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MMEDIA 2B06 Time-Based Media I

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Liss Platt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 327

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27954


Office Hours: Mondays 12:30 - 1:30 pm

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:

• 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:

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 7; Photo analysis: January 21; Sontag: January 21; Video clip analysis: February 4; Antin: February 11; Manovich: March 11

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 4                                                                                                                         

LAB/Lecture Jan 4: 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 8 & 11                                                                                                  
Readings: Cartwright & Sturken; Ang

Lecture Jan 8: The Frame; Images and Meaning

LAB/Lecture Jan 11: DSLR Tech-Check; EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography; View EXERCISE #1 – All things Photography

Week 3 – January 15 & 18                                                                                                             |
Readings: Barrett; Ang

Lecture Jan 15: Lighting Basics; Photo Criticism and Interpretation

LAB/Lecture Jan 18: Photoshop Tutorial; Lighting Basics and Demonstration; EXERCISE #2 – Lighting (due following week, January 25); ASSIGN Major Project #1 – Due March 8th in class (treatments due: January 25; rough cut due: February 15).

Week 4 – January 22 & 25                                                                                                              Reading: Sontag; Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Jan 22: Meditations on Photography; Intro to Video on the DSLR camera; Intro to Narrative Strategies

LAB/Lecture Jan 25: Intro to Adobe Premiere; EXERCISE #3 – Photos in Sequence (due following week, Feb 2); Meetings with instructor about EXERCISE #2 – Lighting; DUE: Treatments for Major Project 1 (pass in hard copy to Liss in classroom)

Week 5 – January 29 & February 1                                                                                             
Reading: Gross & Ward

Lecture Jan 29: Camera Movement; Shooting to Edit; SD vs. HD, video formats; compression

LAB/Lecture Feb 1: Editing, Transitions, Filters, and Color Correction, Exporting (basic) in Premiere; Color Correction Tech-check; EXERCISE #4 – Hamilton video remix (due following week, Thursday, Feb 8); Screening and Discussion on video remixes

Week 6 – February 5 & 8                                                                                                   
Reading: Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Feb 5: Narrative and Non-Narrative forms; Sound for Video (single vs. double system recording); Screening and Discussion

LAB/Lecture Feb 8: Premiere: Motion Graphics, Titles, and more on Exporting and Vimeo settings; EXERCISE #5 – Tableaux (due Monday, Feb 26)      

Week 7 – February 12 & 15                                                                                                           
Reading: Antin

Lecture Feb 12: Appropriation; Early Video Art; EXERCISE #6 – Wild Sound (due Thursday, March 1)

LAB/Lecture Feb 15: ASSIGN Major Project #2 – Due April 5th in class (treatments due: March 5; rough cuts due: March 29); Open Lab – and extra help with Premiere DUE: Rough Cuts for Major Project 1; Feedback on Rough Cuts

Week 8 – February 19 & 22                                                                                                           


Week 9 – February 26 & March 1                                                                                                
Reading: TBD

Lecture Feb 26: Intro to Animation: Pixilation, Stop Motion, Cut Paper, Rotoscoping

LAB/Lecture Mar 1: EXERCISE #7 – Analog Animation; Intro to After Effects and Rotoscoping; EXERCISE #8 – Rotoscoping (due in two weeks, Thursday, March 15)

Week 10 – March 5 & 8                                                                                                                 
Reading: Bordwell & Thompson

Lecture Mar 5: Animation and Contemporary Video Art; DUE: Treatments for Major Project 2 (pass in hard copy)

LAB/Lecture 8: Open Lab – and extra help with Rotoscoping; DUE: Major Project 1; VIEW Major Project 1

Week 11 – March 12 & 15                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 12: Peer to Peer crits for Major Project #2; EXERCISE #9 – Pixilation Challenge (due Monday, March 19, in class)  

LAB /Lecture Mar 15: EXERCISE #8 Marked in lab; work on EXERCISE #9 – Pixilation Challenge

Week 12 – March 19 & 22                                                                                                             
Reading: Manovich     

Lecture Mar 19: Kinetic Typography; New Directions in Animation; View EXERCISE #9 – Pixelation Challenge

LAB /Lecture Mar 22: Animating Text in After Effects; EXERCISE #10 – Animating Text (due following week, March 29); Screening and Discussion

Week 13 – March 26 & 29                                                                                                              

Lecture Mar 26: Lab Day – students work on final projects in preparation of rough cuts due on the 29th.

LAB /Lecture Mar 29: DUE: Rough Cuts for Major Project 2; Feedback on Rough Cuts

Week 14 – April 2 & 5                                                                                                                    

Lecture April 3: Feedback on Rough Cuts (continued if necessary)

LAB /Lecture 6: CRITIQUE Major Project #2 and PARTY!