Animate in traditional 2D, computer-generated 3D, and stop-motion, while studying at one of the few colleges where you can still learn hand-drawn techniques.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
Animation is a major offered in the four-year bachelor of fine arts degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by the
Core Four curriculum—fundamental courses that are structured to enrich each student's professional development over four years. Course Descriptions
ANIM 2000 Introduction to Animation 3
This course introduces students to various production techniques of 2D animation. Students explore basics of traditional character animation (Disney fundamentals) and experimental animation (cut-out, rotoscoping, paint on glass) through a series of brief exercises including flipbook, ball bounce, walk cycle, and sound sync. In addition, students receive a brief history of the medium through a series of screenings. Individual exploration is emphasized and explored through critiques and the creation of a final project.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
AH 3365 History of Animation 3
The course begins with a survey of primarily American character animation traditions followed by a history of the medium explored through various methods and techniques, as well as through shared themes from various countries and filmmaking traditions. Central topics include: propaganda, personal filmmaking, abstraction, politics and social protest. Connections between animation and editorial caricature, the fine arts, the avant-garde, illustration and media other than film are made throughout. Written assignments involve character analysis, screening notes, and a proposal for an imaginary animated film; there are two exams.
FDN 1212 Foundation: Drawing 2 3
This course is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Drawing 1
ANIM 3010 Stop-Motion Animation 3
This course provides a thorough understanding of stop-motion fundamentals with a focus on claymation. Students explore the stop-motion toolbox including armature and character building, go motion, lip sync, replacements, simple casts, registration, photo cut, and strata cut. Students produce individual movies on Adobe After Effects and iStopMotion. Recommended readings, lectures, and demonstrations provide the critical skills to study a variety of stop-motion films screened in the course. Students produce a stop-motion short for their final project.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation
ANIM 3020 Character Animation 3
Believable characters remain the foundation and most difficult skill of successful animation. This course concentrates on creating credible characters that can walk, talk, and think, depicted through the techniques of timing, staging, and acting. Students begin with a basic drawing method for describing gesture and form, and then go on to produce pencil tests, animatics, and finished movement animations. Beginning with structured projects aimed at specific animation principles, students eventually develop their own scenarios and final project. Lectures, in-class drawing time, and weekly assignments are augmented by occasional demonstrations and visual aids. Students also analyze basic animation principles from single-frame viewing of short selected segments of classic animated shorts and features. Weekly group critiques and individual consultation during in-class work are also provided.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation
ANIM 3030 3D Animation 3
Maya software is the industry standard of high-end 3D computer animation. This course provides a basic understanding of Maya in order to teach students the fundamental principles of 3D animation. Students examine movement, timing, weight, character development, and basic animation and rendering techniques. Students learn basic motion techniques and the animation of objects and bipeds using key frame, path animation, and dynamic simulations. Students complete a short film using a given character by mid-semester. The second half of the semester focuses on rendering, cameras, lighting, and surface properties. Both the Maya and Mental Ray render engines are explored.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation
MA 4000 Professional Practice 3
The primary focus of this class is to provide Media Arts students with the tools that will enable to enter professional practice immediately following graduation. Each student is required to produce a polished résumé, artist statement, website, professional identity system, and portfolio. Topics include long-range goal creation and planning; financial, legal, and other business considerations; grant writing; and communication and marketing skills involving verbal, written, and visual presentations. Topics are presented through lectures, critiques, and presentations by experts in the field.
Prerequisites: Junior standing
ANIM 4010 Internship 3
Internships provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in a particular career area and valuable on-the-job skills. Internships may be arranged by the Director of Career Services or initiated by students. All internships must be pre-approved through the Career Services Office. For an internship to be approved, a mentor relationship and learning experience should exist beyond a simple employment opportunity. Three-credit internships require working 135 hours at the internship site and keeping a journal of hours and activities.
Prerequisites: Professional Practice
ANIM 5100 Senior Project 6
During senior year, each Animation major is required to develop and complete a substantial body of work in a specific field. This course provides a forum for the critical evaluation of this work and curatorial guidance in preparation for the commencement exhibition. Course content includes critical readings, a position paper, individual and group discussions, a school presentation, and informational meetings.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review, Senior standing
Select One of: 3 ANIM 3040 3D Modeling 3
Ideally taken in sequence after 3D Animation, this course introduces students to all three types of models: NURBS, Polygon, and SubD. Students focus their energy on building a character using both NURBS and Polygon modeling and then build all of the necessary shapes for animating their character’s face as outlined in the book
Stop Staring. Topics covered include character models and topology, the whole-face expression, visimes and lip sync techniques, mouth and mouth keys, eye-and-brow emotion, and model-connection and control interfaces. Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation, 3D Animation ANIM 4020 Animation Collaboration 3
Students in this course work in groups of four to realize several short-duration projects in conjunction with commercial clients. Individual groups select story content and character designs from material provided by the client. Groups are responsible for weekly presentations and responses to the client producer, delivering a finished QuickTime file as the schedule demands. Coursework and assignments simulate a small studio production model and prepare students for the collaborative work environment of professional animation.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation (students who have taken 3D Animation may use this course as internship credit)
Select one of: 3 FILM 2000 Introduction to Filmmaking 3
This course is an introduction to telling stories in film. It provides a theoretical and technical foundation for future work and introduces historical and critical issues of film language. Principles of cinematography and continuity editing are covered through assignments in the forms of documentary, narrative, and music video. Technical processes and practices taught include preproduction planning, shooting, basic lighting, sound recording and mixing, and digital editing. Equal attention is given to technical and artistic concerns in screenings, lectures, discussions, technical demonstrations, and evaluations. Each student develops his or her own creative work through the completion and critique of group and individual projects and exercises.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1 PH 3030 Photographic Lighting 3
This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the aesthetic, technical, theoretical, and conceptual issues related to artificial lighting. Although photographic lighting is emphasized, a variety of media image production is addressed. Topics include the physical properties of light and shadow, continuous light and electronic flash, metering, studio lighting, location lighting, and color compensation. Assignments cover a range of subjects including portraiture, still life, and architecture. In addition to the technical and practical aspects of this course, students are expected and encouraged to develop a personal aesthetic and conceptual foundation for their work. Topics will be addressed through a series of lectures, demonstrations, and critiques for each assignment.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Photography FILM 3030 Lighting for Film/Cinematography 3
Filmmakers advance their lighting and cinematography skills to the next technical and interpretative level in this course. Building on the lighting skills learned in studio filmmaking classes, this course enhances filmmaking visuals by introducing advanced systems of cinematography and lighting equipment, technique, and practices. Hollywood and independent movies are dissected and studied for cinematic and lighting techniques. Critiques, field trips, and on-location lighting demonstrations are emphasized.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Filmmaking
Select one of: 3 FILM 3060 Sound 3
This course focuses on the very special problems and challenges that are related to the role and function of sound in storytelling. Sound for Filmmaking examines the theory and techniques of studio and field sound recording by examining advanced motion picture sound, sync systems, and digital multi-track recording and mixing systems. Students learn to record and edit voice and sound effects.
Prerequisites: Narrative Filmmaking or Documentary Filmmaking (either course may be taken concurrently) ANIM 3050 Storyboard 3
This course is geared toward Animation, Filmmaking, and Comic Art students. Working from pre-existing and student-created scripts and narrative ideas, students analyze the various techniques involved in the visualization of stories and sequences for film and animation production. This includes script and story adaptation, continuity, camera placement, image sequencing, shot composition, styling, and mood. Students learn the visual “language” of storyboarding and continuity sketching and the various professional and artistic needs these forms serve. Vigorous in-class critiques address storyboard effectiveness with a strong emphasis on the process of revision and refinement. Assignments include the development of several short animation and film storyboards and a final project consisting of a two- to five-minute production storyboard from the student’s own script or story.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Animation, Foundation: Drawing 1
Select one of: 3 ANIM 5010 Advanced Animation Seminar 3
Advanced Animation Seminar is designed for students to develop individual or group projects in close conjunction with faculty guidance. Individual projects evolve through a detailed and continuous process of presentation, critique, and revision. In addition, a wide variety of animation is screened and discussed with regard to production issues, context, and story. All students are required to complete two minutes of animation.
Prerequisites: Stop-Motion Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation, Storyboard, successful Junior Review ANIM 5020 Advanced 3D Animation Seminar 3
Advanced 3D Animation Seminar is a continuation of 3D Animation and 3D Modeling. Designed for students with a working knowledge of Maya software, this course includes classroom demonstrations of advanced Maya features. Students use the entire semester to create a short animated film using a character model they have built and rigged. Critiques cover technical considerations and concentrate on contextualizing student work and innovative storytelling.
Prerequisites: 3D Animation, 3D Modeling
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
This course is an introduction to creative thinking that develops skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. There is an emphasis on learning new ways to read and see the world and how to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D 3
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1 3
This course is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the College. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior spaces, and landscape.
FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1 3
Students are introduced to the digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media and laptop computing. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, student servers, Media Center, and digital resources. Students discuss media and media artists as well as study various software applications including Adobe Photoshop and web-development tools.
FDN 1312 Foundation: Media 2 3
Building on the skills acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this course takes up more advanced software applications. Through discussions and lectures, students explore various modes of media presentation, the power of moving images, and web work. Using a variety of software and hardware, students learn the basics of nonlinear editing, sound recording, and video recording.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Media 1
First-Year Liberal Arts Foundation 12 AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1 3
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, and historical trends in Western art history from prehistoric times through the nineteenth century. This course is designed to encourage a critical understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. The final section of this course deals with the emergence of modernity in art. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students will take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2 3
This course introduces students to issues in contemporary cultural theory, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics include anti-aesthetic challenges to modernist aesthetics, the rise of consumerism, the proliferation of the designed object, and the transition from source-oriented media to user oriented media, among others. The course is a roughly equal mix of lecture and discussion. Students will produce short writing assignments and will complete written exams consisting of identification and essay questions.
EN 1100 Reading and Writing 1 3
Effective writing requires innovative thinking and creative engagement. Students in this course focus on building a writing portfolio by developing college-level writing skills and using these skills to produce a variety of assignments. Regular writing workshops will allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Assigned course materials will explore a variety of texts and objects. By the end of the course students will have the foundational skills to be reflective and eloquent writers. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, group work, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, directed group work and research assignments, and a portfolio of seven essays.
EN 1200 Reading and Writing 2 3
Key to the creative and critical nature of college-level writing is the idea that students explore a topic by developing a thesis that changes as they ask questions, explore ideas, and conduct research. To that end, this course extends and concentrates the thinking and communication skills introduced in Reading and Writing 1. The foci of this course are developing a thesis; engaging in critical and sustained research; and drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a finished research project. As a result, students will become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project will be a completed research paper and a visual presentation using programs such as PowerPoint. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, research exercises, presentations and debates, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, a research journal, a major research paper and a final research presentation.
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as the artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post-production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice 1
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. This course is designed to introduce students to the variety, tools, and foundations of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create a professional presentation of their work as well as hear from guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing
varying Studio Electives 23
Animation majors take 23 elective studio credits in any media they choose.
Liberal Arts Electives
varying Liberal Arts Electives 24
Animation majors take liberal arts electives in the following distribution:
Art History (6 credits)
Scientific Perspectives (3 credits)
Economic and Mathematical Systems (3 credits)
Global Perspectives (3 credits)
Political Thought and Ethics (3 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)
On-site internships at organizations such as media companies and animation studios—both local and international—allow students to learn about the industry, enhance their skills, network, and build their portfolios. Previous students have interned at the following organizations, among many others:
Children's Theatre Company ▪ Gasket Studios ▪ MAKE ▪ Nickelodeon, New York ▪ Pixel Farm ▪ PUNY ▪ Red Balloon ▪ Red Eye Videos, FOX ▪ Syfy Channel, New York ▪ Titmouse Animation, California