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MMEDIA 3S03 Sound And Image

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Chris Myhr

Email: myhrch@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 328

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23930


Office Hours: Mondays 14:30-16:30

Course Objectives:

MMEDIA 3S03 is a hands-on production course that will explore the complex interplay between sound, moving image, and the formation of meaning in the context of contemporary art and creative practice. The course will introduce a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches to audio-visual studio production, and students will work through a series of projects emphasizing engagement with compelling ideas and themes, as well as the development of highly-experimental, unique, and engaging aesthetic sensibilities.

Studio production will be complemented by a series of lectures, workshops, viewing/listening sessions, readings, and discussions aimed at developing theoretical/historical grounding, critical response skills, as well as language appropriate for audio-visual response and analysis.

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand and engage with contemporary movements in audio-visual art and Digital Cinema
  • Demonstrate and apply an understanding of how meaning is generated through the organization and manipulation of sound and image over time
  • Communicate ideas though nuanced aesthetic gestures and complex audio-visual language (i.e. motif, metaphor, abstraction)
  • Develop creative projects over the four stages of the production cycle (treatments/storyboards, rushes/assembly edits, rough cuts, final cuts) 
  • Deploy contact microphones and electromagnetic transduction devices in the process of field recording
  • Manipulate data using various open-source and commercial creative applications to generate audio-visual content (i.e. data bending, image hacking, etc)
  • Understand and work effectively with high definition video and compression codecs
  • Creatively deploy sound and imaging technology for video and stop-motion animation/pixilation
  • Deploy advanced editing and processing strategies in Adobe Premiere Pro and Media Encoder
  • Understand and apply theory/approaches to effective sound design
  • Achieve effective synthesis between ideas, intent, and technical execution
  • Actively engage in critical dialogue with peers, and integrate feedback to further develop and refine ideas and creative work 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  • Headphones (studio grade over-the-ear style - not earbuds)
  • Portable hard drive (at least 160 GB capacity recommended)
  • All readings and supplementary material will be available on Avenue to Learn in PDF format 

Method of Assessment:

Unless otherwise stated, classes will be held in the TSH 203 classroom and/or TSH202 Multimedia wing. For more detailed information, consult the Course Schedule below.

Although time will be allotted for in-class project work, students will also be required to dedicate a minimum of 9 hours/week developing techniques and strategies introduced in the course, conducting independent research, completing assigned projects, and preparing for discussions and presentations. 

Students taking this course will be expected to arrive on-time at the start of each class, and be sufficiently prepared to work on projects and participate in class activities. Attendance is essential in a dedicated studio course. Unexcused absence(s) will have a negative impact on project and final grades. See the “ASSIGNMENTS & LATE PENALTIES” section for details.

Students are expected to demonstrate an attitude of respectful criticality and active engagement at all times, and contribute to a collegial and productive learning environment. Student participation will be based on performance during peer critique/presentation and formal screening/reading response sessions. It is recommended that students read the assessment_proposals_critique.pdf document posted on Avenue to Learn for more details on criteria and expectations.

The use of cellphones, text messaging, and/or social media sites during class time will not be tolerated.

Final grades will be determined through the assessment of studio work, as well as the quality of student contributions to discussion and presentation/feedback sessions. The breakdown is as follows:

20%  Mini Project Portfolio (Mini Projects 1 and 2) - Due Sept 20, Sept 27, Oct 11
30%  Major Project 1 (Hybridity and Animation) - Due Nov 8
30%  Major Project 2 (Independent Consolidation Project) - Due Dec 6
20%  Attendance, Professionalism and Active Participation

Each assigned project will include a description (posted on A2L) outlining overall objectives, specific considerations, submission requirements/formats and deadlines. Student work will be evaluated in terms of:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Conceptual focus and rigour
  • Synthesis and presentation
  • Work ethic and personal investment 
  • Time management, productivity, and project refinement (both independent and in-class) as evidenced throughout studio production schedule

Successful projects will clearly demonstrate effort and attention to the three key stages of studio production: 

  • Research and planning
  • Experimentation, development and creative problem-solving
  • Refinement and resolution

For more information on the assessment of project work, see the rubric pasted below, and the assessment_proposals_critique.pdf document posted on Avenue to Learn.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments are designed as frameworks for creative investigation, and will incorporate the techniques and content learned and discussed in class. Students are encouraged to personalize, explore, and expand on the expressive and communicative potential of these skill sets. Detailed descriptions of all assignments will be uploaded to Avenue to Learn.

A penalty of 5% per day will be deducted from assignments submitted late, or those not presented in the required format. Assignments will not be accepted after seven days without official documentation (see the MSAF section for details), and will receive a grade of zero. Studio work will be considered late and incomplete if not accompanied by required written work (i.e. project proposals, etc). Late studio and/or written work will not receive detailed verbal/written feedback from instructor and/or peers. Extensions for late work, or accommodations for missed tests or tutorials, will be granted only upon the recommendation of a student's home faculty: please take such requests directly to your home faculty's office. 

Each absence (or early exit) from a scheduled critique session will result in a letter-grade penalty on the overall Participation and Professionalism assessment. Absentees from critique sessions will not receive detailed written feedback from the instructor.

Recommendations/appeals for extensions will not be accepted on or after project due dates, and must be received no later than 48 hours before the deadline.


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 www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

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 mcmaster.ca/msaf/. 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 sas@mcmaster.ca. 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:

The outline below is for orientation purposes only, and is subject to change. Please consult the full and definitive syllabus posted on Avenue to Learn for any potential updates.

Sept 6
Course introduction and orientation
Key terms and concepts
Mini Project 1 (Part 1) introduction
Field Recording/Psychoacoustics/Sonifying the Unseen
Workshop/Tutorial: Surface transducers and induction coils

Sept 13
Mini Project 1 (Part 1) audio capture due
Strategies for sound design and post-production audio
Consultation/Work session
Mini Project 1 (Part 2) introduction
Workshop/Tutorial: Strategies for abstract/creative image-making

Sept 20
Mini Project 1 (Part 1) soundscape due
Selected presentations and feedback
Mini Project 1 (Part 2) video capture due
Understanding codecs and compression
Premiere Pro and Media Encoder (HD setup and archive/portfolio exports)
Consultation/Work session

Sept 27
Mini Project 1 due
Selected presentations and feedback 
Lecture: Sound Science
Mini Project 2 (Part 1) introduction
Lecture: Sound Science
Workshop/Tutorial: Additive synthesis and audio post production strategies; video in Reaper
Consultation/Work session

Oct 4
Supplemental Reading Responses due (OPTIONAL)
Mini Project 2 (Part 1) soundscape due
Mini Project 2 (Part 2) introduction
Lecture: Signal/Noise/Post-Digital Aesthetics
Workshop/Tutorial: Databending
Stylization in Premiere Pro
Consultation/Work session
Major Project 1 introduction

Mini Project Portfolio due (Wednesday, Oct 11 - 12 noon)

Oct 18
Mini Project 2 - Selected presentations and feedback
Major Project 1 treatments due
Animation: advanced approaches and concepts
Stills and animation in Premiere Pro
Consultation/Work session

Oct 25
Major Project 1 rushes/assembly edits due
Sound mastering in Premiere Pro
Consultation/Work session

Nov 1
Major Project 1 rough cuts due
Consultation/Work session
Peer reviews

Nov 8
Major Project 1 due
Selected presentations and feedback
Major Project 2 introduction

Nov 15
Major Project 2 treatments due
Demo: Professional HD video cameras
Advanced approaches to video finishing
Work/Consultation session

Nov 22
Major Project 2 rushes/assembly edits due
Work/Consultation session

Nov 29
Major Project 2 rough cuts due
Professional development workshop: festivals, grants, grad school
Work/Consultation session
Peer reviews

Dec 6
Major Project 2 due
Selected presentations and feedback
Course consolidation