Embark on a journey of exploration through visual fx design and professional workflow in a fast paced ‘real world’, hands on, production environment. Develop your skills and knowledge of industry standard hardware and software whilst producing a minimum of 25 finalised works ranging through concept design, matte paintings, 2D and 3D animations, VFX master shots and practical on-set effects.
Through countless collaborations, get experience in a range of creative and technical roles both on-set and in post production. Ongoing feedback and mentorship from our tutor team will equip you to design and produce visual effects for a range of incoming briefs. Start exploring your creative identity on your journey to becoming a visual effects and digital arts professional.
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.
This one year VFX & Digital Arts 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 & Digital Arts industry.
During the year you will complete:
- 15+ concept shots/installations
- 1 short film as a VFX artist/supervisor
- Countless collaborations on set and postproduction 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.
Live Action & Practical FX
These workshops are your entrance ticket for working on films, covering everything related to live action filming, film narrative, the film set and special effects. With Live Action you will get familiar with the film team and workflow, and the image department, with operating cameras and designing light setup for professional studio and exterior filming. Later on, Practical FX you will focus on special effects, with topics such as in-camera FX, dynamic lighting, stop motion, VFX make up, animatronics and miniatures.
To support this practical learning you will have access to industry equipment, a modern film studio with a green screen, professional gear, countless lights, flags, stands, sound equipment, and everything you could think of when it comes to a professional filmmaking set.
Post Production & Color Grading
What happens after the filming? Postproduction 1 and 2 are opening the doors to media handling and image finishing. With learning editing basics, colour grading, sound design, keying, titles, video effects, formats and exports, you will explore and practice the technical standards involved in delivering finalised media for cinema, TV and web.
Thanks to multiple collaborations with the film production students, you will be tasked with providing visual effects for a range of film scenes. These experiences in projects making environments will benefit from weekly feedback sessions and roundtable discussions around the post production and finishing of the collaborations.
For this workshop you will be practicing with the Adobe suite, and DaVinci Resolve with a control panel in our Colour suite.
2D and 3D Assets
This workshop is covering the use of digital techniques for designing and creating 2D Assets using programmes such as Photoshop and After Effects, and a graphic tablet! Here you will be learning how to create graphic assets and environments, explore and produce motion design, 2d animation, character design, video advanced effects, image retouching, and matte painting.
In the second semester it will be time to add Z to X and Y! 3D Assets cover modeling, materials and texturing, lighting, the scene and the camera, rendering, and of course animation in 3d space fundamentals.
What would be the use of producing high end assets if not integrated correctly? The cornerstone of VFX, Digital Compositing will introduce node based software and the art of finishing images, mixing 3D and 2D assets, camera tracking and relighting, matte painting and live action material, with providing the right visual atmosphere in a seamless composition.
Image Composition, Visual Storytelling and Workflows
These workshops are analysis workshops. It is the space for discovering works from a range of artistic practices over time through the fundamentals of image composition. While growing analysis skills, you will integrate essential fundamentals such as science of color, light, movement, and visual storytelling. Training the eye goes in pair with training the hand, as every week you will exercise composition, perspective and sketching, and analysing art in real world situations during field trips.
In a second time this module will hold the keys to technical and creative workflows, focusing on industry standards as well as future perspectives and the evolution of tools, techniques and technologies.
Development is a meta-stream.
Here is where the project briefs, challenges, tasks and filmmaking teams are set. We will also use these workshops to examine your visual effects skills from a top-down perspective, including your collaboration, communication, organisation, preparation and professional skills. And finally, Development is where your Advisor will guide you through the modules, projects and assessments which make up the accredited degree.
These are first a space to screen the work you produce throughout the year, and second a structured feedback and discussion format designed to teach you how to give and receive critical feedback on creative work. This is one of the most important skills you can have in any creative industry.
Study areas to look forward to:
- Shoot live action, including fundamentals of cinematography and lighting
- On-set visual effects supervision
- Practical effects including in camera effects, vfx make up, animatronics etc…
- Stop motion and miniatures
- Green screen and 3d tracking
- 2D assets creation and animation
- 3D assets and animation, including modeling, texturing and lighting
- Digital Compositing and camera projection
- Matte painting and image retouching
- Post production and colour grading
- Character Design
- Image composition and visual narrative
- Physics, light and the science of visuals
- Fundamentals of fine art and storytelling
- Training your eye
- The visual effects pipeline
- Filmmaking, camerawork and working on sets
- Collaboration, giving and receiving critical feedback, and introspection
During the Visual Effects HE Certificate course you will also have full access to a curated selection of 50+ online classes around every topic approached in our workshops, including membership access to Skillshare’s extended catalogue of resources.
Ready for a degree?
Your initial progression choice will be whether to make your first foray into the visual fx industry or to continue your self development and opt for completing our Visual FX & Digital Arts BA Hons degree.
There is no right and wrong answer here. It will depend on the skillset you have already developed and what you are planning to do in the visual fx industry.
Your success in either depends entirely on you – what you bring, your approach, and the grit, passion and sheer determination with which you take the next course or start your first project in the visual fx industry.
Entry level positions in large scale visual effects studios
- Rotoscoping artist
- Junior Matchmover
- Junior compositing artist
- Digital preparation artist
- Assistant animator
- Junior Matte painting artist
Positions in production companies
- On-set VFX supervisor
- On-set DIT (digital imaging technician)
- 3d junior animator
- Junior color grading artist
- Junior post-production supervisor
- Motion designer
General jobs in small and mid level productions (music video, short films, artistic installations, etc)
- Visual effects artist
- Visual effects supervisor
- VFX producer
Warning! This list of positions is not exhaustive! There is an endless catalogue of level entry or trainee position in the various industries concerned with visual effects and animation, and more new positions are created every day. From there, the only limit is that of your determination and grit.
However you measure it and whatever artistic realm you are working in, most creatives would like to achieve success with their creative endeavour. There are many types of success an individual may want to achieve. From successful completion of an artistic exploration all the way through to financial security and a global audience.
There are many skills required to develop these dreams into real and practical futures. Our optional course in self-development and leadership is the ‘rocket fuel’ which will provide you with the frameworks, the focus and the drive to help realise your future.
Self development to better understand how to take decisive action, to communicate powerfully with others and take an honest look at how you limit yourself. Leadership to complete your creative project, to bring your work into the external world and to attract an audience to share, appreciate and follow your work.
Our tutors are industry experienced with a passion for passing on their knowledge to others. We have a rotating list of guest tutors for specific specialties and a permanent team of visual effects tutors that will be supporting you throughout your learning process.
Showreel by Matthieu Schmit - VFX Programme Lead & Tutor
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!
Course dates and application deadlines
This course runs 13.09.2021 - 21.05.2022
Application deadline: Aug 1
From € 975 a month.
If you decide to enrol in both a short and long course with us, you will receive a discount of 500€ on the total tuition.
How to apply
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.
Open days and taster workshops
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!
Explore more Catalyst courses
Visual Effects BA Hons Degree
Engage and adapt to the industry of today whilst exploring the future of technological arts, new realities, artificial intelligence and human/machine interfacing.
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.
Film Production HE Certificate
Our 'hands on' 1 year film production course. Learn by doing. And doing. And doing.
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.