news • 13 December 2022

What do you study on a Visual Effects degree?

Summary of the Visual Effects degree 

The first year of our undergraduate Art of Visual Effects (VFX) degree incorporates all the creative arts courses that Escape Studios offers (Animation, Game Art and VFX). This means all students, no matter what course they study, have the same first year allowing them to gain a variety of skills and experiences. 

We also do creative foundation modules in the first year which help us develop core skills such as cinematography and photography. In particular, for VFX, the first year gives you an amazing understanding of not only compositing using Nuke but also software such as Maya and Substance Painter for 3D VFX. This range in software knowledge is taught from the basics up which is useful as not many students learn software in school before they start a degree. 


During your second year studying VFX, we get introduced to both 2D Compositing and 3D VFX. This allows us to get a taste of the VFX disciplines so we can become knowledgeable in both areas before specialising. 

Later on in second year, we then choose our specialisms. We are advised to choose something we are skilled at but also something we enjoy. We then get to put our skills to use by working with our peers on a studio group project (typically a short film) which is presented to a panel of industry professionals. 

In the third year, we continue to advance on our specialisms from the second year. This involves advancement in theories of software, generating a personal portfolio and working on larger team projects with students studying other disciplines such as Game Art and Animation. 


My Favourite Modules 

Since beginning my degree, I have enjoyed all my modules to date, especially the VFX modules. Unexpectedly, I have felt myself gravitate to Compositing for 2D VFX! 

I have enjoyed getting to know Nuke, but I have also loved other modules such as cinematography and photography. Getting hands-on with professional equipment and learning from professionals in the industry has also been another highlight. 

2D (Compositing) VFX Module 

During the Compositing for 2D VFX module, we got hands-on experience with Nuke and Photoshop to understand the fundamentals of layering multiple image elements. This allows you to get a basic understanding of composting, roto, colour correction and much more! 

I found this module the most interesting and I enjoyed the clean-up of elements of the video clip we had to work on. It was challenging to make this convincing but when it worked it was very satisfying. Also, learning the basics of tracking and roto was super fascinating! 

This module helped me grow my understanding of what it's like to do compositing in a professional studio. I also got a much better understanding of some of the key software such as Nuke which will help me in my second year of university. 


3D VFX Module 

This module taught us the core fundamentals of 3D VFX. It involved using Maya and Substance Painter to create a realistic object in a scene of a photograph taken by a 360 camera. 

We were taught all the techniques needed in Maya and how to perform a final rendered image. In addition, we worked with Substance Painter to texture the final model. This module covers a range of techniques such as modelling, texturing, lighting, and rendering. 

I loved this module, as this was where my main interest was at the start. After never using Maya before, it was interesting to learn all basics from how to work in the Maya UI and 3D skills. 

Creative foundations (projects) 

During this module, I collaborated with a group of fellow students on a creative project brief. My team's brief was to create an animatic for a 1960s murder mystery cooking show. This module not only helped me get to more of my classmates but it also helped me grow my confidence working in a professional team in a creative environment. 

As this was the first ever team project I worked on, initially I was a little worried, but I quickly got used to working in a team environment and I really enjoyed learning what it is like to run a production of an animatic. 

This module is another perfect example of what it is like to work in industry. It helps you prepare for working in a professional environment as well as teaching you essential skills.