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Fortean Film Festival 2021 Paris Independent Film Festival 2021

Degree, NZQF Level 7

420 credits (1.2 EFTS a year)

Start Dates
Course Fees (Year 1. See fees information.)
Domestic $10,200.00 NZD
International $33,500.00 NZD
Admission Requirements

NCEA Level 3, CIE or IB University Entrance or Level 4 or higher Qualification from related discipline (not required for students 20+)

Full details including discretionary entrance based on Level 2 Excellence Endorsement can be found here.

Study On Campus or Online

Portfolio Requirements

General Portfolio

(3D models or visualisations favoured)

Study Options

Study on campus Study online

Exclusive Industry Partners



MDS is the only Unity Authorised Training and Certification partner in the country.


MDS is a Houdini certified school

What is the Bachelor of Art and Design (3D Animation & VFX)?

Create the impossible

Actors aren’t the only movie stars, you know. Explosions, scenery and strange creatures are integral to a great blockbuster, which is where you, dear animator, will be able to steal the show. Our award-winning faculty will help you develop your animation and visual effects skills on an immersive level and get to grips with modelling, rendering, lighting, and technical direction. To prepare you for life as a professional, your studies will culminate with your involvement in an amazing, industry-level film where you can win awards and prime your portfolio for a real-world studio. 

This programme is available both online and on-campus.

What is 3D Art Design?

3D Art Design is the creation of 3D static and animated models through computer software. 3D Art is heavily featured in animated films by the likes of Pixar and Disney, and can be seen in many modern video games.

We teach some of the most popular 3D modelling and sculpting software include Maya, Cinema4D and Blender. We are also proud to be a certified Houdini partner, giving you access and support to one of the best 3D tools around.

Bachelor of Art and Design
Why study the Bachelor of Art and Design (3D Animation & VFX) at Media Design School?
#1 in NZ
We're the number one Animation/VFX school in New Zealand
Animation Career Review, 2022
Top 10
MDS is the 10th best Animation/VFX school in the world
Animation Career Review, 2022
22 years
MDS is home to New Zealand’s longest running 3D animation programme

Course Outline

What you'll cover in this course

During the first year, you will learn foundation art skills and achieve proficiency in both industry-standard technical tools and visual effects software. This exciting immersion includes an introduction to modelling, animation, rigging and visual effects.

Component Name Credits Toggle
Foundation 3D: Animation and Rigging
Foundation 3D: Modelling, Surfacing, Lighting
Traditional Art and Design for 3D
Digital Art I
Digital Art II
3D Modelling
3D Rendering
Foundation Mini-Project
Design Principles and Practice I

Entry Requirements


You are advised to take a combination of traditional and digital art subjects (these could include Art, Digital Technologies, Digital and Visual Communications, or Ngā Toi).


You are advised to take at least one Art-related subject.


Your IB Diploma must include an arts-related subject. A portfolio showcasing your design skills is also required.

International Students

To apply for this degree, you'll need a minimum qualification of NCEA University Entrance or CIE (University of Cambridge International Examination) or IB (International Baccalaureate) or equivalent overseas secondary school qualification or have completed one year of tertiary study from recognised institution.

Please Note: Entry requirement may vary based on your country of citizenship. Please refer to our International Page for entry requirements at If you country is not on the list, please email for further information.

All international students must be 18 years of age when the programme commences (on- campus or online). International applicants can start their application before they turn 18 years of age.

You may be eligible for discretionary entrance if you have:
- An Excellence Endorsement in art/design subjects at Level 2, AND
Literacy and Numeracy requirements (i.e.: 10 credits in Maths at Level 1 and 10 credits in English at Level 2 (5 reading/5 writing))

You may be eligible for Special Admission if you:
- Are over 20 years old
- Have relevant or applicable experience and a portfolio

Click the title for more info!


Please note, quotas may apply to some programmes. Where demand exceeds the number of available places, applicants who meet entry requirements will be admitted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Language Requirements

As an international student, you'll need to prove you have sufficient English language skills in order to complete this course. We'll be looking for Academic IELTS overall score of 6.0 (minimum) with no band less than 5.5, or equivalent test result.

We accept a range of internationally recognised English Language proficiency test. Find out more on the NZQA website or download the NZQA list HERE.

Portfolio Requirements

How to prepare your portfolio

Things you could include:

    •     Pencil drawings and illustrations
    •     Painting
    •     Photography
    •     Graphic or Digital design
    •     3D models or visualisations
    •     Concept art and characters
    •     Video or moving images

For more information about how to build your portfolio, head over to our portfolio tips page.

Entry & portfolio requirements for the Bachelor of Art and Design (3D & VFX)

Portfolio type:

General Portfolio

File format:

PDF, Website URL or JPGs

BYOD Requirements

BYOD Requirements

Before you begin your study with us, you will need to have a suitable device that has the functionality to run the programmes required for your course.

Follow this link to find course-specific requirements and recommendations, along with links to more information about hardware specifications. We have prepared these recommendations to help our students equip for flexible, blended learning.

Careers & Industry

Careers & Industry

  • Graduates have gone on to work on blockbuster films including Avatar and The Hobbit
  • Student short films receive international accolades
  • Graduates are in demand for their experience working on major projects within a studio-like environment

Career paths include:

3D Modeler, Compositor, VFX artist, Animator, Technical
Director, Effects Designer.

To succeed in the film post-production industry, you'll need to be proficient and confident in using industry standard visual effects software. You'll also need experience applying creative thinking and problem solving in a collaborative and demanding environment. Employers value our graduates because this course focuses on the technical skills and soft skills you'll need in the industry.

Your first year will begin with an eight week introduction to the world of computer graphics. You'll finish the year by working on an intensive yet rewarding short 3D production that will ensure you have the academic foundation and the skills you need to progress throughout your degree.

During your second year, you'll be asked to pick a specialisation in visual effects, technical studies or 3D animation, which will enable you to fine-tune your particular skill set.

Your final year will see you working on a number of industry level productions that will culminate with you being a part of an amazing, state-of-the-art short film. You'll also finish your final year with a research project that will provide you with the skills to take your knowledge of 3D animation and Computer Graphics (CG) to new levels.

At Weta Digital we really appreciate that Media Design School graduates have not only studied a broad range of disciplines, but by the end of their studies they have taken a specific role in a group project under knowledgeable leadership. This means they enter the industry with a good understanding of their strengths, what they most enjoy and the realities of working in a team to deadlines.

Richard Frances-Moore

Head of Animation
Richard Frances Moore Profile Photo

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