The two year NFTS Digital Effects MA allows students to collaborate with those in other specialisms across the School to give them extensive practical training across a range of projects. Much of the first year is dedicated to shared modules teaching across the three major digital effects disciplines – compositing, colour and CG 3D – after which students can choose to specialise in one for the remainder of the course.

In this Focus On First Year blog, we find out what the first year at NFTS has been like for Digital Effects student James Elkin, from what he was doing before starting the course, to navigating lockdown at the NFTS.

James Elkin
James Elkin

What were you doing before applying and starting the DFX course at NFTS?

I was working in the RAF as an Aircraft Technician. Outside of my work I enjoyed creating short films, which is where I found my interest in VFX and film-making. I had no educational or professional experience as I was only self-taught, so I was relieved to know that you don’t necessarily need any prior educational or professional experience to get onto the DFX MA!

How did you hear about the course?

I heard about the School through a friend who was interested in applying at the time. Once I did my own research I found out about the course and attended the open days (which I would really recommend ( I knew the course would be perfect for someone like me, who is looking to have the best start possible in the industry.

What has been your favourite project so far?

We are currently working on our second project which involves combining a motion captured character into a miniature set from the BAFTA award winning film Moon, (built by students of the Model Making For Animation Diploma course). This has been great for experiencing the technicalities that go into combining assets at different scales to (hopefully) create one seamless and believable scene. (You can read more about the brilliant Moon project here:

Model being filmed using a MoCo rig
Model being filmed using a MoCo rig

How did you find studying from home during the first UK wide lockdown?

We were quite lucky that we are primarily computer based so the School sent us home with all the equipment and software we needed to continue the course. It was tricky having to adapt to learning and communicating problems over Zoom, but overall I think we came out of it really well and we all still learnt a lot.

How have you found studying at the NFTS in general?

It’s been great being surrounded by so many talented and creative people. Although it was a shame that the pandemic limited us in some of the social aspects of being at the NFTS, I’m really looking forward to the next year of the course where we will be able to start collaborating with other students from different courses.

If this sounds like the way you’d like to spend 2021 there is still time to apply for the NFTS Digital Effects course to start in January!

Visit or email if you have any questions or concerns about applying. #StandOutwithNFTS