By translating a twentieth-century industrial cinema model of pre-production, production, and post-production into a twenty-first-century fluid and persistent non-linear workflow, this course offers students a solid foundation in basic graphic design principles merged with animation and filmmaking. This is a class in the visual arts as a discipline — a discipline that requires training.

The class will focus on these software:
Adobe After Effects
Adobe Premiere


The course will use the website as the main online platform to provide: weekly syllabus updates, PDFs for all readings, events and resources. Please regularly check the website for syllabus updates.


  1. Please be respectful of one another’s opinions.
  2. Be rigorous: do the readings thoroughly and carefully and bring all readings to class.
  3. Be on time. I have a late policy — see below.
  4. Turn off and put away all cellular phones, tablets, and laptops.


Assignments: All Assignments must be finished and uploaded to the class website before class at 8:30am. Each post must include a title, a few sentences or more describing the assignment, meta tags, and then the video file itself (via upload to Vimeo — store all video on your Vimeo accounts). Students will present in class each assignment for peer-critique Be prepared to talk about what about your choices, process, and challenges in finishing the assignments.

Grading: 50% of the course grade reflects the conceptual design, production and presentation of the assignments. The remaining 50% of the grade involves an assessment of students’ individual participation and contributions to peer-critique and to the course overall. All grades are final and are not subject to change. The following grading rubric will guide the evaluation of student work for the course:

Grading Rubric:

Newton’s Law of Motion Storyboard                      10%
Mood Board I                                                        10%
Project Storyboard I                                             10%
Typography                                                           10%  
FX                                                                         10%
Soundscapes                                                         10%
Sequence                                                              10%FINAL                                                                   30%


Buy Paul D. Miller’s (2004) Rhythm Science, MIT Press. All other readings and other media will be provided by link or PDF through the course website. Please regularly check the course website updates.

Software purchase:

Students must purchase an Adobe Creative Suite subscription for $20:

Attendance and Late Policy:

Do not be late. Do not miss class without speaking with me first. Every late arrival/departure and missed class will be deducted from your grade.

Week 1 – Design for Motion

Tues, Jan 10: Class Mechanics, Syllabus overview

Create vimeo accounts, set up blog accounts, Adobe Creative Suite

John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing, Episode 1: Psychological Aspects” (1972)
Runtime: 4 x 32 Min.
Country: UK
Color: epis. 1-3 Black & White, epis. 4 Color
Director: John Berger & Mike Dibb
John Berger … Narrator

Thu, Jan 12
Motion and Graphic; Art and Design; Graphic to Motion

Assignment #1 Due: Three hand drawn storyboards using the 8.5 X 11 template provided. Include written descriptions. Any non-digital, black and white drawing media may be used (pencil, black pen, black marker, etc).

Sir Isaac Newton: Philosophize Naturalis Principe Mathematica, William Dawsone Sons, 1687 (also known as Newton’s Laws of Motion).

1. Objects at rest will stay at rest and object in motion will stay in a straight line unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
2. Force is equal to mass times acceleration.
3. For every action there is always an opposite and equal reaction.

Process for Assignment

Step 1. Find Motion.

Find three examples of anything in motion that demonstrates at least one of Newton’s three laws of motion. Motion must be uninitiated by the student. Students should “look” for motion and not create motion. For example, studying the effects of curtains blowing in a window instead of twirling fabric by hand is an initiated motion.

Step 2. Observe, Sketch, and Write about.

After finding motion that represents Newton’s laws of motion, begin by describing the motion with notes and sketching real-time drawings–drawings done on site that record the motion as it takes place. Students will produce sequential drawings that tell the story. Final story drawn in frames with either pencil, black pen/marker, black ink and white paint. No color or digital means will be used.

Step 3. Edit Frames

After you made a sequence of drawings that tell the story, start editing the frames in exactly nine frames. Storyboard should tell the story of motion in logical order.

Step 4. Transfer Final Frames to Storyboard.

Transfer the drawings to the final template. This may be done by redrawing, photocopying, or tracing the selecting frames. Add a brief, hand-written paragraph consisting of two to three sentences describing the motion.

Week 2 – Design Process

Tues, Jan 17:
Iterative Design Principles

Terminology, AE Interface, Importing .PSD and .AI files
Using a Working Space in After Effects

Read: Eric Zimmerman (2003) “Play as Research: The Iterative Design Process

Thu, Jan 19:
Color Theory Basics

Chroma Key Techniques

Assignment #2 Due: Create Mood (style) board include color palette, fonts, and style frames for image guides. Mood boards can be created using Photoshop of Illustrator.

Read: Color Theory NYU; Goethe’s Color Theory from 1810

View: Pintrest Style Frames, Pintrest Mood Boards

Week 3 – Design Storyboard

Tues, Jan 24: Remixing – group work using everyone’s style frames

Be prepared for discussion.

Read first 100 pages of Paul D. Miller (2004) Rhythm Science, MIT Press.

Thu, Jan 26:
Treatments, Mood boards, Style Frames, Overheads, Pre-Viz, Storyboards

Assignment #3 Due: Revised storyboards for final project

Week 4 – Animate Typography

Tues, Jan 31: Creating Image

Pre-Compositing, Hierarchies — color, space, alignment

Bring in 10 images/ phrases and movie clips to class via your page on class website. Play with shadows

Glitch Methods and Code

Method #1: Text editors
This glitch technique can be done with any computer and requires only requires a simple text editing program like NotePad (for PC) or TextEdit (for Mac).

  1. Find an image you’d like to work with and change the extension to “.txt” (ie “goatse.jpg” would now be “goatse.txt”. If you don’t want to damage the original image file, it’s a good idea to duplicate it before changing the extension.
  2. Open your new .txt file in a text editor (note: the more simple the editor the better, avoid Microsoft Word or advanced editors for best results)
  3. Scroll down a bit and start making a few changes to your file, then save.
  4. Change the extension back to “.jpg” and take a look at your work. This is a trial and error thing, so if you don’t like what you see, keep editing.


  • This technique doesn’t allow you do see your changes in real time, so it’s a good idea to save and view your work frequently to get a feel for how your edits are changing the piece.
  • On some computers you can change your .txt file back to .jpg while the text editor is still open… this will allow you to see preview your images after each save without having to constantly switch your extension (see the image above to get an idea of how you can preview your work while editing)
  • Most image files contain vital info at the top of and bottom of the file, so that’s why I recommend scrolling down before making changes.
  • Different size files give very different types of effects. I find that medium size files, around 500 pixels wide, tend to yield more dramatic effects than larger files.
  • Different files yield different results. Try playing with .PSD, .JPG, .GIF, .PNG, and other image files to see the different effects. Be sure to change the extension back to whatever file type it was before you began incorrect editing.
  • OK, maybe it is kind of fun to use rich text editors (like Word)… they tend to do weird things with the formatting, but I suggest starting off with a basic text editor so you can have more control over your tweaks.

Method #2: Glitch Primer: pixel sorting and other techniques using Processing 2.0

Download Code

Thu, Feb 02
Serif, Sans serif, Typeface, The Von Restorff Effect

Assignment #4 Due:  Make a typographic animation with either an ease in or ease out effect for opening titles — includes title, director, and key tags or actors.

Week 5 – Animation FX

Tues, Feb 07: Transitions and easing

Watch before class:
The Matrix
Ghost in a Shell Trailer (2017)

Thu, Feb 09: FX

Assignment #5 Due: Rock it out!

Week 6 – Midterm Presentations

Tues, Feb 14: Treatment for final is due at midterm.

Includes: final mood board, storyboard, and 500-word abstract, title, and meta tags or keywords for project. Presented for peer-critique. Students are graded for ability to give as well as receive critique.

Thu, Feb 16: Midterm presentations part two

Week 7 – Production

Tues, Feb 21: Sequencing in Adobe Premiere

Working with audio

TBD – check website

Thu, Feb 23:
Sound Production

Assignment # 6 Due:Using a single image from the set you acquired or created last week, students will create a two-minute audio soundscape that integrates sound effects, voiceover, and music. The goal is to bring the picture to life, enhancing the world represented through the photographer’s lens. Feel free to be as experimental as you want.

Week 8 – Compositing in After Effects

Tues, Feb 28: Time-remapping, Motion Tracking, Track Mattes, Masking

TBD – check website

Thu, Mar 02Non-linear editing, sound, compositing and effects


Week 9 – Final Editing

Tues, Mar 07: Open Lab (NO CLASS)

Thu, Mar 09: Project management, rendering and final output/ compression

Week 10 – Presentations

Tues, Mar 14: Final Peer-Critique

Thu, Mar 16: Final Peer-Critique


The final will be a 30-second to 90-second motion graphic animation file that you have been working on throughout the quarter.  For the final, hand in the design boards and storyboards from midterm, a 1,500 final written critique of the project, and the final video file uploaded on its one blog post. All projects must be listed in Projects page of class website.