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Special effects (commonly abbreviated as SFX) are performed «on set», that is, they occur in reality, physically and tangibly, to create a condition that would not occur naturally or spontaneously.

Special effects encompass multiple industries and a world of approaches, they can play with the audience’s perception by creating illusions through different techniques and tricks from different disciplines, generating an experience of realism.

Special effects can help, among many other things, the creation of miniature scenarios to simulate the action on a larger stage, combining technology and live actors or creating virtual environments completely with digital animation.

Special effects professionals help to create various mythical creatures in fantasy films, huge explosions in action films and realistic 3-D environments that can be seen in animated films. They are experimental people, inventors and innovative problem solvers.

Professional special effects artists draw on disciplines including mechanics, pyrotechnics, chemistry, sculpture, make-up and puppetry to create stunning effects and compelling illusions for theatrical productions, films, music concerts and live events.

By studying special effects, students can learn to create visual tricks for the entertainment industry. Students interested in studying special effects should first determine if they want to pursue a degree program in mechanical or animated special effects.

Associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs are available for both. Program fields include theater, animation, visual effects, multimedia arts, and pyrotechnics.

Some universities offer graduate programs focused on special effects both online and in person, giving students the flexibility to create their own schedules. Some of these programs are offered free of charge or are funded by a scholarship.

Students who participate in a Free Special Effects Master’s program can develop several crucial skills that could help them succeed in future jobs and help them in their personal life.

Those interested in training in pyrotechnic special effects complete locally approved pyrotechnic training courses as a requirement for licensing.

What is a Master Degree in Special Effects ?

A Master of Special Effects is a graduate academic program that provides students with specialized knowledge of the mechanical and digital aspects of special effects in the film, television and live entertainment industries.

The courses in this program help students develop a deeper understanding of how to create amazing special effects for any film or event, using techniques such as modeling, costuming, and computer graphics, while still retaining the essence of storytelling.

Students take courses in theater makeup applications, set design, casting, lighting techniques, and prop applications. They can also take courses in editing, digital imaging, drawing, 3D modeling, computer-generated images, graphic design, or digital effects.

Students in a Master Degree in Special Effects learn to use mechanical stage props, scale models, creative makeup and pyrotechnics to manipulate the appearance of scenes and actors.

During the course of the program students develop essential computer skills and creative thinking that can lead to excellent employment options within the industry.

Students will have the opportunity to work in real-life special effects studios to acquire, develop, and refine their skills through personally focused projects based on a supportive, collaborative community.

Upon successful completion of a Master’s degree in Special Effects, the graduate will have acquired a wide range of key skills and a deep understanding, while developing a creative portfolio and network. He or she will become an excellent creative and dynamic special effects practitioner. 

Program, Subjects and Content of the Master Degree in Special Effects 

These are some of the topics that can be included in the program content of a Master’s Degree in Special Effects:

  • SFX tools and techniques
  • Research, drawing and marquette sculpture
  • Body art and photographic makeup
  • Theatrical Makeup
  • Scar Covering and Sculpting
  • Moulds
  • Creation of models and prosthesis
  • Creature making
  • Creation of a life-size mask
  • Protocol on the set and in the theater
  • Scenario design
  • Lighting techniques 
  • Props applications
  • Edition
  • Digital Imaging
  • 3D Modeling
  • Computer generated images
  • Graphic Design
  • Digital effects.
  • Pyrotechnics

How Long Does the Master Degree in Special Effects Take ?

The duration of a Master’s Degree in Special Effects is between 1 and 3 years of full-time study. The duration will depend on factors such as country, institution, program curriculum, modality, among others.

Where can I Work with the Master of Special Effects Program ?

Graduates of a Master Degree in Special Effects can have access to many exciting careers. Many choose careers as special effects technicians, while some seek jobs as multimedia artists. 

Most people who have a special effects degree work in the film or television industry, but there can be many different specialties to choose from, such as stunt coordinator or film director.

They may be employed by a company that specializes in special effects, and by film, theater, and television companies, or they may work as freelancers. They can also work for recording studios, theme shows for designers, theater and dance companies, amusement parks, among others.

Countries and Cities Where You Can Study the Master Degree in Special Effects for Free Obtaining a Scholarship

  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • France 
  • India
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • United States

Institutes, Centers and Universities where the Master Degree in Special Effects is Possibly Taught for Free, through Scholarships

Master of Special Effects: Prosthetic Effects

  • Falmouth University
  • Falmouth, United Kingdom.

Master’s Degree in Film and Television Production with Visual Effects

  • University of York
  • York, United Kingdom.

Master in Visual Effects for Film

  • ESCAC – Superior School of Cinema and Audiovisuals of Catalonia
  • Barcelona, Spain.

Master in CG and FX Animation

  • ESMA 
  • Montpellier, France.

Special Effects Makeup Course

  • Euro Chroma Institute of Cosmetology (ECIC)
  • New Delhi, India.

Multimedia, Animation and Special Effects

  • Central Staff Training and Research Institute
  • Kolkata, India.

Computer Animation and Visual Effects

  • RUFA – University of Fine Arts in Rome
  • Rome, Italy.

Master’s Degree in Advanced Makeup, Prosthetics and Special Effects

  • Sheridan College – School of Animation, Arts and Design
  • Ontario, Canada.

Diploma in Special Effects and Prosthetic Makeup Art Level 5

  • Cut Above Academy
  • Auckland, New Zealand.

Special Effects Makeup Artist Certificate Program

  • Michael Vincent Academy
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States. 

Graduate Certificate in Animation, Video Graphics and Special Effects

  • Ferris State University
  • Michigan, United States.

Master Degree in Special Effects Reference Prices

The prices of the Master of Special Effects can be varied. The prices of these masters are between $5,950 and $28,210 per year. In some cases it may cost more.

The cost of this master’s degree will vary according to the country where it is taught, the institution or university that teaches the master’s degree, the modality, the duration, and the materials provided during the study, among other factors.

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