VM 120 Foundations in Visual and Media Arts Production

Fall 2012

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s ‘View from the Window at Le Gras’ c. 1826. Photo by J. Paul Getty Museum.

PROFESSOR: John Craig Freeman


LECTURE: Ansin 503, Thursdays 2:00 – 3:45 pm. (Freeman)

  • SECTION 13: Ansin 703, Tuesdays 8:00 – 9:45 am. (Humphreys)
  • SECTION 14: Ansin 703, Tuesdays 10:00 – 11:45 am. (Humphreys)
  • SECTION 15: Ansin 703, Tuesdays 12:00 – 1:45 pm. (Humphreys)
  • SECTION 16: Ansin 703, Tuesdays 4:00 – 5:45 pm. (Freeman)

PREREQUISITE: Must be enrolled in undergraduate VMA Major


DESCRIPTION: VM 120 Foundations in Visual and Media Arts Production is a combination of lectures and hands-on workshops examining the relationships among photography, graphics, audio, film, video, and digital media within the context of cross-media concepts, theories, and applications. It traces the creative process from conception and writing through production and post-production. Students proceed through a series of exercises that will lead to completion of a final project, establishing a foundation for intermediate and advanced visual and media arts production coursework.

The lectures will consist of introductions to concept and the theoretical foundations that frame them, with historic and/or contemporary examples. The sections will include hands-on production and critique. Additionally students are expected to work outside of class on assignment.

Students will complete 4 projects, reading, software training exercises and a final project. The course culminates in the presentation and critique of all final projects during our scheduled final exam time.


  • To develop a foundation of basic visual and media arts production skills, including still photography, audio, video, film, and new media
  • To deepen your appreciation of the connections that exist among all media, and to enhance your ability to draw from the form, aesthetics, and practice in every area
  • To stimulate your natural creativity
  • To develop a deeper understanding of the technical and aesthetic concepts underlying the making of visual and media arts
  • To foster an appreciation of the shared and distinctive aspects of each form of media, and encourage quality and innovation in visual and media arts production
  • To improve existing production skills and develop new ones, emphasizing the importance of conscious creative planning and decision-making
  • To challenge your creative and critical approach toward the visual and media arts
  • To develop the ability to be inspired from a diversity of sources, beyond the familiar, and bring that inspiration to practice
  • To learn to receive, process and implement criticism and constructively critique the work of others
  • To provide the conceptual and creative foundations for you to advance to other courses


Students are required to complete the following software training titles at Lynda.com:

  • Final Cut Pro X Essential Training
  • Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

Recommended titles include:

  • After Effects CS6 Essential Training
  • DVD Studio Pro 4 Essential Training
  • Pro Tools 10 Essential Training

Browse to http://lynda.com/edu-media/studentlogin.asp

  • Enter Class Code for Section 13: 01010001C40879
  • Enter Class Code for Section 14: 01010001C40880
  • Enter Class Code for Section 15: 01010001C40881
  • Enter Class Code for Section 16: 01010001C40560
  • Enter your Emerson College email address


  • Mobile FireWire 800 hard drive. I recommend LaCie. Minimum requirement is 40GB of storage space. 7200 (RPM) speed is preferable. Thumb/flash drives are not recommended for this course. Options can be found at: http://www.lacie.com/ or G-tech.
  • CD-R or DVD-Rs as needed

GRADING: The final grade will be determined according to the following criteria based on the corresponding percentages.

  • Participation and Attendance: 20%
  • Project One: 10%
  • Project Two: 10%
  • Project Three: 10%
  • Project Four: 10%
  • Project Final: 40%

An Incomplete will only be issued if there are extenuating circumstances related to illness or critical personal emergency and only after administrative notice has been received.

POLICIES: Attendance and punctuality is required at all class meetings and will be reflected in the final grade. According to College policy, unexcused absences beyond five will result in a failing grade. Everyone must come to class prepared and engaged and everyone must participate in discussions and critiques. Your undivided attention is required during all discussions and critiques. No email, web browsing or other computer work will be allowed during these times if it does not support the discussion at hand.

Students should be aware of the College policies regarding creative and academic dishonesty and the penalties for plagiarism and software piracy. While it is accepted that there may be occasion for stylistic or historical inspiration, influence and reference, the student will be asked to produce original work from ones own study and investigation.

If you have a disability that warrants accommodations in this course, please register with the Disability Service Coordinator at 216 Tremont Street, 5th Floor, (617) 824-8415.

Safety: Safety is always a concern in any type of media production. Emerson College supports safety measures and requires safety training through workshops, which are required on order to pass this class, and the VMA Student Production Safety Manual, which is required reading for all students participating in any Emerson College media production. A schedule of workshop options will be provided during the first two weeks of the semester. It is your responsibility to complete the workshop.

Students with questions or concerns should contact the Director of Production and Safety, Lenny Manzo at (617) 824-8126 or email leonard_manzo@emerson.edu.

In case of a safety emergency, call the PRODUCTION SAFETY HOTLINE at (617) 939-1311.

Shooting Policies and Forms: Please review TRF Policies and Forms. All Emerson College students must follow these policies while shooting film/video or recording audio on Emerson College property, public property, and private property, and must follow these procedures to secure permission from the appropriate parties.




Subject to changes as necessary

Thursday Lecture 09/06/12

Introduction: Syllabus, Assignments, Calendar.

Understanding Semiotics: Signifier, Context, Signified.

Assignment: Project One: Semiotics.

Reading: Augmenting Art-ZERO1

Tuesday Section 09/11/12

Lab Operations: Lab policies.

Using Social Media: Blogging and Social Media.

Thursday Lecture 09/13/12

2:15 – 2:45 pm. Understanding Equipment Distribution: Equipment Distribution Center and Equipment Checkout Authorization.

3:30 – 3:45 pm. Safety Training: Overview, workshop requirements and scheduling and VMA Student Production Safety Manual distribution.

Understanding Work Flow: Processing, Saving and Posting.

Reading: How Digital Is Changing the Nature of Movies – NYTimes.com.

Tuesday Section 09/18/12

Due-Project One: Semiotics.

Using a Camera and Tripod: Canon 60D and Bogen 503HDV Tripod.

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter 2 and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 3.

Thursday Lecture 09/20/12

Understanding Sequence, Time and Space:

Assignment: Project Two: Sequence, Time and Space.

Reading: Canon EOS 60D Manual

Tuesday Section 09/25/12

Cannon 60D to Final Cut Pro X Workflow

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter 4 and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 6.

Thursday Lecture 09/27/12

Understanding Raster Images: Resolution, Bit depth, Levels histogram, Compression, File formats.

Tuesday Section 10/02/12

Due-Project Two: Sequence, Time and Space.

Using Video Editing Software: Final Cut Pro.

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter 6 and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 9.

Thursday Lecture 10/04/12

Understanding Critique

Understanding Montage:

Assignment: Project Three: Montage.

Visiting Scholar: Gregory Ulmer 7:00 pm., Emerson College Beard Room, 2nd floor of the Little building.

Tuesday Section 10/09/12

Monday class schedule observed: no class

Thursday Lecture 10/11/12

Understanding Montage: Continued

Tuesday Section 10/16/12

Due-Project Three: Montage.

Using Lighting Equipment: White Balance, Lighting Equipment, Lighting Techniques.

Reading: Color Temperature.

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter 8 and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 12.

Thursday Lecture 10/18/12

Understanding Soundscape:

Assignment: Project Four: Soundscape.

Friday Safety Workshops 10/19/12:

10:00 am. Sections 13 and 14, Multipurpose Room, Campus Student Center.

2:00 pm. Sections 15 and 16, Multipurpose Room, Campus Student Center.

Tuesday Section 10/23/12

Using Audio Recording Equipment: H4n, Boom Mic.

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter 10 and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 15.

Thursday Lecture 10/25/12

Understanding Cameras and Optics: Camera Obscura, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Depth of Field, Frame/Point of View.

Tuesday Section 10/30/12

Due-Project Four: Soundscape.

Software Training: Final Cut Pro X Essential Training – Chapter Conclusion and Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 18.

Thursday Lecture 11/01/12

Project Proposal: Project Description and/or Script, Storyboards.

Understanding Color Theory: Pigment, Light and Printing.

Assignment: Project Final:.

Tuesday Section 11/06/12

Software Training: Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter 21.

Thursday Lecture 11/08/12

Tuesday Section 11/13/12

Due-Concept Proposal: Storyboards, Project Description and/or Script.

Software Training: Photoshop CS6 Essential Training – Chapter Conclusion.

Thursday Lecture 11/15/12

Concepts review.

Tuesday Section 11/20/12

Studio Production: Open lab.

Thursday 11/22/12

Thanksgiving: (no classes).

Tuesday Section 11/27/12

Studio Production: Open lab.

Thursday Lecture 11/29/12

Understanding Design and Composition: Golden Ratio and Proportion, Fibonacci Curve,
Rule of Thirds, Figure/ground.

Tuesday Section 12/04/12

Studio Production: Open lab.

Thursday Lecture 12/06/12

Understanding Making an Original Contribution:

Tuesday Section 12/11/12

Studio Production: Open lab.

Final Critique

Thursday 12/13/12

All Sections: Ansin 503, 3:30–5:30 pm. Final Exam Schedule.

Due: Final Projects.


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