Animation

Bachelor of Fine Arts
in Animation

The BFA in 3D Animation is an intensive three-year program that mimics the pace of the animation industry, where the production of an animation requires sustained effort over a concentrated period of time. Students leave the program prepared to enter the industry as independent animators or to work in a production studio.

In this program students:

  • explore the rich fields of practical, conceptual, aesthetic and technical concerns of animation;
  • master the technical tools, both analogue and digital, required for completing animations, with a focus on 3D digital animation;
  • acquire legal and business knowledge and skills required to work as an animator;
  • gain conceptual and critical understanding of the contemporary and historical traditions of animation;
  • develop a creative practice that integrates theory and embraces experimentation.

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The Last Delivery

by Sarah Maxwell

Faculty

Kenny, Heath

Heath Kenny

Department Chair of Animation

Curriculum

Credits

Year 1

fall

Animation 1 : Introduction to Animation

Description

The basic concepts of storyboard, layout, exposure sheets, extremes, timing, inbetweening, weight, squash-and-stretch, overlapping action, hook-ups, arcs, walk cycles and head turns will be covered in this course. Drawing skills will be emphasized, as will the importance of one drawing in the context of many. Basic construction, line of action, perspective and looking—before touching pencil to paper—are essential to developing good drawing skills and personal style. Students will solve pictorial problems through these means.

Storytelling and Storyboarding 1

Description

This two-semester course will focus on the art of narrative storytelling, starting with exploring the basic principles of what makes a good story and how to achieve continuity, basic story structure and character delineation. Character, action, conflict, humor, irony, gags and dialogue—the key components in an animated film—will be emphasized. Aided by lectures and demonstrations, students will pitch their ideas and then illustrate them with storyboards. The entire process, from rough sketches to a finished presentation, will be covered. Also included are storyboards for television spots and cartoon shorts. In the second semester, students will take their stories through layout and design.

Drawing 1: Humans

Description

This two-semester course provides students with the skills to depict the body based on the anatomical forms and functions of the human body. Students will learn multidisciplinary concepts of structure, design and action through line drawing. A series of anatomically based lectures and demonstrations will be followed by succinct exercises and life drawing practices designed to improve observational, analytical and intuitive drawing skills in order to achieve clear 3D ideas in the 2D realm of pencil and paper. By gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the human form and its functions, students will strengthen their ability to invent forms in movement from memory.

Introduction to Art & Design

Code
FHCA 0103
Description

This course introduces students to themes and topics relevant to the production and reception of the art and design disciplines taught at PCA. Using art and design objects located in Parisian collections as the basis for visual, contextual and cultural analysis, students will develop ways of seeing, contextualizing and describing art and design, while tackling a common set of issues, including but not limited to: chronology, style, authorship, form, function, composition, originality, narrative, and the decorative. Students will be guided as to how to conduct research in local collections and libraries and will produce a short contextually-oriented research paper on an art or design object or an artist or designer based on first-hand access to the object, artist, designer and archives.

Critical Thinking & Writing I

Code
FLIB 1011
Description

This year-long course is designed to improve critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students learn to understand the inherent argument and logic of a text, to think more systematically and critically, and to write more effectively by developing skills in the structure, grammar, and mechanics of writing. Students also work toward the more focused goal of situating design and art practices within larger intellectual, historical and philosophical frameworks by exploring the indissoluble connection between ideas and the products of human culture. This is achieved by introducing students to texts representing and describing various methodologies applicable to art and design, which can then be used to critique and analyze visual and material artifacts.

spring

Animation 2: Digital Compositing

Description

This course will cover VFX shots and digital animation production and give students the tools, techniques and concepts that are essential to create digital movies, effects and animation for broadcast, motion graphics and the web. Demonstrations and assignments are geared to introduce students to a range of software applications as well as production experience. In addition to working on their own projects, students will be given difficult composites already shot by the instructor to teach students how to problem solve the types of shots typical of a production shoot including Green Screen Composites, Tracking, Color Theory, and Nuke 2-D/3-D workflow. The primary software for the course will be Adobe After Effects.

Storytelling and Storyboarding 2

Description

This two-semester course will focus on the art of narrative storytelling, starting with exploring the basic principles of what makes a good story and how to achieve continuity, basic story structure and character delineation. Character, action, conflict, humor, irony, gags and dialogue—the key components in an animated film—will be emphasized. Aided by lectures and demonstrations, students will pitch their ideas and then illustrate them with storyboards. The entire process, from rough sketches to a finished presentation, will be covered. Also included are storyboards for television spots and cartoon shorts. In the second semester, students will take their stories through layout and design.

Drawing 2: Humans

Description

This two-semester course provides students with the skills to depict the body based on the anatomical forms and functions of the human body. Students will learn multidisciplinary concepts of structure, design and action through line drawing. A series of anatomically based lectures and demonstrations will be followed by succinct exercises and life drawing practices designed to improve observational, analytical and intuitive drawing skills in order to achieve clear 3D ideas in the 2D realm of pencil and paper. By gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the human form and its functions, students will strengthen their ability to invent forms in movement from memory.

Drawing 3: Perspective Drawing

Description

Perspective drawing skills are essential for creating depth in images. Through lectures, demonstrations and assignments, this course will give students a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles of perspective and their creative applications. Topics will include: methods of measurement, inclines, ellipses, plastic forms, shadows and reflections. Students will show works-in-progress for continuing critique throughout the semester.

Critical Thinking & Writing II

Code
FLIB 1012
Description

This year-long course is designed to improve critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students learn to understand the inherent argument and logic of a text, to think more systematically and critically, and to write more effectively by developing skills in the structure, grammar, and mechanics of writing. Students also work toward the more focused goal of situating design and art practices within larger intellectual, historical and philosophical frameworks by exploring the indissoluble connection between ideas and the products of human culture. This is achieved by introducing students to texts representing and describing various methodologies applicable to art and design, which can then be used to critique and analyze visual and material artifacts.

summer

Animation 3: Animatics

Description

This course is intended for students interested in expanding their command of visual language as applied to cinematic storytelling. Through adapting material sourced in literature, comics, illustration and film, students will learn techniques and develop strategies for telling stories. We will explore narrative uses of composition, color and lighting; the creation of complex camera movement through drawing; and a history of production design. Projects will include developing storyboards, designing characters and creating environments, all of which will culminate in creating animatics.

Character Development

Description

This course will delve into the process of creating animated characters. Methods of researching, creating a backstory and understanding character psychology will be discussed and analyzed. Classic characters from U.S. (mostly) and European animations will be screened and studied. Students will design and produce a profile on a character of their own creation.

Drawing 4: Animals

Description

Many animated films center around animal characters and this course will introduce students to capturing the intricacies of anatomy and the fluidity of movement of a select number of animal species (e.g., dogs, felines, birds). Students will practice drawing animals in motion and on location. Since the class is scheduled in the summer, sessions will be held at the Paris zoo in Bois de Vincennes, the museum of natural history and parks.

Digital Tools: Advanced Adobe After Effects

Description

This course will cover advanced compositing and animation techniques with Adobe After Effects. Topics will include the use of camera and lighting techniques for both character animation and motion graphics, motion tracking and match moving, green screen techniques using Keylight, compound and nested effects, rotoscope techniques, procedural effects, time manipulation, stabilization, scripting and expressions.

History of Animation

Description

This course is an introduction to animation history and a critical survey of the evolution of animation as an art form, technological form, and industry.  Notable animation creators and productions will be critically analyzed, and the stylistic and content differences between American, Japanese and French animations will be discussed.

Year 2

fall

Animation 4: Advanced Animation

Description

This course will examine drawing, design and movement in a two-dimensional world as well as a three-dimensional environment. Use of field guides, exposure sheets, lip sync, inbetweens and layouts are covered. Runs, walks, takes, pans, trucks and preparation for camera, all done through the proper construction of a scene are demonstrated. Students are taught the techniques of animation for the screen, whether in cel, cutouts, clay or any other technique commonly used in animation.

Digital Tools 2: Autodesk Maya

Description

Autodesk Maya is widely used in the 3D animation industry for its modeling, animation and visual effects capabilities. Starting with storyboards, students will then learn modeling, cameras, lighting, surfaces, motion scripting and rendering. Several examples of high-end 3D animation will be demonstrated and analyzed.

Introduction to Visual Culture

Description

This interdisciplinary course explores the rise of visual media, communication and information, within the context of a broad cultural shift away from the verbal and textual toward the visual, which has taken place since the advent of photography and cinema in the late 19th century, through the birth of television, to the present proliferation of digital media worldwide. We will consider the critical practices of looking, historicizing and interpreting that have accompanied this ‘visual turn’. Our readings will primarily address the theoretical foundations of the study of visual culture, which is understood to incorporate a variety of visual media and visual technologies: painting and sculpture, scientific imagery, material culture, the internet. If everything can be visual culture, what remains of traditional notions of medium specificity? What critical tools must be invented to analyze visual events from a visual cultural perspective? The relationship between the visual arts and visual media, especially with respect to the ‘global’ contemporary visual landscape, will be a focus of this course.

Anthropology

Description

‘A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.’ This course introduces students to the topic of cultural anthropology: the comparative study of humankind and the cultures and societies that humans have shaped for themselves. Discussions will focus on the major cultural and social events that affect our lives and the lives of those around us and further afield. The course will also introduce students to some of the key historical figures in anthropology; the approaches they have selected and the research challenges and difficulties they faced. Students will consider the key social and cultural moments and forces in life and explore the means by which they are observed and celebrated by various populations around the world. Topics will include our ability to communicate through language; observation of ritual; religion and spirituality; marriage, the family and sexual identity; economics and politics; and finally race and ethnicity. The course will draw on the diverse backgrounds of our students and the cosmopolitan nature of Paris through its museums and cultural events.

Anatomy

Description

Anatomy provides a concrete structure for drawing and painting the human figure by relating the study of the skeleton and the muscles to the live model. Students complete life-size drawings of the human skeletal system, as well as triptychs consisting of a nude, muscular and skeletal drawing of a male or a female body. Students learn the landmarks of the skeletal system, their relationship to the muscular system and how they work together to define the human form through hands-on drawing exercises and an anatomy textbook geared to artists.

spring

Animation 5: Digital Environment

Description

In this course students will continue to perfect their mastery of Photoshop and Autodesk Maya through creating digital environments, including landscapes, vistas and other sceneries that are impossible to film physically, either because they do not exist in the real world or because it would be too expensive. The class will take students through the process from concept of a shot to final images including reference photography, Photoshop techniques, 3D projection and integration.

Digital Tools 3: Photoshop Digital Matte Painting

Description

This course will introduce students to the history of the medium, the philosophy of “style” (photorealistic, non-photorealistic) and the practical applications used to execute a shot. Digital Matte painting (DMP) was first created as paintings on large pieces of glass, and the digital revolution has extended the form. The course blends traditional art skills with contemporary technology to respond to the requests for heavy visual-effects productions in film, broadcast, the web and video games

Sound Design

Description

This course introduces students to the professional realities of sound track preparation for their final project animation. We will focus on both the technical and creative options available for creating dialogue tracks with actors as the initial stage of an animation project. In addition, students will explore the psychological, technical and creative stages of sound design, including Foley, additional dialogue replacement, music, sound effects and the mix.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

Description

This class has a special focus on Intellectual Property Law. The course will cover the whole range of intellectual property rights, including but not limited to copyright, design, trademarks and patents. There will be a basic introduction to each of the intellectual property rights (in particular requirements for protection, scope, effects and term of protection), and some specific topics will be highlighted, for example fashion, perfume and visual arts. Later in the semester, students will explore the topic of liberty of expression and creation versus IP rights.

Optics

Description

This survey course provides a peek into the nature of light, how images are formed, the anatomy of the human eye, and color perception. Constructed to complement studio art and courses, the curriculum links key concepts across the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

summer

Animation 6: Animated Film

Description

This course will explore the animated film and its importance and use in live-action films (animated sequences, special effects, titles, etc.). Instruction will be given on the use of the animation stand, construction of characters and preparation of the work for animation photography. There will be screenings and discussions of selected short animated films.

Digital Tools 4: Adobe Flash

Description

In this course, students will learn how to create 2D animations using vector art. We will cover the various drawing tools, motion editing, effects, networking modules and export options that Adobe Flash has to offer, and then apply these techniques to the medium of animation. Film examples will be analyzed alongside practical hands-on applications.

Acting for Non-Actors

Description

In a workshop setting, students will develop a critical understanding of the acting process to be able to apply it to their animated characters. By learning basic acting skills in this course, through exercises and scenes, animators will have acquired the visceral experience and tools that will help transform their work into a viable art form.

Creative Writing

Description

In this course students practice a variety of creative writing workshop methodologies for generating ideas and developing short texts. The course is a mixture of discussion, critique and hands-on exercises with weekly writing assignments. Students will have the opportunity to apply the skills taught in this course in the subsequent semester when they develop the storyline for their final project.

Year 3

fall

Final Project 1: Idea Generation and Script Collaboration

Description

The final project is the capstone for the degree, in which the student applies all the skills mastered through the course of study, including core animation courses and supportive courses, but also art historical references, and general studies content.

Final project 1: Idea Generation and script collaboration (3CR) is the development of the idea for the animation through creative writing workshopping methodology and critiques with other students.

Business of Animation

Description

This course will familiarize students with the animation industry in Europe and the United States. Students will learn how to market their skills and their films by creating personalized portfolios, reels, résumés and mailers. Guest lecturers from the industry will discuss the exciting opportunities in the field of animation.

Project Management

Description

This course addresses practical issues of project management beyond the individual. Emphasis is placed on understanding how to create a project plan and manage a team to meet the scope of the project, milestones and deliverables.

spring

Final Project 2: Production

Description

The final project is the capstone for the degree, in which the student applies all the skills mastered through the course of study, including core animation courses and supportive courses, but also art historical references, and general studies content

Final project 2: Production (3 CR)

Final Project: Thesis I

Description

Students conceptualize and develop their Thesis Projects over the course of two semesters. Topics include executive summary, logline, synopsis, researching and analyzing comparable animations and developing effective comparisons. Students will learn the critical skills to pitch their animation.

summer

Final Project 3: Post-Production

Description

The final project is the capstone for the degree, in which the student applies all the skills mastered through the course of study, including core animation courses and supportive courses, but also art historical references, and general studies content.

Final Project 3: Post-production (3 CR) is the culminating phase of the capstone project leading to the public screening of the of the fully finished animation and its pitching to industry professionals. In all phases of the final project students receive tutoring from a final project & thesis supervisor who is a specialist in their chosen medium (Stop-Motion, 2D, 3D) and encouraged to call upon other students and professionals for support on specific tasks a s needed for the completion of the project.

Final Project: Thesis II

Description

Students conceptualize and develop their Thesis Projects over the course of two semesters. Topics include executive summary, logline, synopsis, researching and analyzing comparable animations and developing effective comparisons. Students will learn the critical skills to pitch their animation.

Overall Credits Total
120

PCA Launches BFA in Animation

The BFA in 3D Animation is an intensive three-year program that mimics the pace of the animation industry, where the production of an animation requires sustained effort over a concentrated period of time.
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know that this program is right for you?

  • You are passionate about animation and want to make it your profession
  • You are open to different cultural approaches and aesthetics to animation
  • You want a hand-on experience that will prepare you to enter the professional world
  • You are intellectually curious and want to forge an international network
  • You are looking for an intensive, fast-paced educational experience.

Why is the program taught over three years, including summers?

The intensive three-year program, including summer semesters, mimics the pace of the animation industry, where the production of an animation requires sustained effort over a concentrated period of time. With this type of training, students leave the program prepared to enter the industry as independent animators or to work in a production studio.

Why study animation in Paris?

Historically, animation was born in France with Emile Reynaud doing his first screenings at the Musée Grevin a few years before the invention of cinema. With Emile Cohl, another pioneer in animation, it became an art form known as Fantasmagories, leading the way for European and French animators to create in their own distinctive style, which is very different from the dominant animation productions in the United States and Japan, the other two countries with a rich and vibrant animation industry.  Students who pursue the program at Paris College of Art will benefit from the rich animation offerings in France, including the annual International Animated Film festival in Annecy, and have opportunities for connection-building thanks to PCA’s ties to the industry.

What is the background of the faculty for this program?

The 3-year BFA in Animation draws from the expertise of international faculty members in the fields of animation creation, production and distribution, and the Paris College of Art network of animation production companies.

Will there be opportunities for internships in this program?

French companies Les Armateurs, with 5 Oscar nominations for animations such as Les Triplettes de Belleville, and Folimage are part of the Hildegarde group, owned by one of the board members of Paris College of Art, and will provide internship possibilities and first-hand exposure to the industry.

How cutting edge is this program in comparison to similar programs?

It is hand-on and taught by industry professionals, while respecting the academic rigors of an internationally recognized university degree.