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Film and Animation MFA

Semester Requirements

Malcolm Spaull, Chair of Film and Animation
(585) 475-2779, mgscdm@rit.edu

http://cias.rit.edu/schools/film-animation/graduate-film-and-animation

Program overview

The MFA program in film and animation enjoys state-of-the-art facilities. Students can create 2D and 3D animation that is unique. It is the only such program housed in a School of Film and Animation with full production facilities, as well as the additional support of highly specialized faculty in photography, imaging science, computer science, information technology, and printing.

Goals

The program provides students with the opportunity to use animation, filmmaking, and other imaging arts as a means to:

  • pursue a career and earn a livelihood,
  • enrich their personal lives and society as a whole, and
  • encourage a sense of community, creativity, scholarship, and purpose.

Curriculum

The MFA in film and animation offers four options:

(1) 2D animation concentrates on traditional forms drawn by hand, a mixture of both traditional and digital, or all digital origination. Students may concentrate their studies on stop motion puppet animation.

(2) 3D animation courses focus on advanced 3D modeling, lighting, texturing, and animating in a 3D space.

(3) Production allows students to develop and refine their creative approach to fictional narrative, documentary, and experimental work.

(4) Scriptwriting is an opportunity for students to complete short films with a concentration in creating feature length screenplays.

All four options require two years of course work and a thesis project. A complete film is required of all the first year students, a complete film or script is required in the second year, and a more ambitious thesis film or feature length script is required in the third year.

A minimum of 65 semester credit hours of graduate work is outlined below. The curriculum does not include bridge work, which refers to any undergraduate work required by action of the admission committee in accepting a particular applicant who may be deficient in a particular area, nor does it include undergraduate prerequisites for graduate courses.

Film and animation (2D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
Choose one of the following: 3
   SOFA-603    2D Animation I: Fundamentals  
   SOFA-617    Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals  
SOFA-627  Pre-production for Animators  3
SOFA-630  Animation Film Language Seminar  2
SOFA-605  Basic Sound Recording  3
SOFA-611 History and Aesthetics of Animation  3
SOFA-622  30-Second Film  3
Choose one of the following: 3
   SOFA-604    2D Animation II: Mechanics  
   SOFA-623    Stop Motion Master Class  
SOFA-625  Animated Acting Principles  3
SOFA-628  Animation Writing and Visual Storytelling  3
Second Year
SOFA-717  Animation Workshop  4
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
SOFA-725 Business Careers and Animation 3
SOFA-728 Concept and Character Design 3
  SOFA Electives 15
Third Year
SOFA-790  Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890  Research and Thesis II  4
Total Semester Credit Hours 65

Film and animation (3D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-605 Basic Sound Recording 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-615 3D Animation Fundamentals 3
SOFA-627 Pre-production for Animators 3
SOFA-630 Animation Film Language Seminar 2
SOFA-611 History and Aesthetics of Animation 3
SOFA-622 30-Second Film 3
SOFA-625 Animated Acting Principles 3
SOFA-628 Animation Writing and Visual Storytelling 3
SOFA-695 Advanced 3D Animation 3
Second Year
SOFA-717 Animation Workshop 4
SOFA-675 Lighting and Texturing 3
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
SOFA-725 Business Careers and Animation 3
  SOFA Electives 15
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 65

Film and animation (production option), MFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-602 Production Processes 4
SOFA-605 Basic Sound Recording 3
SOFA-606 Directing the Actor for F & V 3
SOFA-613 Graduate Screenwriting I 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-621 Spring Film 3
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
  SOFA Production Elective 3
Second Year
SOFA-711 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 3
SOFA-721 Fall Film 3
SOFA-735 Business and Careers in Film 3
SOFA-763 Cinematography and Ligthing 3
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
  History & Aesthetics Elective 3
  SOFA Electives 6
  Free Electives 6
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 63

Film and animation (scriptwriting option), MFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-602 Production Processes 4
SOFA-605 Basic Sound Recording 3
SOFA-606 Directing the Actor for Film and Video 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-613 Graduate Screenwriting I 3
SOFA-626 Writing the Short Film 3
SOFA-621 Spring Film 3
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
Second Year
SOFA-663 Writing the Feature I 3
SOFA-664 Writing the Feature II 3
SOFA-711 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 3
SOFA-721 Fall Film 3
SOFA-735 Business and Careers in Film 3
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
  SOFA Elective 3
  Free Electives 6
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 63

Electives

SOFA elective courses are available in animation, film, video, multimedia, screenwriting, printmaking, painting, sculpture, communication design, museum studies, crafts, bookmaking, typography, color photography, new media, studio photography, advertising photography, perception, sensitometry, computer graphics, art history, and archival preservation and conservation. There are also opportunities for independent studies, internships, and concentrations.

Thesis

Specific instructions pertaining to the thesis are available in the “MFA Guide for Students and Faculty: Policy Regarding Student Work.” The School of Film and Animation reserves the right to retain copies of student-produced films to be used for educational purposes, to show to prospective students, and as examples of student productions.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MFA in film and animation, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university,
  • Submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates the applicant's skills, visual sophistication, and aesthetic awareness,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit two letters of recommendation,
  • Submit a personal statement of purpose detailing why the candidate wants to attend graduate school and what they will bring to the program, and
  • Complete a graduate application.

Scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are not required for admission. Applicants who are capable of good academic work as well as artistic visual expression, and who demonstrate an interest in the exploration of new artistic ideas and experiences, will be favored. The graduate faculty makes recommendations based on the above interlocking criteria.

Students who are evaluated to have MFA potential but need additional study in preparation for graduate courses will be advised to take such courses either prior to entrance or during their first year of study.

All correspondence concerning applications or catalogs should be addressed to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. Students interested in the program should have their application process completed by January 15. Applications received later than January 15 are considered on a space-available basis.

Portfolio

The review committee is looking for work that is original in concept and content. It does not need to necessarily be motion media, but should be visual or aural. Examples include films/videos, photos, drawings, paintings, sculpture, stop motion puppets, scripts, storyboards, and original music.

Applicants must present what they consider to be the best of their work, not all of their work. Films or videos should total 12-minutes or less. A complete work is preferable to a demo reel. If there are no short works then a 12-minute excerpt of a longer piece is acceptable.

Applicants must place their portfolios on a Web or FTP site, such as Vimeo or Youtube, which can be easily accessed by RIT faculty for review. Your application should include a URL Web or FTP address to your online portfolio. If your portfolio is placed on a shared Web or FTP site that contains other files, be sure the file name contains your full name (which must match the name used on your application materials). When applicable, please include any usernames and/or passwords necessary for access to your portfolio. Please provide an inventory sheet or table of contents with your portfolio, and if it is not obvious, clearly indicate what your combination was to group and collaborative pieces. This can be a separate description or can be included in the portfolio presentation.

Applicants are also required to produce a 2 to 3 minute video self-portrait to accompany the online portfolio. This should icnlude information about the applicant, why you want to attend the School of Film and Animation, and what concentration you wish to pursue and why. Please include information about one significant accomplishment you have made. Sound and picture quality should be clear.

For more information about portfolio guidleines as well as assistance in uploading an online portflio, contact Graduate Enrollment Services.

Transfer credit

Graduate-level course work taken prior to admission should be submitted for approval upon entrance into the program. Up to 8 semester credit hours of graduate work with a grade of B or better is transferable and may be counted toward the MFA degree, with the approval of the graduate faculty.

Grades

Studenrs must maintain a B (3.0) average GPA to meet graduation requirements for the MFA. Thesis hours are usually completed over several semesters. Acceptance or rejection of the thesis is made by the candidate’s thesis board and the graduate faculty.

Maximum time limit

University policy requires that graduate programs be completed within seven years of the student's initial registration for courses in the program. Bridge courses are excluded.

Screenings

Screenings are required for all student-produced films and are coordinated through the professor or the thesis chair.

[arrow] Click to view program requirements in the Quarter Calendar

Quarter Curriculum - For Reference Only

Effective fall 2013, RIT will convert its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. The following content has been made available as reference only. Currently matriculated students who began their academic programs in quarters should consult their academic adviser for guidance and course selection.

Program overview

The MFA program enjoys state-of-the-art facilities. Students can create computer animation that is unique. It is the only such program housed in a School of Film and Animation with full production facilities, as well as the additional support of highly specialized faculty in photography, imaging science, computer science, information technology, and printing.

Goals

The program’s goals provide students with the opportunity to use animation, filmmaking, and other imaging arts as a means to:

  • pursue a career and earn a livelihood,
  • enrich their personal lives and society as a whole, and
  • encourage a sense of community, creativity, scholarship, and purpose.

Curriculum

Degree requirements

The MFA degree in film and animation provides students with four options:

(1) The live action (film production) option allows students to develop and refine their creative approach to fictional narrative, documentary, and experimental work.

(2) Scriptwriting is an opportunity for students to complete short films with a concentration in creating feature length screenplays.

(3) 2D animation concentrates on traditional forms drawn by hand, a mixture of both traditional and digital, or all digital origination. There is also the possibility of concentrating on stop motion puppet animation.

(4) 3D computer animation focuses on advanced 3D modeling, lighting, texturing, and animating in a 3D space.

All four options require two years of course work and a thesis project. A complete film is required of all the first year students, a complete film or script is required in the second year, and a more ambitious thesis film or feature length script is required of the third year.

A minimum of 90 quarter credit hours of graduate work is outlined below. The 90 hours do not include undergraduate work required by action of the MFA admission committee in accepting a particular applicant, nor do they include undergraduate prerequisites for graduate courses.

Distribution of work within the following course sequences is subject to modification based upon the candidate’s background, abilities, and interests. An individualized course of study will be prepared with the advice of the graduate faculty and made a matter of record. Modifications in this prescribed program thereafter must be approved and recorded.

Semester conversion
Effective fall 2013, RIT will convert its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. Each program and its associated courses have been sent to the New York State Department of Education for approval of the semester plan. For reference, the following charts illustrate the typical course sequence for this program in both quarters and semesters. Students should consult their graduate program adviser with questions regarding planning and course selection.

Film and animation (2D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

 CoursesQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2065-222 Film Language 4
2065-611 Graduate Production 4
2065-711 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-721 Animation and Graphic Film 4
2065-727 Scriptwriting for Animation 4
2065-732 Basic Sound Recording 3
2065-737 2D Computer Animation I 4
2065-738 2D Computer Animation II 4
2065-741 Graduate Drawing for Animators: Dynamics 3
2065-742 Graduate Drawing for Animators: Sequence 3
2065-747 Introduction to Computer Animation 4
2065-751 Introduction to 3D Drawn Animation 3
2065-771 Graduate Seminar I 2
2065-783 Acting for Animation 4
Second Year
2065-701 History and Aesthetics: Animation 4
2065-712 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-743 Graduate Drawing for Animators: Characters 3
2065-744 Business of Animation 2
2065-762 Stop Motion Animation 4
2065-796 Programming for Animators 4
2065-813 Career Preparation 2
2065-818 Advanced Storyboard and Layout 4
2065-841 Research Seminar 2
2065-843 Research Seminar Thesis Preparation 2
  Electives 8
Third Year
2065-890 Thesis and Research 12
Total Quarter Credit Hours
93

Film and animation (3D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

 CoursesQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2065-222 Film Language 4
2065-611 Graduate Production 4
2065-702 History and Aesthetics: Film and Animation 4
2065-711 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-721 Animation and Graphic Film 4
2065-727 Scriptwriting for Animation 4
2065-732 Basic Sound Recording 3
2065-737 2D Computer Animation I 4
2065-748 Intermediate 3D Computer Animation 4
2065-747 Introduction to 3D Computer Animation 4
2065-751 Introduction to Drawn Animation 3
2065-771 Graduate Seminar I 2
Choose one of the following: 4
   2065-783    Acting for Animation  
   2065-745    Acting for Film and Animation  
   2065-746    Directing the Actor  
  Elective 3-4
Second Year
2065-712 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-744 Business of Animation 2
2065-762 Stop Motion Animation 4
2065-796 Programming for Animators 4
Choose one of the following: 4
   2065-791    Particle Effects  
   2065-766    Advanced Modeling for Animation  
2065-841 Research Seminar 2
2065-843 Research Seminar Thesis Preparation 2
  Electives 16
Third Year
2065-890 Thesis and Research 12
Total Quarter Credit Hours
93

Film and animation (live action production option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

 CoursesQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2065-222 Film Language 4
2065-611 Graduate Production 4
2065-701 History and Aesthetics of Film 4
2065-711 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-717 Production Processes 6
2065-724 Live-Action Pre-Production 3
2065-732 Basic Sound Recording 3
2065-733 Graduate Screen Writing 3
2065-746 Directing the Actor 4
2065-771 Graduate Seminar I 2
2065-774 Post Production Processes 4
2065-776 Dramatic Structure of Film and Television 4
  Elective 4
Second Year
2065-713 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-726 Live Action Seminar 2
2065-734 Graduate Screen Writing II 4
2065-736 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 4
2065-764 Business of Film/Video 3
2065-768 Lighting for Film/Video Production 3
2065-843 Research Seminar (Thesis Preparation) 2
  Electives 17-20
Third Year
2065-890 Research and Thesis 12
Total Quarter Credit Hours 92

Film and animation (scriptwriting option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

 CoursesQtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2065-222 Film Language 4
2065-611 Graduate Production 4
2065-701 History and Aesthetics of Film 4
2065-711 Film and Animation Core 4
2065-717 Special Topics: Production Processes 6
2065-724 Special Topics: Live-Action Pre-Production 3
2065-733 Graduate Screen Writing 3
2065-734 Graduate Screen Writing II 4
2065-746 Directing the Actor 4
2065-771 Graduate Seminar I 2
2065-774 Post Production Processes 4
2065-776 Dramatic Structure of Film and Television 4
Second Year
2065-726 Special Topics: Live Action Seminar 2
2065-754 Writing The Feature I 4
2065-755 Writing The Feature II 4
2065-736 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 4
2065-764 Business of Film/Video 3
2065-843 Research Seminar (Thesis Preparation) 2
  Writing Elective 4
  Electives 18-24
Third Year
2065-890 Research and Thesis 12
Total Quarter Credit Hours 92

Film and animation (2D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
Choose one of the following:  3
    SOFA-603    2D Animation I: Fundamentals  
   SOFA-617    Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals  
SOFA-627  Pre-Production for Animators  3
SOFA-630  Animation Film Language Seminar  2
SOFA-605  Basic Sound Recording  3
SOFA-611 History and Aesthetics of Animation  3
SOFA-622  30-Second Film  3
Choose one of the following: 3
   SOFA-604    2D Animation II: Mechanics  
   SOFA-623    Stop Motion Master Class  
SOFA-625  Animated Acting Principles  3
SOFA-628  Animation Writing and Visual Storytelling  3
Second Year
Choose one of the following: 3
   SOFA-704    2D Animation III: Camera and Sequence   
   SOFA-772     Frame by Frame Techniques   
SOFA-717  Animation Workshop  4
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar  
SOFA-725 Business Careers and Animation  
  SOFA Electives 15
Third Year
SOFA-790  Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890  Research and Thesis II  4
Total Semester Credit Hours 65

Film and animation (3D animation option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-615 3D Animation Fundamentals 3
SOFA-627 Pre-Production for Animators 3
SOFA-630 Animation Film Language Seminar 2
SOFA-605 Basic Sound Recording 3
SOFA-611 History and Aesthetics of Animation 3
SOFA-622 30-Second Film 3
SOFA-616 Intermediate 3D Animation 3
SOFA-625 Animated Acting Principles 3
SOFA-628 Animation Writing and Visual Storytelling 3
Second Year
SOFA-716 Advanced 3D Animation 3
SOFA-717 Animation Workshop 4
  SOFA Electives 15
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
SOFA-725 Business Careers and Animation 3
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 65

Film and animation (production option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-613 Graduate Screenwriting I 3
SOFA-606 Directing the Actor for F & V 3
SOFA-608 Dramatic Structure 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-602 Production Processes 4
SOFA-605 Basic Sound Recording 3
SOFA-621 Spring Film 3
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
  SOFA Production Elective 3
Second Year
SOFA-721 Fall Film 3
SOFA-763 Cinematography and Lighting 3
SOFA-711 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 3
SOFA-735 Business and Careers in Film 3
SOFA-780 Thesis Preparation Seminar 1
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
  SOFA Electives 6
  Free Electives 6
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 66

Film and animation (scriptwriting option), MFA degree, typical course sequence (semesters), effective fall 2013

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
SOFA-601 Graduate Production 3
SOFA-613 Graduate Screenwriting I 3
SOFA-606 Directing the Actor for F & V 3
SOFA-608 Dramatic Structure 3
SOFA-610 Graduate Seminar 2
SOFA-602 Production Processes 4
SOFA-626 Writing the Short Film 3
SOFA-621 Spring Film  3
  History and Aesthetics Elective  3
  SOFA Production Elective  3
Second Year
SOFA-721 Fall Film 3
SOFA-663 Writing the Feature I 3
SOFA-711 Theory Via Short Narrative Film 3
SOFA-735 Business and Careers in Film 3
SOFA-664 Writing the Feature II 3
  History and Aesthetics Elective 3
SOFA-735 SOFA Elective 3
  Free Electives 6
Third Year
SOFA-790 Research and Thesis I 4
SOFA-890 Research and Thesis II 4
Total Semester Credit Hours 66

Electives

Elective courses are available in animation, film, video, multimedia, screenwriting, printmaking, painting, sculpture, communication design, museum studies, crafts, bookmaking, typography, color photography, new media, studio photography, advertising photography, perception, sensitometry, computer graphics, art history, and archival preservation and conservation. There are also opportunities for independent studies, internships, and concentrations.

Thesis

Specific instructions pertaining to the thesis are available in the “MFA Guide for Students and Faculty: Policy Regarding Student Work.” The School of Film and Animation reserves the right to retain copies of student-produced films to be used for educational purposes, to show to prospective students, and as examples of student productions.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MFA in film and animation, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university,
  • Submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates the applicant's skills, visual sophistication, and aesthetic awareness,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Submit two letters of recommendation,
  • Submit a personal statement of purpose detailing why the candidate wants to attend graduate school and what they will bring to the program, and
  • Complete a graduate application.

Scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are not required for admission. Applicants who are capable of good academic work as well as artistic visual expression, and who demonstrate an interest in the exploration of new artistic ideas and experiences, will be favored. The graduate faculty makes recommendations based on the above interlocking criteria.

Students who are evaluated to have MFA potential but need additional study in preparation for graduate courses will be advised to take such courses either prior to entrance or during their first year of study. The graduate faculty will make recommendations.

All correspondence concerning applications or catalogs should be addressed to the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. Students interested in the program should have their application process completed by January 15. Applications received later than January 15 are considered on a space-available basis.

Portfolio

The review committee is looking for work that is original in concept and content. It does not need to necessarily be motion media, but should be visual or aural. Examples include films/videos, photos, drawing, paintings, sculpture, stop motion puppets, script, storyboards, and original music.

The applicant must present what they consider to be the best of their work, not all their work. Therefore links to websites and or multiple film reels tapes, DVDs, or CDs will not be reviewed. The film or videos should total 15 minutes or less. A complete work is preferable to a “demo reel”. If there are no short works then a 15-minute excerpt of a longer piece is acceptable.

Please provide an inventory sheet or table of contents. Videos should be on mini-DV, DVDCAM, DVD, or DVDROM. The movie files on a DVDRM must be in QuickTime, MPEG2, MPEG4, or HG.264 format. No AVI or other digital video architecture files, NTSC or ATSC(HD) only. Still images should be on DVDROM or DCROM and be .jpeg or .tiff format; 35mm slides are acceptable but must be in sleeves. No boxes or carousel trays. No more than 30 images. Sound design should be no longer than 10 minutes and on CD format.

Additional information

Faculty

The program is supported by a staff of 18 full-time faculty members and a variety of adjunct faculty members. The program may also borrow faculty and utilize courses from the schools of Photographic Arts and Sciences, Print Media, Art, Design, American Crafts, and the College of Liberal Arts.

Transfer credit

Graduate-level course work taken prior to admission should be submitted for approval upon entrance into the program. Up to 12 quarter credit hours (8 semester credit hours) of graduate work with a grade of B or better is transferable and may be counted toward the MFA degree, with the approval of the graduate faculty.

Grades and time limit

The average of all grades for graduate credit taken at the university must be at least a B (3.0) to qualify for the MFA degree. Thesis hours are usually completed over several quarters. Acceptance or rejection of the thesis is made by the candidate’s thesis board and the graduate faculty. All course work, including an accepted thesis, must be completed within seven years of entrance into the program.

Screenings

Screenings are required for all student-produced films and are coordinated through the professor or the thesis chair.