New York Film Academy
New York Film Academy Animation
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One Year Hands-on Conservatory 3D Animation Program

$30,000 per year*
An angelic bird flies in the sky A sketch and model of a 3D animated beetle A 3D animated Ganesha dances A janitor pushes a cart in this 3D animation still


Our One-Year in 3-D Animation Program is a comprehensive training in 3D using Autodesk’s Oscar Winning software, Maya, the industry standard for animation. Students in the Academy’s One-Year in 3-D Animation Program get the opportunity to learn the technical and artistic tools they need to master 3D animation. After the program, they may choose to become independent animators or to pursue a career in the film, gaming, interactivity or commercial industries.


No previous 3D or animation experience is required. However, studio art or computer experience is helpful. Basic familiarity with a computer graphic program such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop is recommended. A free student copy of Maya is available for download at Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this software.

Semester One Overview

The first semester in NYFA’s One-Year in 3-D Animation Program introduces students to the essential aspects of animation; from storyboard to final movie. Below you will find a detailed description of the exciting journey through the landscape of creating an animated movie.

Semester Two Overview

At the beginning of the second semester, students present proposals for both their final projects and group projects. The student is encouraged to focus on a specific area of the animation pipeline during this project for inclusion in their animation reels.

Students may work individually or collaboratively under the supervision of the animation staff. The goal for each student is to complete a professional quality body of work by the end of the semester.

  • Advanced rendering with mental ray
  • Visual effects including cloth and hair simulations
  • Motion Capture and Advanced rigging techniques in Autodesk Maya and Motion Builder
  • Advanced modeling lighting and texturing with Maya, Mudbox and ZBrush
  • Compositing in Nuke
  • Creating a dynamic reel for your portfolio
In the second semester, each student for the group project, concentrates on a specific 3-D discipline to attain mastery in one of the crucial elements of 3-D production. Students also have the option to complete a final animated short of their own.

Students present and critique ideas and storyboards for individual and team projects. Various approaches are discussed and chosen. Each project is fully scripted, critiqued, and rewritten before going into production.

Students spend most of the second semester working in their chosen discipline.

Course Description (*Optional)

  • Screenwriting This class is designed to help students develop their scripts for their animation. It focuses on the fundamentals of visual storytelling and provides students with constructive analysis and support as they take a story from initial idea, treatment, step outline to a rough draft, storyboard and animatic. The intersection of story structure, theme, character, tension, and conflict is examined through detailed scene analysis.
  • Storyboard A storyboard is essentially a comic book version or visual expression of the script, produced before the movie to help the film director visualize the scenes.
  • Character Design Designing characters for you movie is what’s next. What sort of a character is she? Is she good or evil, or maybe shades of both. How do you convey those traits in a sketch? We’ll find out in our dynamic character design class.
  • 3D Computer Modeling This class introduces students to the tools and the concepts of 3D modeling production. As students get familiar with Maya and ancillary softwares, they will begin creating projects as they apply to industries such as broadcast, commercials and film. The course creates a real world production experience, stressing the use of the appropriate tools and professional workflow, whilst encouraging imaginative and artistic excellence. Students focus on high level object and character creation, and its relationship to photorealistic texturing and lighting.
  • UV Mapping In this series of classes, we look at creating the correct and appropriate UV maps for a model, which results in placing seamless and smooth textures on the model.
  • Materials and Textures Students learn how the observation and understanding of an object’s surface qualities can create photo realistic textures. Using Photoshop and procedural textures, realistic and viable textures are created for models.

    Specular, reflection and the diffuse aspects of a surface are investigated to produce the correct look of various materials.

    Procedural shaders using advanced networks are utilized to create believable and economical renders.
  • Rigging Creating joints and controllers is the focus of these rigging classes. Students will learn to create rigs that will behave predictably in Maya. Forward and inverse kinematics are discussed. Other topics include joint placement and orientation, the importance of local rotation axis, and joint rotation order.
  • Lighting The various properties of the many lights within Maya are fully explained. 3 point lighting and other lighting concepts including raytracing and depth map shadows are fully examined.
  • Animation This series of lectures introduce the students to character animation. Students will learn to apply the basic principles of animation to many different objects to create characters that have both dynamic movement and weight. We use the graph editor and timeline to set keyframes and manipulate them in time and space, while developing an understanding of how to adjust the tangents and other tools in the graph editor to create convincing and exciting animations.
  • Acting for Animation In this series of classes, we take full advantage of the wonderful and richly talented skills of the acting staff here at the Academy. Students learn the fundamentals of acting essential to the animator’s skills in, developing the idiosyncrasies of a character and its behavior in movement and speech.
  • MEL and Python Through Mel scripting and Python, the two native scripting languages in Maya, students are introduced to the world of scripting and programing. Concepts such as loops, global procedures and variables will be explored.
  • Hard Surface Nurbs Modeling Creating accurate surfaces for mechanical objects such as cars and household objects, nurbs are an excellent tool. They can be further modified into polygons for ease of manipulation.

    • Nurbs curves and surfaces
    • Nurbs components
    • Parameterization
    • Nurbs continuity
    • Nurbs tools
    • Conversion to polygons
  • ZBrush ZBrush is a leading digital 3D sculpting software used for modeling, texturing and painting. It is used as a digital sculpting tool for creating high-resolution models for use in movies, games, and animations.

    • Interface
    • Preparing Maya Models for ZBrush
    • ZBrush interface
    • ZSpheres
    • ZBrush tools set
    • UV Master
    • Exporting and importing between ZBrush and Maya
    • Normal maps
    • Displacement maps
  • Mental Ray Mental ray is a production-quality rendering application for ray tracing image generation. mental ray has been used in many feature films, including The Hulk, The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Day After Tomorrow and Poseidon.

    • Linear workflow
    • Frame buffers and file types
    • Lights
    • Materials
    • Indirect illumination
    • Passes
  • Compositing with Nuke NUKE is an Academy Award winning node-based digital compositing software that was originally developed in-house at James Cameron's highly acclaimed Digital Domain visual effects studio in LA. It has been used in movies such as Avatar, Mr. Nobody, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, King Kong, Jumper, I, Robot, Resident Evil: Extinction, Tron: Legacy and Black Swan.

    • Color correction
    • Roto
    • Camera Tracking
  • Advanced Rigging Using Motion capture files (mocap), which is the process of recording actions of a human actor, we transfer the movements to our cg characters for realistic movement in our movies.

    • Human IK
    • Motion Capture
  • Particle Dynamics And Visual Effects Using the amazing and new Bullet Physics engine in Maya we simulate both soft and rigid bodies, allowing us to create highly realistic simulations of cloth, rope, and other deformable objects.

    • Particles
    • Emitters
    • Fields
    • Expressions
    • Soft bodies
    • Rigid bodies
    • Constraints
  • Putting Together Your Reel
    • What your potential employer wants to see in your reel
    • What your potential employer does not want to see in your reel!

Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Year

Tuition: $30,000(USD) +
Lab Fee: $2,000(USD)

Number of Semesters: 2

Location & Available Dates

For New York City:
September 2014 - May 2015
January 2015 - September 2015
May 2015 - January 2016
September 2015 - May 2016

For Los Angeles:
September 2014 - May 2015
January 2015 - September 2015
May 2015 - January 2016
September 2015 - May 2016

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* All MFA, BFA, BA, MA, and AFA degree programs are offered only at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus.