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MMEDIA 2B06 Time-BasedMediaI

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Liss Platt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 327

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27954


Office Hours: Monday 1:30 - 2:30, or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course description: 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 in Moodle by NOON on due date = note they are all Sundays): Cartwright and Sturken: January 8; Photo analysis: January 22; Sontag: January 22; Video clip analysis: February 5; Antin: February 12; Manovich: March 12

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:

Note: Readings are listed on the day they will be discussed so you must read them prior to that class/tutorial meeting. See notes above for specific deadlines.

Week 1 – January 5                                                                                                                         

LAB/Lecture Jan 7: Intro to Class, Intro to DSLR cameras (basic settings and functions, exposure, depth of field, metering); Photoshop Tech-Check. Note: we will be meeting in the clasroom, TSH 201.

Week 2 – January 9 & 12
Readings: Cartwright & Sturken; Ang

Lecture Jan 9: The Frame; Images and Meaning

LAB/Lecture Jan 12: DSLR Tech-Check; EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography; View EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography

Week 3 – January 16 & 19
Readings: Barrett; Ang

Lecture Jan 16: Lighting Basics; Photo Criticism and Interpretation

LAB/Lecture Jan 19: Photoshop Tutorial; Lighting Basics and Demonstration; EXERCISE #2 – Lighting (due following week); ASSIGN Major Project #1 – Due March 9th in class (treatments due: January 26; rough cut due: February 16).

Week 4 – January 23 & 26
Reading: Sontag; Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Jan 23: Meditations on Photography; Intro to Video on the DSLR camera; Intro to Narrative Strategies

LAB/Lecture Jan 26: Intro to Adobe Premiere; EXERCISE #3 – Photos in Sequence; Meetings with instructor about EXERCISE #2 – Lighting; DUE: Treatments for Major Project 1 (pass in hard copy to Liss in classroom)

Week 5 – January 30 & February 2 
Reading: Gross & Ward

Lecture Jan 30: Camera Movement; Shooting to Edit; SD vs. HD, video formats; compression

LAB/Lecture Feb 2: Editing, Transitions, Filters, and Color Correction, Exporting (basic) in Premiere; Color Correction Tech-check; EXERCISE #4 – Hamilton video remix (due following week, Thursday, Feb 9); Screening and Discussion on video remixes

Week 6 – February 6 & 9 
Reading: Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Feb 6: Narrative and Non-Narrative forms; Sound for Video (single vs. double system recording); Screening and Discussion

LAB/Lecture Feb 9: Premiere: Motion Graphics, Titles, and more on Exporting and Vimeo settings; EXERCISE #5 – Tableaux (due Monday, Feb 27)    

Week 7 – February 13 & 16 
Reading: Antin

Lecture Feb 13: Appropriation; Early Video Art; EXERCISE #6 – Wild Sound (due Thursday, March 2)

LAB/Lecture Feb 16: ASSIGN Major Project #2 – Due April 6th in class (treatments due: March 6; rough cuts due: March 30); Open Lab – and extra help with Premiere DUE: Rough Cuts for Major Project 1; Feedback on Rough Cuts

Week 8 – February 20 & 23                                                                                                           


Week 9 – February 27 & March 2 
Reading: TBD

Lecture Feb 27: Intro to Animation: Pixilation, Stop Motion, Cut Paper, Rotoscoping

LAB/Lecture Mar 2: EXERCISE #7 – Analog Animation; Intro to After Effects and Rotoscoping; EXERCISE #8 – Rotoscoping (due in two weeks, Thursday, March 16)

Week 10 – March 6 & 9  
Reading: Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Mar 6: Animation and Contemporary Video Art; DUE: Treatments for Major Project 2 (pass in hard copy)

LAB/Lecture 9: Open Lab – and extra help with Rotoscoping; DUE: Major Project 1; VIEW Major Project 1

Week 11 – March 13 & 16                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 13: Peer to Peer crits for Major Project #2; EXERCISE #9 – Pixilation Challenge (due Monday, March 20, in class)  

LAB /Lecture Mar 16: EXERCISE #8 Marked in lab; work on EXERCISE #9 – Pixilation Challenge

Week 12 – March 20 & 23                                                                                                             
Reading: Manovich     

Lecture Mar 20: Kinetic Typography; New Directions in Animation; View EXERCISE #9 – Pixelation Challenge

LAB /Lecture Mar 23: Animating Text in After Effects; EXERCISE #10 – Animating Text (due following week, March 30); Screening and Discussion

Week 13 – March 27 & 30                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 28: Screening and Discussion

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

Week 14 – April 3 & 6                                                                                                                    

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

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