module specification

CU6008 - Visual Effects for Computer Graphics and Games (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Visual Effects for Computer Graphics and Games
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   CW1: Research and Design); 10 x A4 pages; VFX for 3D scene/environment); 1 pc of Maya project for production 1
Coursework 60%   CW2: VFX for 3D character animation + In-Class work presentation; 1 pc of Maya project for production2 + 2 animation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

The module is designed to broaden student understanding up to the advanced level with the focus on creating, animating and rendering various visual effects (VFX) using industry standard authoring software tool(s). The creation of VFX is presented from the technical artists perspective and demonstrates to the students concepts of a variety of VFX, the design and relevant workflow using appropriate techniques and tools as well as developing problem solving skills.

This module requires a successful completion of Level 5, i.e. relevant knoweledge and practical skills of the 2D/3D modelling, materials/textures, character rigging, animation, lights and cameras.

Assessment will consist of the 3 coursework assignments, all pass on agregate.

Prior learning requirements

Completion of Level 5 studies

Module aims

The aim of the module is to provide an advanced level of knowledge and understanding of the variety of VFX as well as entire VFX implementation workflow. It also aims to ensure students are capable of developing and applying advanced level skills, techniques and tools necessary for creating realistic VFX,  (or according to the project requirement specification) VFX to enhance 3D scene and character animations.

This module aims to enable students to:

- understand the concept and principles of the VFX;
- gain a knowledge and develop skills to design and implement VFX used in the rendered animation;
- demonstrate the knowledge and skills to use and integrate different tools to design and develop creative VFX for 3D scenes and characters in a variety of contexts and applications (including 3D characters and assets for computer games);
- develop communication skills with particular reference to VFX;
- be prepared for employment in the CG, games, web and multimedia, design and publishing industries.

The module also aims to help students to continue development of a personal portfolio that demonstrates understanding of the key principles and the capability to create believable VFXs to emphasize a complete and fully rendered 3D scene and character animation.


> Overview of VFX
  - Types, shaders, nodes node connections, UV mapping
  - Rendering issues for VFX (Rendering Engines: HW, SW, Ray Tracing, Mental Ray)
  - Final gather, deformers, blended shapes

> Dynamics
  - Rigid & Soft bodies
  - Particle systems
     ~ Rigid bodies and particles
     ~ Particle collisions, expressions
  - Fields
  - Effects (Fluid, Fire, Smoke, Fireworks, Lighting, Shatter)

> Fur, Hair, and Cloth
> Paint Effects, Visor
> Render Passes
> Maya Muscle
> Scripting for VFX (MEL scripting)
> VFX and compositing

Learning and teaching

The advanced VFX concepts and theoretical material will be covered in the lectures and workshop based sessions (using tutorials and relevant examples).  Time will be devoted to the discussion and evaluation of problem solutions.  The student will be expected to spend an equivalent time in private study (research connected with the subject, directed reading, and developing their skills for VFXs implementation).  This will be demonstrated by implementing and submitting relevant coursework assignments.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student will be able to:

LO1: understand the advanced concepts, creative and technical issues related to VFX;
LO2: analyse and critically evaluate VFX requirements and identify possible problems;
LO3: demonstrate a capability to choose the appropriate advanced techniques and tools as well as apply in practice the knowledge and skills to match project requirements and suggest effective problem solutions;
LO4: demonstrate competency, confidence and an advanced level of creativity and skill by designing and implementing believable (eye catching) VFXs;
LO5: integrate diverse tools and techniques to realise creative ideas in terms of VFX realism, dynamics, materials/textures, target audience and purpose;
LO6: develop effective oral, visual and written communication skills via presentations, reports and demonstrations.

Assessment strategy

The assessment will consist of the two components: CW1 and CW2 assignments, all pass on aggregate. The tutor will set the subject.

CW1, the first assessment (40%) will ask student to research and design VFX to enhance and emphasize a 3D scene and character rendered animation (concept art/sketches of several effects to be added to the complete rendered 3D scene and character). The particular focus in the design will be on the completeness and accuracy of the intended effects to the 3D scene and to the character. All effects must fit for purpose, complement each other and enhance the complete rendered 3D scene and character animation.

Continuing the first assessment, based on the design, a student will have to create and implement effects targeting to add detail to the 3D scene/environment. The implementation must be completely original and must show visual and aesthetic awareness.

CW2, the second assessment (60%) will ask student to continue previous work and add the designed effects to the 3D character and that way enhance the believability of a complete rendered 3D scene and character animation. In this last assignment student will also have to give a presentation of their work to the module teaching team. 

All assessment assignments are designed so that student will have to demonstrate their capability and skills [LO1 – LO5] to use and apply various techniques they have used throughout the complete VFX implementation workflow.

To reduce a student workload and ensure efficient and useful feedback to students all assignments will be spread in time throughout 30 teaching weeks. Students will have many opportunities for assessed and non-assessed feedback during the module (see next section).


Suggested bibliography (the latest list will be provided in the module handbook):
• Autodesk Maya Press Learning Autodesk Maya 2009 The Special Effects Handbook, Official Autodesk Training Guide.

Recommended supplementary reading:
Capizzi, T. (2002) Inspired 3D modelling and Texture mapping, Premier Press,
ISBN: 1-931841-50-0.
Meade, T., Arima, S. (2007) The complete reference, Maya 8, McGraw Hill,
ISBN-13: 978-0-07-149829-6, ISBN-10: 0-07-149829-X.