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Studying visual effects

If you're technically inclined but artistic and interested in film or TV, visual effects could be the perfect fit.

What is visual effects?

Visual effects uses computer-generated imagery or other techniques to add to films, TV programmes and videos. That could be adding the background to a performance filmed in front of a green-screen, animating a computer-generated character or adding sparks and explosions to an action scene.

Visual effects combines technical elements with a strong artistic side. Students can learn artistic techniques like life drawing, film fundamentals like framing and lighting, technical skills like digital animation and supporting skills like geometry.

On most courses, you'll be able to specialize in the areas that particularly interest you, and you may be able to do a year's work experience as part of a sandwich course.

Where can visual effects take me?

Visual effects artists are in great demand in film and TV, but that isn't the only option. Visual effects studios also work on adverts, educational videos for museums and lots more. If you're interested in business, you could start your own studio, finding and securing your own commissions as well as working on the finished product.

Remember that your career won't just depend on the qualifications you have on paper: you'll need a portfolio of work that shows off your technical skill and artistic ability, so make sure the work you do shines, whether it's done for your course or on your own time.

What will I need to study visual effects?

For undergraduate courses, many universities have flexible entry requirements based on an interview or a portfolio of your work. However, you may need to have certain results in art and maths at GCSE or A-level, or to take a bridging maths course.

Entry requirements vary depending on the institution and the focus of the course, so make sure you look at a variety of courses to find one that suits you.

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