This project-based visual effects and technological arts bachelor degree course is designed to mimic the way we acquire new skills in the real world. Using authentic client briefs, learn pro-standard project workflows and tools and techniques, inside an industry style environment. Create digital images and visual effects solutions for film and media, from conceptualisation to live action productions, digital compositing and everything in between.
Equip yourself with the skills required to face the creative, technical and human challenges you will encounter in a VFX industry career. Make your passion into a vocation whilst defining your own unique creative voice.
Engage with the industry of today whilst exploring the future of technological arts, new realities, artificial intelligence and human/machine interfacing.
The first year of this VFX degree course dives into nearly every subject in the broad territory of VFX in order to provide a solid foundation and hands on, practical experience in the tools and methodologies used in today's VFX industry.
Master the latest, cutting-edge digital and physical working environments whilst immersing yourself in classic techniques as old as time.
Train your eye, explore a variety of techniques and approaches to visual effects, create and mix elements in a final image by shooting practical effects and live action footage with real actors (in collaboration with our Acting, Film & Music Production Schools!), take photos and references, supervise on set and in a green screen studio, create and animate 2D graphic elements, compose matte paintings, sketch, and bring 3D assets to life.
During the year you will complete:
- 15+ concept shots/installations
- 1 or 2 master shots
- Countless collaborations with our Film Production students
The digital portfolio you walk away with will not only contain your original work and projects. It’ll also serve as a certification of the software and technical skills you’ve developed. You can also include sketches and concepts, case analyses, and project-based learning descriptions and outcomes.
Study areas to look forward to:
- Shoot live action, including fundamentals of cinematography and lighting
- On-set effects supervision
- Practical effects
- Creating and refining elements
- Green screen and on set VFX supervising
- Create and animate 2D assets and environments
- Digital compositing and 3D animation
- Projection mapping and digital art installations
- Creative coding and programming
- Miniatures and optic effects
- Matte painting and image retouching
- Post production and colour grading
- Physics, light and the science of visuals
- Fundamentals of fine art and storytelling
- Future of tools including artificial intelligence, robotics and other realities
- Training your eye
- The visual effects pipeline
- Filmmaking, camerawork and working on sets
- Collaboration, giving and receiving critical feedback, and introspection
In the second year, the focus shifts from quantity to quality, as we go deeper into the art of visual effects and visual creation with workshops in mechanics and dynamics, VFX supervising and digital compositing. Learn new tools and interfaces, but also take time to explore other formats, spaces and realities and to work on the development of the self and one’s own creative voice.
Mechanics & Dynamics
Following the first year “Creating and refining elements”, “Mechanics and Dynamics” is the space for diving deeper into 3d and 2d elements creation. With the introduction of Maya and more specialised software such as Houdini, this workshop addresses the advanced workflows and techniques underlying the creation of dynamic effects in production
This workshop addresses the preparation and overviewing of VFX during live action shooting and in post-production. Considering the constantly evolving landscape of Visual effects in production, in addition to traditional workflows the workshop integrates areas such as previz, motion capture and real time generated environments.
This workshop is about creatively interfacing with the machine through programming, task automation and script & interface customisation. Introducing librairies for various functionalities, such as kinect, motion detection and leap motion “Creative coding” is also the space for exploring interactive design and live installations from the back room perspective.
Analysis & Visual Effects History
Through watching films and image sequences this workshop is the space for understanding and retro engineering the making of Visual effects and dynamic visual storytelling in multiple pieces of work. In support of this analysis we will address the adventure of VFX techniques, the evolution of software and companies throughout the history of visual effects.
Interactive Design & Live VFX
This workshop is about the extension of Visual Effects to physical spaces and interactive installations. With new domains like projection mapping, holograms, live installations and interactive tools such as Arduino, Processing and Resolume, this workshop will tackle the growing area of immersive and sensory experiences.
The combination of the elements and completion of the final image could be seen as the cornerstone of Visual Effects.This workshop is bringing the detail work, the techniques and the finishing to the highest standards of digital compositing. In addition to Nuke The Foundry, new tools as Unreal will introduce the domain of “Live compositing”.
Formats & Spaces
Formats and spaces are dramatically expanding and so is the panorama of visual effects applications. This workshop addresses the revolution happening in visualisation and virtuality in the domains of art and entertainment with, for instance, the new areas of XR, the fast growing support of artificial intelligence, and the evolution of machine interfacing.
Creative Practitioner (Entrepreneurship)
This workshop is built on the idea of further developing the students' understanding of themselves as an artist or producer and their position within the ever-changing social and economic environment. Students will explore current niche markets in order to distill outlooks and opportunities for themselves and derive an understanding of what it takes to be an audio professional in contemporary times.
During this final year you will craft the final project that makes it all real. You may be in the final stretch, but you’ll still have to drill those skills
Train up in your chosen specialised field to get ready for the big one. Work in short creative bursts focusing on improving specific skills in the context of the larger whole.
Whatever your ambitions, our tutors supported by guests and specially chosen mentors will push you to reach even further in deep one-on-one consultations. However outrageous your goals, we will support you with our facilities, equipment and network as much as we can - and give you a friendly nudge out the door as well, to make your own connections in the industry.
This final year focusses on:
- Individual specialisation
- Development and production of a major project over the whole year
- Collaboration with peers
- Working with autonomy and self-management
- Enriching perspectives through key guests and chosen mentors
- Bridging the gap to entrepreneurship
- Making their first professional steps outside the school
Some of the software you’ll use includes:
- DIGITAL COMPOSITING
Main : Adobe After Effects
Intro : PFTrack (or similar), Mocha, Fusion
- 3D AND ANIMATION :
Main : Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects
Intro : Blender, ZBrush, Substance Painter
- MATTE PAINTING : Adobe Photoshop
- COLOR GRADING : DaVinci Resolve
- OTHER: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premier, Touchdesigner, Maya & 3DS Max, Processing,
Madmapper, Unreal and/or Unity
- GENERAL : Editing and presentation tools, advanced understanding of layers and node based interfaces
Your success depends entirely on you – what you bring to the course, your approach to learning, and the grit, passion and sheer determination with which you complete the course and start to build your future.
Your initial progression choice will be whether to make your first foray into the visual effects industry or to continue your self development and opt for further specialised study.
There are many progression routes into the industry and it often makes sense to develop a portfolio of roles.
After your time with us, you’ll be eligible for many positions in the industry, including:
- Visual effects artist
- Visual effects supervisor
- Visual effects producer
- Production designer
- Media artist
- SFX technician
- 3d Animator
- Matte painter
- Motion designer
- Rotoscoping artist
- Digital compositor
- Digital preparation artist
- 2d Animator
- DIT (digital imaging technician)
- Color grading artist
- Post-production engineer / supervisor
- VFX education
* Warning! This list of positions is not exhaustive! There is an endless catalogue of positions in the various industries concerned with visual effects and animation, and more new positions are created every day. From there, the only limit is your own determination and grit.
Our tutors are industry experienced with a passion for passing on their knowledge to others. Here are a few of the experienced and friendly tutors that will be supporting you throughout your learning process.
Engage and adapt to the industry of today and the future by collaborating on projects with film production, screen acting and music production students. By learning how to apply these tools and methods used you will define your own artistic approach and style as you gain first-hand experience and start to build a unique portfolio of your own work and from other collaborations and real-life projects.
In the end it doesn’t matter what we say or do. What matters is what our students are doing during their time with us. Take a look at a selection of work by our visual effects students.
Academic qualifications equivalent to ‘A’ level, Baccalaureate or Abitur are normally required to enter our degree programme. These may be waived if students are able to provide proof of capability via a portfolio of work. More details can be found here.
For those students who have the capability but no proof of appropriate qualifications or portfolio we have also designed a new accelerated access course (primer workshops) which runs as part of our short course programme.
The most important prerequisite for attending any course at Catalyst is that you must be passionate about building and developing your skills as a creative practitioner.
For more information please contact a member of the team. We love to chat!
Start - September 13, 2021
Term (year 1) - 13.09.2021 - 21.05.2022
Term (year 2) - 09.2022 - 05.2023
Term (year 3) - 09.2023 - 05.2024
Application deadline: 30th of April 2021 for priority/ VISA applications
Our admissions team has prepared a handy little map of your journey to studenthood with us. Take a look and be in touch if you have any questions.
Get a feel for our school from the comfort of your home with our Virtual Open Days and skill-focussed Taster Workshops.
Hosted by our team and students, these online events will give you a sense of what it's like to come and study with us in Berlin.
We look forward to meeting you online soon!
Access to Higher Education
For those wishing to join our main VFX courses, but lacking either practical experience in VFX or the formal education requirements to apply through standard entry, we offer an additional primer workshop to run alongside any 4 week summer short course.
Visual Effects - HE Certificate
Turn wonder into reality and stories into enhanced visual experiences while exploring the future of technological arts. Learn to create both the real and surreal as you explore cutting edge industry practices both on-set and digitally.
Film Production HE Certificate
Our 'hands on' 1 year film production course. Learn by doing. And doing. And doing.
A 4 week filmmaking course for beginners. Learn the basic foundations of practical filmmaking.
A 4 week specialist documentary filmmaking course including journalistic, documentary and non-fiction skillsets.
Creative Production Film MA Masters
Celebrate, explore, develop, innovate and magnify your capabilities as a filmmaker, director, cinematographer, editor, writer, producer, sound designer or audiovisual artist.