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MMEDIA 2B06 Time-Based Media I

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Liss Platt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 327

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27954


Office Hours: Thursday, 4:30 - 5:30 pm, or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Time-Based Media I is a hands-on introduction to photography, video, and animation as well as an examination of the social, cultural, political, and theoretical implications of moving-image production in the digital age.  The course will primarily focus on independent media – works that are produced outside of dominant commercial markets (i.e. advertising, Hollywood).  Students will gain competency in digital production and post-production while exploring various formal, conceptual, and structural strategies.  The goal is for students to be able to communicate effectively, inventively, and idiosyncratically through digital media.  Additionally, students will learn to evaluate photography, video, and animation within the context of their use.

Classes will be devoted to lectures, screenings, discussions, technical demonstrations, in-class exercise, and critiques of students work.  Readings will explore the history of photography and independent media as well as the evolution of digital media and the impact this has had on the field.  There will numerous hands-on exercises that take place during class time, so attendance is crucial. Also, given that this is a six-unit production-based course, be prepared to put in a significant amount of time outside of class to complete assignments.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required materials and texts:

• Students will need to purchase a 16GB or 32GB Class 10 media card for use with the

            Canon T4i or T5i DSLR camera (the faster the mbps the better)

• Students will need to purchase an external hard drive (USB 3.0 or Firewire, 7200 rpm)

            of at least 500 GB.

All required reading will be posted on Moodle (Learning Management System).


Students will use a variety of software packages, including the following:

            • Adobe Photoshop                            • Adobe Premiere

            • Adobe After Effects

Method of Assessment:


Detailed descriptions of individual assignments will be posted on Moodle. There is no final exam for this class, meaning that term work may seem more intense than in courses with a final exam.  You are encouraged to begin working on assignments well in advance of their due dates.  Attendance in this class is mandatory.

Tech-check (3 @ 2% each)                                                                 6%
In-class Exercises (8 @ 4% each)*                                                     32%
On-line writing responses                                                                 15%
Major Project #1 (treatment 4%, rough cut 4%, final 12%)               20%
Major Project #2 (treatment 4%, rough cut 4%, final 12%)               20%                            
Participation (in lectures and critiques)                                              5%
Activity log                                                                                         2%

* Students must be in attendance to participate in the in-class exercises. If a student misses an exercise it cannot be made up after the fact. For this reason, only eight of the ten exercises will count towards the course mark. Students who complete more than eight exercises will have their eight highest marks counted towards their course mark.

** Students must complete five of six short response or analysis assignments by the due date. Guidelines will be posted on Moodle; all writing work submitted on Moodle.

***Participation marks will be based on active participation in discussions of readings and in-class critiques of projects.

Due dates (post by 10 am on due date): Cartwright and Sturken: January 11; Photo analysis: January 25; Sontag: January 25; Video clip analysis: February 8; Antin: February 22; Manovich: March 14


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

For major projects only, late assignments will be penalized by 5% per day of the week (including weekends). Extensions will be given if requested before the assignment’s due date and if the reason is considered legitimate by the instructor. In-class exercises will not be accepted after due date.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1 - January 7                                                                                                                        


LAB/Lecture Jan 7: Intro to Class, Intro to DSLR cameras (basic settings and functions, exposure, depth of field, metering) (first hour and a half in classroom); Photoshop Tech-Check.

Week 2 – January 11 & 14                                                                                                            
Readings: Cartwright & Sturken; Ang

Lecture Jan 11: The Frame; Images and Meaning

LAB/Lecture Jan 14: DSLR Tech-Check; EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography; View EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography

Week 3 – January 18 & 21                                                                                                            
Readings: Barrett; Ang

Lecture Jan 18: Lighting Basics; Photo Criticism and Interpretation

LAB/Lecture Jan 21: Photoshop Tutorial; Lighting Basics and Demonstration; EXERCISE #2 – Lighting (due following week); ASSIGN Major Project #1 – Due March 10th (treatments due: February 1; rough cut due: February 25).

Week 4 – January 25 & 28                                                                                                             
Reading: Sontag

Lecture Jan 25: Meditations on Photography; Intro to Video on the DSLR camera; Intro to Narrative Strategies

LAB/Lecture Jan 28: Intro to Adobe Premiere; EXERCISE #3 – Photos in Sequence; Meetings with instructor about EXERCISE #2 – Lighting

Week 5 – February 1 & 4                                                                                                               
Reading: Gross & Ward

Lecture Feb 1: Camera Movement; Shooting to Edit; SD vs. HD, video formats; compression

DUE: Treatments for Major Project 1 (pass in hard copy in class)

LAB/Lecture Feb 4: Editing, Transitions, Filters, and Color Correction in Premiere; Color Correction Tech-check; EXERCISE #4 – Hamilton video remix (due following week); Screening and Discussion on video remixes

Week 6 – February 8 & 11                                                                                                             
Reading: Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Feb 8: Narrative and Non-Narrative forms; Sound for Video (single vs. double system recording); Screening and Discussion

LAB/Lecture Feb 11: Premiere: Motion Graphics, Titles, and Exporting; EXERCISE #5 – Tableaux (due in two weeks)      

Week 7 – February 15 & 18                                                                                                           


Week 8 – February 22 & 25                                                                                                           
Reading: Antin

Lecture Feb 22: Appropriation; Early Video Art

LAB/Lecture Feb 25: ASSIGN Major Project #2 – Due April 7th (treatments due: March 10; rough cuts due: March 31); Open Lab – and extra help with Premiere EXERCISE #6 – Wild Sound (due next week); DUE: Rough Cuts for Major Project 1; Feedback on Rough Cuts

Week 9 – February 29 & March 3                                                                                                
Reading: TBD

Lecture Feb 29: Intro to Animation: Pixilation, Stop Motion, Cut Paper, Rotoscoping

LAB/Lecture Mar 3: EXERCISE #7 – Analog Animation; Intro to After Effects and Rotoscoping; EXERCISE #8 – Rotoscoping (due in two weeks)

Week 10 – March 7 & 10                                                                                                                
Reading: Laybourne

Lecture Mar 7: Animation and Contemporary Video Art

LAB/Lecture 10: Open Lab – and extra help with Rotoscoping; DUE: Major Project 1; DUE: Treatments for Major Project 2; VIEW Major Project 1

Week 11 – March 14 & 17                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 14: Peer to Peer crits for Major Project #2

LAB /Lecture Mar 17: EXERCISE #8 Marked in lab; EXERCISE #9 – Pixilation Challenge; View EXERCISE #9 – Pixelation Challenge

Week 12 – March 21 & 24                                                                                                             
Reading: Monovich     

Lecture Mar 21: Kinetic Typography; New Directions in Animation

LAB /Lecture Mar 25: Animating Text in After Effects; EXERCISE #10 – Animating Text (due following week); Screening and Discussion

Week 13 – March 28 & 31                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 28: Screening and Discussion

LAB /Lecture Apr 1: DUE: Rough Cuts for Major Project 2; Feedback on Rough Cuts

Week 14 – April 4 & 7                                                                                                                    

Lecture April 4: Feedback on Rough Cuts (continued if necessary)

LAB /Lecture 7: CRITIQUE Major Project #2 and PARTY!