Digital Animation

College of Extended Learning 

Dean: Dr. Alex Hwu 

SF State Downtown Campus
835 Market Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 817-4230
Fax: (415) 817-4299

Program Scope and Objectives

Computer animation is a highly collaborative field, and animators should be able to interact, both verbally and visually, with lighters, modelers, riggers, etc. in a constructive way. It is also crucial to have an understanding of both the artistic and technical aspects of 3D computer animation, to develop a spirit of inquiry, as well as develop a good work ethic and communications skills. The Digital Animation Certificate will offer students hands-on courses taught by industry experts, allowing students to work on a variety of assignments and develop projects for their portfolio, thus giving them a jump start into the field of animation.

Although the curriculum revolves around animation, we also offer classes in modeling, rigging, lighting, texturing, story, and improvisation. The focus of these classes is to help students understand the animation field as a whole while building a vocabulary that is common to all of these areas. This certificate is geared towards people who have some background in filmmaking, illustration, fine arts or animation (e.g., 2D or stop motion), and are interested in further developing their skill set or anyone who would like to become a professional 3D animator.

In the final semester, students will be enrolled in the Studio Class. This is a project-based class and most of the class time will be spent reviewing and critiquing individual work in progress. In this class, students will put to use everything they have learned in previous classes and work towards the completion of a short animated sequence. This course will guide students in creating a demonstration reel (DVD) of their coursework to be used for the purposes of applying for employment in the animation industry.


All courses in this program are taught by professionals working for the animation industry and experts in the fields of filmmaking, computer graphics, and 3D animation. 

Career Outlook

The Digital Animation Certificate Program offers students hands-on courses taught by industry experts, allowing students to work on a variety of assignments and develop projects for their portfolio, thus giving them a jump start into the field of animation.

Admissions to program

To be admitted to an academic certificate program, students should have completed 60 units of academic credit with a minimum GPA of 2.0 or sufficient experience to demonstrate they can perform upper division work. Students who do not have 60 units are encouraged to apply and may be admitted to a program on a conditional basis.

Writing Skills

The certificate program's course content requires good writing skills. Certificate students who do not have a bachelor’s degree must pass a University approved Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement course (GWAR).

Digital Animation Certificate — 27 Units

CINE 380Principles of Computer Animation2
CINE 382Animation Story Workshop1
CINE 383How to bring a Digital Character to Life1
CINE 384Breaking into the Industry1
CINE 432Drawing for Digital Animation2
CINE 531Modeling/Rigging I2
CINE 533Modeling/Rigging II2
CINE 535Lighting/Texturing I2
CINE 537Lighting/Texturing II2
CINE 538Digital Animation Level:I Mechanics of Movement3
CINE 539Digital Animation Level II: Body Mechanics3
CINE 534Digital Animation Level III: Character Animation3
CINE 536Studio Class3

Completion of Certificate

Graduation applications must be submitted at least four weeks before the end of the semester. Upon graduation, students receive a certificate signifying program completion. To be graduated, these requirements must be met:

  1. The 27 unit coursework used to satisfy the requirements of the academic certificate must be completed with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better.

  2. At least two-thirds of the units applied toward meeting the requirements of an academic certificate program must be graded on a letter-grade basis.

  3. All requirements for academic certificate programs must be completed within a seven-year time period beginning with the date of registration for the first certificate course and ending with the date the last course requirement is completed. 

  4. All financial obligations to the University must be cleared.