stage 1 comprises modules to a total of 120 credits and stage 2 comprises a 60-credit Production Project module. You must successfully complete each module in order to be awarded the specified number of credits for that module. One credit corresponds to approximately ten hours of 'learning time' (including all classes and all private study and research). Obtaining 180 credits in an academic year requires 1,800 hours of overall learning time.
The first three modules are taught in intensive blocks of six weeks each, giving a total of 18 weeks. During each of these modules, you will spend around 30 hours per week studying in tutor-led sessions or practice supported by studio assistants. The final two modules are more self-directed. The Studio Project will take around 12 weeks, during which you will have around 15 hours of feedback sessions with your tutor. Finally, you will spend around 18 weeks on the Production Project, including around 30 hours of feedback sessions with your tutor.
Each 30-credit module on the course requires you to commit 300 hours of study, with one 60-credit module which requires 600 hours of study. Some of these hours will be formally supervised in the learning environment and others will involve private study.
For more details about modules, credits and workload, see full programme specifications.
Meet our industry-experienced tutors
Sokratis Synitos is the lead tutor on this master’s programme. He’s worked on titles including Bond: Spectre, Avengers: Endgame and Dr. Who. Our tutors work together to develop our courses. They all have industry experience, at studios such as DNEG, Framestore and Industrial Light & Magic, and are experts in their fields.
The excitement and gratification of producing the end result is an exhilarating position and creative career to grow into.