Diploma Program in Digital Animation (DPDA)

Comprised of four terms, this 10-month program develops Computer-Generated Imagery skills including 3D Modeling, Texture Mapping, Animation, Rendering, Compositing, Character Creation, Sound Design, Writing and Editing.  A combination of instruction and hands-on training provide the vital competencies to be a 3D computer animator.


Introduction to 3D »

• Introduction to 3D computer graphics.
• How 3D graphics compare to 2D and 2.5D computer graphics.
• Introduction of different graphical styles from photo-real to stylized.
• Basics of Maya.
• Introduction to working in Cartesian space.
• Introduction to polygonal and spline-based geometry.
• Management of large scenes involving multiple elements
• Application of Maya in the film, television and game industries.


Computer Animation 101 »

• Introductory level.
• Introduction of different animation styles from character-based to abstract.
• Introducing the 12 principles of animation.
• Explaining key frame animation and animation curves.
• Explaining easing-in and easing-out of motion.
• Animating basic primitives in 2D and 3D (e.g. the classic bouncing ball animation).


Computer Graphics 101 »

• Introduction to essential CGI concepts and terms.
• Explaining the alpha channel, how it works and its uses.
• Explaining the persistence of vision and how it relates to animation.
• Introduction to the different stages of a CGI project from conceptualization to completion – idea, brainstorming, storyboarding, animatic, planning, asset production, animation, lighting, rendering, editing, audio, finalizing.
• Introduction to influential individuals and companies in the industry.


Screenwriting 101 »

• Basics of screenwriting format and 3-act structure.
• Brainstorm ideas for stories and screenplays.
• Create story conflict, as well as memorable characters, relationships and dialogue.
• Learn successful storytelling by examining character, structure and genre in the short script.
• Develop, write and workshop producing one short script.
• Learning to write for animation.


Filmmaking 203 »

• Survey of major animated films and technology that helped shape the course of film history.
• Covers important developments and key figures in animation history.
• An overview of different animation techniques – stop motion, CGI, hand drawn etc.


Sound Design 101 »

• Digital nonlinear audio design utilizing Pro Tools.
• Importing, layering, and timeline editing.
• Teaching the vital importance sounds plays in creating an engaging and convincing animation.
• Use sound to add an extra dimension to a silent animation clip.

Sub-total 210

3D Modeling and Texturing »

• Basics of creating 3D models in computer software.
• Learning polygon modeling techniques.
• Learning how to use splines and NURBS to create surfaces.
• Create basic 3D props for animations.
• Authoring 2D textures for 3D models.
• Learning basics of Adobe Photoshop.
• Creating procedural textures for 3D models.
• Techniques for applying textures to 3D models.
• Advanced texture techniques to achieve levels of complexity impossible by modeling.
• Baking 3D geometry and shadow information into 2D textures.
• Using 2D and 3D paint programs.


Computer Animation 201 »

• Intermediate level.
• Supply a pre-made character model and rig for the students to animate with.
• Teaching the walk cycle and how to convey character through movement.
• Adopting acting skills to bring life to a character.
• Learning how to get a character to interact with props and environments.
• Introduction to particle animation.


Lighting and Rendering »

• Real-world principles of light and surfaces and how CGI attempts to recreate them.
• Learning the principles of specular and bump maps to add detail to a model.
• Learning the basic three point light setup.
• Using light to create mood.
• Emotional responses to different colors.
• Merging of 3D rendered objects into film or video.


Sound Design 201 »

• Digital nonlinear audio design utilizing Pro Tools.
• Importing, layering, and timeline editing.


World Cinema 101 »

• Survey of major world cinemas that helped shape the course of film history.
• Covers important developments and key figures in non-Hollywood cinema.


Screenwriting 201 »

• Learn story structure in-depth, including the relation to genre.
• Learn to write inciting incidents, progressive complications, crisis, climax and resolution.
• Study principles from Robert McKee’s “Story”.
• Develop, write and workshop one short script.

Sub-total 210

Character Design & Rigging »

• Designing characters for animation.
• Modeling characters for animation.
• Rigging character models for animation.
• Students apply techniques from Computer Animation modules to animate their characters.


Computer Animation 301 »

• Advanced level.
• Studying and recreating animal motion.
• Facial animation.
• Dynamics (simulated physics) animation.
• Animating to music.


Environment Design »

• Designing environments for animation, film and games.
• Basics of scene composition.
• Using perspective to draw the viewer’s attention.
• Using parallax effects to add depth to an environment.
• Tonal and physical differences between interior and exterior environments.
• Tonal and physical differences between natural and man-made environments.
• Techniques for achieving believable detail and clear tonal reads.
• Introducing MEL scripting and other procedural environment creation techniques.


Acting – Movement and Voice »

• The course develops an awareness of the body as an instrument of communication in stage acting so that it will be properly tuned and trained to perform when needed. This class will focus on flexibility and break down physical inhibitions.
• Students improve their animation skills by developing a new level of appreciation and awareness of real-world movements.


Project 410 »

• Pre-production for student’s thesis film (an animated project of approximately three minutes in
• Students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor to plan the thesis project from concept to stylistic
choices, character design, environment design, story-boarding, voice recording and all other aspects
of preparation.

Sub-total 190

Computer Animation 401 »

• Special topics in computer animation.
• Cutting edge animation techniques and technologies.
• Learning professional animation skills.
• Individual vs. creative collaboration in animation.
• Personal career development.
• Creating an animation demo reel.
• Examples of inspirational animation show-reels to demonstrate industry standard.


Compositing and Finishing for Digital Animation »

• Combining separate 2D layers to create a final image.
• Rendering in passes (depth, AO, shadows etc.)
• Theory of alpha channels and blending types.
• Utilizing effects in After Effects to improve compositions.
• Techniques for ‘faking’ 3D effects in 2D.


Project 430 »

• Students complete production on their thesis films.
• Under supervision of faculty mentors, students use this time to create 3D assets (characters, props and environments) and animate their project.

Sub-total 162

Sound Design 301 »

• Advanced audio post-production.
• Capturing all the elements for film mixing.
• Foley and Alternate Dialogue Recording.
• Preparing and executing the final mix for a short film.


Project 450 »

• Students complete post-production on their thesis films.
• Under supervision of faculty mentors, students light, render, edit, sound design and composite their thesis projects to fulfill requirements for the program.
• Final submission is an animated project of approximately three minutes in duration.

Sub-total 128