Animation and Special Effects-Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology - Carnegie Mellon University

Animation and Special Effects

Our desire to convey expressive motion has pushed us to develop our arts and technology skills since prehistory. Our artistic visions have to work within the technology available to us, but this inspires innovation in both areas. Professionals in the animation and special effects industries work closely with each other to urge this innovation forward.

Students in the Animation and Special Effects concentration will study the interconnected components of performance capture, rendering, 3D and 2D animation, and special effects. They will merge arts and technology perspectives in all courses to explore each of these components and the area of digital animation as a whole. Through common repositories across courses and collaborative projects, students will explore how the different components and types of expertise come together to create a convincing computer animated experience.

Students in this concentration will also be able to connect to other IDEATE courses to explore applications of digital animation in different contexts (games, interactive environments etc.) and to integrate other key areas of knowledge (narrative, sound) into digital animation projects.


Arts and Humanities students will take the Introduction to Computing for Creative Industries portal course. Engineering and Sciences students will take the Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis portal course. Both groups of students will then be able to take either three (or four, for a minor) relevant courses from the following lists, or two from these lists plus one elective from the other IDeATe courses.

New Courses:

These courses are being developed by IDeATe participating faculty and will be available primarily to IDeATe students

  • 16-xxx Experimental Capture and Rendering Techniques - developed and instructed by Yaser Sheikh, offered by the Robotics Insitute beginning Fall 2015
  • 16-xxx/54-xxx Acting for Performance Capture - developed and instructed by Jessica Hodgins and Catherine Moore, offered by the Robotics Institute and Drama beginning Spring 2015
  • 16-xxx Art of Special Effects - developer and instructor TBA, offered by the Robotics Institute beginning Fall 2016
  • 60-xxx Experimental Animation - developed and instructed by Jim Duesing, offered by Art beginning Fall 2015

Existing courses:

  • 60-429 2D Animation - offered by Art
  • 60-415 3D Animation - offered by Art
  • 60-414 Animation, Art, and Technology - offered by Art and the Robotics Institute
  • 15-463 Computational Photography - offered by Computer Science

Capstone Project Course

Students will also have the option of proposing a one-semester, interdisciplinary mentored project that needs to be approved by both their primary and IDeATe advisors.