Science and engineering combine with imaging technologies used in the motion picture industry to prepare students for research engineering roles at technology and entertainment powerhouses like Sony, Technicolor, and Dolby or technical post-production positions in digital color correction, sound design, visual effects, and more.
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.
The BS in motion picture science major provides a science- and engineering-based education in the fundamental imaging technologies used for the motion picture industry. By combining a core curriculum in practical filmmaking from the College of Art and Design and course work from the imaging science major from the College of Science, this major 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, and digital and traditional projection. New facilities provide students with hands-on experience on 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. Graduates enjoy a variety of career opportunities, from feature film and television post-production to imaging equipment design and essential motion imaging technology research and development.
Internet and Software
Movies, TV, and Music
Scientific and Technical Consulting
Government (Local, State, Federal)
Typical Job Titles
Digital Imaging Technician
Special Effects Technician
outcome rate of graduates
median first-year salary of graduates
After an RIT career filled with unique experiences, Anna Dining ’17 (motion picture science) continues to flourish as a professional.
When the Seneca Park Zoo Society needed a way to create detailed 3D computer models of rare insects from Madagascar, they turned to RIT’s imaging science program for help. A multidisciplinary team of first-year students designed and built a new system to tackle the problem and will showcase the final product at the Imagine RIT festival.
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.
This is the second sequenced production course for freshmen film/video students pursuing a concentration of live action production. Emphasis is on a variety of approaches to the edited image. In addition to continuing to develop basic concepts of creating articulate film language in short productions, this course introduces the nature and importance of the sound component in creating cinematic works and focuses on digital workflow. An essential course for students in the film/video curriculum who must be able to create not only images but also mature and appropriate soundtracks for their film and video works.
Introduction to Imaging and Video Systems
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.
Vision and Psychophysics
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.
Innovative Freshmen Experience I
Innovative Freshman Experience I is the first of a two-course sequence. Through the exploration of concepts in physics, math, 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.
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): Physics I
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.
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): Project-Based Calculus I
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.
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Project-Based Calculus II
This is the second 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 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.
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
First Year Writing (WI)
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): University Physics II
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.
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.
Introduction to Computing and Control
This hands-on course is an introduction to computer programming, simple electronics, and the control of electronic devices using commercially available, single-board computers (e.g. Raspberry Pi). Emphasis will be placed on utilizing the analog and digital input/output ports available on these single-board computers to control and acquire data from electronic devices like optical detectors, LED sources, and servo-motors. The use of open-source software libraries to assist in the control and real-time acquisition of image data from peripheral imaging devices and cameras will be covered in detail. The student will be introduced to object-oriented programming using Python. Fundamentals of flow control, object types and creation, input/output, and problem-solving approaches such as the use of randomness, divide-and-conquer, Monte Carlo, and search will be examined in detail and applied to scientific, mathematical, and imaging-specific related problems.
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.
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.
Basic Sound Recording
This course provides specialized knowledge and work in sound to allow the student to be able to distinguish and evaluate proper sound techniques and productions to encourage the beginning of professional work in the sound industry. Each student records audio and prepares a mixed soundtrack to professional quality standards.
This class is intended to introduce the student 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.
Fundamentals of Color Science
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.
IT Fundamentals for Digital Media
Contemporary digital media authoring, processing, and consumption are increasingly dependent on established technologies from the Information Technology (IT) and network computing industries. This class provides an overview of IT and networking fundamentals critical in emerging digital media workflows. Emphasis is placed on the architecture of modern digital media production and post-production facilities. Further, media industry technology standards for cinema, television, internet and mobile consumption will be introduced. This class is designed for students in CIAS and GCCIS who are interested in mastering the basic principles of IT and networking infrastructures used in digital media and broadcast applications.
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
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.
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.
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.
Image Processing and 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.
Choose one of the following:
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.
Digital Effects and Compositing
This course offers 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.
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.
Digital Post-Production Technology (WI)
This course focuses 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.
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
LAS Immersion 1
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.
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.
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.
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
LAS Immersion 2 (WI), 3
Total Semester Credit Hours
(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.
† Please consult adviser for list of SOFA elective courses.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
Motion picture science requires 3 years of math; pre-calculus and physics are recommended.
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.
The School of Film and Animation maintains memberships in a number of professional organizations: Animation World Network, College Art Association, Rochester Audio Visual Association, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, University Film and Video Association, Siggraph, and BEA.