New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Bachelor of Fine Arts
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A 3D animated frog sings into a microphone A 3D animated ballerina rehearses in front of a mirror A 3D animated chef with a chainsaw and watermelon

Overview of our BFA in Animation

Our three-year Bachelor's is for highly motivated students who would like to enter an intensive hands-on professional course of study. By completing the Bachelor's degree in three-years students:
  • Save one year of expenses
  • Enter the field of their choice a year early
The Academy makes this accelerated schedule possible by creating an extended academic year allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in each calendar year. Students may also choose to complete the program in a traditional four-year time frame.

New York Film Academy BFA degree programs are offered only at our Los Angeles Campus.

The New York Film Academy Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation is an eight-semester conservatory-based, full-time study undergraduate program. The curriculum is designed to immerse gifted and energetic prospective 3-D Animation and Visual Effects Artists in all aspects of the discipline. The New York Film Academy Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation provides a creative setting in which to challenge, inspire, and perfect the talents of its student body.

Students follow an intensive curriculum and achieve multiple learning goals.

The structure of this program emulates the workflow and pipeline of a professional production in the industry, which will provide students with the following:
  • preparation for a competitive professional environment
  • knowledge directly applicable in current work field using the latest software and technology
  • practical skills developed from intensive discipline and practice
  • ability to deliver a project from the beginning to the end in the manner used in actual professional production
The program will also be dedicated to strengthening fundamental visual storytelling knowledge. Students will dissect principles and techniques rooted in the real world and discover how they apply to a CG-generated world. This will enable students to have the choice to mimic reality and photography or to create more stylized imagery.

  • how real lights correspond to CG lights
  • how real world cameras and lenses correspond to CG cameras and lenses, understanding the imperfections of photorealistic images.
  • how to bring life to inanimate objects or characters by understanding the 12 basic principles of animation.
  • traditional drawing and sculpting in order to understand their fundamental concepts to digitally paint and sculpt
A 3D animated character on board a spaceship DISCIPLINES THAT WILL BE TAUGHT IN DEPTH ARE:
  • modeling (characters and environments)
  • texture painting
  • look development
  • lighting and rendering
  • animation
  • rigging
  • MEL and Python scripting
  • compositing
  • dynamics
  • matte painting
  • character design
With the guidance of instructors, students will also develop a professional-caliber demo reel.

The above discipline-specific learning goals are bolstered by rigorous studies in Natural and Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Math and English.


The primary objective of the first semester is to focus on the fundamental knowledge of computer graphics. Students will study Maya's world-class, industry-standard-setting interface and capabilities while receiving a broad understanding of computer-generated images both in 2-D and 3-D applications. Students will also take Foundation Studies courses in English Composition, Computing and Film Art.


This semester will focus on creating digital and practical creatures with proper anatomy, plausible fantasy anatomy and good design aesthetic. Students will get to apply their knowledge to both digital and traditional sculpture. By the end of the semester students will have a traditional maquette of their creature as well as a properly constructed creature or character that can fit into a film or animation production pipeline. Students will continue to develop their analytical skills in Critical Thinking and Critical Film Studies classes, as well as develop healthy practices for a productive learning and creative atmosphere in Physical and Mental Wellness.

A two-headed character created at NYFA's 3D animation school


Semester 3 courses will delve deeper into 3-D comprehension. Students will directly apply concepts and improve projects created throughout the second semester. They will follow through the next stages of production by learning how to set up character rigs for animation, which will then be seen through with proper lighting and rendering. There will be an emphasis on presentation in order to create beautiful photo realistic imagery or stylized imagery. Students will also explore the creation of original characters by studying the process of character design and creation. Students round out their Foundation Studies with Public Speaking and College Math courses, and further develop their analytical skills with Critical Film Studies II.


This semester will take a further examination of character setup while introducing Animation. The study will center on the details and complexities of rigging while learning scripting in Python and MEL. Python and MEL will directly enhance and supplement the Character Setup course. Scripting knowledge will also enable the creation of custom tools and expedite workflow, which will prepare students with skills for the professional world. In the Psychology of Performance class, students will enrich their understanding of the emotional mechanisms at play in visual storytelling, and the Environmental Biology course will give students an understanding of the natural world and the role humans play in it.


In the 5th semester, students are challenged to create original digital environments using a combination of 3-D techniques and timeless traditional matte painting techniques. Students will continue to study advanced animation and analyze character and creature performance. The concepts of 3-D digital environments, set extension and traditional 2 matte painting will be introduced, allowing students to create fantastical and sophisticated photorealistic worlds. Students will also begin learning how to integrate digital film footage into believable finished VFX shots. Students are expected to research their ideas and develop believable constructs.

A 3D animated rat with a chainsaw Research is emphasized this semester through advanced general education topics. Students also take Arts and Humanities courses such as Dramatic Literature; Comparative Literature; and Art, Culture and Society, in order to gain a deeper understanding of great works of literary and visual arts and how they influence and are influenced by the cultures from which they arose.


By semester 6, students have now experienced a broad range of 3-D disciplines and are ready to combine all these skills into a final product. Students will receive hands-on production experience with digital cinematography. Original material will be shot and edited by the students. 3-D effects will be integrated into the live action footage, creating a polished photorealistic film quality result. On completion of the sixth semester, students are expected to have mastered the tools to create a believable visual effects shot from beginning to end.

Students also continue to deepen and broaden their education with upper division electives in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Natural Sciences.

The final two semesters develop the student into a professional-caliber 3-D artist. Students will choose their preferred discipline (animation, modeling, texturing, rigging, etc.) and are guided through developing a professional reel with this focus.


Semester seven concentrates on creating better storytellers both through the Screenwriting and Storyboard and Animatic courses, in which students learn traditional storyboarding as well as modern 3-D animatic/previsualization techniques. Students also learn how to create and control natural and fantastical dynamic FX inside of Maya such as fire, smoke, dust, particle effects, and volumetric fluid dynamics. Students also continue to put their own work into a larger cultural context through advanced courses in Arts and Humanities and History of Film, Theater and Media.


In semester eight, students create their Animation Thesis Project and polish their discipline-specific reel. The Special Topics in Animation course covers in depth advanced, specific areas of the art and craft of Animation. Professional Development in Animation class prepares students for what awaits them in the professional world of Animation once they graduate. Students will learn how to prepare and polish professional materials such as a demo reel, which will be crucial to their introduction to the professional world. Also discussed are the standards and practices of the business of Animation. Industry guest speakers will work with students this semester as well. Students will complete their LAS studies in an upper division Arts and Humanities elective.

Course Description

  • 3-D Essentials Students will learn Computer Graphics terminology and create and edit digital images and video using industry standard tools. Students will also learn about experimental video animation, and create original animation pieces using visual and storytelling techniques learned in class.
  • Modeling I Students will learn Computer Graphics terminology and create and edit digital images and video using industry standard tools. Students will also learn about experimental video animation, and create original animation pieces using visual and storytelling techniques learned in class.
  • Drawing & Anatomy The purpose of this course is to explore and become familiar with the human form. Students will gain a deep and intimate knowledge of the human form on a perceptual and anatomical level. The classes will be focused on direct observation from a live model, focusing on gesture and accurate proportions. This course covers advanced drawing concepts as they relate to figure drawing, character modeling and animation. Topics include basic human and animal anatomy and form as it relates to the surrounding environment and spatial relationships. In this course students will continue to develop the figure by using the basic understructure for animation. Rotation of poses, simple motion studies, sense of weight, gesture studies, action line and the use of light and shadows will be incorporated into the development of the figure studies.
  • Modeling II Students will learn Computer Graphics terminology and create and edit digital images and video using industry standard tools. Students will also learn about experimental video animation, and create original animation pieces using visual and storytelling techniques learned in class.
  • Traditional Sculpture Knowledge of the traditional aspects of sculpture and character design is essential for successful digital modeling in Maya. Beginning by learning how to design a character, this course teaches armature construction, dynamic and neutral posing, then concentrates heavily on primary and secondary form. Once established, students learn how to detail sculptures with skin texture, wrinkles, scales, etc. Finally, students learn how to polish sculptures to a professional finish using a variety of techniques.
  • Texturing & Look Development This class will introduce students to the basics on Texturing and Shading models to achieve photo realistic results. Class will discuss the different approaches to both Organic and Hard Surface texturing inside of Mari as well as Autodesk Mudbox, and look development inside of Chaos Group’s Vray photorealistc renderer. Students will be required to texture and shade their Modeling 1 & 2 models and achieve a photo-realistic still render.
  • Lighting & Rendering I This course will introduce students to approaches and philosophy in creating both photorealistic lighting for live action as well as stylized lighting for animated feature films. The course will focus on a strong understanding of techniques used in practical "real" lighting and cinematography and then applying those techniques in to computer graphics to achieve better, more grounded and realist results. Students will also learn how to acquire lighting data in a live action set via HDRI as well as traditional artistic lighting via Vray rendering. Students will integrate their preexisting models and textures into a fully lit, all CG scene or a background live action plate.
  • Character Setup I This course will teach how to give creatures an underlying animation skeleton that animators can use to bring life to their characters. Also covered are how to rig bipedal, quadruped and fantastical creatures. Students will rig their own model by the end of the course in preparation for Animation I. Course will be taught inside Autodesk Maya.
  • Character Design & Creation This course will show various approaches to conceptualizing and designing believable and original creatures/ characters for feature films and video games. Students will take a creature from very rough thumbnails to silhouette studies to final believable renders based on anatomically plausible construction and photo-realistic presentation. This class will be open to various techniques and software from the powerful Zbrush Dynamesh, to Mudbox, Maya, Photoshop and traditional clay maquettes.
  • Animation I This course will teach how to bring life and personality to characters. Students will learn the twelve basic principles of character animation long established since the 1930s. Students will learn to observe and break down a performance and bring believability to creations ranging from realistic biped/quadruped characters to fantastical creatures. All students will be required to animate a short sequence either with their own rigged model from "Character Setup I" or a preexisting rig provided by the instructor.
  • Character Setup II This class will focus on the deformations and skinning of characters, how skin folds, how muscles flex, and facial setup and deformation. Shot modeling/corrective pose modeling, soft skin bodies, will all be discussed. Students can further refine their Character Setup I rig or one provided by the class.
  • Scripting in Python & Mel Maya’s scripting abilities allow the creation of any custom tools you may need. Whatever Maya cannot do natively can be achieved by writing your own Mel or Python scripts. This very powerful class will help even the most non-technical artists speed up their workflow by making mundane and difficult tasks easier through custom tools creation.
  • Matte Painting This course will take students through the process of creating the impossible landscapes, imaginary vistas and set extensions that are physically impossible to film or too expensive to create using other mediums. The class will take students through the process from concept of a shot to final images including reference photography, Photoshop techniques, 3D projection and integration.
  • Digital Environments As Hollywood films demand more complex shots in feature films, matte paintings are requiring more than what can be achieved in 2D. This class will teach how to combine the best tools in traditional matte painting with those in a 3D pipeline using both Maya projection techniques as well as Nuke’s 3D toolset. Students will create an all CG shot for their reels using all available techniques alongside the Matte Painting course.
  • Animation II Taking animation to the next level, students will learn facial animation, lip synching, and modern motion capture and cleanup.
  • Matchmoving Understanding matchmoving is one of the most important disciplines in integrating digital effects into live action footage. This course will give students a thorough understanding of how cameras work and why truly understanding the traits of a camera has such an impact on realistic results.
  • Compositing Learning compositing is the cornerstone of all VFX shots. Students will learn how to combine their 3D renders, matte paintings and digital video to create polished Hollywood level VFX shots. In addition to working on their own projects, students will be given difficult composites already shot by the instructor to teach students how to problem solve the types of shots typical of a production shoot including Green Screen Composites, Tracking, Color Theory, and Nuke 2-D/3-D workflow.
  • Lighting & Rendering II This class will focus on advanced techniques in live action and feature film lighting. Students will use footage shot in cinematography course and integrate their 3D renders as well as matchmoved cameras from the Matchmoving course to create a photo-real shot.
  • Cinematography In this class, students learn cinematographic concepts and techniques for shooting live action. Lighting, lenses, framing, camera movement and more are covered during this course. In addition, students learn and employ on-set techniques for shooting live action scenes which later will be augmented with CG-generated effects. Material shot in this class is integral for the Lighting and Rendering II and Matchmoving courses.
  • Screenwriting In this course, students will deepen their understanding of narrative, dramatic, visual storytelling. Character, Plot, Story Structure, Dialogue, Subtext, Suspense, Plant and Payoff, Mystery, Misdirection, and other concepts are discussed and applied to original pieces created by the students.
  • Storyboard & Animatic Films today are created very differently from how they were 20 years ago. The layout and composition of shots are achieved months before a single frame is shot by talented 3D artists. This course will teach students the storytelling art and techniques of traditional storyboarding as well as modern 3D animatics or pre-visualization using Maya and Nuke. Students will begin to previz their 30-second semester 8 project using 3D in Maya, editing in Adobe Premiere and basic sound design in Adobe Audition.
  • Fundamentals of Dynamics What is a Hollywood blockbuster film without an explosion? This course will take students through the techniques of creating and controlling realistic natural phenomena such as fire, smoke, dust, particle effects, and volumetric fluid dynamics. Students will also learn how to integrate dynamics into live action plates as well as CG features.
  • Animation Thesis Production In this course, students create an original piece that will be the synthesis of all the techniques they’ve learned throughout the program. By this point in the program, students will have determined which discipline(s) within 3D Animation best suits their abilities and creative goals, and will highlight that discipline in a final project.
  • Special Topics in Animation This lecture course will cover a specialized topic within the field of 3D Animation that will deepen the students’ knowledge and understanding of advanced concepts in Animation.
  • Professional Development in Animation This course prepares students for what awaits them in the professional world of Animation once they graduate. Students will learn how to prepare and polish professional materials such as a demo reel which will be crucial to their introduction to the professional world. Also discussed are the standards and practices of the business of Animation. Industry guest speakers will take part in the course.

Dates & Tuition

Fees Per Semester

Tuition: $11,250 (USD) +
Lab Fee: $750 (USD)

Location & Available Dates

For Los Angeles:
May 2015 - January 2018
September 2015 - May 2018
January 2016 - September 2018
May 2016 - January 2019
September 2016 - May 2019

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