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New York Film Academy Animation

3D Animation Programs at the New York Film Academy

A 3D animated electrician checks a light A 3D animated soldier on a rope ladder NYFA 3D Animation grad Kemer Stevenson works for Dreamworks Animation

Learn the Art of 3D Animation

Over the past forty years, 3D animation has grown from being a niche in the entertainment industry to becoming the dominant form for creating animated images across a host of fields that include filmmaking, animation, game design, and much more. As anyone who has watched the evolution of computer animation develop from crude wireframing effects in early movies to the rise of computer animated blockbusters such as the Toy Story movies, Avatar, and the ubiquitous use of motion-capture technology can attest, 3D animation has revolutionized the entertainment industry. Simply put, there have never been more opportunities and avenues available to those interested in 3D animation to pursue their passion.

The New York Film Academy’s animation programs are focused on immersing students in every facet of 3D animation by educating them in industry-standard software and scripting languages so that they can pursue the path that is right for them, whether it be as an artist, character designer, modeler or overseeing the animation pipeline that includes creating a story, character development, art direction, and more. Our animation programs immerse students in the necessary technical requirements that allow them to fully realize their imagination and give full expression to their creativity. Whether choosing to enroll in our BFA Program, 1-Year Conservatory Program, or our 4-Week and 3-Week Workshops, students have the option to find the right animation program for them to pursue their passion and receive a comprehensive, hands-on introduction to the world of 3D animation. In addition, students who enroll in the 4-Week Animation Program and find the experience of value and to their liking are able to seamlessly segue into the One-Year Conservatory Program.

A two-headed character created in NYFA's animation programs Students enrolling in NYFA’s animation programs not only learn the fundamentals of visual storytelling, but how it relates to 3D animation. For example, students learn about casting, but not in terms of working with real-life actors. Within this is the process of designing characters, environments, and props as they relate to visual narratives that will be engaged. Utilizing the techniques of storyboarding, animatics, colorscripting, and silhouette creation, students will create compelling virtual characters that resonate with audiences.

Whether it is bringing to life a particular character one has in mind or developing an original animated short film, the Film Academy’s animation programs provide students with a curriculum that allows them to fully engage their creativity and build a world that is wholly their own.

Courses Taught in the Programs at the 3D Animation School

The courses taught across the animation programs at the New York Film Academy immerse students in the many facets and disciplines associated with 3D animation. Students develop a solid understanding of the many nuances of 3D animation and visual effects with the goal being to ensure the student possesses the necessary knowledge and abilities to enter the animation workplace arena with confidence. In creating a CG or visual effects-heavy film or video game, there is always a team at work and the animation programs make it a priority to help students develop an area of expertise that will enable them to become an integral member of such a team.

For example, students who excel at drawing will be able to put those skills to good use in areas such as character design, animatics, and storyboarding while those who are more inclined towards programming will find a creative outlet for their skill set in areas such as dynamic and physical simulations, which include creating realistic-looking fabric, animating crumbling buildings, fluids, and exploding buildings. Students with a more general interest in storytelling as it relates to 3D animation will find success in learning and mastering the animation pipeline by seeing a story from development through to pre-production, shot production, and post-production.

Animators play every role in a movie and the animation program ensures that students are prepared to handle myriad duties through classes in directing, cinematography, and acting, encouraging them to slip into a character’s CG skin and have the characters act in a convincing matter. After all, while CG animation, much like live-action filmmaking, is the product of an original idea, every element in a work of 3D animation—from the characters to the environment and props—must be created from thin air, but still retain the realism of live action.

A shot from a short film from NYFA's animation programs Acting plays a particularly special role across the animation programs as students have the opportunity to work with motion capture software, translating their live movements into animated form and creating a more realistic feel for their short films and projects. In addition, the animation program includes a series of life drawing classes with live models, helping students become better modelers and animators as they delve into human anatomy, and the weighing of characters. As aspiring filmmakers, students are also taught the art of screenwriting to help them in developing a story from an idea to a shooting script, while also learning how to translate that script into a working storyboard.

It is the goal of the animation programs to ensure that every student acquires the fundamentals of 3D animation and visual storytelling so that they are well-versed in its different roles. As a set of generalist animation programs, NYFA’s Animation School covers all aspects of 3D animation to allow students to discover the areas that most interest them. Upon completing one of the animation programs, students will have a reel composed of their projects that they will use to showcase their range and abilities.

3D Animation Faculty

The animation programs at the New York Film Academy boast a world-class faculty of working professionals who have extensive backgrounds in illustration, animation, visual effects, and programming, having worked on countless projects ranging from blockbuster movies to television and video game projects, and much more. Through one-on-one interaction with faculty members, students receive a first-hand education and mentorship from instructors who help guide students down the path that they are most interested in while providing them with a broad foundation in the fundamentals of 3D animation. In addition, as the faculty are currently working in the field of 3D animation, they are able to equip students with the most up-to-date information about the industry so as to best prepare students upon completion of the animation program.

Animation Software and Scripting Languages

In addition to learning the fundamentals of visual storytelling, students receive thorough training in the technical tools they need to bring their stories to life. Students enrolling in the animation programs are trained in widely used, industry-standard software and scripting that they will encounter in the real world. The primary software and scripting that students are expected to learn are as follows:

Students in the animation programs learn how to model a robotic beetle
  • Autodesk Maya: The receiver of multiple Academy Awards for Technical Achievement, students enrolled in any of the animation programs are trained in this industry-leading 3D modeling and animation software. Since its release in 1998, the past fifteen years has seen Maya become the standard software in creating 3D graphics across cinema, television, game design, architecture, along with other fields. Accordingly, this is the first software that students will become familiar with and will develop their skills in over the course of the animation programs.

  • Autodesk Mudbox: A digital painting and digital sculpting software that integrates seamlessly into the Maya pipeline, Mudbox allows for production-ready 3D digital artwork. Students use Mudbox primarily for creating fast and authentic looking textures for their characters and props.

  • Pixologic ZBrush: Often compared as being similar to working with digital clay, Pixologic’s ZBrush software is used for extremely detailed modeling, texturing, and painting in order to create high-resolution models that can be used in films, video games, and animation.

  • The Foundry’s Nuke: Another example of the industry-standard software that students learn, Nuke teaches students how to composite, the process of digitally putting together multiple images to create a final image. Awarded the Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 2001, students will use Nuke for a variety of post-production work, including working with green screen footage to transport live actors to CG and live action environments. Since the actor will be animated with the use of motion capture, students are able to go to the New York Film Academy’s motion capture studios and record their actions on screen.

  • Adobe Photoshop and After Effects: As 3D animation is an evolution of 2D techniques, students will learn two of the most powerful 2D animation programs, Photoshop and After Effects, both published by Adobe Systems. Photoshop is one of the most widely used graphic design tools on the market that enables users to both manipulate existing images as well as to create original artwork. After Effects is primarily used in post-production for film and television production to create 2D animation, composite visual effects, and adjust images. In addition, both programs have 3D capabilities that allow users to create motion graphics and visual effects in both 2D and 3D spaces.

  • Maya Embedded Language: Also known as MELscript, this scripting language was designed to simplify tasks in Autodesk’s Maya by speeding up complicated and redundant tasks.

  • Python: A high-level programming language, Python is popularly known as a scripting language for web applications, but is also embedded in multiple software packages, including Maya and Nuke.
When enrolling in the New York Film Academy’s animation programs, students should expect to completely commit themselves to full-time classwork and after-hours lab time spent working on their homework assignments and projects. The Animation School helps students make the most of the Academy’s filmmaking courses, such as directing, screenwriting, and acting, while applying it to the cutting-edge technology of 3D animation, shaping students into extremely versatile and well-rounded professionals.

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