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To earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Animation at SVA, students must complete 120 credits as follows:

  • 72 credits in studio art courses
  • 30 credits in humanities & sciences courses
  • 15 credits in art history courses
  • 3 elective credits from among the undergraduate course offerings
First-Year Requirements

AHD-1170 Animation: From McCay to Burton
AND-1020 Introduction to Animation I
AND-1025 Introduction to Animation II
AND-1060 Drawing I
AND-1065 Drawing II
AND-1140 Storytelling, Storyboarding and the Art of the Pitch I
AND-1145 Storytelling, Storyboarding and the Art of the Pitch II
AND-1230 Digital Compositing
HCD-1020 Writing and Literature I
HCD-1025 Writing and Literature II

Second-Year Requirements

AND-2010 Animation Workshop I
AND-2015 Animation Workshop II
AND-2090 Perspective Drawing
FID-2120 Anatomy I
AND-2125 Gesture Drawing
AND-2130 Sound Design 

Third-Year Requirements

 Advanced Animation Workshop I
AND-3015 Advanced Animation Workshop II
AND-3040 Life Drawing: Figure, Form and Function
AND-3120 Visual Development
AND-4010 Career Strategies

Fourth-Year Requirements

AND-4010 Career Strategies 
AND-4940 Animation Thesis I
AND-4945 Animation Thesis II

Animation General Course Listing

Animation Workshop I
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will examine narrative and the science of movement. Students will research and develop well-rounded characters and environments, and then build upon their drawing skills by animating characters and creating worlds that have a 3D effect on the audience. How to animate four-legged animals, lip sync, create effects and layouts as well as staging will all be explored. Screenings and discussions of short animated films are included; emphasis is given to importance of live-action films. 

Animation Workshop II
One semester: 3 studio credits
Building upon the material covered in AND-2010, Animation Workshop I, this course will focus on the development of advanced animation techniques and applying them to increasingly challenging assignments. Animating within digital formats, as well as proficiency in visual storytelling, timing and draftsmanship will be emphasized. 

Perspective Drawing
One semester: 3 studio credits
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. 

Anatomy I
One semester: 3 studio credits
Anatomy can offer a concrete structure for drawing and painting the human figure. This course relates the study of the skeleton and the muscles to the live model. It will concentrate on the skeletal system in the fall semester and the muscles in the spring semester. Students will complete three life-size drawings of the human skeletal system, which will include views of the skull, torso and extremities, establishing the core of the human figure. Two triptychs, each consisting of a nude, muscular and skeletal drawing of a male and a female body, will be completed. We will learn the landmarks of the skeletal system, their relationship to the muscular system and how they work together to define the human form. An anatomy text such as Albinus on Anatomy by Hale and Coyle or Anatomy for the Artist by Jeno Barcsay is required. 

Gesture Drawing
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will strengthen each student’s drawing skills through combining observation with action sketches of people and animals in motion and repose. Such quick sketching of figure action helps to master aspects that include flexibility, anatomy, silhouetting and foreshortening. The goal of gesture drawing is to make active poses that emphasize variety and personality, and paves the way to less rigid and more lively representations. 

Sound Design for Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course introduces students to the professional realities of sound track preparation for their animations. 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. 

Character Construction
One semester: 3 studio credits
ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, Coraline and The Pirates! Band of Misfits are some of the films that have relied on stop-motion figure construction for their success. This course is an ideal prerequisite for anyone who wants to make stop-motion animation films. Students will design their own stop-motion figure—sculpt the parts, build a wire structure, learn various jointing methods and detailed sculpting with polymer clays. The figure will be assembled, painted and dressed. 

Miniature Sets and Action Props
One semester: 3 studio credits
Feature films like The Hobbit, Flushed Away, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Titanic all contain miniature sets and props. In some cases, the sets were used strictly as backgrounds to be integrated with computer technology and have actors added, while others were used as sets for stop-motion animated characters. We will explore how to design sets where the doors, windows, cars and lampposts need to work on cue, as well as the techniques of miniature set and prop construction. The challenges of working with unique materials and constructing them to scale will also be examined. 

Introduction to Stop Motion
One semester: 3 studio credits
A wide range of stop-motion animation techniques, with a strong emphasis on character design, will be examined in this course. Subjects include: simple armature constructions, clay and puppet animation, replacements, beginning casting, backgrounds, rigging, and a variety of sculpture techniques and materials. In the first semester, students will participate in hands-on model building and animation exercises to familiarize themselves with the possibilities of the field. During the second semester, students will design and execute a short animated project. Guest lectures, field trips and screening of both commercial and independent work will be included. 

Storyboarding for Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
The story is one of the most important aspects of a film. This is a course about creating storyboards for animated films. Students will learn continuity, basic story structure and character delineation. In storyboard form, plots, situations and conflicts are developed. The entire process, from rough sketches to a finished presentation, will be covered. Also included are storyboards for television spots and cartoon shorts. 

Pitching Commercial Storyboards
One semester: 3 studio credits
Storyboarding your idea is one thing, but professionally and competitively selling your concept through a pitch presentation is entirely different—and inevitable. In this course storyboard development is created through selling the story, rather than just boarding it. Workshop exercises will include solo and competing team projects as students present pitch boards in front of the class for a range of industries, such as animation, advertising and live action. Through this process, along with guest lectures, readings and video demonstrations, students will become emboldened to sell their storyboards with confidence and personality. 

Acting for Animators: Expressions and Body Language
One semester: 3 studio credits
How does the animator make his/her characters “good actors”? How does the animator infuse his/her creations with a soul, a life that is both universal and unique? 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. 

Experimental Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is designed for students who want to explore the dynamic medium of animation while finding their personal style and visual and poetic vision. Emphasis will be place on innovation, invention and experimentation. Whether pursuing a narrative or non-narrative project, students will receive a solid grounding in the basics of drawn animation, as well as various approaches to the medium such as stop-motion, sequential drawing, graphics, computer animation, mixed media and sound. Students will gain an understanding of character/object development, performance, design, story and plot necessary for the flow and rhythm of animation. Each student will complete four short films (30 seconds to 2 minutes in length). 

Backgrounds and Inspirational Sketches
One semester: 3 studio credits
Create a universe in which your characters will live. From starkly realistic to evocative and stylized, backgrounds set the stage for every animated tale. Walt Disney employed painters to capture the settings that served as inspiration for entire productions. Students will explore various techniques for creating backgrounds and worlds of snow and water, gardens, cities, the cosmos, night, day, sunrise—whatever setting their characters may encounter. Color and light sources—critical factors in animation—will be emphasized. 

Introduction to Toon Boom
One semester: 3 studio credits
The basics of Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro and Harmony will be introduced in this course. We will begin with an examination of Storyboard Pro’s interface capabilities and output options, as well as consider best practices and techniques. Toon Boom Harmony will then be explored through its 2D/2.5D animation and compositing toolset. In addition, the course will address traditional animation, puppet animation, inverse kinematics and deformers, as well as how to utilize Storyboard Pro and Harmony in a production capacity. Storyboarding for film and television will be discussed. 

Adobe Animate
One semester: 3 studio credits
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 Animate has to offer, and then apply these techniques to the medium of animation. Film examples will be provided. 

Introduction to TVPaint Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
This introduction to TVPaint Animation software will take students through the entire animation pipeline, from storyboards, X-sheets and sound to custom tools and camera moves. A series of skill-specific exercises will build familiarity with TVPaint’s unique interface. By course’s end, students will have completed a short animation. 

Color Theory for Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
Color Theory for Animation will explore how color informs story and film language, and how it can enhance an audience’s experience with the animation medium. Understanding color perception and its underlying principles is essential for creating effective and arresting films. Students will focus on applying color as a means to tell a story as well as create visually dynamic works. Color scripts and color choices will be studied through observing works that have been used in feature and television animation. Classwork will consist of lecture, discussion and critique of professional examples and student assignments. 

Advanced After Effects
One semester: 3 studio credits
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. Flash will also be introduced for some assignments. 

AND-3010 / AND-3015
Advanced Animation Workshop I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
What animators need to succeed is the ability to bring life to their characters. These courses are about adding emotion to animations, so the audience can relate to the characters. Drawing and design skills will be the primary tools to begin “acting” in a two-dimensional world. Students will learn to create emotional shots that tell a visually compelling story, and design characters for the worlds they create. The aim is to prepare students not just for their thesis films, but also for the professional world. Each student will complete a two-minute animation, working step-by-step with the instructor—from preproduction through postproduction. 

Life Drawing: Figure, Form and Function
One semester: 3 studio credits
The ability to draw the figure and analogous ways to depict the body are essential to the artist/animator. This course is rooted in an organically systematic way to draw and is 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 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 Animals in Motion
One semester: 3 studio credits
Many animated films center around characters drawn from the animal kingdom. However, capturing the intricacies of anatomy and the fluidity of movement is a difficult task. Using pencils, charcoal, and watercolors, students will practice the art of drawing animals in motion and on location. Various strategies will be explored to assist the artist to stay within the immediacy of the field situation. Weather permitting, sessions will be held at various New York City zoos, museums and parks. 

Effects Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
Effects animators supply motion to things that are not characters. This course will explore how to apply principles of force and motion to props, vehicles, mechanical devices and natural phenomena, such as fire, water, and other elements and atmospheric conditions. Students will execute concepts using both traditional and digital techniques in cartoon and realistic environments. 

Visual Development
One semester: 3 studio credits
Visual development skills are essential for creating compelling images that will engage an audience. Through lectures, demonstrations and individual projects, this course will expand students’ visual vocabulary and sharpen their analytical skills. Topics will include: principles of compositions; camera dynamics and staging guidelines for thumbnail sketching, storyboarding and finished concept art; understanding value arrangement and color fundamentals; perspective as an expressive tool; character design analysis. Projects are designed to replicate professional assignments and will include developing exterior and interior environments with character placement. Students will show works-in-progress for continuing critique throughout the semester. 

Creating Unforgettable Characters
One semester: 3 studio credits
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 such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, and Beavis and Butt-Head will be screened and studied. Students will design and produce a profile on a character of their own creation. 

Developing the Animated Series
One semester: 3 studio credits
The fundamentals of developing, pitching and producing an animated series will be the focus of this course. Students will develop their own original concept, building upon the lessons presented through weekly lectures. The course will culminate in the creation of a complete, ready-to-pitch series bible. In addition to the creative development process, students will also learn about the media landscape, audiences and demographics, the art of pitching, digital and merchandising extensions, deal making and the basics of series production management. The course will be a combination of lectures, discussions, guest speakers, and in-class critiques and exercises. 

Basic Modeling and Animation with Maya I
One semester: 3 studio credits
Autodesk Maya is widely used in the 3D animation industry and is highly regarded 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. 

Basic Modeling and Animation with Maya II
Monday 9:00-11:50
One semester: 3 studio credits
A continuation of SMD-3228, Basic Modeling and Animation with Maya I, this course will explore Maya’s more advanced tools and capabilities through in-class exercises and assigned projects. Topics include character design, animation, skeletal rigging, dynamics, particles and shading. 

AND-3251 / AND-3252
Advance Screenwriting for Animation I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
These courses will prepare students for a career in animation screenwriting and story development. Its objectives are to explore cutting-edge animation screenwriting skills, modern animation story design, innovative interweaving character-arcs, and executing a “studio worthy” animation screenplay. Projects will be tracked on Google Docs by the entire class in order to understand how a studio develops multiple projects simultaneously–thus preparing students to work as a story editors and development executives at a studio or network. Skills covered in the courses are based on techniques used at Disney and 20th Century Fox. By the end of the spring semester, students will have a completed animation script and the skills to work in development, as well as experience in developing an animation script through its various stages, from logline to story structure to marketing animation characters and multiplatform franchising. An emphasis will be placed on honing dialogue that appeals to both children and adults. 

Basic After Effects Techniques I
One semester: 3 studio credits
Adobe After Effects is a powerful compositing and animation tool used in visual effects, 2D and 3D animation, and broadcast graphics. Using keyframes, we will cover how to animate masks and filters over time, to create precise motion paths using Bézier curves and to achieve complex layered compositions. 

Basic After Effects Techniques II
One semester: 3 studio credits
Adobe After Effects is now an integral design tool in video production and motion graphics studios. After Effects allows the artist to control each element of design and digital effects with a precision that was once only available on extremely expensive computer workstations. Through class exercises and examples, students will learn to explore and discover the technical aspects of this program and incorporate these aspects into their own animated designs and motion graphic projects. 

Digital Matte Painting with Photoshop
One semester: 3 studio credits
Digital matte painting (DMP) is a field that has been around since the early days of still and moving images. Initially created as paintings on large pieces of glass, the digital revolution has extended the form to levels previously unimagined. In the current climate of heavy visual-effects productions in film, broadcast, the web and video games, the skills necessary to perform quickly and with emotion have become all the more crucial. The beauty of working in digital matte painting is that it employs traditional art skills blended with cutting-edge technology. 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. 

Advanced Story Development and Design
One semester: 3 studio credits
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. This course will broaden each student’s understanding of narrative traditions with the goal of increasing confidence and versatility in determining elements for effective storytelling. 

Career Strategies
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will familiarize students with the animation industry in New York, as well as nationally and internationally. 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. 

Advanced Life Drawing
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is designed to strengthen and reinforce both basic and advanced life drawing techniques. Life drawing with a model for students and professionals should never come to an end. It keeps us sharp; it strengthens our eye hand coordination. This course will help students speed up the production of their thesis project and provide techniques that reinforce drawing from one’s imagination. A strong emphasis will be placed on short-duration gesture drawing. 

Production Techniques for Thesis
One semester: no credit
Students will meet weekly to discuss resources available to the animation production process from file management, workflow, story workshopping and alternative software. This course will lead students through the production process of creating a thesis project that is original and of professional quality. Weekly discussions, critiques and guest artists from the animation industry will provide insight on keeping up with deadlines while progressively developing independent animated films. Students will learn about production pipelines and creative solutions for technical issues. 

AND-4940 / AND-4945
Animation Thesis I and II
Two semesters: 6 studio credits per semester
Students are required to complete a thesis project that demonstrates an advanced level of craft and technique. All candidates will meet with the Thesis Committee at the end of their third year for instruction and deadlines. 

Independent Study
One semester: 3 studio credits
Junior or senior students who wish to pursue a special project not covered by the parameters of their department’s curriculum are eligible to apply for an independent study course. Students must have earned a grade point average above 3.00 at SVA, and must submit their study goals as a detailed proposal for approval by the department chair. Proposals for an independent study must be made prior to the course adjustment period for that semester. 

One semester: 3 studio credits
Students can gain valuable experience and broaden their professional network through an internship with an employer. Internships-for-credit are available to juniors and seniors who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or better. To receive credit, students must apply online during the designated application period, be approved by the Career Development Office, and registered for the internship by their academic advisor. Students need to work 150 hours during the semester (usually 10 to 15 hours per week), participate in a weekly online course with other SVA interns, and complete midterm and final self-evaluations. Elective studio credit is awarded for the successful completion of an internship. For more information go to sva.edu/career.


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