MA Visual Effects for Live Events is where art and technology meet with stunning results. Striking digitally generated imagery is created and manipulated by students to enhance incredible live experiences. Beyond this industry, the technical and collaborative talent of Visual Effects (VFX) artists and designers are in great demand across virtual production, cinema, TV, video games, and many other sectors. 

Course details

  • Qualification Master of Arts
  • Duration 1 year - full time, 2 years - part time
  • Location Production Park, Wakefield, WF9 3NR
  • Validated by University of Bolton
  • Tuition fees Full time - £9,250, Part time - £4,625 p/year
  • Entry Requirements 2:2 Honours degree or above in a relevant subject and/or appropriate relevant work experience.
  • Start date September 2022

Course Overview

This course introduces the theory, context, and practical applications of stunning digital content. You will work exclusively with digitally generated imagery, using computer-aided processes which draw on a wealth of creativity. Work includes creating, modelling, animating, and manipulating live and pre-rendered digital visual content. This content can be produced for a broad range of applications and various formats.  

You will study essential digital content and visual effect techniques, including 2D compositing, 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI), green screen, virtual environments and world building, video, and motion capture. The course uses industry standard software such as Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Maya, 3Ds Max, Notch and more. 

Our courses also give graduates the life, professional, and employability skills to operate successfully as confident, independent practitioners, freelancers, and sole traders. You will gain proficiencies in concept and character development, visualisation, pitching to clients, and valuable entrepreneurial skills.  

This is a new and exciting area with diverse scope for research. The course is project orientated and research-led within the context of the industry. Students have the flexibility to pursue personal research interests alongside the freedom to explore their own creative processes.  

This course is offered either full time over 1 year or part-time over 2 years. Our approach to blended learning supports working professionals to engage flexibly with studies. 

Backstage Academy provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment where students are challenged through praxis – applying critical thinking to practical, hands-on experimentation and reflection. Teaching uses blended learning, combining practical work with online and face-to-face lectures, seminars, tutorials, discussions, guest speakers, and masterclasses. 

Students have the unrivalled position of learning in the heart of the live events industry on Production Park. Surrounded by global brands and using advanced facilities and equipment, you will study visual effects in a creative industries context. You will find first-hand how live events can be enhanced and developed through practical experimentation. 

Students are encouraged to use their continuing professional practice as part of their research process and build on our close relationships with the creative industries. Developing plans for new creative projects is coupled with a higher level of academic study and learning. Throughout your learning experience, you will be supported by our experienced staff. 

The course includes three subject specialist modules and two modules that you will share with students on other postgraduate courses. You could collaborate with Live Event Design or Virtual Production students, for example, by world building for XR stage operators. 

This course is ideal if you... 

  • are about to graduate from an undergraduate course in a related area. 
  • are a creative thinker with an affinity for IT and interested in digital visual content.   
  • have a creative/digital background such as animation, design, illustration, photography, computer science, engineering, visual effects, or architecture. 
  • are an industry professional looking to upskill, retrain, or further develop your craft. 
  • are excited about creating inventive and imaginative designs for contemporary live events.  

The programme aims to...

  • give graduates and professionals in related industries critical insight into principles and practices underpinning VFX for the creative industries.  
  • provide rigorous opportunities for advanced study, research, and embedded practice led by field specialists, allowing you to explore your own VFX practice.  
  • cultivate your projects and research in collaboration with students from other postgraduate courses, culminating in your final negotiated Master’s research project. 
  • strengthen your transferable skills and offer specialist professional and personal preparation for competitive creative industries. 

Key features:  

  • Students can engage with cutting edge developments at Backstage Academy’s new £7m+ Research and Innovation Centre, XPLOR, and the Centre for Virtual Production. 
  • Backstage Academy boasts the first XR studio in Yorkshire and arguably one of the best-equipped spaces of its kind in the North of England. 
  • Backstage Academy’s extensive live event industry networks and contacts help students deepen their skills, experience, and creative practice. 
  • The course offers access to unique commercial opportunities through Backstage Academy’s connection with Production Park and the impressive array of businesses on campus. 
  • Expert staff use their extensive industry experience to teach up-to-date live event practices. 
  • We offer the freedom to explore live projects independently or collaborate with peers from other postgraduate courses, encouraging creative innovation and experimentation. 

 Why Backstage Academy?

  • Employability is central to everything – hands-on experience is embedded in all our courses. 
  • Our postgraduate programmes are designed for, and by, the creative industries. 
  • We supply sought-after practitioners to one of the largest and most exciting global industries. 
  • There are phenomenal career opportunities, progression routes, and roles in diverse sectors. 
  • We celebrate the exploration of research, innovation, and invention through creative collaboration
  • Courses are designed for you to drive your own learning and explore your own specialisms. 
  • Facilities at Backstage Academy are exceptional and demonstrate a multi-million-pound investment
  • The campus is situated at Production Park, known as Europe’s leading live-industry destination.  
  • The site is home to over 20 internationally renowned live events and creative businesses.
  • Past students have experienced global work opportunities at diverse international live events. 
  • Our extensive international partnerships tap into the latest technology, funding, and practices
  • Staff are experienced industry professionals with extensive practical and academic knowledge. 
  • We offer tailored mentoring and individual support owing to favourable staff:student ratios. 
  • Teaching and research take place in a welcoming and inclusive learning environment
  • The student experience we deliver is award-winning (Educate North Awards, 2020). 
  • Our campus is extremely accessible via road and motorway, rail, and international flight routes. 

Course content

  • Visual Effects: Contexts & Concepts - 30 Credits

    This module aims to introduce key critical and cultural ideas and theories, alongside developing your research practice. Throughout the module, you will consider how the opportunities, possibilities and challenges that technologies present both restrict and facilitate visual effects production in live events. You will also examine the impact that innovations in other fields of Visual Effects (Games, film, tv) has on live events. 


    You will explore specific areas of professional practice relevant to your negotiated area of specialism to identify key principles, practices and emerging trends that affect and influence creative technology development and innovations and the creative industries. 

    Throughout the period of study, you will be set several specific case study/scenario tasks related to the module content that will test your understanding and application of virtual production and its associated technologies. These will build a comprehensive portfolio that you will submit as a single piece of work at the end of the module.


    Indicative Content:

     

    • - Critical thinking skills & research methodologies  
    • - Principles of visual effects & content creation 
    • -Standards for visual effects 
    • - Introduction to video workflows 
    • - Introduction to screen technologies 
    • - Principles of motion capture  
    • - The user experience 
    • - Key practitioners, products & projects 
    • - Specialist skills development 
  • Visual Effects Practice 1: Research and Development - 30 Credits

    This module aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to enable you to use advanced methods of conceptualising and developing technological solutions to creative challenges. 


    The first part introduces Research & Development principles, processes and workflows. The objective is to plan and develop a framework from which you can examine the efficiency and effectiveness of your chosen technologies in responding to a given brief. The second part considers the impact of a range of different scenarios & related fields on the framework, and how the culture of the sector informs this process. Finally, students consider the potential of emerging technologies and examine how they might inform and influence live event practice. 

     

    Indicative Content:

     

    • - Contemporary topics related to visual effects production 
    • - Research & development principles & processes (including experimentation, prototyping & testing) 
    • - Visual effects practitioners in context 
    • - Analysing software tools & games engines 
    • - Industry-specific visual tools (e.g., Notch, Isadora, Disguise, etc) 
    • - Fundamentals of 2D & 3D modelling 
    • - Real-time fundamentals & applications 
    • - Creating and developing projects to develop initial concepts 
  • Visual Effects Practice 2: Realisation and Production - 30 Credits

    This module will extend the learning of VFX7002 (Visual Effects Practice 1: Research and Development) through to the realisation and production of visual effects content in the context of a live event. 


    You will develop further critical and practice-based work whilst collaborating with other practitioners and managing the requirements of clients and/or stakeholders. 

    Advanced skills workshops, masterclasses and lectures will strengthen your core skills and allow you to experiment with further emerging tools, techniques, technologies, and platforms as appropriate to your discipline. 

     

    Indicative content:


    • - Project management 
    • - Client management  
    • - Content management 
    • - 2D & 3D animation  
    • - Advanced use of Industry-specific tools (e.g., Notch, Isadora, Disguise, Unreal, etc) 
    • - VFX integration methods 
    • - Overcoming operational issues & technical challenges 
    • - Specialist skills development 

     

  • Working in the Creative Industries: Managing Yourself and Others - 30 Credits

    As you advance through your career you will find yourself collaborating with others, both formally and informally. Whether managing project teams or building business relations as innovators and entrepreneurs, you may have to make decisions about a range of people-orientated issues.  


    To manage successfully in this, or any other environment means understanding yourself, learning or developing the interpersonal skills to interact with others and understanding the processes involved in establishing and growing successful working “professional relationships.”  


    This module will introduce you to the processes involved in learning and personal development and enhance your critical understanding of the skills you have, and the ones you need in order to pursue a postgraduate level career. In it, you will examine the importance and major areas of interpersonal skills from perception and communications and teamwork to resolving conflict and motivating both yourself and others, and how the impression you create can contribute to a successful career.  


    You will complete a series of tasks which will enable you to explore your own responses to the themes discussed and as part of your ongoing (lifelong) learning, you will examine the importance of personal development and career planning. 

     

    Indicative content:


    • - Interpersonal skills and managed self-development 
    • - Understanding behaviour: the role of perception 
    • - Communication skills 
    • - Motivation at work 
    • - Teams and collaboration 
    • - Personal and professional negotiation 
    • - Personal and career planning 
  • Major Project - 60 Credits

    This module aims to provide a framework for you to undertake a negotiated programme of personal study and research leading to a substantial output.  This could take a number of different formats including but not limited to:  


    - A large-scale collaborative technical or creative project 
    - An event 
    - A traditional written academic paper 
    - A new business start-up 
    - A product launch


    It is expected that most of the work is independently undertaken with the support of a supervising tutor; however, in line with industry practice, collaborative projects may be negotiated with the module leader.  


    Whatever format is chosen you will need to demonstrate/evidence your accumulated knowledge, skills and understanding acquired throughout the entirety of your study on your course, and that you meet the course learning outcomes. Throughout the module, you will be expected to demonstrate progressively increasing levels of independence and autonomy. The module is delivered across the calendar year and is in three stages:  


    Stage 1: Preparation. 


    This stage will explore and evaluate a range of approaches and research skills and methodologies appropriate to a variety of final outputs. During this stage, you will formulate and define your research question(s), consider ethical issues relating to that research and define the format for your submission.  


    Stage 2: Development.


    During this stage, you will consolidate your ideas and depending on your agreed format undertake field (primary) research and/or research and development. This may also include work-based learning or placement activity that informs your study.  


    Stage 3 Output. 


    In this stage, you will finalise and work toward the presentation of your project and submission of your work. It is important you understand this realisation is an integral part of the research journey, which is consolidated through your critical reflection on any conclusions Where appropriate you may also have the opportunity to present your final output to industry professionals in order to showcase your work and boost employment prospects and industry networking opportunities. 


    Indicative content: 


    • - Development of research, academic skills and good academic practice 
    • - Generating and initiating research project ideas in the context of the live events 
    • - Development of research, academic skills and good academic practice 
    • - Generating and initiating research project ideas in the context of the live events 
    • - Exploring the context of the research environment, for example, preparing a literature review 
    • - Philosophical approaches and paradigms (including practice research) 
    • - Research methodologies and strategies 
    • - Ethical considerations (confirmed consent) 
    • - Data collection, recording and documenting strategies 
    • - Analysing, understanding and disseminating results 
    • - Development and realisation of your own research proposal 

Entry Requirements

You should have at least a lower second class (2.2) honours degree (or equivalent) in any subject or five years’ relevant work experience.

If you hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, you may provide a transcript or other documentation that details your prior study. Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate your professional experience via a portfolio of attested work. Please contact the programme leader to discuss your options.

If you wish to gain admission on the basis of five years’ relevant work experience, you’ll be required to attend an online or face-to-face interview and present evidence in the form of a portfolio of work and examples that demonstrate your suitability and aptitude for the course. The evidence should be presented in electronic format and attested by an independent person. The independent person could be a current or former lecturer or an employer who has a more senior role than yourself. The University is looking for candidates who can demonstrate a clear style and commitment to their professional practice and who will benefit from experiencing this area of study.

We'll consider applications where appropriate work experience can be demonstrated in lieu of, or in addition to, the published academic qualifications in line with the University’s Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) procedures.

If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band (or equivalent).

Please note: it is our practice to interview all applicants. 


Assessment

Assessment tasks are linked to the learning outcomes of each module and are completed before the end of the module. Module assessments typically involve written coursework, project work, oral assessments and portfolios.

Our team of academic and professional staff will use a variety of teaching and learning strategies to help you gain and develop appropriate concepts, knowledge and skills. You can expect practice-based enquiry, self-directed study, lectures, seminars, tutorials, presentations and work-based learning.

It’s important to realise that the time spent with a tutor during formally scheduled activities is only a small part of the learning time identified for a module. You’ll also be expected to spend a significant amount of time in guided independent study, such as general background reading, preparing for seminar activities and working on assignments. We are committed to supporting you throughout your learning journey. Over time, our guidance will purposefully become less structured and prescriptive. This will encourage you to develop confidence and independence in your studies and take responsibility for managing your own learning time as you increase in autonomy.

The assessment strategy for the programme is designed to help you achieve the overall aims of the curriculum, as well as the learning outcomes for individual modules. As well as assessing your achievement, it helps to organise and develop your learning. Assessment feedback can help you develop your skills and an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

The types of assessment you’ll be required to complete fall into two general categories: formative and summative. Formative assessments help in learning and developing knowledge and skills. Summative assessments, on which grades are allocated, reflect the quality of the learning that has been achieved. Formative assessment will take place via tutorial discussion, group workshops including peer and tutor review, and guidance on work in progress. Formative feedback will be provided face-to-face via discussion, online or in written form. Summative assessments consist of both practical and applied theoretical work. These will include a range of assessments including practical projects, written work, presentations and portfolios.


Employability

Graduates will gain a competitive edge as VFX specialists in the dynamic and developing creative industries. This is a career-focused postgraduate degree that will support you to develop advanced knowledge and skills. The skills training is combined with project-oriented creative education and will enable you to adapt and develop your practice throughout your future career. 

We’ll guide you to make clear plans as to how you will use your expertise to progress your career during the course. As a graduate of this MA, you will be well prepared to seek employment, promotion, or become self-employed using the professional skills you’ve developed as part of the course. This qualification also forms the basis for doctoral studies if you wish to pursue a career in academia or research and development.  

The course will equip you with a range of transferable, interpersonal, technical, and non-technical skills allowing you to capitalise on diverse career opportunities that exist. Roles could include Compositing Artist, Effects (FX) Technical Director (TD), FX Animator, Multimedia Artist, VFX Artist, VFX Supervisor, Game Artist, Graphic Designer and many more. 


Equipment / software

Students at Backstage Academy benefit from having access to a wide range of specialist equipment, software and technology in line with the latest industry developments - much of which is made possible through our partnerships with some of the industry’s best entertainment technology manufacturers and distributors. 

Depending on your programme of study, this may include:

Sound equipment such as:

  • Desks from Allen & Heath, Avid, Midas and Soundcraft
  • Sound Systems from D&B and KV2 Audio
  • Microphones from Audix, Sennheiser and Shure.

Lighting equipment such as:

  • Wide range of lighting fixtures including Art2000s, Powercubes, moving lights, Source 4s and blinders from Avolites, Chauvet, Chroma-Q, Clay Paky and Prolight
  • Lighting control from Avolites, ChamSys, GrandMA and Hog
  • TitanNet processors from Avolites.

Video equipment such as:

  • Media servers from Avolites, Disguise, Green Hippo and Isadora
  • LED video wall from ROE Visual and Prolights
  • Laser projectors from Epson and Panasonic
  • Video switcher and cameras from Blackmagic Design
  • Networking from Luminex.

Communications equipment from Riedel. 

Software such as: Avolites Ai & Titan, Blacktrax, Disguise, Green Hippo Zookeeper, Isadora, Notch, SketchUp, Smode, Vectorworks, WYSIWYG, Adobe Creative Cloud package and Microsoft Windows 365 suite. 

Rigging equipment such as:

  • Truss from Prolyte and Sixty82
  • Motors from CM Lodestar
  • Load cells from Broadweigh.

Mature / International students

Backstage Academy welcomes students of all ages to study on our degree programmes. 

Unfortunately, we cannot accept international students onto our undergraduate or postgraduate programmes at this time. 


How do i apply?

Applications for our MA Visual Effects for Live Events are made directly to Backstage Academy. 

Please click on the link below to start your application.   

FEES AND FUNDING

To find out more about fees and funding, please visit our Student Finance page.


Make an Enquiry

Please complete our enquiry form via the link below and one of our postgraduate team will be in touch.