Carnegie Mellon University / Introduction to the Electronic Media Studio (60110-A)


by Golan @ 11:54 pm 18 August 2009

Structure of Course Deliverables
This course is structured around the following deliverables and tasks:

  1. Your Personal Course Blog. Your EMS1 blog will be the central repository for all of your assignments. In other words, you will upload all completed assignments to your web site, whether large, small, image, text, video, etc. Your job is to maintain this blog, make sure it is up to date with your latest work, and make sure it is well-organized. An assignment is not considered complete if it cannot be viewed from your blog site. Missing files and dead links make an extremely bad impression!
  2. Project Assignments. These assignments are due at intervals of one or two weeks. There will be approximately 8 of them, depending on how quickly we can cover ground.
  3. Participation in Discussions and Critiques. Your projects will be critiqued in group discussion sessions. Developing the ability to talk articulately about your own work, and to constructively discuss the work of others, is a significant (and mandatory) part of your job in this course.
  4. Final Project. You will have approximately 3 weeks to develop a final project. It will be weighted with twice the point value of one of the weekly assignments.
  5. Classroom Exercises. On some class days, we will do brief in-class exercises. Although these are small projects, which probably will not be critiqued or graded, you are asked to explore them with some enthusiasm.
  6. Readings. You will have several readings per week. Do these. They’re interesting and will expand your mind. You may be quizzed about them by surprise.
  7. Other Obligations. Occasionally I will ask you to bring something in for the next session. For example, you may be asked to bring in a piece of string, or your digital camera, or the URL of something interesting. Remembering to do these small things will help the class run more smoothly.

How to succeed in Electronic Media Studio

  • Be self-motivated and self disciplined. You will succeed by your own efforts. You are expected to do ~5 hours of preparation for each class, i.e. about 10 hours of outside work per week.
  • Learn the technical material in a timely way.
  • Do the projects and exercises.
  • Do the readings and contribute to the discussions about them.
  • Be involved in critiques. Critique is a gift!
  • Be on time for class. There are often important announcements at the beginning of class.
  • Ask questions. I don’t care how much you know; I want to know how much you care. This is a beginner’s class; no question is too elementary. Don’t say “help me, I can’t do this”; say instead, “I tried one approach, but something unexpected happened; I tried a different approach, but it didn’t work, what do you suggest?” We will help when you ask, and we will respond well to people who seem interested and industrious.
  • Help your neighbor. Some of you are already very familiar with these tools. If you see your neighbor struggling with a problem you can answer, please be a good citizen and help out. This can make a huge difference. We really appreciate this!
  • The projects have no “right answers.” They are an invitation to invent. You will receive more credit for ambitious failures than for being successful in goals that are easily attained.
  • EMS1 is a taste of the field; you are not expected to all become electronic media artists. You are, however, expected to explore the possibilities so you can make informed decisions for yourself about what kinds of tools might be suitable for your ideas.

Course Grading Policies.

  • Quality of studio projects, assignments, and course blog site: 60%
  • Participation: 20%
  • Attendance: 20%

Regarding Project Grades:

  • Assignments will be graded on a scale of 0-100. Roughly speaking, the approximate ranges for the grades are as follows: A=90-100 [Excellent], B=80-90 [Average], C=70-80 [Poor], D=60-70 [Terrible], Failing = below 60. Your final grade may differ from the average of your assignment grades, however, for two reasons:
  1. There are other factors besides assignments taken into consideration in your final grade, such as your participation and attendance (as described above), and
  2. Final grades may be curved so that (very approximately) the bottom quartile of the class receives a C, the top quartile receives an A, and the middle group receives a B.
  • Assignments turned in late will automatically have 5 points deducted, and 5 points deducted per each additional week of lateness. An assignment will be considered late if it was not fit for presentation at the beginning of critique on its scheduled critique day.
  • The final project will be accorded twice the weight of the other weekly assignments. The weekly assignments will all be weighted equally unless otherwise noted. Your course web site will be evaluated at the end of the semester and accorded the same weight as a weekly project.

Regarding Participation and Attendance:

  • You are expected to assume an active role in critique and presentations. This means you are expected to volunteer your thoughts, opinions and suggestions, in order to explain yourself and help your peers. If you’re naturally quiet, or if you’re accustomed to a previous educational background where student participation was discouraged, then you will have extra work to do.
  • You are expected to attend every class. Three unexcused absences on regular class days will result in one letter grade being deducted from your final grade. You may also be required to attend certain Visiting Artist lectures, which are on Tuesdays at 5pm. If a certain day has optional attendance (like a work period during preparation for your Final Project), I will be clear about this and you will know in advance from an announcement/calendar on this Blackboard.
  • If you are late to class three times, that is equal to one regular absence. Class begins promptly at 8:30AM; attendance is taken at 8:45AM, and anyone arriving after attendance is taken is considered late. At my discretion, I may be more flexible during extremely bad weather.
  • If you know you’re going to miss or be late to a class session, let me know in advance by email or SMS. I can be very understanding and accommodating about necessary absences, family circumstances and medical issues when you inform me beforehand in a professional manner. Informing me in person when I accidentally bump into you in the hallway later that day is not a successful strategy.

A special word about unexcused absences on critique days:

  • Sometimes, students who haven’t completed their projects skip class on critique days, because they are too embarrassed to come to class empty-handed. This type of absence is particularly self-destructive, and is the most objectionable and ignominious. Your attendance and participation on critique days is essential, because these sessions help you understand our class standards, expectations and criteria for good work. Even if your own project is unfinished, you can still contribute productively to the class discussion.

Required materials

  • A Flash USB Keychain, 1GB or greater (about $10-$50.)
  • A Firewire/USB combo hard drive, 200 GB+ (about $100). The Lacie Rugged disks are nice. What is Firewire?
  • A digital still camera of some kind, 5 Megapixels or better (anywhere from $15 – $1500).

How to fail in Electronic Media Studio
(I.e., How to get on my baaaaad side.)
 The following four behaviors are destructive to the classroom atmosphere. If we catch you doing them, we may expel you from the room. Consider yourself warned:

  • Please don’t sleep during class. After the second occasion I will simply expel you.
  • Respect your colleagues: don’t chat amongst yourselves, do your email, surf the web or work on your project during a critique! Turn off your cell phone and instant messenger in class. No one is to make or receive phone calls, Twitter, Facebook, mySpace, send text messages, or IM/chat during class time. You can live for a few hours without your internet addiction. If it’s an emergency, excuse yourself and take the phone call outside.
  • Eating in the computer clusters is prohibited; eating something with a noisy wrapper is, moreover, extremely distracting. Please don’t eat in class.
  • If you are absent from class during a critique, don’t let me catch you later that day in the hallway, chatting away with your friends. I take your attendance seriously, and your attendance during critiques most seriously of all.

EMS1 Semester Learning Outcomes
After completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Use common software tools to acquire, manipulate and publish digital images, sounds, animation, and video;
  • Communicate effectively in time-based and/or digital media;
  • Demonstrate a critical and contextual understanding of computer software tools as a means of art practice.

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