module specification

SM5064 - 3D Animation: Principles and Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title 3D Animation: Principles and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Animation visualisation & commentary
Coursework 50%   Digital Animation (teamwork)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module deals with general animation theory and principles, especially in the context of animated narratives and games. Theoretical, technical and aesthetic aspects of animated arts/entertainment environments are explored, and the module enables the development of a practical understanding of the latest technologies and best practice for 3D modelling and animation in the context of both individual and team working.

Module aims

• To gain a critical understanding of the scope of current digital animation best practice

• To provide an overview of techniques for working with modelling, animation and visual effects in 3D and the specialised methods required to prepare this medium for output to a variety of digital media.

• To support research into the relationship between narrative, animation, computer games and similar genres in arts/entertainment environments.


Indicative summary:
• animation history
• animation methodologies
• digital animation
• theories of animation
• 3D’s impact on society from story/games through to virtual realities
• the 3D production process
• creative approaches to 3D
• the 3D animation industry, from CAD to games
• modelling primitives, polygons and NURBS surfaces
• surfaces - colouring, textures, maps and 3D surface material effects
• lighting and shadows, virtual cameras and composition
• introduction to animation, key-frames and animation paths
• rendering and output as still images and video

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching in this module will involve a combination of modes, including lectures, computer workshops, tutorials and study of specially prepared online resources. Visits to animation facilities and visits from industry professionals will also be included. The standard weekly structure will comprise a one hour lecture and discussions followed by a two hour lab session. In addition support to individuals and groups will be provided through regular tutorial sessions. Key to the delivery of this module is availability of open access facilities with appropriate software for the development of animated projects. Blended learning is integral to this module and comprehensive, specially designed, online up-to-date support resources will be made available and updated weekly. These include contextual learning materials for the weekly lectures and workshops together with module booklets and materials and links relevant to assessment, facility visits, software updates, industry developments and career opportunities.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

• Communicate effectively their innovative ideas for animated projects for arts/entertainment environments (LO1)

• Work effectively as part of a team in the design and production of an animated project (LO2)

Assessment strategy

Summative assessments are strategically scheduled twice during this module with several formative assessment opportunities to enable progress towards fulfilling the module’s learning outcomes. The first assessment focuses on the effective individual communication of creative ideas for an animated project (LO1). The second assessment builds on this by focusing on the execution of these ideas that must be refined through self-reflection and negotiation with peers before culminating in the design and production of an animated project in a teamwork environment (LO2). The assessment of this output will be informed by a reflective self/peer assessment document produced by the team.


Kerlow, I. (2009) The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects, 4th Edition. N-Y: John Wiley & Sons.
Keller, E. (2010) Mastering Autodesk Maya 2011. N-Y: John Wiley & Sons.
Capodagli, B. and Jackson, L. (2010) Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the Worlds Most Creative Corporate Playground. N-Y: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Paik, K. et al. (2007) To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios. N-Y; Virgin Books.
Wells, P. (2007) Basics Animation: Scriptwriting. SA: AVA Publishing.
Leslie, E. (2002) Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory, and the Avant-Garde. London: Verso Books.