Motion Picture Science Bachelor of Science Degree

Motion picture science combines imaging science and engineering with the arts to inspire innovation in feature film, television, and animation production.


Outcomes Rate of RIT Graduates from this degree


Average First-Year Salary of RIT Graduates from this degree


Total Square Feet of Facility Space

Facilities in the School of Film and Animation and MAGIC Spell Studios support research and entrepreneurial activities.

Overview for Motion Picture Science BS

Why Study Motion Picture Science at RIT

  • An RIT New Economy Major: This collection of degree programs is forward-thinking and future-forming, and helps prepare you to excel in the multidisciplinary nature of our modern, dynamic economy.
  • World-Class Facilities: Students have access to MAGIC Spell Studios, a facility with industry-standard color correction, sound mixing suites, and much more.
  • Industry Experience: Spend a semester in Los Angeles with Study Away: LA, RIT's semester in LA where you can intern at top studios and entertainment companies.
  • Jobs at Industry Leading Companies: Recent graduates have established distinguished careers at major visual effects companies, post-production studios, and media technology companies including Apple, DreamWorks, Dolby, HBO, Marvel Entertainment, and Netflix.

What’s the last great movie or TV show you saw that made a lasting impression on you? The most ingenious minds behind the most captivating shows and movies apply their knowledge of science and engineering, and use their passion for storytelling to make film, television, and animation possible.

Motion Picture Science 

RIT’s BS in motion picture science provides a science and engineering-based education in the fundamental imaging technologies used for the motion picture industry. By combining a core curriculum in filmmaking, production, and digital cinema from the College of Art and Design and course work from the Imaging Science major in the College of Science, the motion picture science degree prepares students in the art and science of feature film, television, and animation production. Topics include:

  • Film and digital image capture
  • Film scanning
  • Digital image manipulation
  • Color science
  • Visual effects
  • Digital and traditional projection

New facilities provide students with hands-on experience with the same equipment being used in major motion picture production today.

Utilizing research, critical thinking, creativity, and a range of problem-solving principles, students are taught to address complex motion imaging workflow issues within the constraints of time, space, budget, and technology.

Industry Connections

Students are active in making industry connections through:

Hands-On Experience

Study Filmmaking in LA

Study Away: LA gives film and animation majors the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles learning from industry professionals. The bulk of your time will be spent at internships, but you'll also complete two courses that will complement your study-away experience. Learn more about Study Away: LA and how you can gain industry experience in traditional filmmaking, animation, or cutting-edge areas like virtual production in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the global entertainment universe.

Furthering Your Education in Motion Picture Science

Combined Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Degree

Today’s careers require advanced degrees grounded in real-world experience. RIT’s Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees enable you to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in as little as five years of study, all while gaining the valuable hands-on experience that comes from co-ops, internships, research, study abroad, and more.

+1 MBA: Students who enroll in a qualifying undergraduate degree have the opportunity to add an MBA to their bachelor’s degree after their first year of study, depending on their program. Learn how the +1 MBA can accelerate your learning and position you for success.


Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Applied Vision Science Engineer Color Scientist
Compositor Data Wrangler
Digital Imaging Technologist Imaging Engineer
Imaging Scientist Post-Production Engineer
Software Engineer Special Effects Technologist
Sound Designer Sound Engineer
Technical Cinematographer Vault Assistant
Video Editor Production/Operations


  • Government (Local, State, Federal)
  • Internet and Software
  • Movies, TV, and Music
  • Defense

Cooperative Education and Internships

What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries.

Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. An art and design co-op provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your artistic capabilities in dynamic professional settings while you make valuable connections between classwork and real-world applications.

Cooperative education, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities are encouraged for students in the BS in motion picture science.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Motion Picture Science BS

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Motion Picture Science, BS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Freshman Imaging Project I
Freshman Imaging Project I is the first of a two-course sequence. Through the exploration of concepts in physics, mathematics, and computer science, students will experience the creation of a system to address a contemporary technological need through the application of the principles of the scientific method. With the help of faculty and staff from different departments across campus, as well as external experts, students will plan and organize the effort, review current literature applicable to the posed technical challenge, apply hypotheses to address presented scientific questions, conduct experiments to assess technology options, integrate components to create a prototype, and confirm that the prototype and methods meet desired levels of performance. The students will develop a working knowledge of the scientific method and an appreciation for the value of teamwork in technical disciplines, develop the skills required to execute a large project, and increase proficiency in oral and written technical communication. (Academic Level 1, Degree Seeking students.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
Freshman Imaging Project II
Freshman Imaging Project II is the second of a two-course sequence aimed at designing, developing, and building a functional imaging system that will be useful to a “real world” external constituency to achieve its technical goals. With help from faculty and staff from imaging science and other departments across campus, the unified team of students will plan and organize the effort, assess technology options, integrate components, and confirm that the system meets desired levels of performance. Students will develop a general understanding of the foundational concepts of imaging science, a working knowledge of the principles of systems engineering, an appreciation for the value of teamwork in technical disciplines, and practice oral and written technical communication. In this second course of the sequence, students proceed with construction and testing of their system that was designed in COS-IMGS-181. (Prerequisites: MATH-171 or MATH-181 or equivalent course. Co-requisites: (MATH-172 or MATH-173 or MATH-182) and (PHYS-211 or PHYS-211A).) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Vision & Psychophysics (General Education)
This course presents an overview of the organization and function of the human visual system and some of the psychophysical techniques used to study visual perception. (This course is restricted to IMGS-BS, DIGCIME-BS, IMGS-MN and SCIMGS-IM students.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Calculus I (General Education – Mathematical Perspective A)
This is the first in a two-course sequence intended for students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers functions, limits, continuity, the derivative, rules of differentiation, applications of the derivative, Riemann sums, definite integrals, and indefinite integrals. (Prerequisites: MATH-111 or (NMTH-220 and NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275) or equivalent courses with a minimum grade of B-, or a score of at least 60% on the RIT Mathematics Placement Exam. Co-requisites: MATH-181R or equivalent course.) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring).
Calculus II (General Education – Mathematical Perspective B)
This is the second in a two-course sequence. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers techniques of integration including integration by parts, partial fractions, improper integrals, applications of integration, representing functions by infinite series, convergence and divergence of series, parametric curves, and polar coordinates. (Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH-181 or MATH-181A or equivalent course. Co-requisites: MATH-182R or equivalent course.) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring).
University Physics I (General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective)
This is a course in calculus-based physics for science and engineering majors. Topics include kinematics, planar motion, Newton's Laws, gravitation, work and energy, momentum and impulse, conservation laws, systems of particles, rotational motion, static equilibrium, mechanical oscillations and waves, and data presentation/analysis. The course is taught in a workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH-181 or equivalent course. Co-requisites: MATH-182 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
A fundamental course in non-synchronous film production and an introduction to digital video editing. Filmmaking is presented as a means of interpretation and expression. This course combines technical information in motion picture exposure and editing with a theoretical and practical approach to motion picture continuity. Production is in non-sync format and post-production is digital software. Students furnish film, tape and processing. **Fee: There is a lab free required for this course. ** (This class is restricted to 1st and 2nd year students in FILMAN-BFA or DIGCIME-BS.) Lecture 2, Studio 3 (Fall or Spring).
Introduction to Imaging and Video Systems (General Education)
This course provides an introductory overview of the basic engineering and scientific principles associated with imaging systems. Topics covered include imaging physics, photographic science, human vision and perception, image capture and display technologies (both analog and digital), and digital image processing. This course is taught using both mathematical and phenomenological presentation and prepares students to proceed with more in-depth investigation of these fields in subsequent imaging science and motion picture science courses. Accompanying laboratory exercises provide hands-on experience with the presented concepts. (Co-requisite: MATH-171 or MATH-181 or MATH-181A or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
Basic Sound Recording
Students will learn to work with sound and to distinguish and evaluate proper sound techniques for film and animation productions. The course lays the foundation for professional work in the sound industry. Each student records audio and prepares a mixed soundtrack to professional quality standards. (Prerequisite: SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lab 2, Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
Second Year
Object-Oriented Scientific Computing
This project-based course is an introduction to object-oriented computer programming directed at solving scientific problems related to imaging. The student will learn the concepts of object-oriented programming using the most recent C++ programming language standard. Popular project management and modern compilation/build systems will be presented and utilized. Fundamentals of streamed input and output, data types, objects and classes, templates, lambda expressions, flow control, repetition, program decomposition and library development, software engineering/design concepts, and problem-solving approaches such as the use of randomness, divide-and-conquer, Monte Carlo simulation, ill-posed solutions, and search will be examined in detail and applied to scientific, mathematical, and imaging-specific problems. In addition to the base language concepts, students will utilize popular open-source and public-domain libraries such as Boost, Eigen, and OpenCV. (This class is restricted to IMGS-BS or DIGCIME-BS Major students.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Mathematical Methods for Imaging
Probability and Statistics for Imaging
This course introduces the principles of probability and statistics that are used in imaging science. The first half of the course covers probability distributions for discrete and continuous random variables, expectation, variance, and joint distributions. The second half of the course will consider point estimation, statistical intervals, hypothesis testing, inference, and linear regression. (Prerequisites: MATH-173 or MATH-182 or MATH-182A or equivalent course. Students cannot take and receive credit for this course if they have taken MATH-251.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Linear and Fourier Methods for Imaging
This course develops the concepts of complex numbers and linear algebra for describing imaging systems in the frequency domain via the discrete and continuous Fourier transforms. (Prerequisite: MATH-173 or MATH-182 or MATH-182A or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Spring).
Fundamentals of Color Science (General Education)
This course will introduce students to the field of Color Science. Students will learn about the physical sources of color, the visual mechanisms that provide our experience of color, and the descriptive systems that have been developed for relating the physical and visual properties. Through hands-on projects, students will learn practical methods for measuring, modeling, and controlling color in digital imaging systems. (Prerequisites: SOFA-103 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
University Physics II (General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective)
This course is a continuation of PHYS-211, University Physics I. Topics include electrostatics, Gauss' law, electric field and potential, capacitance, resistance, DC circuits, magnetic field, Ampere's law, inductance, and geometrical and physical optics. The course is taught in a lecture/workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: (PHYS-211 or PHYS-211A or PHYS-206 or PHYS-216) or (MECE-102, MECE-103 and MECE-205) and (MATH-182 or MATH-172 or MATH-182A) or equivalent courses. Grades of C- or better are required in all prerequisite courses.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
Animation I (General Education)
This class will introduce students to the gamut of animation thinking and making through classroom instruction and hands-on practical experience. Lecture and readings will emphasize the process, theory and practice of animated filmmaking with extensive film screenings to illustrate each technique and related aesthetics. Hands-on supervised studio sessions will guide students to an intuitive understanding of the process of producing animation and students will use this understanding to analyze various animated works. Each student will develop their personal vision through assigned projects utilizing the material discussed in class. **This course has a facilities fee for Non-SOFA students.** Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall, Spring).
Production Processes
This course is an introduction to all aspects of professional film/video narrative production. Students produce short projects while learning basic shooting and crewing procedures, studio protocol, equipment handling and maintenance, and basic sync editing. (Prerequisites: SOFA-105 or SOFA-205 or equivalent course.) Lecture 2, Studio 10 (Fall or Spring).
General Education – Ethical Perspective
Third Year
Geometric Optics (General Education)
This course introduces the analysis and design of optical imaging systems based on the ray model of light. Topics include reflection, refraction, imaging with lenses, stops and pupils, prisms, magnification and optical system design using computer software. (Prerequisites: PHYS-212 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
Image Processing and Computer Vision I
This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of digital image processing. The student will be exposed to image capture and image formation methodologies, sampling and quantization concepts, statistical descriptors and enhancement techniques based upon the image histogram, point processing, neighborhood processing, and global processing techniques based upon kernel operations and discrete convolution as well as the frequency domain equivalents, treatment of noise, geometrical operations for scale and rotation, and grey-level resampling techniques. Emphasis is placed on applications and efficient algorithmic implementation using the student's programming language of choice. (Prerequisites: IMGS-180 and IMGS-261 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Image Processing & Computer Vision II
This course is considers the more advanced concepts of digital image processing. The topics include image reconstruction, noise sources and techniques for noise removal, information theory, image compression, video compression, wavelet transformations, frequency-domain based applications, morphological operations, and modern digital image watermarking and steganography algorithms. Emphasis is placed on applications and efficient algorithmic implementation using the student’s computer programming language of choice, technical presentation, and technical writing. (Prerequisites: IMGS-361 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Image Capture and Production Technology
This course offers a full investigation of image capture technologies used in contemporary motion picture production. Historical image generation techniques will be provided as an introduction to modern media and equipment. Fundamental characteristics of silver halide photochemical imaging systems will be explored with emphasis on typical metrology and imaging properties. Electronic image capture will also be presented in the context of fundamental imaging properties. Standard film and video workspaces and workflows will be examined as a direct introduction to post-production technologies to be presented in subsequent motion picture science courses. (Prerequisites: SOFA-103 and IMGS-221 and IMGS-351 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
Digital Post Production Technology (WI-PR)
This course will focus on the specific technologies of motion picture post-production and imaging science. Motion content generated via film or electronic technologies on set are ingested into the post-production chain utilizing various optical, opto-mechanical, and electronic systems. Topics will include video standards, telecine transfer, digital color spaces, digital intermediate, special effects, color correction, and image processing. Motion content mastering will be explored as an introduction to exhibition technologies to be presented in the final motion picture science course. Particular emphasis will be placed on production equipment testing, data acquisition and image analyses. (Prerequisites: SOFA-311 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lab 4, Lecture 2 (Spring).
General Education – Artistic Perspective
General Education – Global Perspective
General Education – Immersion 1, 2
Track Elective
Fourth Year
Film Projection and Digital Cinema
As the final course in the motion picture science core technology sequence, this class completes the study of motion picture technologies, focusing on exhibition and display engineering. Topics covered include traditional mechanical film projection, electronic projection and the color science associated with image appearance. Special focus will be given to evolving exhibition standards, image quality evaluations and emerging techniques. The course will conclude with an investigation of 3D technologies and varied distribution models for motion content. (Prerequisites: SOFA-312 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
Senior Project I
In this course student's in their final year begin work on a major student project. Students may work on projects including motion picture engineering, image science research or relevant craft. Students are in charge of their own work, but they work directly with an adviser to track their progress on the project. The class meets one hour each week to provide discussion on project progress and learning. (This class is restricted to students in the DIGCIME-BS program.) Lecture 1 (Fall).
Senior Project II
A continuation of Senior Project I, in this course students in their final year continue work on a major student project. Students may work on projects including motion picture engineering, image science research or relevant craft. Students are in charge of their own work, but they work directly with an adviser to track their progress on the project. The class meets one-hour each week to provide discussion on project progress and learning. (Prerequisites: SOFA-401 or equivalent course and student standing in DIGCIME-BS.) Lecture 1 (Spring).
IT Fundamentals for Digital Media
This course will provide an overview of IT and networking fundamentals critical in emerging digital media workflows. Emphasis will be placed on the architecture of modern digital media production and post-production facilities. Media industry technology standards for cinema, television, internet and mobile consumption will be introduced. This course is designed for students in the College of Art and Design and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences who are interested in mastering the basic principles of IT and networking infrastructures used in digital media and broadcast applications. (Prerequisites: SOFA-103 or NSSA-102 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
General Education – Social Perspective
General Education – Immersion  3
Open Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

Track Electives

Choose one of the following:
This course introduces the concepts of quantitative measurement of electromagnetic energy. The basic radiometric and photometric terms are introduced using calculus-based definitions. Governing equations for source propagation and sensor output are derived. Simple source concepts are reviewed and detector figures of merit are introduced and used in problem solving. The radiometric concepts are then applied to simple imaging systems so that a student could make quantitative measurements with imaging instruments. (Prerequisites: MATH-182 or MATH-182A or MATH-173 and PHYS-212 or equivalent courses.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
 Interactions Between Light and Matter
This course introduces the principles of how light interacts with matter. The principles of atomic physics as applied to simple atoms are reviewed and extended to multi-electron atoms to interpret their spectra. Molecular structure and spectra are covered in depth, including the principles of lasers. The concepts of statistical physics concepts are introduced and applied to the structure of crystalline solids, their band structure and optical properties. These concepts are then used to understand electronic imaging devices, such as detectors. (Prerequisite: PHYS-213 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Documentary Field Practices
This foundation level course introduces students to documentary film as a creative and socially engaging form of storytelling. In addition to aesthetic and conceptual skills, production techniques focus on the ability to develop filming strategies, gathering clean sound, filming to edit, and interviewing skills. In addition, the relationship between filmmaker and subject, will be examined, including the ethical challenges of representing real life subjects. Critical thinking skills will be employed as we analyze the different styles of documentary film. Students will work in small documentary crews out in the field learning the use of microphones, field lighting, handheld and other non-traditional camerawork, selecting/interviewing documentary subjects and capturing material with proper coverage in order to build scenes in the edit room. (Prerequisite: SOFA-101 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
 Introduction to 3D Modeling
Students create models for animation in three-dimensional software. Students learn various modeling, texturing, and lighting techniques that apply to animation and digital cinematography. Students' model, texture and light three-dimensional environments. (Prerequisites: SOFA-121 or equivalent course. Co-requisites: SOFA-107 or equivalent course or student standing in DIGCIME-BS.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Spring).
 After Effects for Animators
This course will teach students the basics of Adobe After Effects. Students will learn production theory as well as gain practical experience in 2.5 D animation production. (Prerequisite: SOFA-107 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
 Virtual Production I
Virtual Production I introduces the theory and practice in the evolving field of virtual cinematic and television production. Students are exposed to the techniques and workflows associated with virtual production and previsualization using current and future hardware and software, computer graphics, immersive technology, real-time rendering, game engines, and practical filmmaking. Technologies addressed include AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) for scouting, environment and asset creation, motion capture for previsualization and real-time production, virtual cinematography, lighting design, real-time visual effects (VFX), and set extension. Students will use project management techniques and work in teams to research and develop an array of pipeline and technology needs for the successful creation of creative narratives. By the completion of the course, students develop a working knowledge of engineering and design thinking and an immersion in the methods of teamwork in the disciplines which enable modern virtual production. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students with at least 2nd year standing.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
 Digital Effects & Compositing
This course will offer hands-on experience in manipulating live action video and applying digital effects. There is an emphasis on digital compositing using rotoscoping, image tracking, alpha channels and transparency. Composites may be accomplished through green screen shooting, transfer modes, masks, and/or traveling mattes. Node based compositing will also be addressed as well. (Prerequisites: SOFA-103 or SOFA-122 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
 Digital Color Correction
This course offers project-based, hands-on color correction with both Da Vinci Resolve and Adobe. Introduction to basic color correction techniques and common tools in the industry will be provided. The course will progress from technical equipment setups and calibration to simple primary color correction to advanced secondary and color separation methods. Through assigned projects, students will be taught how to use tone and color to augment theatrical storytelling and add a dimension of professional finish to their films. (Prerequisite: SOFA-502 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall).
 Digital Color Management
This course offers a comprehensive study of the methods and techniques used to manage and interchange color in digital color-imaging systems. The principles of colorimetry and densitometry will be reviewed and applied specifically to practical color imaging applications. The fundamental colorimetric properties of color imaging media, devices and systems will be explored and compared. Digital color encoding principles will be examined, and the features and limitations of various digital color encoding methods will be described. Course topics will be discussed in terms of their application in commercial color-managed systems, such as the ICC and AMPAS ACES systems. (Prerequisite: IMGS-351 or IMSM-302 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Programming for 3D Animators
This programming course is designed specifically for artists and animators with little or no programming experience. It is designed to give students the ability to solve software problems by making their own tools or finding existing tools. All of the assignments and examples in class are graphics related and will include tools for animation, rigging, particles, texturing and modeling. (Prerequisite: SOFA-215 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Spring).

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is STEM designated when studying on campus and full time.

First-Year Admission

A strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. This includes:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of social studies and/or history
  • 4 years of mathematics is required and must include algebra, geometry, algebra 2/trigonometry, and pre-calculus. Calculus is preferred.
  • 2-3 years of science is required and must include chemistry or physics; both are recommended.

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in liberal arts, science, design, drawing, and film, video, or animation.

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Transfer as a third-year student is uncommon, as comparable programs are not generally available at other colleges.

Learn How to Apply

Financial Aid and Scholarships

100% of all incoming first-year and transfer students receive aid.

RIT’s personalized and comprehensive financial aid program includes scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment programs. When all these are put to work, your actual cost may be much lower than the published estimated cost of attendance.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships

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