Eadweard Muybridge,  Cockatoo; flying . Plate 759, 1887

Eadweard Muybridge, Cockatoo; flying. Plate 759, 1887

Motion Graphics and Animation


An investigation of the relationship of text and image through time using motion graphics and image-editing tools. Students will develop short films and animations using visual material from photographs, prints, drawings, paintings, illustrations and three-dimensional work. Projects will explore the visual vocabulary of motion, principles of animation, typography, storytelling, and two- and three-dimensional space. Through critiques, readings, discussions, and writing assignments students will build a historical and critical context for their work.


By the end of this course a student who has completed the course successfully will be able to:

  • Create animated videos using motion graphics software
  • Analyze motion based on observations and motion studies of life and film
  • Discuss the role of story, transition, pacing, framing, color, line, and space in creating meaning in motion work
  • Create time-based work that draws upon the principles of animation, narrative structures, and the grammar of film
  • Analyze and respond to the artists and theorists that create a historical and theoretical context for time based work
  • Critically analyze and contextualize their work and the work of other motion graphics or animation artists


  • Supplemental texts (pdfs on website)
  • Subscription to lynda.com (provided through Skidmore)
  • External 1TB hard drive (required)
  • Headphones (required)
  • Journal or blank book
  • Drawing supplies, drawing paper, straight edge, pen or pencil


Your final grade will be compiled from the grades you receive on your projects throughout the semester and will be posted on Blackboard.

Each grade will be weighted as follows:

Participation: 5%
Reading Responses: 5%
Motion Studies: 5%
Artist Presentation: 5%
Project 1: Experiments in Animation 15%
Project 2: Little Movie 15%
Project 3: Found Text 15%
Project 4: Placeevent 15%
Project 5:  Short Film 20%

The ability to speak for yourself and your work is one of the most important skills a digital media artist has. In this class there will be many forums for you to practice speaking, including discussions of texts and presentations, collaborative challenges, critical conversations about artists’ work, and peer critiques. Your participation in these activities will be taken into account in your final grade. If you are distracted in class by your cell phone or work from another class this will also be factored into this grade.

Reading Responses
For this assignment you will be responding to readings and time-based work and posting your response on our website. Each response will be due by the beginning of class. Responses should try to situate the readings and viewings within the creative work we are doing in class. The responses will be evaluated by the depth of the analysis, the quality of the writing, and the unique or creative view you present of the material. Responses can receive either an A, C, or F.

Motion Studies
For this assignment you will be creating a set of sketches that study motion. For this project you will need a blank book. Each week you will study some type of motion and make a sketch in your book that includes observations and revelations about that motion. You will need to take a picture of the sketch and post it to the website to get credit for the study. This assignments will be graded as either pass or fail. Your final grade will be based on the amount that you complete successfully.

A = 13
B+= 11
B = 10
B- = 9
C+ = 8
C = 7
C- = 6
D = 5
F = 4 or fewer

Artist Presentation

Each student will be responsible for presenting the work of one artist to the class. Your presentation will be fifteen minutes and include information about the background of the artist, close readings of their work, and analysis of the critical and historical context for their work. Presentations can receive either an A, C, or F.

In this class there are five projects including the final project. At the beginning of each project we will review the project overview on this website. Please take note of the due dates. Assignments MUST BE READY at the START of class on the date due to be considered on time. If you cannot be in class the day that the projects are due the project must be uploaded to Blackboard or sent to me before class starts to be considered on time. Late projects will be marked down one grade for each day they are late including the date they are due if they are received after the start of class. Projects will be graded on the technical craftsmanship of the project, the use of formal principles, gestures, and marks, and the depth of the investigation of the questions posed.


In this class I will cover all the technical tools and skills that you will need to complete the projects. If you want to go beyond these skills you can use the resources available to teach yourself (lynda.com, adobe.com). If you use skills that are not covered in class the rule that I use in all my classes is that if you get yourself in, you must get yourself out. This does not mean that I do not encourage these explorations. I think they are where some of the richest and most interesting work can happen—I just cannot be responsible for techniques that I haven’t covered.


We will schedule individual mid-term and final critiques in the middle and end of the semester. The individual critique is an important opportunity to ask questions and think about the progress of your work in the class.


Attendance in this class is critical. In each class you will learn tools and techniques and discuss ideas that you will build upon in subsequent classes. I keep track of attendance by passing around a sign-in sheet at the beginning of class. If your name is not on the sheet you will be considered absent. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences—instead I consider how the classes and content you have missed will impact your success in the course. Each student is allowed up to three absences. If you have missed more than three classes each additional absence will result in a ten-point deduction from your final grade.

Frequent lateness will also have a negative effect on your performance in the course: every three latenesses will be considered equal to one absence. If you are not in class you must review the material on the website and get notes from a classmate since you are still responsible for the material covered in class as well as any in class assignments. You can also visit my office during my office hours to get an overview of what I went over in class.


In order to complete the assignments for this class, you must be prepared to work independently during the hours that the lab is open. The Digital Media Lab is reserved for students enrolled in Digital Media classes. The lab will be open 24 hours a day and on weekends during the semester through swipe access. You may not use the lab when other classes are in session without prior permission. It is important to familiarize yourself with the lab schedule that is posted on the door to the lab and on the website.


I created this website to accommodate the changing needs of this class. All of the lectures, projects, and demonstrations that are discussed in class will be on this website. If class is canceled or you are absent you can check the website to see what you need to do for the next class. This is also an excellent resource to review skills and concepts.


In this course there are many opportunities for lively discussion and debate. However it is important to think about how your comments may impact other members of the class. When you speak you must speak respectfully of all people–including your peers and myself. In this class we will work to create an environment that is intellectually safe and has a spirit of collaboration and trust. If you say something that is disrespectful you will be given a warning and then asked to leave.

Turn off all cell phones and other potentially distracting noise makers during class. Pay attention to what we are doing in class and take notes. Be polite, respectful, and attentive while others are speaking.


If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator for Student Access Services.  You will also need to provide documentation which verifies the existence of a disability and supports your request.  For further information, please call 580-8150 or stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center.


I want each of you to be successful in this class. I want you to make work that that inspires you and your peers. I want you to push me and the other students to find new ways of approaching the materials and the tools we are using. I want you to emerge an innovative and creative digital media artist. I am here to support you in these goals. If you have any questions, small or large, technical or conceptual, please come see me. I have office hours that are posted on this website but I can also make an appointment to meet with you at another time that is more convenient. We also have a Teaching Assistant who can help you with technical issues that arise when I am not at school. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble or need help.


Theories of Motion
Introduction to Motion Graphics
Project 1: Experiments in Motion (Overview)
Artist: Chan, Nonprojections for New Lovers
Reading: Chan, "Questionnaire"
Demonstration: Animation Basics
Motion Study: Natural Motion due


Theories of Motion
Reading: Johnston and Thomas, "Principles of Animation"
Motion Study: Illusion of Life due
Student Presentations - Pick artists
Demonstration: Refining Animation
Review: Jacqueline Goss, Jenny Perlin

Theories of Motion
Artists: Jacqueline Goss & Jenny Perlman
September 16th @ 8pm - Goss & Perlman (Davis Auditorium)
September 17th @ 5:15 - Scott McCloud (Gannett Auditorium)


Theories of Motion
Reading: Bukatman, "Some Observations Pertaining to Cartoon Physics; or, The Cartoon Cat in the Machine"
Reading Response #1 due
Motion Study: Physics due
Demonstration: Refining Animation

Theories of Motion
Demonstration: Rendering & Exporting
Work in class
Artist Presentations: Allison Schulnik, Chiho Aoshima


Beginning, End, Beginning
Project 1: Critique
Project 2: Little Movies (Overview & pick story)
Artist: Dustin Grella, Animation Hotline

Beginning, End, Beginning
Reading: Wheeler, "Freytag's Pyramid"
Motion Study: Story due
Demonstration: Importing and Animating Graphics
Project 2: Storyboards due
Demonstration: Importing art, Type


Beginning, End, Beginning
Reading: Manovich, "Loop as a Narrative Engine"
Reading Response #2 due
Motion Study: Loop due
Artists: Lev Manovich, Little Movies; Bernini, Apollo and Daphne; Mobius House; Wachtler, Untitled, Julian Opie, Julian and Suzanne Walking; Zbigniew Rybszynski, Tango
Demonstration: Workspace

Beginning, End, Beginning
Work in Class
Demonstration: Loops & 3D cameras/layers
Artist Presentations: Lee Lee Nam, Marco Brombilla


Beginning, End, Beginning
In progress critique
Demonstration: Advanced Rendering

Beginning, End, Beginning
Reading: Thompson and Bowen, Grammar of the Shot (only Chapter Two)
Motion Study: Frame due


Project 2: Critique
Project 3: Found text (Overview)

Project 3: Sketch/Storyboard
Motion Study: Open/Close due
Reading: McCloud, "Transitions" (Chapter Three only)
Demonstration: Video camera capture & Scanning


Project 3: Footage and scans
Demonstration: Masks and Rotoscoping

Work in Class
Demonstration: Advanced Rendering
Artist Presentations: AES+F, Helen Marten


Project 3: Rough due
Motion Study: Mechanical motion due
Reading: Eisenstein, "Methods of Montage" (pp. 72-83)
Artist: Eisenstein, Old and New
Reading Response #3 due

Time in Space
Project 4: Placeeevent
Meeting with Chris Kallmyer


Time in Space
Project 3: Critique
Artists: Moment Factory, Convergence; Laurie Anderson, Habeas Corpus; Gianina Carbunariu, Tipografic Majuscul; James Turrell, Alta Blue; Michal Rovner, Frequency

Time in Space
Work in class
Project 4: Sketches and photographs due
Artist Presentations:  Martha Coburn, Shahzia Sikander


Time in Space
Reading: Bordwell and Thompson, "Time" (74-76)
Motion Study: Multiples due
Demonstration: Repeater

Time in Space
Motion Study: Boundaries due
Reading: Kaye, "‘Placeevent’: Brith Gof" (52-57)
Reading Response #4 due
Demonstration: Projector
Work in class
Artist Presentations: Miao Xiaochun


Fact+-=Fiction/Time in Space
Project 5: Short film (Overview)
Artists: Eames, Powers of Ten
Motion Study: Scale due

November 25th Thanksgiving


Project 5: Storyboards due & Proposal
Reading: Kubler, The Shape of Time
Artist: Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue (Tang)
Motion Study: Speed due

Project 4: Critique
Work in class
Artist Presentations: Tabor Robak


Project 5: Rough due
Reading: Chan, "A Time Apart"
Artist: Kentridge, Felix in Exile
Motion Study: Your Choice due
Reading Response #5 due

Work in class
Individual critiques


Project 5: Critique