Course Location
Sydney On-Campus
2017 Master of Arts Screen: Animation and Visual Effects
Postgraduate (AQF Level 9)
Delivery Mode
2 year course - 4 semesters (64 weeks). Per year 2 semesters (32 weeks). Start Date: Feb 27 2017
Course Fee
$49,440 ($24,720 per annum)
Compulsory on campus Orientation week commencing Monday February 20. Further details will be provided post-enrolment.

This information is about the 2017 course. Applications for 2018 open on 1 July 2017. Register for updates.

Master together, be agents of cultural change, creative leaders of the future.

AFTRS Master of Arts Screen: Animation & VFX offers small-group teaching and individual mentorship to provide the best opportunity for success in the industry. Our highly sought-after graduates both shape and contribute to our world-class industry.

AFTRS’ internationally acclaimed graduate works include the Oscar-nominated short animation, Birthday Boy by Sejong Park and VES Award winning short VFX film Plastic by Sandy Widyanata and our long list of successful graduates working in animation and visual effects include:

  • Patrick Clair - Emmy award-winning titles designer for Man in The High Castle (2016) and True Detective (2014)
  • Sandy Widyanata, Feature film director, Monument 14 (in development)
  • Ed Coy, Generalist at Industrial Light and Magic for Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Spectre (2015)
  • Daniel Thompson, Lighting artist at Rising Sun Pictures for The Wolverine (2013) , The Hunger Games (2012)


Throughout your first year, through key creative and technical workshops (Nuke Studio and Maya), you will drill deep into storytelling through animation and visual effects. Industry practitioners will contribute to the coursework program, providing insights to their practice. In small, cross-disciplinary groups, you will collaborate with your Masters colleagues to develop an adaptable, creative skill-set exploring storytelling through emerging technologies such as stereoscopic VR. In your second year, you will embark upon a funded, individual or collaborative project, using AFTRS facilities to realise your vision. You will present to a publisher, screen to a public audience, and test the realisation of your creative intentions. In the second half of the year, you will write a final positioning paper, which will form the basis of your pursuit of a preferred, four-week professional placement.


This course is for candidates who wish to transition into digital animation and visual effects from a related discipline (architecture, design, visual arts etc) or those who are already working in the field and wish to develop a high level of expertise.

You will be situated in the heart of the entertainment production district where you will conceptualise and lead a creative, cross-disciplinary project using state-of-the art facilities. Through intensive collaboration, you will develop exceptional networking and team-building skills, as well as opportunities to experiment with the broad spectrum of disciplinary specialisations across the cinematic arts. You will follow in the footsteps of former AFTRS graduates of this program who have become successful professionals in film, television and creative technology industries as art directors, animators, compositors, motion designers, directors and researchers.


  • A 2-year intensive career accelerator
  • A production budget to spend on an individual project
  • A talent incubator leading to lasting collaborative partnerships
  • Small class size - maximum of 6 places per discipline
  • 4-week professional placement tailored to your needs and career goals
  • One-to-one industry mentorship
  • 3-days contact with 2 days off so you can work on your project or continue to work in industry
  • Scholarships available

You will be required to nominate the specialisation you intend to study on application to the MA Screen. Entry to each specialisation is determined competitively on assessment of specific application tasks and successful applicants are not permitted to change specialisations at any stage.


The MA Screen is offered in 10 specialisations. Through small group teaching, mentorships and exercises, you will be guided by leading industry practitioners to advance your knowledge of the concepts and technical skills that underpin your discipline. Informed by the philosophy that excellence in screen arts depends on mastering a complex creative skill set, this specialised learning is integrated into a program of shared subjects and collaborative exercises across the MA Screen.

Animation and VFX practitioners offer a unique voice within screen practice and have been catalysts for innovation, in both process and technology. Animation and VFX practitioners are illusionists and storytellers who are able to use their detailed understanding of the real world to change, enhance and challenge its structure by presenting alternate realities that capture our imagination.

Animation and VFX storytellers are not defined by mastery of tools but by their mastery of the art of possibility: what can be done, and how, to tell the story within available resources. Through an intensive program of practical exercises and reflective seminars, you will be challenged to work across a variety of forms, briefs and projects to hone the skill-set that will allow you to master this art: problem solving in real-world situations; storytelling; respectful and constructive collaboration to achieve a shared creative brief; knowledge of the other departments and the iterative workflow that defines the Animation and VFX development process.

You will be supported to consider and reflect on who you are as creative practitioners, understanding how you have been informed by innovations and processes of the past, and how your practice engages with contemporary screen culture and its emerging trends and technologies.


For details of help to pay for your fees, please refer to the Study Assist website.

Contact our Student Centre or call 1300 131 461 or (02) 9805 6444 with any questions or to learn more about your study options. You can also contact the Indigenous Unit.

Changes in circumstances may impact upon the accuracy or currency of information. While AFTRS takes all due care to ensure that the information is accurate, it reserves the right to vary any information described here without notice.

Still from Birthday Boy by AFTRS Alumni Sejong Park, Academy Award Nominee 2005.

Last updated 18 May 2017.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate and apply advanced knowledge of theory and practice as a professional and creative leader in their discipline.

  2. Critically evaluate and apply a deep understanding of cinematic storytelling to create audience-engaged work for the screen.

  3. Justify and implement a reflective creative practice that synthesises specialist knowledge, research and an understanding of personal process.

  4. Apply an adaptable skill set.

  5. Demonstrate an ability to lead, inspire and collaborate across diverse projects with a confidence in their creative voice and core value.

Admission Requirements

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection.

Candidates are required to submit the following:

1. Prerequisites

Applicants to postgraduate programs are required to hold a relevant undergraduate degree at bachelor level, or to have completed equivalent work experience and/or training.

The typical duration of a bachelor degree is 3-4 years, and candidates applying by degree equivalence are required to demonstrate they have achieved corresponding learning outcomes by completing a similar volume of relevant work experience and/or training. If you wish to apply for admission to a postgraduate program by degree equivalence, please contact the Student Centre.

2. Application Tasks

2.1 Reflective Task

Watch the clips on the website link provided here:

Based on your viewing of this website and the links provided, take three still photographic images that represents the theme, “movement” and write 500 words (submit one PDF file) describing your reason for shot choice and how your images respond to the work from the website.

2.2 Storyboard Task

Create a 6-9 panel storyboard based on the idea of “personification.” In your images, you should try to convey character and emotion in every-day objects within a simple narrative arc. Your narrative arc should include: a beginning where you establish your scene; a middle where there is a catalyst/change; and an end which offers a resolution (submit PDF file).

3. Audio-Visual Creative Statement

Make a 2 minute audio-visual work that presents who you are, as a creator; why you want to complete the MA Screen: Animation and VFX; and what you hope to get out of your time at AFTRS.

4. Creative Work

Your creative submission should demonstrate your best work. Be selective with your choices. We would like to see:

  • Examples of previous Animation or VFX work that showcases your understanding of timing, storytelling and design. Credits must be fully attributed including details about your specific role within the project (submit your work via the Dropbox link provided).
  • 6 pieces original photography and/or illustrations (submit as one PDF file).

5. Uploading your Documents and Media File

You will be able to upload your written documents and media file/s as part of the application process. Please ensure you conform to the required file type and size specified as follows:

  • Written documents have a maximum of 10MB in size and can be uploaded to the application portal;

  • Media files under 50MB can be uploaded to the application portal;

  • Creative work must be uploaded to a dedicated, secure AFTRS Dropbox folder online. A hyperlink will be provided to you when you apply for the course.

Go to this link if you need information on how to compress a media file.

6. Resume and Educational Qualifications

Provide a one-page list of your achievements, educational qualifications and work experience.

You must also provide a certified copy​ of your highest education level as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

7. Proof of Citizenship/Residency

Ensure you submit a certified copy​ of your birth certificate or passport as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

Selection Criteria

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection. The selection criteria are:

  • Demonstrated experience or skills relevant to discipline.

  • A distinct creative perspective.

  • A proven capacity for leadership and collaboration.

  • A willingness and capacity to engage in critical thinking, reflection and research.


This program is delivered over four semesters. Semesters 1 and 2 have four subjects. In Semester 3 students complete a major project. In Semester 4, students complete two subjects - Reflection, Professional Practice and a four week professional attachment.

Each semester is designed to lead you through a complete cycle of the creative process:

Semester 1 – Testing
Semester 2 – Developing
Semester 3 – Realising
Semester 4 – Reflecting

In Semester 1 and 2, you divide your time equally between specialist subjects and shared subjects to develop a skill-set that balances advanced specialist knowledge with creatively bold and conceptual approaches to practice.

The shared subjects are Creative Practice and Cinematic Storytelling. Creative Practice will challenge you to interrogate who you are as a practitioner, the creative choices you make and how these values, choices and processes sit in a wider cultural context. You will develop and articulate a practice-based area of creative enquiry that will drive and focus your produced work over the MAS. In Cinematic Storytelling, you will hone your mastery of cinematic language, critically evaluating cinematic story ideas and techniques through seminars, screenings and practical exercises.

In Semester 3, you will bring together your course learning in Final Project. In making a single or collaborative work, you will address and explore your area of creative enquiry and synthesise your knowledge of cinematic storytelling and specialist craft skills. You will also refine your skill-set in collaboration, creative leadership, problem-solving and entrepreneurialism.

In Semester 4, you will participate in Reflection and Professional Practice. Reflection supports you to evaluate and present your course experience and new knowledge. In Professional Practice, you look outwards to industry, evaluating the adaptability of your skill-set in contemporary and emerging media landscapes.

The course concludes with you participating in a four-week industry attachment in your discipline.

Graduates will be well equipped to serve as animator and visual effects practitioners forging careers in both current and future media landscapes.

The following subjects will be offered in the MA Screen – Animation and Visual Effects course.

Semester 1
Cinematic Storytelling A
Creative Practice A
Discipline Specific – Practice A
Discipline Specific – Theory A

Semester 2
Cinematic Storytelling B
Creative Practice B
Discipline Specific – Practice B
Discipline Specific – Theory B

Semester 3
Final Project

Semester 4
Professional Practice


The Australian Film Television Radio and School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.