Advanced Visual FX (Virtual Production) Diploma – Bow Valley College





$67,050 CAD


2 years




On campus

about the course

What will you learn?

In the Advanced VFX (Virtual Production) Diploma students will learn the fundamentals and workflows of visual effects, as well as how to manage their work down the virtual production pipeline. Specializations taught in VFX include modelling, sculpting, texturing/surfacing, lighting, and compositing. Students will experience a real-world industry environment as they learn skills in quick problem-solving, teamwork, and collaboration.

This program takes students through the fundamentals of cinematography, photography, and real-world lighting before they are taken into the 3D virtual space. Students are taught how to use a range of industry-standard software and tools including Maya, zBrush, Substance Painter, Houdini, and VRay. Throughout the program students will create a portfolio of VFX shots for a demo reel with work created on their own and in collaborative projects.

student gallery

Graduate with an outstanding portfolio

Use industry-standard programs

Learn how to use Unreal and other virtual production software.

Showcase the skills you have learned

Complete the program with a demo reel of work.

course structure

term 1

This entry-level course covers the basics of photography as they apply to Digital SLR cameras. Covering traditional aspects such as exposure, depth-of-field, and composition, the course also delves into basic digital controls such as white balance, histograms, and elemental workflow.

Students will learn the entire production pipeline from story idea and development to recording animations to tape. The language, processes and equipment of digital animation and its production environment are discussed. The focus of this course is on titling, image processing, compositing and 3D animation.

Cinematics focuses on language and techniques of filmmaking particularly how it relates to Animation and Visual Effects. The course covers such areas as story, shooting, editing as well as how to critically analyze film content as an education tool. Students will board, shoot, and edit a film as well as analyze examples of film production to understand why choices in filmmaking are made.

This survey course provides the foundation for all future animation studies by introducing students to principles of animation through the art of experimental and stop motion animation. Students will gain hands-on experience with techniques including the media of clay, paper cutouts, found objects, pixilation, and stop motion puppets.

term 2

This course introduces editing theory and practice through the editing of an animated film on a technical level while making informed editing decisions. Students will learn to competently edit digital video and audio files using Final Cut Pro and prepare the results for DVD and web delivery.

This course will provide students with an introduction to professional preproduction with an emphasis on idea generation, concept design, visual development, and storyboarding. The latest techniques of preproduction as used in animation and VFX will be introduced to students.

This course covers the basic concepts of 3D Modeling and animation as it pertains to VFX. Fluids, nParticles, nCloth, hair, fur, and soft/rigid bodies are introduced in a production setting toward the goal of developing a portfolio project.

Photoshop Level 1 is an introduction to the photographic tools, panels and creative applications of Adobe Photoshop. This course is designed to provide photographers and designers with the basic knowledge and fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop as well as the key skills necessary to achieve professional-looking results for your images. You will learn to save pictures in different formats, select and transform areas of an image, apply filters and effects and work with layers.

term 3

Students have an opportunity to step back and survey the body of their work. The student and faculty analyze and identify strengths, weaknesses and interests to set a course towards a clear and committed emphasis. This class is the first step in portfolio development to meet current standards in the industry.

In this course, the business of pre-production management in feature animation, game and post-production visual effects entertainment project workflows will be introduced. Students will be trained in the professional practices entailed in the start-to-finish cultivation and delivery of entertainment projects. Students will receive hands-on training by selecting and producing several commercial projects during the semester.

Students are exposed to intermediate concepts needed for successful compositing. Class projects include bluescreen removal, traveling mattes, image correction and an introduction to the production pipeline used in professional film and TV work.

This course grounds students in the artistic and technical fundamentals of texturing and lighting, providing a solid foundation for further study in the field.

term 4

This course is designed to give students the tools they need to understand the role of the Director of Photography during visual effects filming. Students will learn the basics of lighting and videotaping for the bluescreen. The course also deals with the differences and similarities of live acting lighting and CG lighting.

This course offers a full overview of post visual-effects procedures for television and film production, including such topics as wire removal and image rotoscoping. Emphasis is placed on the use of film background plates and the ability of the student to break down effects shots effectively.

This course will present a comprehensive overview of 3D camera tracking on live action. Students will learn how to prepare for a matchmove in a live action set, through measurements of the environment, camera information, and applying tracking markers.

In this course, students will learn the basics of FX in Houdini. Through the use of optimization, students will be introduced to proceduralism, including randomization, particle velocity, and position, the basics of Houdini’s scripting language VEX, RBD simulations, and basic output render attributes.

term 5

This course gives students a solid foundation in scripting and basic programming skills using Mel and Python. The course expands the skills of visual effects artists who aim to pursue a career in technical direction, VFX look development, and effects animation.

This course offers further exploration of the texturing and lighting process using advanced techniques. Topics include subsurface scattering, image-based lighting, render passes, and texture hierarchy construction. Our class project will focus on texturing and lighting a human character and integrating them into feature scene lighting.

In this class, students will explore, render, and light realistic water and fluid simulations using Real Flow 4 software. Students will determine when to use Real Flow vs. Maya Fluids. Intense rendering problems caused by complex lighting schemes and machine limitations will allow students to analyze and improve their skills.

This course covers advanced compositing techniques including image projection, basic plug-in creation, mesh warping, and advanced colour correction. Students will continue to further their keying skills and overall approach to a shot. Attention to detail, efficiency of workflow and protecting image quality will be continually monitored. The 3D camera will be explored.

term 5

The first of four sequential final project courses for 3ADP, the goal of this class is to begin developing a professionally marketable reel comprised of the student’s best work. The student will select an appropriate framework for their assembly and will work with the instructor to tailor their portfolio toward employment opportunities. As in all final project courses, the student will hone client/artist relationships by practicing the art of presentation and behavioral skills, and will develop consistent identity, resumé, reel packaging and stationary systems.

The second of four sequential final project courses for 3ADP, the goal of this class is to establish and adhere to a portfolio production schedule akin to industry standards. In the continued aim of developing a professionally marketable reel, the student will create effective employment outreach and promotional materials. As in all final project courses, the student will hone client/artist relationships by practicing the art of presentation and behavioral skills, and will develop consistent identity, resumé, reel packaging and stationary systems.

The third of four sequential final project courses for 3ADP, the goal of this class is to enhance the student’s professional communication skills with a particular focus on resumés, networking, and giving presentations. As in all final project courses, the student will hone client/artist relationships by practicing the art of presentation and behavioral skills, and will develop consistent identity, resumé, reel packaging and stationary systems.

The last of four sequential final project-based courses for 3ADP, the goals of this class are to synthesize outcomes from the previous final project courses to create their final version of a professionally marketable reel and to finalize preparations for job applications. The course also covers such pertinent topics as labour law, creating a professional website, and marketing oneself to prospective employers. Throughout this course students will engage with an industry partner to create a marketable version of a professional reel that meets their needs.


How to apply to this course?


$ 38,045 CAD
  • Apply now for the next intake


$ 67,050 CAD
  • Apply now for the next intake

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