MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects FAQ

These pages are intended for students intending to study the MSc Computer Animation and Visual Effects course. They provide information about what software we use, some reading and a general FAQ.

The MSc CAVE has now been re-validated for the next 5 years. The new structue is outlined below. We now run the course in 3 Semesters with two semesters taught and one for the MSc project. The units are outlined in semester order with 3 units per semester.

What will I study?

Semester 1

Animation Software Engineering :- This is the foundation unit of the MSc course, it will build on existing programming knowledge and teach C++ and Software engineering principles for computer graphics. We use Modern C++ and OpenGL for realtime graphics as well as the NCCA Graphics Library ngl (MSc Only)

CGI Tools :- This unit introduces the main software tools used on the MSc these are Maya and Houdini, lectures will also introduce the main artistic concepts such as composition, cinematography etc to allow the more technical MSc students to share a common language with the more artistic courses. (MSc Only)

CGI Techniques :- A more in-depth look at the algorithms and techniques behind computer animation, this unit will introduce the main mathematical and algorithmic concepts behing computer graphics and animation. (MSc Only)

Semester 2

Simulation and Rendering :- This unit continues where CGI Tech leaves off and includes simulation element such as fluid, smoke and FEA. The rendering section includes writing shaders using renderman as well as an in depth look at how different rendering engines work.

Personal Enquiry  :- A research based unit allowing in depth research of an area of CG. (All Masters)

Group Project :- Student lead project (All Masters)

Semester 3

MSc Project :- The final Masters project including a Thesis

What Software do you Use?

We use a large number of products, some are free open source projects some are full commercial version of high end 3d applications. The following list shows the main software we have access to and gives links to certain free and Personal Learning Editions (PLE) versions.

Centos Linux : our main OS is a modified version of Ubuntu Linux, if you are unfamiliar with Linux it may be worth while installing and playing with Ubuntu. Most CG companies use Linux as their main OS as it has many advantages over Windows.

Maya : Maya is our main animation package, we are currently using version 8.5 and will be for the next academic year. You can download a PLE version which will allow you to get used to the software.

Houdini : Houdini is a very powerful procedural animation tool ideally suited to effects work. If you are used to maya or other animation packages it may seem a bit strange at first but it is incredibly powerful Houdini Apprentice is the free PLE version.

Renderman : We are lucky to have prman as one of our main renderers. However there are a number of free renderman renderers available, see the link for the options.

Suggested Reading

What follows is a small list of books we recommend (all should be in the library so there is no need to purchase them).

Computer Animation Algorithms and Techniques. Rick Parent 2002 Morgan Kaufmann

OpenGL Programming Guide. Mason, Woo et Al 2001 Addison Wesley

Computer Graphics using OpenGL F.S. Hill Jr. 3rd Edition Prentice Hall

Essential Renderman Fast Ian Stephenson 2nd Edition Springer

Advanced Renderman Apodaca, Gritz Morgan Kaufmann

Texturing and Modelling a procedural approach 3rd Edition Ebert et al AP Professional

Digital Lighting and Rendering Jeremy Birn New Riders.

Sight, Sound, Motion; Applied Media Aesthetics Herbert Zettl Wadsworth

Complete Maya Programming D Gould Morgan Kaufmann

Geometry for Computer Graphics John Vince Springer

Production Rendering Design and Implementation Ian Stephenson Springer