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Visual Effects Course and Class Descriptions

Visual effects classes are typically part of broader undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Read on to find out more about the classes that provide training in visual effects.

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Essential Information

Visual effects are used in movies, games, and television shows. Courses in visual effects are typically offered as part of an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree program in animation, digital media, game design or film at 4-year colleges, universities and some art schools. Through didactic coursework, hands-on computer lab sessions and internships, students learn how to use digital effects software, design appropriate effects, and incorporate digital effects into filming. Courses are available in both digital and dynamic effects, used during filming. Below are a few concepts that students in visual effects courses can expect to come across:

  • Compositing
  • Procedural modeling
  • Color theory & application
  • Focal points
  • Portraiture
  • Atmospheric perspective

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List of Classes

Visual Effects in Cinematography Course

In a cinematography course, students learn how to create visual effects film. Students practice framing photos and finding unique shots. This visual effects course includes many technical aspects and is typically taken in several parts, the most basic of which is completed early in a program. Students often create their own short films as a final project.

Digital Course

A class in digital visual effects includes techniques for modeling and creating visual effects through technology. Students explore digital lighting and shading techniques with the goal of creating realistic-looking animated movies and games. Class projects may be completed using professional animation and film software. This class is usually completed at the beginning or middle of a degree program and may follow a class in general visual effects.

Dynamic Effects Course

Some visual effects are added at the end of production, during editing, but students taking a dynamic visual effects class practice effects that can be used during live performances or in movies as they're being filmed. Students learn to create effects with fire, cloth, explosions and smoke. Typically, this class is taken towards the end of the degree program. Emphasis is placed on creating realistic-looking effects that don't damage personal or private property.

Development Course

Students learn how to develop visual effects and choose effects that fit well with the characters or story. They look at the overall project and learn how to choose and design appropriate effects. Since students integrate their understanding of screen design, storytelling, cinematography and visual effect techniques when developing concepts, they may take this class near the end of a degree program.

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