Film and Animation (BFA) – Handbook




First-Year Courses

First-year BFA students must generally take all required first-year SOFA courses at RIT regardless of previous experience, or Advanced Placement (AP) or transfer credit. Many first-year courses are prerequisites for more advanced courses. Accordingly, a failing grade in a required first-year production course will delay graduation by a full year!

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Declaration of Program

BFA students choose whether to enter the film or animation program prior to registering for the spring semester of their first year. At that time, animation students choose between a 2D or 3D animation capstone. Stop motion becomes a capstone option for animation students prior to registering for the fall semester of their second year.

Although less common, stop motion can also be a capstone option for film students. Film students should ideally decide if they are interested in that option prior to registering for the spring semester of the first year. Film students interested in a visual effects capstone option should also ideally make that decision prior to registering for the spring semester of the first year.

First-year students must meet with their academic adviser prior to registering for the spring. The selection of film or animation is made at that time by completing the Declaration of Program Form.

Animation students who choose 2D and then decide to switch to 3D, or vice versa, by the spring of their first year may do so without delaying their degree certification. In such cases they would take the second course of the new sequence in the fall of their second year and make up the first course in the new sequence in the spring of their second year. Students electing this option should contact the new sequence’s course instructor as soon as possible in case the instructor has spring or summer assignments to help prepare them.

Undecided, Film Visual Effects, and Film Stop Motion

Students who are unable to decide whether to choose the film or animation program can delay the decision until the spring of their first year. However, students that delay must register for classes in multiple modes of production and, therefore, will have a very demanding spring schedule. This option should be chosen with extreme caution.

Film students interested in visual effects or stop motion should also double up on production courses in their second semester spring to allow them to move forward in both film and animation. Please note, this does not apply to animation stop motion students, which is the typical path.

Recommended first-year spring courses:

  • SOFA-102 Production II
  • SOFA-107 Principles of Animation
  • SOFA-108 Drawing for Animation (2D capstone option) or
    SOFA-209 Object and Character Creation (3D or film visual effects capstone option) or
    any other first-year spring course on the film planning sheet (film stop motion thesis option)
  • SOFA-112 Fundamentals of Screenwriting
  • SOFA-122 Fundamentals of Computers and Imaging or
    UWRT–150 FYW: Writing Seminar

Once undecided students make their decision, they will need to make up missed classes from their SOFA planning sheet. Courses taken that are not required for their SOFA planning sheet will count as CAD electives.

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Capstone Options

Students have a number of capstone options. While it is possible to complete the preparation for more than one capstone experience, only one actual capstone may be proposed by each student.

Stop Motion

Production Designer*
Director of Photography*
Sound Designer*
Visual Effects Supervisor*

*The asterisked options are collectively referred to as “craft” capstones. They generally require students to work in their given craft on a minimum of two capstone shorts with different directors.

Craft Capstone Declaration (Film Only)

To ensure film students have time to complete all of their capstone preparation, they should ideally begin thinking about which type of capstone they want to pursue before they register for the spring semester of their second year. This will allow them to take the most appropriate courses in the spring of their second year in preparation for a workshop (see Workshop Courses below) in the fall of their third year. However, only film craft capstone must be formerly declared.

POLICY PENDING APPROVAL: Prior to registering for a workshop with the intent to perform a craft in it, students must successfully complete, or be successfully completing, (with a grade of C or better) the first required course of that craft (see Capstone Preparation below) and submit a SOFA Craft Track Declaration to the Senior Staff Assistant and the proposed workshop instructor.

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Workshop Courses

To qualify for their capstone, BFA students are typically required to take two workshops between the spring of their second year and the spring of their third year. They should come into each workshop with at least some preliminary work done on their short.

Animation students may choose any technique (2D, 3D, or stop motion) in Animation Production I or Animation Production II.

Film students choose from three workshops: Documentary Workshop, Radical Cinema Workshop (experimental), or Fiction Workshop. Shorts made for each workshop must conform to the parameters of that workshop (e.g., documentaries must be made in Documentary Workshop). Film students are typically required to take at least two different workshops, but not more than one at a time. If they wish to take all three or retake one, they can do so in the spring of their third or fourth year as a CAD elective, however, students taking their first or second workshop have priority for enrollment.

Writing film students are only required to enroll in one workshop (in which they must be the principal filmmaker/director). Writing the Short (which must be taken in the spring of their second year) can count as one of their required workshop with submission of a Course Substitution Form to their academic adviser.

Craft film students are typically required to be the principal filmmaker/director on one short within one workshop, and the principal student in one craft on two shorts within another workshop. Crafting is contingent upon craft students finding directors willing to collaborate with them. Where multiple sections of a workshop are offered, craft students should endeavor to enroll in the section with the directors with whom they wish to collaborate.

POLICY PENDING APPROVAL: Students may request permission from their craft workshop instructor to craft on one or both shorts outside of their enrolled workshop for class credit, craft on one short while making their own shorter short in the style of the workshop, or produce on a short that they have also written (if the script has not earned credit in another course). Permission for exceptions is not automatic and may be denied if there are directors willing to collaborate with them within their craft workshop.

Please note students who craft on only one short during a workshop must still, at some point prior to the capstone year, be the principle student in their craft on a second short to qualify for a craft capstone

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Capstone Preparation

A capstone is the culmination of the BFA degree and should represent advanced work. The required SOFA courses below are meant to prepare students for each type of capstone, although in rare cases exceptions are possible. Unless otherwise noted, these courses should be completed prior to the start of the capstone year.

The course preparation below is in addition to film or animation degree requirements. However, they may still count toward those degree requirements. For example, students have an H&A degree requirement. The documentary capstone requires students to take either SOFA-561 or SOFA-566, which are both H&A courses. A student taking one of those courses to prepare for a documentary thesis also fulfills an H&A requirement.

Please note, when a specific year and semester are listed below, the course must be taken when listed in order to graduate with the desired capstone on time. Students unable to register for such a course because it has reached its enrollment cap should notify the course instructor. If the course is not offered the student should notify the program chair.

All courses may also be taken as CAD electives. Please note that SOFA-571 Advanced Production Immersion is a special topics course that covers different subjects. It may be retaken for different topics only (not the same topic twice).

Documentary Filmmaker


  • SOFA-561 New Documentary Issues (spring only) or
    SOFA-566 Documentary Film History (fall only)
  • SOFA-211 Documentary Workshop (as principal filmmaker for one project)


  • SOFA-574 Documentary Field Production (spring only, suggested)


Experimental Artist


  • SOFA-213 Radical Cinema Workshop (as principal artist for one project)


  • SOFA-573 Fusion Production (spring only, suggested)


Narrative Director


  • SOFA-526 Writing the Short (spring only)
  • SOFA-524 Advanced Directing (spring only)
  • SOFA-212 Fiction Workshop (as director for one project)


  • SOFA-505 Acting for Film (suggested)
  • SOFA-536 30-Second Commercial Production (spring only, suggested)
  • SOFA-563 Writing the Feature (fall only, suggested)
  • SOFA-564 Writing the Series (spring only, suggested)


Students are encouraged to take Acting for Film in the spring of their first year (prior to Directing) or the fall of their second year (concurrent with Directing). Students are also encouraged to take Writing the Short and Advanced Directing in the spring of their second year prior to taking Fiction Workshop.



  • SOFA-526 Writing the Short (second year, spring only)
  • SOFA-563 Writing the Feature (third year, fall only)
  • SOFA-564 Writing the Series (third year, spring only)


  • SOFA-505 Acting for Film (suggested)
  • SOFA-524 Advanced Directing (spring only, suggested)




  • SOFA-558 Film Production Management (second year, spring only)
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as producer for two projects)
  • SOFA-543 Targeting an Audience (third year, spring only)

Producers are also encouraged to enroll in relevant courses in the Saunders College of Business.

Production Designer


  • SOFA-571 Advanced Production Immersion: Production Design (second year, spring only)
  • 212 or 213 Workshop (as production designer for two projects)
  • A course of your choosing either in stagecraft from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) or in a relevant topic from the School of Art or School of Design.


  • SOFA-536 30-Second Commercial Production (spring only, suggested)
  • Additional courses of your choosing either in stagecraft from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) or in a relevant topic from the School of Art or School of Design (suggested)


Director of Photography


  • SOFA-578 Advanced Cinematography (second year, spring only)
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as director of photography for two projects)
  • SOFA-571 Advanced Production Immersion: Advanced Camera


  • SOFA-532 Underwater Cinematography (fall only, suggested)
  • SOFA-571 Advanced Production Immersion (other topics, suggested)


Sound Designer


  • SOFA-521 Advanced Sound Recording
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as sound designer for two projects)
  • SOFA-572 Mixing and Sound Design (ever other year, most likely spring, co-requisite permitted)


  • SOFA-511 Film Sound Theory: Music (suggested)
  • SOFA-512 Film Sound Theory: Effects (suggested)
  • SOFA-513 Film Sound Theory: Voice (suggested)

Sound designers may work on two film shorts for their qualifying workshop but they must work on one film and one animation short for their thesis. Since Mixing and Sound Design is only offered every other year, it can be taken in the thesis year. Sound design in SOFA includes production mixing, Foley, ADR, sound editing, and rerecording.

Visual Effects Supervisor


  • SOFA-531 Digital Effects & Compositing (fall only)
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as visual effects supervisor for two projects)
  • SOFA-576 After Effects for Animators


  • Film and Visual Effects option (first-year spring only, suggested)
  • SOFA-215 3D Animation I (suggested)
  • SOFA-581 Particles and Dynamics
    (suggested, prerequisite: SOFA-224 Tradigital Animation)

Visual effects supervisors are also encouraged to enroll in relevant courses in 3D digital design. Please note that students can also study visual effects in the motion picture science visual effects and compositing craft.



  • SOFA-523 Advanced Editing (second year, spring only)
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as an editor for two projects)
  • SOFA-531 Digital Effects & Compositing (fall only)


  • SOFA-521 Advanced Sound Recording (suggested)
  • SOFA-572 Mixing and Sound Design (suggested)
  • SOFA-576 After Effects for Animators (suggested)




  • SOFA-108 Drawing for Animation (spring only)
  • SOFA-203 2D Animation I: Dynamics (fall only)
  • SOFA-218 Concept and Character Design (spring only)
  • SOFA-323 2D Animation II: Performance (spring only)




  • SOFA-209 Object and Character Creation (spring only)
  • SOFA-215 3D Animation I (fall only)
  • SOFA-216 3D Animation II (spring only)
  • SOFA-575 3D Lighting and Rendering (spring only)


Stop Motion


  • SOFA-107 Principles of Animation (spring only)
  • SOFA-522 Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals (fall only)
  • SOFA-533 Advanced Stop Motion Techniques (spring only)
  • SOFA-582 Alternative Frame by Frame (spring only)


  • SOFA-573 Fusion Production (spring only, suggested)
  • SOFA-576 After Effects for Animators (spring only, suggested)
  • SOFA-578 Advanced Cinematography (spring only, suggested, instructor permission may be required)

Film students preparing for a stop motion capstone option may substitute an Animation Production course for one of their required Film workshops or, with prior instructor approval, make a stop motion short in the style of one of the film workshops. Please note, stop motion students entering in the 2013-14 academic year must complete a Course Substitution Form with their academic adviser when enrolling in SOFA-582. Stop motion students are also encouraged to enroll in relevant courses in SAC and the School of Art.

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Students transferring into SOFA BFA programs with credits from colleges outside of RIT or other programs within RIT may be able to take fewer non-major courses per semester or explore other avenues within the university. However, because production courses are in a four-year sequence, they will still need four years within SOFA to complete their degree.

In limited cases, outstanding BFA transfer or change of program students (only) have been allowed to accelerate through their program—but this is a rare exception. When permitted, acceleration typically only eliminates one semester of study.

To accelerate, interested students must apply to the administrative chair at the end of their first year in SOFA. Students cannot accelerate without permission even if they take course overloads, winter and summer courses, and courses earlier than listed on their SOFA planning sheet.

To apply to accelerate, students must have brief letters of recommendation from three SOFA faculty and the approval of their program chair. Expected minimum criteria for applying to accelerate include at least 30 incoming credits relevant to their major, a 3.4 RIT GPA, and exceptional work within their SOFA program. Students allowed to accelerate may not pursue a craft thesis, and those whose GPA drops below 3.4 may have their acceleration re-evaluated.

Students not allowed to accelerate may still be able to finish their thesis as a part-time student.

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The faculty review BFA students in the spring of their second year and again at the start of their junior year. Students who are clearly struggling with their grades, writing, productions, or collaborations may be asked to meet with the administrative chair to discuss ways of improving.

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