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Digital Effects

Course Description

Digital FX are everywhere – from low budget independent movies and online digital content, to commercials, television programmes, games and Hollywood blockbusters.

Quick Facts:

2 Year Course
Course runs Jan-Dec each year
Next intake: January 2017
NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students

Visit the website https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/digital-effects



- Extensive, practical training on set, in a vfx and animation studio and in cutting-edge digital post suites.
- Work with the latest software applications and digital camera technology.
- Tutored by artists, technicians and supervisors currently working in the Industry.
- Shared modules during Year 1 across essential 2D and 3D vfx/sfx techniques.
- Specialise in Year 2 in either Compositing - Design and produce digital vfx for multiple projects or Colour - Online and colour grade multiple projects or CG 3D - Design and create 3D cg vfx for multiple projects.
- A unique bridge to the post production and vfx industries.
- A Creative Skillset-supported course.
- Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School.

This course commences in January each year. During this extremely practical modular course, you will spend a lot of time learning techniques “on set”, in addition to learning in front of a computer. You will work closely with students from all the other NFTS MA disciplines, creating 2D/3D VFX, CG 3D FX or Colour Grading and Onlining the entire production, on a diverse range of NFTS film and television projects – many of which go on to become international award-winners.

This course shares a common first year, allowing you to specialise in the second year in one of three areas:

COLOUR: For those who aspire to be:
Digital Film Colourists (Baselight/Nucoda/Scratch)
and/or Online Editors (AVID|DS/Symphony/Smoke)

COMPOSITING: For those who aspire to be:
VFX Artists/ 2D/3D Compositors (Nuke/Flame/Adobe CS6)

CG: For those who aspire to be:
CG 3D Artists or CG TDs (Maya modelling/lighting/texturing/rendering)

Ultimately the course will provide the backbone for a career in 2D VFX or 3D VFX or Colour Grading/Online editing.

The NFTS holds a unique position within the film and television industries, whereby it can offer an invaluable “Bridge to Industry” that attempts to help graduates establish themselves in a new career. At the time of writing, all the previous Digital FX graduates are in employment from Soho to São Paulo. Some are 3D CG TDs at Framestore, Double Negative and MPC in London, others SFX producers at Millennium FX, others 2D/3D compositors at The Mill, Cinesite and The Senate, others working in software development and as product specialists at Filmlight, Image Systems, Assimilate and The Foundry, and others as freelance conform editors and colourists.


Graduate credits include: CG VFX on projects such as The First Avenger, Kick-Ass, Doctor Who, 2012, Harry Potter, Inception, Captain America and Avatar, Compositing VFX on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Tree of Life, John Carter, Paul, Iron Man 2, War Horse, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight Rises, Clash of the Titans 2 and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, conform/grading on Generation Kill, The Chronicles of Narnia, & Jack and the Giant Killer, as well as SFX on Being Human, Torchwood, Prometheus and Frankenweenie.


This unique modular course has been designed to keep pace with changes in technology and Industry practice.

You’ll control many of your own projects from start to finish. You learn by ‘doing’ as well as understanding theory, developing a variety of practical and creative skills from planning, budgeting, storyboarding and pre-visualisation through filming, CGI creation, VFX creation and finally post production and delivery.

Several modules are shared with other departments within the NFTS - such as the popular Take One Painting project - and the Digital FX students participate individually, or as teams, on many of the other NFTS students’ film and TV projects.

You learn what to do and then get a chance to do it for real. Problem solving is paramount.

Year One begins with a series of core modules shared by all three Digital FX disciplines (Compositing, Colour, CG 3D) which the whole cohort of students undertake:
The Common Agenda; The Fundamentals (inc. Motion Graphics);3D CG (Maya); Introduction to Tracking /Match Move; Take One Painting (Maya & Nuke); 2D/3D Compositing (Nuke); Previsualisation; Physical and Practical SFX.

After 9 months of common tuition, students would then choose to specialise further in one of three areas:

Compositing or Colour or CG 3D
To cement students’ choice of specialisation and to prepare them for their second year of MA studies, students would undertake one further common module on ‘Transmedia Storytelling’ and then three units related to their specialisation:

Year 1: Motion Capture/Adv. Maya + Nuke; Transmedia storytelling; Green Screen Module (with Prod. Design)
Year 2: Compositing + Prosthetics shoot/post; Compositing + MoCo Workshop/Models/Miniatures

Year 1: Colour Management on set and in post; Transmedia storytelling; Colour Grading
Year 2: Colour Grading Prosthetics project; Online Editing and deliverables

Year 1: Motion Capture/Adv. Maya + Nuke; Transmedia storytelling; Prosthetics and SFX Make-Up
Year 2: CG + Prosthetics shoot/post; CG + MoCo Workshop/Models/Miniatures

As with all other MA specialisations at the NFTS the Digital FX students would complete a dissertation over the period of the course informing and reflecting on their practice, and work on the 2nd Year Graduate Film and TV Productions.

For the duration of the course, every Digital FX student has a dedicated computer workstation loaded with the latest 2D and 3D software applications including Maya, Nuke, PF Track, After Effects/Photoshop and many other specialist applications.

Working closely with Industry partners, students will also benefit from a wide range of workshops and masterclasses run by Industry professionals. Carefully selected practical work placements may also be available.
Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School. In addition you will be given a cash Production Budget. NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors.


The course covers such a diverse range of subjects that there is no typical candidate. Your background may be in the arts or other media or you may be a recent graduate or Industry professional looking to fast-track or switch your career.

Although not strictly necessary, you are likely to have some Industry experience or training in your chosen field and you must already understand the basic technical and operational use of computers.

An ideal candidate should have a mixture of creative and technical skills. Communication, people and management skills are also desirable.

Your application should be supported by a brief outline of your particular interests in the Compositing, Colour Grading or CG 3D fields including any relevant experience, either academic or practical.

You must indicate in your application which specialism you wish to study during the second year:

either Compositing or CG 3D or Colour.


- A critical analysis of the use of visual effects or colour grading in a film or television programme of your choice, no more than two sides A4 typed.

- A brief outline of your particular interests in the Compositing, Colour Grading or CG 3D fields including any relevant experience, either academic or practical. One side A4 maximum.

- A DVD or portfolio containing samples of your work. This need not demonstrate experience in effects. For applicants not from a film or television background, this item is optional.


You can apply directly to us at the NFTS by clicking on the link below:

APPLY FOR DIGITAL EFFECTS COURSE - https://nfts.co.uk/user/login?destination=node/9%3Fnid%3D5

You can apply online, or download a word document of the application form to submit via email
When selecting your course, please ensure that you have read the entry requirements and details of the supporting materials that should accompany your application.


We are happy to receive applications 24/7 and 365 days a year up until the deadline. That said, there is no particular advantage to submitting your application very early. The important thing is that your application shows us your latest work and tell us about your most recent filmmaking experiences.

Visit the Digital Effects page on the National Film & Television School website for more details!

All Available Videos:

Student Profiles

NFTS Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

All long term resident UK students, once they are offered a place on the MA programme, are invited to apply for an NFTS funding award. Awards may consist of either a bursary or a scholarship or a combination of both. NFTS Scholarships are donated by individuals or organisations with a direct involvement in the film, games and television industries. They often include a mentorship and an individual donor may take in interest in your work. Therefore they have an added prestige.The NFTS funding awards contribute directly to tuition fees and may be between £1,000 and £10,000. They are not re-payable by the student. They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Value of Scholarship(s)



They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Application Procedure

Students are invited to apply in both of the two years of the course. Some scholarships are intended to be for a particular specialisation, for female students, or awarded on ethnicity or according to the UK region of an applicant.

Further Information



The Toledo Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

Applications are treated confidentially and are means tested. The school reserves the right to ask an applicant to provide proof of his/her financial circumstances and of possible family support. The Assistant Registrar must be notified immediately of any change in an applicant’s financial circumstances. Careful consideration is given by the Scholarship Panel with a view to responding to demonstrated financial need. Funds are limited and students are asked to estimate responsibly how much assistance they think they will need as this affects the School’s ability to accommodate students in serious need.Unfortunately, we are unable to open this scheme to EU or International students, or to students on the Diploma programmes. There are some course specific scholarship opportunities available to Diploma students. Please check the latest situation on the NFTS website course pages. There may not be enough scholarships available to allow the school to give one to all applicants. Therefore it may be necessary for you to make alternative arrangements for your tuition fees and maintenance. All students offered a place are provided with guidelines for applying for independent funding. This information is distributed during the summer. NFTS funding applications are received in September and the Scholarship Panel meets in October to decide the awards for the following year. Decisions are announced shortly afterwards.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See the website


The Toledo Scholarship is an NFTS scholarship specifically intended to enable talented newcomers from the UK’s ethnic minorities to fast-track their ambitions and join the British film industry.

Application Procedure

Application is made in the same way as all other NFTS scholarships but candidates will need to identify themselves as an UK ethnic minority candidate in order to be considered automatically.

Further Information



BAFTA Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

The BAFTA Scholarship Programme assists talented individuals in need of financial support. A BAFTA scholarship can help you afford an NFTS course in 2016 or 2017. Recipients will receive:
- Up to £10,000 to cover their course fees
- An Industry mentor
- Free access to BAFTA events around the UKUK students who have worked in the industry for at least two years may qualify for assistance from the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. Students with relevant experience who have been offered a place on a course should apply direct to the CTBF. There is also an opportunity to apply early and directly for a BAFTA scholarship before your application has been completed. UK applicants should look out for the BAFTA scholarship announcement on their website.Some of the remaining UK Regional Screen Agencies offer scholarships to students from within their region. Some are arranged through the School as NFTS Scholarships, while others must be applied for direct, in competition with students at other institutions.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Up to £10,000


Eligible courses are listed on the website.

Application Procedure

The deadline for applications is Friday 17 June 2016. You can apply to BAFTA before you are offered an NFTS place.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The course covers such a diverse range of subjects that there is no typical candidate. Your background may be in the arts or other media or you may be a recent graduate or Industry professional looking to fast-track or switch your career. See Course Description for further information.

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Recipient: National Film & Television School
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