Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design major - Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design

The Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design major prepares you for the demands of a career in the digital creative industries by giving you a comprehensive grounding in animation, visual effects and game design.

You'll have access to world-class facilities like our green screen, motion capture and virtual reality studios, and our high-end computer labs with a suite of industry standard software. We also have strong and long-established links with industry, and you'll have opportunities to gain professional experience while studying.

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This is part of the Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design.

Start date: 2023

This major offers a lot of flexibility across the animation, visual effects and game design pathways. As well as gaining expertise in a range of digital production tools, you learn to create, communicate and analyse stories, moving image narratives and user experiences in compelling and engaging ways.

If you're a full-time student, you normally complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree).

Year 1

The first semester introduces you to the common foundations of animation, visual effects and game design through a range of creative practice-based work. You'll work individually and in groups in a studio-based environment, using industry-standard software in our computer labs and digital video production spaces. You're also introduced to design-thinking principles and practices, as well as history and theory frameworks.

In the second semester you can choose a specialised pathway in:

  • Animation
  • Visual effects
  • Game design

You also start your minor courses or additional major.

Year 2

You'll study animation, visual effects or game design, working on a series of practice-based projects. You'll also further your critical analysis and trouble-shooting skills, content creation, communication and narrative strategies.

Industry networking opportunities include external guest speakers and workshops.

You also continue with your minor courses or courses from your additional major.

Year 3

You'll complete a major self-directed capstone project. Projects can be individual, in partnership with another student or undertaken as a group project.

You can also carry out work experience as coursework and credit. Expert industry speakers and workshops offer opportunities for networking and feedback.

You'll also complete your final minor course or additional major.

Courses you study

The courses you study depend on your chosen pathway.

Workplace experience

You complete 60 hours of workplace experience. This is a great opportunity to network, gain work experience and develop your show-reel and digital portfolio.

Recent placements as a result of workplace experience include:

  • Weta Digital
  • Staples VR
  • Flux Animation Studio Ltd
  • InGame Ltd
  • Power Rangers TV series
  • Geo AR Games

More details about courses in this programme

Search for a course (Arion)

Email artbox@aut.ac.nz

Enrolment in courses is subject to meeting all requirements and availability of courses.

You can study the following minors when you are enrolled in AUT’s design or visual arts degree:

Explore the process and materiality of animated drawing as a means for ideation and creative expression.

The minor has a studio lab component where you'll examine different animated drawing practices, including life drawing, and produce short animated films, installations, motion graphics, comics, graphic novels and picture books.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Cinematic Arts

Discover the possibilities of filmmaking through analogue and digital cinematography, sound recording and audio design, editing and post-production, storytelling and industry workflow, to make a short narrative, experimental or documentary film.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Contemporary Pacific

Develop your creative practice drawing on contemporary and traditional Pacific concepts, contexts and material culture. Pacific concepts and stories are explored in relation to pattern, movement, and spatial systems.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Creative Entrepreneurship

Build your creative business confidence and capability by combining your creative strengths with business skills and understandings to transform your ideas and concepts for the future.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the courses below, including a Level 7 course or both compulsory core courses ARDN502 and ARDN702, in addition to 30 points from DESN600, DESN601, MARS501, ENTR501 of which at least one course or 15 points must be at level 6.

Level 5 courses

*Subject to CUAP approval

Level 6 courses

Level 7 course

Design for Health

Tomorrow's health and wellbeing will be driven by those who can apply creative and practical problem-solving skills to complex problems. This minor offers a fresh perspective through collaborative and cooperative tools, skills and mindsets. You'll design for positive social impact and lead transformative change in health and wellbeing.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Design for Social and Environmental Justice

Discover how design can make a difference. Explore strategies for social innovation and environmental impact and how these can contribute to towards a more resilient, sustainable and just future.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a mindset and set of creative methods that can be used to interrogate, understand and solve real-life business, social and environmental problems. You'll develop an understanding of the needs of the people you're designing for, experiment and explore creative ideas, and create design solutions.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

This minor is aimed at students who are interested in developing design thinking expertise to support their major discipline area.

Minor must include

60 points from courses listed below including DESN501 with at least 15 points at level 7

Digital Fabrication

Explore how digital fabrication can facilitate art and design creative practices, through the utilisation

and application of a range of current and emergent technologies.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Experimental Surface Design

Get involved in the experimental development of surface practice across a range of disciplines and potential applications. This minor emphasises the importance of learning through making and the relationship between the maker, the materials, the process of making and the work.

Students develop conceptual and technical surface design knowledge through applied materials practice.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you'll study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Extended Reality

Explore extended reality technologies - XR, VR, AR and MR - as tools for design and ideation for creating immersive user experiences across a range of design and creative practices.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

In Print: Publishing Practices

Experiment with traditional and contemporary publishing practices using a range of media, conventions and technologies. Explore and design with text and image to develop personal, professional and community voices through the published artefact.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Motion Capture

Explore motion capture (mocap) technology that records human movement as 3D data for use in a range of design and creative disciplines.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Photographic Practice

Discover visual conventions and develop technical competencies to include DSLR camera fundamentals, exposure and lighting control, composition principles and image making strategies for project outcomes.

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Temporary Practices/Temporary Publics

As artists and designers, we are interested in practising by making – doing projects that have currency and real-world capacity. We work through ideas of site, collaboration and publication in order to create events. Temporary Practices is an experimental, creative field of making. This minor supports the development of work across a range of disciplines and potential applications by using AUT facilities (3D Lab, WetLab, Bindery, Risograph printer).

Courses are delivered over one semester for each course and are worth 15 points each. You will need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you will study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

Add an additional major or a minor to your bachelor’s degree and study another area that interests you. You can choose from a wide range of additional majors or minors.

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

The Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design major focuses on the following pathways. These pathways can overlap and combine flexibly, and encompass other key areas like motion capture, cinematic production, motion graphics, and virtual and augmented reality.

Animation pathway

While this pathway focuses primarily on 3D character animation, it also offers opportunities for stop-motion, 2D animation, motion graphics, motion capture, character/creature design, and stylistic applications ranging from photorealism to illustrative design.

You’ll explore animation from idea generation to iterative designing, performance creation, and creating an industry-standard animated short.

Our graduates now work in a variety of areas, including character animation for local and international animation studios like Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Framestore, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Soul Machines, Animal Logic, Luma Pictures and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Visual effects pathway

The visual effects (VFX) pathway covers live action and green screen filming, compositing, tracking, and dynamic simulation effects using a range of industry software like Nuke and Houdini. We’re a certified Houdini partner, providing industry level education for using Houdini in advanced procedural dynamic simulations.

You’ll learn everything from seamlessly combining live action and digital elements to generating the spectacular simulation effects that blockbuster movies are known for – including alien creatures, explosions, pyrotechnic effects, weather systems, forests, stormy oceans, clothing and fur-clad gorillas.

Our graduates are now employed by local and international VFX companies like Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic and Industrial Light and Magic.

Game design pathway

Through the game design pathway you’ll develop a foundational understanding of game design and game technology.

You explore game mechanics, asset creation and basic scripting in both Unity3D and Unreal Engine. You also become familiar with the fundamentals of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and apply them in your projects. The final-year project enables you tailor your skills towards your future career goals. Some students take a game art heavy approach, whereas others tend to focus on development or play and interactivity design.

Our graduates work as designers, artists, producers and developers for local and overseas game companies, including high profile studios like Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile) and Ninja Kiwi (Bloonz).

  • 2D/3D animator
  • Visual effects artist
  • Games designer
  • Virtual reality artist
  • Interactive designer
  • Motion capture artist
  • Motion designer
  • Working in the film industry

Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

Key features
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities
  • Strong ties to key industry organisations, including Weta
  • Growing demand for digital design skills, in the entertainment industry and beyond
  • 60 hours of work experience in the digital design industry
See yourself as
  • A story-teller
  • Technologically savvy
  • Visually creative
  • A problem-solver
  • Innovative
Lily Martin-Babin
Michaela Dodd
Nathania Sum
Reuben Terehu Shortland
Marco Andrew Staines

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

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