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New York Film Academy Animation
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Hands-on Intensive 4-Week 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop

An animated dragon created at NYFA's animation school An animated character eyes a bottle in his cupboard An animated character looks at his phone An animated fairy created at NYFA's animation school


In response to the rise in popularity of the medium and the incredible expansion of venues for showcasing the art, the New York Film Academy has designed a hands-on intensive Four-Week 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop. This workshop is designed for individuals who want to learn the basics of a high-end 3D computer program but do not have the time required to devote to full-time study as a year-round student.

Students in the 3D Animation & Visual Effects workshops will write, animate, direct and edit their own computer animated short films. Our animation programs do not require drawing ability. Animation students at the Academy are able to create 3D characters and environments along the lines of "Shrek."

An animated boy holds a ball and phone


The workshop is designed for students with little or no experience in animation. Regardless of previous experience, each student designs, animates, and completes her or his own personal 3D computer animated short film.


This course teaches students the principles of animation (movement, timing, weight, character development, etc.) using Maya—the industry standard high-end 3D computer program. Students progress through basic modeling, motion and rendering exercises en route to the completion of a short 3D computer animated film (with sound) of their own design by the end of the course.

Testimonials from our July summer intensive animation students

The Four-Week 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop is an intense experience. From day one we delved right into it and learned at an exciting rate. Every day we covered an enormous amount of material that only an expert in both animation and teaching could properly impart on us. It's amazing that we were taught in such a way that allowed us to understand the material so we could apply it to our own individual projects. The environment was one where students could interact with each other, share knowledge and help each other flesh out project ideas. It was also fun and invigorating to sit in the lab, by my computer working, and just banter with everyone.

I loved the course. I met people from all over the world, I probably learnt more in a few weeks than I have in my entire college career, and I worked harder and couldn't have been happier doing it. I enjoyed this course so much I plan to come back for the one year animation course.

Andrew Kaufman
July 2013 4 week animation student

The Four-Week 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop has been very informative. I got a chance to learn a lot and advance my current knowledge. I am sad these four weeks have come to an end, but it was a great experience with Robert Appleton, he has been very helpful and thorough.

Saviour Okiro July 2013
4 week animation student

This course was a great experience for me as a beginner. I felt like I've gotten a good grasp on the basics of Maya and After Effects, and am excited to continue my education by watching tutorials and continuing to practice. I felt like I had a lot of creative freedom in the class so I was able to make a character and animation the way I wanted to, and the teacher was really helpful in getting the image that I wanted.

James Rockwell
July 2013 4 week animation student

The Four-Week 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop at the New York Film Academy was an amazing experience. Attempting to learn the entire process of producing a computer animation in such a short time span is considered impossible by some, but this course comfortably achieves just that. From concept art to final composition and all the steps in between, the entire process is covered by knowledgeable instructors ready to teach. It is true that there is not enough time to go into depth on any specific steps, but for a solid, complete, and accurate understanding of what is necessary for an animation to be created, this course proved to be outstanding. I am very happy with my experience and thrilled about what I was able to achieve through this course. I am excited to see where this experience and knowledge will take me in the future.

Tiffany Okel
July 2013 4 week animation student

Course Descriptions

Introduction to Maya Software
Polygonal Modeling
Lighting, Materials, and Textures
Rendering, Editing, and Sound
Story (Screenwriting & Storyboard)
Project Supervision

Introduction to Maya Software

A tour of the Maya interface and its navigation tool set introduces the new student to the vast possibilities to this industry standard software. We take a look at the major modules they will be utilizing in the course such as the modeling, and animation environment and how to access them.
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Polygonal Modeling

Students are introduced to the basics of 3D animation by reduction of the 3D environment into basic polygonal shapes. Through planning and design of polygonal shapes, students are then able to build their animated characters and environment.
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Lighting, Materials, and Textures

Students are introduced to materials and textures in Maya and Adobe Photoshop for surface creation of their models. The lights in Maya seek to recreate real world lighting effects and we look at setting up scenes with the Spot and Area and Directional lights, and the control of shadows in the scene for optimized renders.
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Rigging in Maya provides a basic introduction to rigging theory. We demonstrate how to combine Maya's skeleton, inverse kinematics (IK), and constraint tools to create a basic rig for a character, and how to attach the character mesh to the skeleton using Maya's skinning tools.
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This course provides guidelines for arranging our character in strong poses and explains how to generate locomotion between poses. We demonstrate how to animate realistic gestures, walks, runs, and facial expressions utilizing the major principals of animation such as extremes, in betweens, overlapping action, silhouettes, etc.
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Rendering, Editing, and Sound

Students learn the settings for outputting their animated sequences such as aspect ratios and optimization of settings for efficient render times. Basic editing and compositing, understanding cuts and transitions, along with importing sound and synchronizing it with the action will be an essential aspect of this section.
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Story (Screenwriting & Storyboard)

Students create a story for their animated movie, utilizing an understanding of story arcs and plot points, creating a goal and obstacles for their characters to navigate around. They then create a visual rendering in the form of a storyboard to help them visualize the flow of the story and helping them understand the importance of camera position.
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Project Supervision

Students are individually supervised on techniques and workflow pertaining to the needs of their individual projects which on many occasions go beyond the fundamentals taught in the formal classes. The need to pragmatically change story aspects enabling the student to complete their movie is an important part of project supervision.
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Animation Topics Covered

This is a labor and time intensive medium. Students should be prepared to work long hours. Students’ success in this program depends on the strength of their animation ideas and their willingness to put in the necessary hours to fully srealize their goals.

The quality of student work has consistently been praised, and students themselves applaud the level of intensity and enjoyment involved in learning. Students have gone on to win prizes at festivals for animated films created at the New York Film Academy.

A 3D animated scientist holds a vial In the Film Academy 3-D Computer Animation Workshops, classes are held every day, Monday through Friday. Students also learn concepts of story writing, directing, cinematography, and editing as they apply to animation. The bulk of students’ time outside of class is spent in supervised labs. Lab time is used to complete and to expand upon assignments, as well as to work on their final animated films. The students final films are output digitally and projected at a celebratory screening.


Held two times a year in New York City and two times during the summer at our Harvard University location, the Animation program attracts creative students from various backgrounds who have imagination and the fortitude to immerse themselves in an intensive animation experience for four weeks. A love of animation and the ability to work very hard are better predictors for success than technical skills alone. A studio arts background is not necessary for successfully creating 3-D computer animated films. Please try to arrive with story or film ideas clearly formulated in your mind or set down on storyboards.

Dates & Tuition


Tuition: $4,000 (USD)

Location & Available Dates

For New York City:
Jul 6, 2015 - Aug 1, 2015
Sep 21, 2015 - Oct 17, 2015
Jan 4, 2016 - Jan 30, 2016
Jul 11, 2016 - Aug 6, 2016
Sep 19, 2016 - Oct 22, 2016

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