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Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction

 www.animationsinstitut.de


Institute Director
Professor Thomas Haegele

Business Director
Heike Mozèr


The Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Institute of Animation, Visual Effects, and Digital Postproduction is responsible for the training of students in the subject areas of Animation and Interactive Media within the Film and Media course of studies.

Beyond that, the institute is responsible for digital postproduction (online-editing, grading, mastering) of all student projects of the Filmakademie. It is actively involved in the Research & Development sector, and hosts the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia.

The collaboration with the Filmakademie is a substantial part of the institute’s work.   
The joint introductory phase within the courses Directing, Screenplay, Image Composition/Cinematography and Cinematic Experimentation, Production, Montage/ Editing, Film History and Media Theory programs, the cooperation with the subject areas Documentary Film, Fiction Film and Advertising Film as well as the close and fruitful cooperation between all students of the Filmakademie, represent an indispensable element of the training. Learning about animation, visual effects and interactive media in the context of a comprehensive study of filmmaking, is an advantage that puts the Filmakademie’s students ahead of the competition. 
 
Subject Area: Animation 

Program Supervisors: Professor Thomas Haegele, Professor Andreas Hykade
Head of Studies: Marianne Gassner
Program Coordinators: Tina Ohnmacht, Constanze Bühner, Christian Müller, Volker Helzle (TD)

Animation in all of its many facets has become an indispensable feature of cinema, television, internet, games, and mobile entertainment. Animation-based workflows represent the artistic and technical basis for the entertainment industry and, especially in its real-time variants, for the entire digital creative industry.

Accordingly, the Animation program covers a variety of contents. Students with manifold specializations in terms of contents coming from different departments collaborate and are engaged in cross-university initiatives. They also realize complex projects in practice-oriented teams.

Concept & Art
 concentrates on developing and shaping ideas. These are the point of departure for themes, stories and visuals. Students of the subject areas Animation and Interactive Media jointly develop animation-based concepts, formats and worlds. Content always has priority, but the narrative style and the representation method are just as important. That is why generating contents and developing plots belong here just as much as character and production design. The starting point for an application is an idea: the very same story can be the basis for an animated short movie, a TV series, a movie, a computer game, an interactive application, an iPhone-App or any other animation-based format.

Animation & Effects concentrates on the realization of ideas. All production technologies are available to our students: computer animation, cartoon, stop trick, real-time animation and live action movies. This way, even interactive applications are possible, e.g. the use of game-engines for the pre-visualization of animated films and effect movies, for the creation of Machinimas or for the development of autonomous characters. In any case, a practice-oriented workflow is important – from preproduction using concept art, storyboard, layout or previz over the actual production to postproduction and distribution. The following two areas constitute the specialized fields of the Animation & Effects program:

Students who are interested in Character Animation will mainly create animated short films. These can be either individual artistic works or training environments for other animation-based formats. The main objectives are to develop credible characters and to bring them to life. Free, artistic, associative works or projects in which students experiment with a distinct technique or a distinct workflow, are equally possible.

Students interested in Visual Effects combine real footage and computer generated elements to create believable photorealistic pictures. This includes the design and the integration of digital sets, props, effects and characters. 
The field of study covers subjects as designing, planning and budgeting of effect scenes, pre-visualizations and also involves set supervision, recording of real footage, production of computer-animated footage, compositing and finishing. All of this is realized in the context of motion pictures, advertising films, documentaries or fiction films in collaboration with the respective departments of the Filmakademie, within the Animation Institute’s projects or in third-party funded projects for external production companies. 

Animation/Effects Producing
 concentrates on budgeting, timing, implementation and workflow within animations and effects projects. We convey know-how in animation, visual effects, postproduction, cost calculation, scheduling, project management, team formation, as well as problem-oriented, networked thinking. The training we offer is aimed both at students who have chosen the course of studies Production (after the two-year basic study period), as well as at students directly entering the third year of the project-based Animation program.

Technical Directing
 connects previous technical knowledge with artistic work. Within a two-year project-based program, this specialization offers computer science graduates the opportunity to work “hands-on” in a film team, on games projects, mobile and web-applications, or they can focus on the development of new tools. While working in production teams, our students learn how to solve problems, how to deal with setups and rigs, how to work with expressions and scripts, to understand lighting and texturing algorithms, how to develop shaders, tools, and plug-ins, how to program interactive applications, how to automate animated sequences and other works, as well as how to define workflows and production pipelines. The Animation Institute’s realm of Research & Development offers students the opportunity to get actively involved in the development of new applications and to participate in third-party funded projects. 

Subject Area: Interactive Media

Program Supervisor: Inga von Staden
Head of Studies: Marianne Gassner
Program Coordinators: Tina Ohnmacht, Constanze Bühner, Christian Müller

Due to the ongoing digitalization trend, formerly independent media platforms and markets are converging. Film and television, IT and consumer electronics, telecommunication, games, social media, exhibitions and events grow together. Old value chains dissolve. New players, revenue generation models and formats are emerging. Contents are no longer exclusively created for a single media platform.
The demand for creative artists who work in multimedia script development as well as for producers of cross-platform productions and cross-media marketing is growing. In the Interactive Media program, students are trained to become media concept developers and media producers. All students work in teams, cross-departmentally as well as in joint university initiatives, developing and producing innovative scripts and formats for digital media platforms. 

Content Directors (media concept developers) are responsible for the cross-platform script development while working hand in hand with groups of experts for audiovisual design, technology and production. In the production phase, the Content Director is in charge of the artistic supervision of the Content Environment and adapts contents to various formats. The aim is to lead the user across multiple platforms and through a world in which the consistency of contents must be ensured. 

Crossmedia/Games Producers (media producers) work hand in hand with multidisciplinary teams and create, already during the development phase, cross-platform content strategies. The Crossmedia/Games Producer is responsible for the cross-media aspects of productions, i.e. for community building and management. He/she manages or assigns format-specific aspects such as films or games by means of co-productions, assignments or license agreements and coordinates them in order to create the best possible synergy effects. 

Classes

All classes and the content-based artistic training are being held by guest lecturers of the industry coming from the region, from Germany, Europe or from other parts of the world. They come to Ludwigsburg, stay one or several days to instruct and work with the students in individual consultations, seminars and workshops.  

All areas of study focus on an autonomous and responsible way of working in a team. Almost all projects are developed in large teams that mostly also involve students from other departments. Accurate working techniques are indispensable; 
Creating artistically and dramaturgically convincing works as well as understanding and convincingly implementing the director’s or the producer’s artistic and dramaturgical intentions are the learning objectives.

Graduates


The Animation Institute’s graduates have excellent career prospects, be it as artists, concept developers, directors or producers. They found their own companies while maintaining close contact to the Filmakademie. They work all over the world as freelancers or employed by internationally renowned companies. Many of our graduates have returned with the knowledge they acquired abroad and now work in many fascinating projects throughout Germany.

Infrastructure

The Animation Institute offers a modern technical infrastructure. Every single student is assigned a workstation (Windows, OSX, and Linux) that features the most commonly used tools, as well as special project-based solutions. The standard formats are Full HD, Digital Cinema, and 3D Stereo. Students have an Optitrec Motion Capture System and a 3D printer at their disposal; moreover, they have access to the Filmakademie’s entire film and sound studio infrastructure.

Workstations

2D: CAS Animo, Toon Boom Digital Pro, Toon Boom Storyboard, TV Paint TVP Animation, and others.

3D: Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max und Softimage XSI, Maxxon Cinema 4D, NewTek Lightwave, Side Effects Houdini and others.

Compositing: Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Toxic & Combustion, Eyeon Digital Fusion, The Foundry Nuke and others.

Games: Adobe CS5 Flash, Crytek CryEngine 3, iPhone Developer Kit, Natural Motion Endorphine & Morpheme, Unity Pro Game Development and others.

Interface Design: Arduino Boards, Meso Digital vvvv, Troikatronix Isadora, University of Genoa Eyes Web and others.

Rendering: Chaos Group V-Ray, Mental Images Mental Ray, Pixar Renderman, Solid Angle Arnold and others.

Software Development: Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, The MathWorks Matlab, Xoreax IncrediBuild.

Tools: Adobe Photoshop CS5, Premiere & Encore, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Autodesk Motion Builder, Movimento & Mudbox, Cycling 74 Max & MSP, Iridas Frame Cycler, Massive Education, Pixelfarm pftrack, Pixologic ZBrush, RealViz Studio, RedGiant Magic Bullet, Unfold3D, Vicon Bonjou and others.

Screening Technology: Digital Cinema in 3D stereo, presentation room in 3D Stereo, further HD equipped seminar rooms.

Digital Postproduction

Besides conducting the training, the Animation Institute provides services, such as digital online-cutting, grading and mastering of all films that are created at the Filmakademie. All digital formats from HDV and P2 over XD Cam and HD Cam SR to Red Raw and ARRI Raw can be processed. In a practice-oriented environment the academy provides students with the most common systems for film and HD postproduction. Students usually operate the systems by themselves, that way they gain an in-depth knowledge of the technical and organizational processes of postproduction. Since more and more of the Filmakademie’s projects are recorded digitally, an important part of postproduction has been shifted from traditional processing laboratories to the Filmakademie’s postproduction facilities.

Postproduction Systems:
Assimilate Scratch, Gradingsuite with a Nucoda Film Master, Autodesk Flame & Smoke 2K, Avid Symphony Nitris DX, Avid DS Nitris, Cliprecoder Xtreme HD, Final Cut Pro Studio 3, possibilities to edit native RED-Files, and others.

Research & Development


Working within the area of Research & Development complements the practical part of the training at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg. A wide variety of tools for film and media production like Facial Animation Toolset, Frapper Application Framework and Agent Framework have been created in various development projects at the Animation Institute.    

FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Interactive Media


The Animation Institute’s FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games & Interactive Media is our annual highlight and also part of the training. It is the most important European convention on the convergence of digital media.