Motion Picture Science (BS) – Handbook





Motion picture science (MPS) students study a mix of filmmaking, science, and engineering in the completion of their degree. The SOFA planning sheet for MPS students designates required coursework outside of SOFA in areas such as calculus, physics, and imaging science as well as a number of required film and animation courses within SOFA. MPS students are encouraged to work with academic and faculty advisers to generate a strong plan for elective coursework in additional fields pertinent to their chosen career interests. Examples include the traditional filmmaking crafts of postproduction, visual effects, and animation/graphics or more technically focused fields such as computer science or engineering. Elective coursework combined with required MPS courses is intended to prepare students for a strong thesis in an area of their choosing.

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Thesis Options

MPS students choose from four different theses:

  • Research/engineering
  • Color correction*
  • Digital imaging technician*
  • Special effects and compositing*

*The asterisked options are collectively referred to as “craft” theses. They require students to work in their given field on two thesis shorts with different filmmakers.

Research/engineering is the default thesis for motion picture science students and is accommodated by the full four-year curriculum required of the degree. It leads to a written thesis that is the result of an independent research project completed in conjunction with a thesis adviser expert in the subject being investigated. Research thesis students are additionally responsible for public dissemination of their work in the form of a presentation of work and/or a published article. Topics explored are heavily focused on the technology of motion picture imaging systems or in broader imaging science and engineering concepts.

MPS students may alternatively choose to pursue a craft thesis in filmmaking in support of film or animation students preparing their own thesis work. The craft thesis is intended for students interested in collaborative filmmaking where they are able to contribute more technical skill sets to the modern production and postproduction workflows in cinema. Currently, the listed craft theses in MPS are explicitly supported, though as technology evolves, so do opportunities for additional types of theses. MPS students should stay engaged with their faculty adviser to propose appropriate thesis ideas as they approach their final year in SOFA.

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Thesis Preparation

The following coursework and electives constitute appropriate preparation for the various thesis topics chosen by MPS students. Approval of a thesis proposal is dependent on the following criteria being completed. For the default research/engineering thesis, the only condition for thesis qualification is satisfactory progress through the normal MPS curriculum. In some theses, elective coursework is a recommendation rather than a full obligation.



  • Satisfactory progress in the full required MPS courses listed in the SOFA Worksheet


  • Adviser-approved electives necessary to the research topic chosen (suggested)


Color Correction


  • SOFA-568 Digital Color Correction
  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as colorist for two projects)


  • SOFA-306 Senior Thesis Seminar (spring only, suggested)


Digital Imaging Technician


  • SOFA-211 or 212 or 213 Workshop (as digital imaging technician for two projects)


  • SOFA-571 Advanced Production Immersion: Advanced Camera or
    SOFA-578 Advanced Cinematography (spring only, both courses are suggested)
  • SOFA-306 Senior Thesis Seminar (spring only, suggested)


Visual Effects and Compositing


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


  • SOFA-306 Senior Thesis Seminar (spring only, suggested)

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