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Logo - USC School of Cinematic Arts ANIMATION + DIGITAL ARTS

Our Program

Alicja Jasina

No matter what your career aspirations are, we offer a well-rounded creative learning environment for you to hone your animation skills and explore a multitude of options including 2D and 3D character animation and motion graphics, stop-motion, documentary animation, immersive media, projection mapping and interactive installations.

Many of our graduates have gone on to work for major feature and TV animation studios or top creative content and design companies that integrate art with technology. Some have become independent filmmakers or chose to teach animation at respected institutions. Our students’ work has been recognized by the Academy® and countless animation film festivals.

We nurture the next generation of film and content makers who chose animation as their medium. You will have opportunities to collaborate across the School of Cinematic Arts divisions as well as work in partnerships with other USC students from the Thornton School of Music, the Kaufman School of Dance, the School of Dramatic Arts, the Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Architecture to name a few. In fact, we highly encourage our majors to take advantage of the entire catalog of classes at USC during their time here.

We complement our core requirements with a variety of electives including classes on motion capture, virtual reality design and production, visual music, industry standard software applications like Maya, Houdini, Nuke and Cinema 4D, workshops on character design and masterclasses in storyboarding and cinematography. Our faculty are accomplished digital and traditional artists and professionals from the animation industry and independent media production.

New - BFA Program

Our new BFA Program focuses on front-end creative foundation to build your filmmaking knowledge over four years. You will learn from faculty who specialize in:

  • Compelling storytelling
  • Appealing and contemporary design
  • Subtle performance of animated characters
  • Cinematography and editing for animation
  • Industry standard digital tools

These are the building blocks to make your final film or project and prepare you for your career of choice beyond USC:

Year 1

  • Design Fundamentals / Still Image
  • Introduction to 3D Animation

Year 2

  • Design Fundamentals/Moving Image
  • Writing for Animation
  • Storyboarding for Animation
  • Introduction to Character Animation

Year 3

  • Intermediate Character Performance
  • Cinematography and Editing for Animation
  • Professionalism in Animation
  • Ideation and Pre-Production

Year 4

  • Senior Capstone Film/Project

MFA Program

Our three-year graduate program attracts advanced students from all walks of life seeking to further their animation knowledge and refine their production and motion design skills.

Students are encouraged to explore a diverse array of techniques and tools in both theory and practice in preparation for their thesis film or project. We invite top tier guest lecturers into many of our classes to inspire our students and expose them to the countless career trajectories and pathways beyond their USC education. Over 25% of our MFA degree units are open electives in the School of Cinematic Arts. Required courses include:

Year 1

  • Weekly Guest Speaker Seminar (rotating guest lecturers and alumni panels)
  • Intro to the Art and Fundamentals of Animation (principles of traditional animation techniques)
  • Life Drawing for Animators
  • Ethics Class (taught in mixed SCA divisions based on real life case studies)
  • Expanded Animation Projects (IMAX theater)
  • Storytelling for Animation (writing exercises for animators)
  • Production 1 Project (individual short animation project accomplished in 15 weeks)

Year 2

  • Weekly Guest Speaker Seminar (rotating guest lecturers and alumni panels)
  • Animation Design and Production (in-depth design and production principles and techniques)
  • The Business of Animation (fundamental business skills for animators)
  • Pre-Thesis (development of ideas and storyboards for final thesis film or project)

Year 3

  • Master’s Thesis

Additional Information Links

USC School of Cinematic Arts
John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts

School of Cinematic Arts Catalogue

USC Catalogue / Animation + Digital Arts MFA

USC Catalogue / Animation + Digital Arts Minor

USC Full Schedule of Classes
Fall 2020

Animation + Digital Arts Visiting Artist /
Scholar Program

."Tale of a Seed"
Yawen Zheng
.Meeting in the Immersive Lab
Yingzong Xin
.Quill VR animation
workshop in the Zemeckis Center
Chun Chun Chang
.Animation Students
attending a screening
."Baba Yaga"
from Pictures at an Exhibition
5-screen visualization for orchestra
Alessandro Ceglia
."Pause, Play, Repeat"
Ankita Panda
.Graduate lab individual
computer workstation
Jake Wang
Telluride Film Festival