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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "DMA 325"
COURSE NAME: "Motion Graphics and Visual Effects"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Brian Thomson
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T12:30 PM 3:15 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Animation is everywhere in contemporary media: from the miniature Westeros landscape of the Game of Thrones title sequence and the Southern Gothic styling of the True Detective opener to the lower third graphics of a local news show or the dancing text of a late-night 1-800-LAWYERS ad. The work of creating even the most humble animation used to be the preserve of teams of specialists with access to expensive and esoteric equipment. Increasingly, however, tight schedules and constrained budgets have placed the responsibility for producing them squarely on the editor’s shoulders. DMA 325 aims to help editors and filmmakers meet the heightened expectations of modern audiences with motion graphics that captivate and communicate in equal measure.
The course is a project-based exploration of the history, theory, tools, and techniques used to produce motion graphics and visual effects for film, television, and web video. The presentation of all topics includes historical background as well as a consideration of contemporary practices and likely avenues of future development. Each class involves both hands-on walkthroughs as well as ample opportunity for individual experimentation. For the midterm and final exams students will be required to produce a piece of work involving a broad spectrum of the techniques discussed using provided assets and a sample composite. The final project will be an individually developed portfolio piece making use of a 3D compositing workflow.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

DMA 325 is a project-based exploration of the history, theory, tools, and techniques used to produce motion graphics and visual effects for film, television, and web video. The presentation of all topics includes historical background as well as a consideration of contemporary practices and likely avenues of future development. Each class involves both hands-on walkthroughs as well as ample opportunity for individual experimentation. For the midterm and final exams students will be required to produce a piece of work involving a broad spectrum of the techniques discussed using provided assets and a sample composite. The final project will be an individually developed portfolio piece making use of a 3D compositing workflow. 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

By the end of the course, students who complete all of the coursework will have an understanding of the principles of motion design and (non-character) animation as well as the history of special visual effects. They will be proficient in using photo editing, motion graphics, and editing software to create engaging graphic content and elements for film, television, and web video. They will have a basic grasp of 2D/3D production workflows and will be competent in compositing CGI into live footage.

TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Attendance and Homework 10
Midterm 30
Final 30
Final Project 30

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATION POLICY
You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

Weeks 1-2: Graphics before motion

Managing assets for motion graphics work; file types and properties; using layers for elements; using blend modes; how alpha channels work and why they’re so important; mastering the basic editing tools; making selections; adjustment layers; how paths work; exporting for motion graphics work

 

Weeks 3-5: Basic motion graphics

Keyframing animation; procedural/behavioural animation; finding and choosing  fonts; working with text in 2D; working with images, movies, layers, and groups in 2D; applying filters; motion blur and its relationship to cinematography; publishing Motion plug-ins for FCPX; discussion of motion design best practices

 

MIDTERM (approx. 45 minutes)

 

Weeks 6-8: Basic 3D

Navigating 3D space; camera movement; light and shadows; image-based and procedural materials; working with 3D text; basic sub-division and spline modeling; optimising system performance (cores and threads, OpenGL, OpenCL, and CUDA) 

 

Weeks 9-14: Visual effects

Motion tracking and match moving in 2D and 3D; mattes and keying; color correction, matching, and grading; global illumination, ambient occlusion and lighting with HDRI; light probes and alternatives for visual effects; particle systems and physics simulations; basic compositing tools; export; discussion of aesthetic and ethical implications of CGI 

 

FINAL EXAM (approx. 1 hour)

 

PRESENTATION OF FINAL PROJECT DUE ON DAY OF FINAL