Visual Effects HE Certificate

Carve your future identity as a visual effects artist

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Overview

Get a taste of nearly every subject in the broad territory of VFX with our 1-year HE Certificate course. Instead of tunneling into one narrow and specific technical specialization and limiting your creative horizon, we’ll be starting from a broad perspective to provide you with the foundational and practical tools and methods used every day in the creative industry. Become adept in the latest, cutting-edge digital and physical working environments whilst immersing yourself in classic techniques as old as time.

The focus for this hands-on and intensive course is on the practical elements of visual effects, developed through multiple ongoing projects that you will complete individually or collaboratively with your peers from our film production, acting and music production programmes. During this whirlwind year you’ll be going deep into the fundamentals of image composition and storytelling in combination with applicable theory, eye training and of course, a lot of practical real-life experience.

Our 1-year visual effects course will take you on a 360° journey, where you’ll be exploring professional workflows and working on film sets, while gaining practical expertise in industry standards software such as After Effects, Cinema 4d, Premiere and Photoshop. Most importantly, rather than learning a specific set of tools and skills, you’ll be learning how to approach a larger variety of interfaces and digital tools to provide visual effects, visual work and image post-production services.

A strong aspect of this course is that it gives you the keys to self learning. During your year at Catalyst you will be shown a variety of techniques and transferable skills, as well as gaining access to a multitude of online resources that will prepare you to learn by yourself, and therefore autonomously grow in the creative and technical fields of visual effects. More importantly, these adaptable skills will help you find out which approach best suits your style, so that you can best judge the unique needs of each incoming project.

Course details

Structure

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 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.

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.

Semester 1

Each week of the first semester you will be assigned a brief that will challenge everything you are experimenting during each workshop. 

These workshops cover Live Action and Post-Production including photography, camera work, lights, the film team roles, editing, color grading, keying, sound design, and video effects. This is your entrance ticket for working on films. To support this practical learning you will have access to industry equipment, a modern film studio with a green screen, countless lights, flags, stands and everything you could think of when it comes to a professional filmmaking set. 

In parallel, you’ll be exploring Image Composition with topics such as colours, typography, perspective, framing and lights. Additionally, during this first semester you’ll be attending a 2D Assets class covering the use of software and creating elements using programmes such as Photoshop and After Effects. You’ll also be learning to create video, graphic assets and environments, and then continuing on to 2d animation, image retouching, motion design, matte painting and digital compositing.

Semester 2

In the second semester we’ll be taking on a whole new perspective on visual effects with the introduction of 3D Assets and Practical FX.

After understanding and practicing the creation and combination of 2d elements in the first semester, we’ll start working on 3D Assets. Here you will get familiar with the 3D space, modeling, texturing and materials, lighting, camera, scene and animation basics. This module is also about the integration of 3D with topics such as camera projection, 3D tracking and 3D compositing.

These new techniques can not come without structure and this is why you will also spend a fair amount of time exploring the history of visual effects, but also contemporary workflows, project management techniques, client interfacing simulation and the science of delivering on time!

To help to integrate this combination of aspects of the visual effects work we have professionals and practitioners from the industry coming as guests with their personal set of experience and tips to share. Everyone is conscious about the dynamic landscape of both the industry and the art scene when it comes to technological arts. This is how the curriculum was designed, challenging new practitioners with a holistic approach in order for them to develop their own practice and carve their personal path.

Topics

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, 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
Software

Some of the software you’ll use includes:

  • Adobe After Effects, Mocha
  • Cinema 4D
  • Introduction to ZBrush and Substance Painter
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Premiere
Online Learning 

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.

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What are Practical FX in the context of digital arts & filmmaking?

From the early years of cinema right through to the present day, a combination of practical approaches are used to make high-end visual effects for realistic images as well as animation films. At Catalyst we are preparing all-rounded practitioners with the knowledge and culture to propose multiple approaches to making ad-hoc effects and visuals. Practical Effects cover dynamic lighting, in-camera effects, stop motion, models and miniatures, VFX make up and prosthetics, animatronics and 3d printing.

Gain Access

Industry-approved facilities including high-powered and fully-equipped VFX workstations with professional software and accessories. Access to gear for digital arts and practical VFX projects, such as cameras, VR headsets, motion sensor detectors and more.

Collaborate on Real Life Projects

Gain relevant experience by working on real life projects in collaboration with our film, acting and music students. Expect to engage frequently hroughout the year with our creative network and your peers to realise both academic and personal creative projects.

Creative Freedom

Join a buzzing community of creators, artists and like-minded visionaries. Our team are ready to support you in turning your bold ideas into creative opportunities. Build a portfolio of relevant work while you tailor your projects to your own personal interests and design your future professional output.

A safe space to dream big

Maximise your hands-on access to state-of-the-art visual effects facilities and equipment.

Progression

Professional outcomes

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.

Your success

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.

Testimonials

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.

Structured Play

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. 

Essential info

Entry requirements

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!

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Course dates and application deadlines

This course runs 13.09.2021 - 21.05.2022

Application deadline: 30th of April 2021 for priority/ VISA applications

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Tuition fees

From € 975 a month

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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.

Admissions map PDF
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!

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Student work

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 in collaboration with our filmmakers and screen actors.

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