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Animation

BA (Hons)
Animation
3 years (full-time)
UCAS D367

Taught by professional animators, practitioners and academics this course will provide you with an understanding of animation production for industry. Recognised as one of the largest media hubs in Europe, Manchester is a vibrant city with a wealth of opportunities to connect with the animation sector. Through the course you will be introduced to techniques relevant to cutting-edge animation and the underlying principles of motion, performance and expression. The course focuses on the creative practices, motion and storytelling fundamentals that are at the heart of all animation, irrespective of technique. Animation is one of the fastest growing sectors in the creative industries and due to our ever-growing hunger for animated content there are now many opportunities to work in this vibrant field.

Special Features

  • You will get the opportunity to work with professional animators and studios through live briefs and university projects.
  • The course is based within the Department of Media at Manchester School of Art, and the art school ethos will push you to innovate and become a highly creative professional.
  • You will have the opportunity to take part in Unit X, an innovative unit offered to students across Manchester School of Art that encourages interdisciplinary study and collaboration on an external-facing project.
  • Professional animation production is strictly a collaborative process. Animation pipeline management and experience in working in teams is essential to developing skills needed to work in industry. You will then be offered an opportunity, during each year of the course, to contribute to the production of an animated film and to help develop team working abilities required by potential employers in the Animation industry. The course is designed to allow you to specialize, if you so wish, in one specialist area of the animation process allowing you to collaborate with others refining your individual artistry.

Course Content

During the course, you will be introduced to the core animation principles, study the art of storyboarding and cinematography, develop your skills in character design and experience the fundamental techniques of animation production. Access to industry standard software is available in all Animation studios to allow students to, through continued practice, hone their skills in animated performance and storytelling. Throughout the course emphasis is placed on ideas generation, storytelling and process; primarily students will develop skills in filmmaking practice in order to write, design and manage the production of an animated film. Through a series of focused units, the course is designed to support students through this process culminating in the production of a significant output; an animated short film. All films are the result of team efforts where individuals will contribute significant contributions in their chosen field of specialist study eg. 3D modeler, animator, character designer, director, concept, background, or storyboard artist, scriptwriter etc.

Year 1

The first year is a general foundation to the craft, skills and conceptual thinking required for the art of animation. You will be introduced to the core underlying principles of animated movement, the disciplines of cinematography and storytelling and the animation pipeline and team production of a proof of concept for animated filmmaking. You will also engage in contextual practice to support understanding of wider creative fields relevant to your development as a creative practitioner along with Professional Engagement relevant to Animation.

Unit X

At Level 4, this unit encourages some collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience. There are lectures and talks from key research staff, students and external experts. Teaching will be in the form of tutorial groups, weekly meetings and presentations. The set projects will vary from year to year and are designed to be responsive to current creative opportunities. 

Animation Principles

In this unit you will be introduced to the fundamental principles of animation, not just how to make things move, but how to make inanimate objects come to life. Through a series of tasks using a variety of animation techniques (2D, 3D computer animation and Stop Motion), you will explore and practice the mechanics of motion such as weight, timing, overlap and anticipation, leading up to basic exercises in expression and performance. The unit also explores some experimental approaches to animation and by the end of unit you will have the basic skills required to produce animation in a number of techniques.

Visual Narrative

This unit focuses on visual narrative, how to tell a story through the tools available to an animator; exploring principles of cinematography, film language, storyboards and animatics, interpreting scripts and adapting existing stories for the screen. You will also be introduced to the challenges of creating a believable world in which to construct narratives and develop an animated production utilising conceptual, character and environment design methods. Your learning will be supported by a number of technical and software workshops as well as sessions in life drawing.

Contextualising Practice with Language 1

You are allocated to one of five pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. Lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits will address the historical, critical and cultural contexts of art and design practice. The 15 credit option is taken when you opt to do a 15 credit Uniwide languages unit as well (mmu.ac.uk/uniwide).

Contextualising Practice 1

30 credit unit. You are allocated to one of five pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. Lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits will address the historical, critical and cultural contexts of art and design practice.

Year 2

Building on Year 1, you will continue to work in a collaborative context. Acquiring further skills and making use of further opportunities, students will continue to prepare for a potential future working in the Animation industry through the group production of their first full animated film. Further experiences in post-production are offered whilst underpinned with contextual practice to support understanding of wider creative fields relevant to your development as a creative practitioner. A further Unit X collaboration allows students further opportunities to develop their practice in filmmaking production. Students will start to build a body of work to develop a wider professional engagement both within and external to the Art School.

Unit X

This unit explores collaborative and interdisciplinary art and design practice.  You will have the opportunity to engage in a range of external-facing learning opportunities which will encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience; this may take the form of spending time outside of the University and working within the creative community and the public domain.

Animation Process and Practice

Strong performance and acting is what makes the audience believe that an animated character is alive. In this unit you will complete a series of assignments that explore character, thinking, decision-making and emotion through pantomime and facial animation. Lectures cover the analysis of posture, body language, gestures, timing, eye movement, facial animation and lip sync.  You will also attend life drawing sessions to further study anatomy for animation, and an acting workshop. By the end of the unit, you will produce a short character animation sequence, with weekly guidance and supervision, from concept, design, layout and animation through to final render.

Post Production for Animation

By definition, animation is a complex structure of digitally manipulated images projected in quick succession to give the illusion of movement, and together with the integration of sound it provides a full immersive audience experience. In this unit you will explore, learn and create work utilising visual effects, sound design and compositing (the layering of moving images) and discover how technology has an impact on the post production processes in animation. You will also discover and learn how to use the ever diversifying range of digital platforms where audiences can watch and engage with animation.

Contextualising Practice 2

Delivery of critical, historical and professional issues to enhance your development within practice-based clusters. Delivery to clusters of cognate practice areas. Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas plus cluster-wide professional and employability issues, facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner.

Contextualising Practice with Language 2

Delivery of critical and historical issues to enhance the student's development within practice-based clusters.  Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner. Modes of delivery include lectures, seminars, tutorials, guest speakers, visits and placements.

Year 3

In the third year, you will have the opportunity to be a key part of a major animation, which will showcase your individual talents as part of a significant production, which will be developed and pitched to industry professionals. The finished piece will be shown at our graduation showcase, the MSOA degree show and students will be encouraged to submit these to Animation Festivals and competitions. You will also develop an extended essay focused on an area of particular interest to the individual’s practice, as well as a focused body of professional engagement to support the journey between graduation and entry into the industry, where appropriate.

Animation Development

In this unit you will develop an idea or concept for a major animated project which will be pitched to a panel of industry professionals. If the pitch is successful, you will work on developing that idea to a full pre-production package including design, research and animation tests. This unit provides the opportunity for you to research and develop an idea or concept for a professional, substantial, industry standard animated work. You will be encouraged to work collaboratively to maximise your own individual talents, and is designed to reflect current industry practice in animation production.

Major Animation

This major double unit allows you to consolidate the skills and knowledge accumulated throughout the course to produce a major animation. You will work on a project as a key member of the production team, whether that is as an art director, director, lead animator, technical director, modeller, or any one of the many roles that makes up an animation team and by the end of the unit, you will have a major credit on at least one full production for your final portfolio. The completed productions will be screened or exhibited as part of the summer show, and as part of an online channel in order to promote you to potential employers. In this unit we will also help you maximise your employment potential by giving you the tools needed to showcase your talents through our excellent professional networks and your own website.

Contextualising Practice with a Language 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a your individual practice interests. A negotiated project focused around an individually defined area appropriate to your aims and ambitions.

Contextualising Practice 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a student's individual practice interests.

Assessment Weightings & Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A three year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be—

Study
  • Year 1 30% lectures, seminars or similar; 70% independent study
  • Year 2 30% lectures, seminars or similar; 70% independent study
  • Year 3 15% lectures, seminars or similar; 85% independent study
Assessment
  • Year 1 100% coursework
  • Year 2 100% coursework
  • Year 3 90% coursework; 10% practical

You can find further details about the curriculum for the current academic year in the Programme Specification Document

Resources

Animation studios are equipped with industry standard software such as Maya (3D digital), Nuke (Post Production compositing), ToonBoom Harmony (2D Drawn digital), Dragonframe (Stop motion), Fusion (3D print) and the Adobe Creative Suite to include: Photoshop, InDesign, Animate, After Effects, Premiere (Computer graphics, Layout, Animation and Editing). This offers our students opportunities to access and practice application of animation techniques for all individual requirements in the animation pipeline. Resources also offer access to stop motion suites, animation edit suites for copy-stand work, cameras, lighting, sound design, foley recording, set build, sculpt, 3D printing, lasercutting etc. The Art School is well resourced in computer facilities and studios to provide students with a creative environment in which to work in. Facilities are supported by an excellent team of technical staff all well versed in software.

Student Work

Visit our online Degree Show gallery to see examples of work by final year Animation students.

Degree Show 2018  

Hugh Welchman shares inspirations and processes behind the film that took 125 artists to create

Graduate Opportunities

The move of the BBC and ITV children’s departments to MediaCityUK has enhanced an already strong children’s media ecosystem. Skilled talent in animation is necessary not only for the high-profile children’s animation programming, but also for the myriad of agencies that produce high-end animated content for gaming, marketing/advertising, e-learning, publishing, visual effects, augmented reality, architectural visualisation, app development, prototyping, etc. There is an ever-growing demand in Manchester for this type of talent, which makes Manchester Met’s focus on future animation so timely and exciting.

Staff


Making an Application

How to Apply

Apply through UCAS.

If you meet our criteria we will invite you to an Interview and ask you to show us a Portfolio of your work.

You will be notified of our decision through UCAS.

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required

112 at A2 or equivalent (which can include Foundation Diploma in Art & Design). A Level General Studies is not accepted.

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4. Equivalent qualifications (eg. Functional Skills) may be considered

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Pass Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with a minimum 112 UCAS Tariff Points

International Baccalaureate26 Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 6.0. with no element below 5.5 is required.

Check our MMU International site for further information if you are applying with non-UK qualifications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What support will I get from my tutors?

As a practice based studio course you will answer design led briefs. You will be supported through tutorials, seminars and peer/staff review and feedback sessions.

Do you have professionals/visitors giving presentations?

Yes. We have excellent contacts in the industry and host visits from industry professionals from multiple aspects of the industry who give talks, industry expertise and contribute to presentation panels. Students are able to access the many professional opportunities offered by the Media department in the School of Art through Talk series, professional networking events and School wide professionalizing practice projects.

Is a compulsory placement part of the programme?

There is no compulsory work placement, but through the Professional Engagement aspects of the course students are encouraged to develop relationships with industry to locate mentors, develop an industry network of contacts and seek industry feedback on their practice. This focusses students on creating relationships and connections with industry which lay the foundations for potential placements and access experience in companies. There are many live opportunities offered to the course from industry which are passed on to our student groups.

Are there any trips part of the course?

Different trips will be offered on the course depending on their availability and scheduling implications. Examples of this type of visit may be to local studios, companies and events. Students are taken off timetable for one week in November in order to attend the Manchester Animation Festival in November. This is at an additional cost. We also encourage students to attend at least one other animation festival such as Annecy Animation Festival in France or FMX in Germany. These international trips will be optional and will be an additional cost.

Are there any additional payments apart from the fees?

We do not make any additional studio charges. Students are expected to buy materials. 200 is placed on all student MET cards every academic year to help support this.

What hardware / software do students use?

We use industry standard animation software such as Maya, Nuke, Toonboom Harmony, Dragonframe, After Effects, Flash, Photoshop etc. We run software on PCs and Macs.

Competitions

We encourage students to enter national and international animation competitions, and student's work will be considered for entry into the Royal Television Society Student Awards.

Tuition Fees 2019 Entry

UK, EU and Channel Island students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students

Non-EU international students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated Masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

See Money Matters for further information and advice.

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

£600*  plus optional £1,600*

Students are recommended to purchase a laptop or Desktop PC in their first year capable of producing creative digital work, together with specialist software. However, there are PCs in campus and students can loan laptops. Students are also advised to purchase a digital storage device (at least 1TB), a Wacom digital tablet and a pair of professional headphones (although the Wacoms and headphones are available for free loan on campus). In years 2 and 3 students may be required to purchase specialist software licences.

Trips and Placement Costs

£75*  plus optional £900*

There is a compulsory study trip to Manchester Animation Festival – all students are expected to attend at a cost of £75 for a student pass for the week. Depending on availability and costs another National or International trip may be offered within the academic year (this may occur in the Summer term). This is reliant on student numbers of interest to keep costs down. If numbers are low information will be supplied to those interested to allow them to travel independently.

Professional Costs

There are no additional professional membership fees required for full qualification.

Other Costs

Optional £150*

Final year students may wish to invest in a professional website hosting service in order to promote their work.

* All amounts shown are estimates.