Looking for a dynamic career?

The Master of Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) offers the opportunity to enter and thrive in a rapidly evolving animation and VFX industry and beyond. Get all the insights from an alumnus and leading academic on how studying animation and VFX can help you tap into this exciting space. 

Visualising the future: new careers in animation and VFX

When it comes to the animation and VFX industry, it’s not just an exciting future ahead, it’s a dynamic and rapidly growing space right now. 


The animation and VFX industry rundown:

  • Increased funding: The Australian Government have invested in funding across the creative sector, including the $250 million Jobs Plus Scheme and the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Offset.
  • The rise of streaming services: A growing demand for content globally has, in turn, grown the demand for animation and VFX in TV as well as in film.
  • New technologies: New platforms and technologies such as Apple’s recently announced XR headset all rely on new and different forms of digital and spatial content.
  • More diverse opportunities: Animation and VFX have increasing applications beyond the traditional production sector, including in health storytelling through 3D biomedical animation, urban environments, events, TV advertising and motion graphics.
  • Increasing convergence of technologies and approaches: Virtual production and real-time approaches to content creation through game engine technology are proliferating, and shared approaches are increasingly being used to achieve more efficient outcomes.


In short, animation and VFX content is in demand across Australia and globally, both for consumption and for problem solving.

A career in animation and VFX is increasingly dynamic and will continue to evolve with the industry. 

For Pat, animation is “also growing into every other realm of interaction” beyond entertainment. From the social domain to spaces of work, the rise of new technologies in areas such as virtual reality mean that animation and visual effects will have new applications in problem solving and facilitating day-to-day life. 

“I think that space of communication that we often do by making funny gestures and hand signals is going to be something that animators and 3D artists can start occupying.”

As such, meeting the demands of a rapidly expanding space will continue to rely on highly skilled animation and visual effects artists who can adapt to and lead change in the field.  

John’s experience with visualisation technologies across the health sector has seen that, despite being an unconventional space for animation and VFX, a fidelity to visual quality remains paramount. 

“It's about attention to detail. It's about storytelling, using digital tools… [people have] come in to work with my team and they've been able to adapt very quickly. Even though the technology might be slightly different, the workflows remain the same and the importance of attention to detail and creativity is vital.” 

What skills do I need to become an animator or VFX artist? 

Tapping into this rapidly evolving industry requires skills across the full production workflow:

1. Concept

Storyboarding and pre-visualisation

2. Production

Tools and techniques across animation and/or VFX

3. Output

Across a variety of fields and industries

As part of the Master of Animation and Visual Effects program, you can study a Master’s, Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma depending on your preference and level of experience. You’ll have the opportunity to develop animation and VFX skills across the creative pipeline, including: 

  • Animating movement and motion capture

  • 3D visualisation and modelling 

  • VFX compositing

  • Digital aesthetics

  • Rigging

  • Creature and character animation

  • Digital cinematography

  • Real-time and virtual production 

  • Procedural FX


But it’s not just technical skills and software that will help you thrive as an animator or VFX artist. Often, it’s the overlooked soft skills that are most in-demand by employers who are looking to realise abstract ideas and manage big projects.

As new tools and applications for animation and VFX continually come to the fore, foundational creative skills across “experimentation, open mindedness, communication and ability to be curious will allow [students] to then really move into those areas rapidly,” says John. 

From collaboration and leadership to developing a certain resilience to change, soft skills can transcend your technical toolkit and ensure that you’re well-placed to future-proof your career across new and diverse industries.

Having come up as a young person in the film industry, Pat emphasises the importance of open mindedness and a hunger to learn. 

“Don't get comfortable and learn, learn it all. Be confident with it and then don't be afraid to adapt. And if there's a tool that sparks interest, pick it up, get a demo, get a licence and so on and just try it. So much of my career was based on, ‘I think I know about this thing, I think I can figure it out. Give me like a week to figure it out and I'll and I'll show you what I've got,’ and then [I would] spend a lot of time figuring it out. And then you show them. You show employers that you're willing to figure it out, and that's all they care about.”

Meet John McGhee

John is a Scientia Associate Professor at UNSW Art & Design, while also spearheading animation and visual effects at UNSW as the Director of 3DXlab.  

Meet Pat Younis

UNSW Art & Design alum, Pat is an interaction and visual effects media artist, while also working in the film industry in virtual art. Among many exciting projects, you can find his work in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and in the tour visuals for band, Rüfüs Du Sol.  

Why study at UNSW Art & Design?

Beyond being right at the geographical and cultural heart of Sydney’s creative sector, studying animation and VFX at UNSW Art and Design will help you build a unique toolbox of soft and practical skills that will provide a strong foundation for a diverse and dynamic career.   

“I think the demand for students that come through an art college process – an art and design school – who learned the skills, but also learn creative ways of thinking and developing stories will be very well placed in these in these industries, whereby they're always looking for new ways to realise content and tell stories,” says John.

For Pat, UNSW Art and Design was a space where he could “create and explore and feel confident in who I am as an artist”, as well as build the strong connections that have propelled his career forward.  

Rather than waiting for his career to start, university offered a foundation for Pat to explore his unique interests and try out practices that were compelling to him.  

“The best makers are people who are constantly thinking about making. And if you can adopt that into your day-to-day life, it doesn’t just stop at the university doors.” 

And some advice from a tutor he’s never forgotten? “Don't forget that you’re exploring and experimenting, but also that you should feel proud about the things you make.” 

Explore animation and VFX at UNSW

Flexible full time and part time options are available across the full suite of programs.

Study a Master of Animation and Visual Effects to realise your artistic vision. You'll build a portfolio of in-demand skills to lead and thrive in a rapidly evolving animation and VFX industry and beyond.

Explore degree

Explore your creativity and expand your skillset for the rapidly growing and evolving industry with a Graduate Diploma in Animation and Visual Effects.

Explore degree

Study the shortened and customisable Graduate Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects to gain the specialised skills and knowledge to enter a rapidly growing animation and VFX industry.

Explore degree

What is the difference between animation and visual effects? Your questions, answered

  • Animation uses still images and motion sequencing to form a moving image. Basic elements of movement are combined with real world physics to form the basis of animated sequences and motion graphics. Essentially, bringing still images to life. Techniques range from GIF animation and 2D animation through to 3D animation.

  • Visual effects involve digitally creating or editing imagery for live action footage. Often at the post-production phase, you’ll use a range of techniques and software to create computer generated elements and integrate these elements alongside other special effects to produce engaging content.  

  • The short answer is both! There’s more crossover than ever in the industry. As we increasingly move towards a convergence of technologies and approaches, studying animation and VFX will offer you a leg up to thrive across a diverse range of roles and career paths.  

  • Common VFX and animation jobs in the creative industry include: 

    • Animator 
    • 3D artist
    • 3D generalist 
    • CG effects artist  
    • Creature effects artist  
    • Concept artist  
    • Storyboard artist
    • Texture artist  
    • Visual effects artist  
    • Visual effects compositor 
    • VFX supervisor  
    • Matte painter  
    • Media arts practitioner  
    • Motion designer 
    • Art director  
    • Post-production artist 
    • Virtual production artist 
    • Game developer  
    • Layout artist



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