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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 

Two 3-credit studio electives.

Fourth-Year Requirements

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

Animation General Course Listing

First-Year Courses 

Animation: From McCay to Burton
One semester: 3 art history credits
Animation milestones will be screened and examined in this course. We will begin with pioneer animators, such as Winsor McCay, Disney, Fleischer and Lantz to study their techniques, and then discuss the works of several contemporary innovators, including Cameron and Burton. Students will view both rare and important animated films that have influenced the direction of animation during the last hundred years.

AND-1020 / AND-1025
Introduction to Animation I and II

Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester

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 these courses. 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. Character mode sheets, animal anatomy and live models will be drawn.

AND-1060 / AND-1065
Drawing I and II

Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester

Focusing on the perceptual skills involved in image-making, these courses will examine drawing as an act of producing independent works of art and as a preparatory process in organizing a finished work. Projects will explore the formal elements of art, such as line, space, scale and texture, as well as general topics, including anatomy, color theory, perspective and observation. Pencil, charcoal, pen-and-ink and watercolor will be among the materials explored. Projects will range from the figure, nature and still life, and field trips will include drawing on location. Emphasis will be placed upon developing each student’s personal style.

AND-1140 / AND-1145
Storytelling and Storyboards I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester

Focusing on the art of narrative storytelling, these courses will begin with the basic components of what makes a good story (character, action, conflict, humor, irony, gags, dialogue) and how they intersect to construct an animated film. Through lecture and demonstration, students will study how to pitch ideas to their peers, and then create storyboards to visualize their narratives. In the second semester, students will layout their stories and begin their animations.

Digital Compositing
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will cover 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. The primary software for the course will be Adobe After Effects.

HCD-1020 / HCD-1025
Writing and Literature I and II
Two semesters: 3 humanities and sciences credits per semester

The first part of this two-semester offering will help students become capable, critical and independent writers. With its focus on developing an argument, the course offers an introduction to some of the skills necessary for critical analysis of written art. It will include a review of writing basics (grammar, coherence, idea development, sentence and essay structure). Since reading widely is a foundation of good writing, course readings are drawn from a selection of premodern Western works, including drama, poetry, the narrative and the critical essay, which will be used as discussion and writing prompts. The second semester will emphasize essay development, reading and critical thinking. Students will write essays and a research paper, and continue to work on their grammar and essay development. Readings are drawn from a selection of modern works, including drama, poetry, the narrative and the critical essay.

Upper-Level Courses

Animation majors may register for courses in the BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects Department with the proper prerequisites and permission from both department chairs. Students will not be charged any course fee associated with these classes.

AND-2010 / AND-2015
Animation Workshop I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
These intensive courses will explore the art of animation, focusing on 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.

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. 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.

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.

Animation From the Filmmaker’s Perspective
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course presents an introduction to the language, process and application of visual storytelling for animators. It will focus on the aesthetics of the medium and the technical tools available to visually convey a story. Through screenings, lectures and discussions, students will become familiar with basic aspects of filmmaking, including composition, storyboarding, lensing and lighting. Areas of exploration include editorial and narrative structure, rhythm and pace. Scene study and editing choices that maximize a character’s performances will be emphasized.

Adobe Animate for Animators
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
One semester: 3 studio credits
In this multimedia course students will explore color and the principles of color theory. Each project will incorporate a lesson on color that will be explored in both reflected light (pigment, objects) and emitted light (digital screens, film). Understanding color perception and its underlying principles is essential for creating effective and arresting films, and students will focus on applying color as a means to tell a story. This course will provide students with the skills necessary to make visually dynamic works, as well as expand the way they use, perceive and understand color. Color-Aid paper, found materials, and basic Adobe Photoshop, among other media will be used for in-class and home 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 every animator needs to know to succeed, these courses 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. Learn about the techniques of animation for the screen, whether in cel, cutouts, clay or any other technique commonly used in animation. How to tell a story and the science of movement are included to complement studio work.

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
Instructor: D. Ross
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.

Visual Development
One semester: 3 studio credits
Layout and design skills are essential for creating compelling images that will engage the audience. Through lectures, demonstrations and individual projects, this course will expand each student’s visual vocabulary. Topics will include: utilizing the principles of composition to direct the viewers’ attention; applying camera dynamics and staging guidelines to thumbnail sketching, storyboarding and finished layouts; value arrangement and color fundamentals; perspective as an expressive tool; character construction and analysis. Projects are designed to replicate actual job assignments, and will include developing exterior and interior locations with character placement. Individual instruction will be given. 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 goal of this course is to provide the fundamentals for developing an animated series, including the premise, outline, character development and story arcs. We will begin with an overview of the history of the animated series in the United States, and how these series have been influenced by popular culture, as well as political and social events. While the focus of the course will concentrate on the creative process, we will also discuss such areas as domestic and international markets, financing, production, merchandise, marketing and distribution.

Creating an Animation Pitch for the Market
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will explore how to produce an animated film/TV project from inception through distribution with the objective of creating a selling ‘bible’ for a short series or film. Students must come to the class with an idea we can work together and hopefully some animated character drawings. We will focus on how to manage a project and the principles and tools for creating and controlling your own work, as well as how to collaborate successfully with other filmmakers and remain true to your artistic vision. Creating a meaningful synopsis and logline, how to layout an episodic series and how to think about voice casting will be covered, as well as how to create a preliminary budget and package to potentially send out to TV stations, studios, casting agents and directors. We will look at current market trends and try to create the next hit. Guest speakers will share their insights into producing for the film and television industries.

Film and Animation Collaboration Workshop
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is design to nurture collaborations in film and animation through scene exercises under the guidance of the instructors. Each session will provide opportunities for students to step outside of their specialization and bring their skillsets together toward creating real production scene work. Both animation and film students will study film language, visual structure, film set techniques, camera movement, lighting and working with actors. Animation students will create storyboards and draw the sets for the scenes. Film students will collaborate directly with the storyboard artist to better understand the psychology of a frame and how to maximize every camera position and shot composition.

SMD-3228 / SMD-3229
Basic Modeling and Animation with Maya I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
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.

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.

SMD-3257 / SMD-3258
Basic After Effects Techniques I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
Adobe After Effects is a powerful compositing and animation tool used in video 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. 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.

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 a sponsor/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 get approval in advance from their department chair, academic advisor and the internship manager. Students must work a minimum of 150 hours (10 hours per week), participate in a weekly online discussion board with other SVA interns, complete self-evaluations and a final project. Elective studio credit is awarded for the successful completion of an internship.

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