module specification

CU6008 - Visual Effects for Computer Graphics and Games (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
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
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
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 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

CU6008 Visual Effects for Computer Graphics and Games

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 artist’s perspective and demonstrates to the student concepts of a variety of VFX, the design, problem solving, and relevant workflow using appropriate techniques and tools.

Prior knowledge and 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.
Year long.

Assessment will consist of the 2 coursework assignments, all pass on agregate.

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 develop and are capable to apply advanced level skills, tools and techniques necessary for creating realistic (or acording 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, 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 to 3D scenes and characters for variety of contexts and applications (including 3D characters and assets for computer games).
- develop communication skills with particular reference to VFX;
- equip students 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 by adding a VFX work that demonstrates understanding of the key principles and capability to create special (visual) effects to emphasize a complete and fully rendered 3D scene and character animation.

Prior learning requirements

pre-requisites: CU5004, CU5007


> Overview of VFX
  - types
  - rendering issues for VFX
  - VFX and compositing 
> Dynamics
  - rigid bodies
  - soft bodies
> Particle systems
  - rigid bodies and particles
  - particle collisions, expressions
> Fields
> Effects
> Fluid effects
> Fur, Hair, and Clothing
> Scripting for VFX

LO1 - LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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 own modelling and texturing style/techniques).  In addition to this, a substantial coursework will be set.

Learning outcomes

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

LO1: understand the advanced concepts, creative and technical issues related to VFX;
LO2: demonstrate a capability to choose the appropriate advanced tecniques and tools as well as apply in practice the knowledge and skills to match project requirements and suggest effective problem solutions ;
LO3: integrate diverse tools and techniques to realise creative ideas in terms of VFX realism, dynamics, materials/textures, target audience and purpose;
LO4: 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).

The formative and summative feedback will be provided to students according to University policy. Students will have a written feedback accessible on WebLearn for each assessment component according to the marking scheme and criteria. They also will have an opportunity to get an informal feedback during the workshops, by email, or by face-to-face meeting.


Core text (Latest list will be provided in the module handbook):

Palamar, T., (2015). Mastering Autodesk Maya 2016: Autodesk Official Press. Sybex.

Recommended supplementary reading:

Autodesk Maya Press Learning Autodesk Maya 2009 The Special Effects Handbook, Official Autodesk Training Guide.

Williams, W., (2009) The Animator's Survival Kit--Revised Edition: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet An. Faber & Faber.