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List of Colleges & Universities with Visual Effects Programs

Graphic DesignSpeak with visual effects school representatives and learn how to enroll in visual arts programs today.

Many of the astonishing scenes that you see in movies are often nothing more than the work of talented visual effects artists.

Visual effects are the visual special effects that are edited into a live action film or movie. These effects are usually added to a movie during post-production, after all of the video has been shot. There are a number of ways that these effects can be added.

Miniature models and sets can be used to create certain effects, for instance, and large backdrops can also be used to create background scenes that are otherwise very difficult to create. Modern day visual effects artists frequently use animation and computer generated imagery (CGI). Green or blue areas, such as greenscreens and bluescreens, can be removed from a digital video and replaced with special effects.

Learning all of the necessary skills to succeed at a visual effects career can be very time consuming and difficult. Students interested in careers in these areas are usually required – or at least encouraged – to attend visual effect schools.

What Are Visual Effects Schools?

Visual effects schools are educational facilities that enable students to learn how to create effective visual effects for films, movies, and commercials. Students enrolled in visual effects schools will often learn how to create several different types of visual effects, from old school effects to more modern effects.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Media Production
Areas of Study

VFX for Film & Television (D)
Visual Effects & Motion Graphics (BFA)
Areas of Study

Individuals interested in visual effects careers should posses a few very important traits and skills. They should be very creative, innovative, and able to think outside the box. Visual effects artists should also have an eye for detail.

After graduating from visual effects school and starting their careers, many visual effects artists will soon realize that there are several different advantages and disadvantages of this job. On the plus side, the work is often very exciting and has much room for utilizing creative talents; visual effects artists also have the satisfaction of seeing their creations on the big screen, and some may even get the chance to work closely with big name movie stars.

On the other hand, working as a visual effects artist isn’t always fun and games. It requires loads of hard work and can be stressful at times. Visual effects artists are often forced to work under strict deadlines, for instance, which will usually require them to work long hours. Because the movie industry is so competitive, finding work as a visual effects artist can sometimes be difficult as well.

A good education in visual effects, however, can help give graduates the competitive edge they need when looking for employment.

What Are the Different Types of Visual Effects Schools?

Visual effects schools usually aren’t separate schools in and of themselves. Instead, they are typically parts or departments located inside larger schools.

Film and cinema schools, for instance, often have excellent visual effects schools or departments. Many art and design institutes, as well as some traditional colleges and universities, also offer visual effects degree programs as well.

What Types of Degree Programs Do Visual Effects Schools Offer?

Some visual effects schools might offer certificate programs or associate of fine art degree programs in visual effects. Certificate programs can take up to a year to complete, while associate degree programs generally take two years to complete. Both of these options are better than nothing, but they usually only allow student to learn the basic fundamentals in this field.

Students who graduate from visual effects schools will usually earn bachelor of fine art degrees. Many visual effects schools also allow students to concentrate or specialize in one particular area. These areas might include such things as:

  • Pyrotechnics
  • Compositing
  • Computer animation
  • Computer generated imagery (CGI)
  • Bluescreen and Greenscreen
  • Special effects makeup
  • Live action effects

Bachelor’s degree programs typically take about four years to complete. Some visual effect schools also offer master’s degree programs in visual effects as well, and these take a few additional years to complete. Those who earn master’s degrees in visual effects, however, will usually be more likely to secure jobs in the industries as well as higher salaries.

What Courses Do Visual Effects Schools Offer?

Students enrolled in visual effects schools will often take a wide variety of courses, which cover the fundamentals of visual effects and video production. This enables them to create stunning visual effects and understand how to place them into a movie.

Some of the courses offered by visual effects schools may include cinematography, modeling, color theory, matte painting, digital lighting, video production, animation, and composition. Students will also be required to take a number of computer courses, which cover areas such as computer graphics, image manipulation, and post-production editing.

Where Can I Work after Graduating from a Visual Effects School?

The majority of visual effects school graduates will work in the film production, broadcasting, and digital media industries. As visual effects professionals, they will work in television studios and movie production studios. Some visual effects artists might also work to create interactive multimedia effects for websites.

Visual effects artists might be hired directly by companies, but they can also choose to work as freelancers.

Do I Need a Degree from a Visual Effects School?

At one time, becoming a visual or special effects artist was not always a complicated process. Individuals were often hired in entry level positions and could have the opportunity to learn how to create visual effects under the tutelage of experienced professionals.

Today, however, breaking into the visual effects industry can be quite difficult. Starting visual effects careers today often require advanced technical know-how along with advanced computer skills, which can only be mastered by attending visual arts schools. In fact, a degree from a visual arts school or similar institute is quickly becoming a requirement for starting this type of career. Most employers will not consider hiring applicants without proper education and training in this field.

So, do you need a degree from a visual arts school?

Maybe not, but don’t expect to have employers knocking down your door to get a taste of your skills. You can rest assured that other applicants that are vying for the same positions as you have degrees in visual arts, so they’re one up on you!

Don’t let your lack of degree hold you back from pursuing a career that you love. Explore visual effects schools and get started on your exciting new career!