Digital Design major - Bachelor of Design

Making the magic

This compilation features a range of student work from the Digital Design department at AUT’s School of Art and Design. These ‘making of’ videos, ‘breakdown’ sequences, and animation exercises and tests expose the often complex creative and technical processes behind creating digital animation and visual effects shots and sequences, much of which is invisible in the finished work.

In taking on these creative challenges, Digital Design students learn to develop their skills as visual effects and animation artists, through creative and imaginative visual storytelling and communication through the mastery of a range of moving image, animation and graphics software tools.

Click here for more student videos.

Digital design skills are in high demand in a range of moving image, interactive and immersive fields, including 3D animation, visual effects, gaming, cinematic production, motion graphics, motion capture, and augmented and virtual reality.

New Zealand is a world leader in the development and use of innovative technologies in the entertainment industry, including cinema, television, gaming, mobile applications and online platforms. This has also benefitted other areas like architecture, health, education, engineering, data visualisation, and fine arts practice to name a few.

The Digital Design major focuses on the following pathways:

While this pathway focuses primarily on 3D digital character animation, a thorough grounding in the principles of animation also enables the exploration of stop-motion, 2D animation, motion graphics, motion capture, augmented/virtual reality, and stylistic applications ranging from photorealism to illustrative design. You will explore animation from idea generation to creating an industry-standard short project. Our students have been employed in a variety of areas of the industry, including motion graphics, character animation and motion capture at Weta, art direction and animation for local studios.

Visual Effects
Visual effect (VFX) are present in most contemporary films and advertisements. VFX can seamlessly combine real and digital elements such as actors in digital environments, digitally recreate natural phenomena like fire, water, snow, landscapes/urban environments, and generate the spectacular effects that blockbuster movies are renowned for – explosions, pyrotechnics, stormy oceans, and fur-clad gorillas. Through the art of compositing, VFX can imaginatively juxtapose surreal elements, and title sequences, motion capture, and augmented/virtual reality scenes also fall under the VFX umbrella. Our graduates have been employed by Weta, local studios, overseas production houses, and have also exhibited work in an art gallery context.

The Gaming pathway not only provides students with an understanding of game mechanics and the technical skills to create and publish their own games, but also investigates essential concepts like narratology/ludology, environmental storytelling, interactivity, and participatory experience. In addition, the growing area of augmented/virtual reality is enfolded within the gaming skill-set. Students learn the creative pipeline from brainstorming to game creation. Both commercial and independent/experimental approaches are explored, including real-life projects for industry. Students have been employed as designers and technicians for local and overseas gaming studios, and virtual reality projects.

These pathways can overlap and combine flexibly, and encompass other key areas like motion capture, cinematic production and motion graphics. For example a student project might bring together live action and digital elements in a cinematic visual effects production, or combine 3D animation with interactivity for a gaming or virtual reality experience.

Key features

•    Growing demand for digital design skills, not just in the entertainment industry
•    Studio, lab-based learning environment with a fully equipped green-screen studio, games lab, stop-motion animation room, and virtual reality lab
•    You will have access to AUT's state-of-the-art Motion Capture Lab
•    60 hours of work experience in a field of your choice in the final year of study for organisations such as Flux Animation Studio, Watermark, Toybox, Assembly, TV3 Auckland, Ogilvy Advertising, Yukfoo Animation, Brandspank Ltd, Images and Sound, Fish ‘n’ Clips, and One To One Hundred, Staples VR etc.
•    Be involved in live industry projects
•    Present your final year work to the media and industry through the annual AUT Art and Design festival
•    When you graduate, you will be career-ready and have the skills necessary to further your development in this field

More information about the Bachelor of Design

Career opportunities 

Digital Design Future Career sheet

•    3D animator
•    Game designer
•    Visual effects artist
•    Motion capture artist
•    Virtual reality designer
•    Data visualisation
•    User experience designer
•    Motion graphic designer
•    Editor
•    Cinematographer
•    Art director
•    Interactive designer
•    Postgraduate research

Entry requirements

  • University Entrance
  • Portfolio of art work
  • An interview may be required
  • Applicants for whom English or Māori is not their first language must provide proof of their English proficiency. IELTS (academic), completed within the last two years is the preferred test for entry. Minimum IELTS (academic) requirements are as folloWZ: 6.5 overall with all bands 6 or higher


All papers are delivered over one semester and are worth 15, 30 or 45 points. You will need to complete 120 points each year and 360 points for the entire degree. In each year you will study and complete core compulsory papers within your major and selected minor.

See list of minors

Year 1 papers

Level 5:
DIGD501 Digital Design Studio I (30 points)
DIGD502 Digital Design Studio II (30 points)
DIGD503 Introduction to 3D Animation (15 points)
DIGD504 Theory and Context I (15 points)
DIGD505 Theory and Context II (15 points)
In addition you will study one paper at level 5 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 2 papers
Level 6:
DIGD601 Digital Design Studio III (30 points)
DIGD602 Digital Design Studio IV (30 points)
DIGD603 Theory and Context III (15 points)
DIGD604 Theory and Context IV (15 points)
In addition you will study two papers at level 6 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 3 papers

Level 7:
DIGD701 Digital Design Studio V (30 points)
DIGD702 Digital Design Studio VI (45 points)
DIGD703 Theory and Context V (15 points)
DIGD708 Professional Practice for Digital Design (15 points)

In addition you will study one paper at level 7 from the minor that you have selected.

Click here for more information about papers.

Additional course information can also be found here

Enrolment in papers is subject to meeting all prerequisite requirements and availability of enrolment space in each paper.


Please email for programme information.

Last updated: 13-Dec-2017 3.45pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.