Animation Core Curriculum

Animation core courses are offered on a rotating basis, through the Animation, Visual Arts, Film & New Media, and Theatre Divisions.

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

Required Courses: Animation Majors

This course introduces the concepts of writing for the screen from an analytical and creative viewpoint. Students will learn about screenplay structure and format, explore the creation of character, setting, conflict, theme, tone, dialogue and subtext, and gain an understanding of how to use the tools of the filmmaker to create filmic language and write visually. Students are also given an introduction to some of the professional aspects of screenwriting and available resources including the art of pitching stories and learning how the Writers Guild of America helps screenwriters.

This class is meant to introduce students to a vibrant vocational opportunity in the current jobscape for literary-minded artists: writing for video games. Beyond that, the class will explore a broad range of texts that treat fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as spaces for play, for reader interaction, the most basic example of which is the branching narrative (a.k.a. choose-your-own-adventure text). How does enlisting readers in the meaning-making process of a text inject the reader/writer dynamic with new possibility, with generosity even? How is literature—and literacy itself—changing due to our increasingly screen-mediated lives and the rich affordances of new media? These explorations and more will serve to open up the page as a more three-dimensional space than ever before. The class itself will be gamified; you will create an avatar at the beginning of the semester, design a world map based on the syllabus and curriculum, and progress through levels of your devising to defeat whatever bosses (assignments, stress, college applications) lay in wait this semester. Along the way, we'll discuss gamification as a pedagogical tool.

In this course, students learn the fundamental elements of story what a story is and how stories are told. Throughout the semester students study story as it exists in a variety of forms and lengths (novel, film, play, short story, song, poetry), examining the core aspects that span nearly all forms of storytelling, as well as aspects specific to single forms.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling and motion picture arts production. Through assignments and projects, students learn the basics of composition, sequencing and shot design, including the basics of cinematic language and grammar. Students learn the basics of camera operation, audio recording and editing and film set etiquette, including the responsibilities of various crew.

Resident Artist courses are special electives for Film and New Media students designed by the current artist-in-residence and based on the artist’s specific field of interest or knowledge. These offerings are one-of-a-kind in nature, and are rarely offered again after the artist has completed their residency. Past topics have included sound, documentary, cinematography, and animation.

Students have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of directing for the camera. Students work collaboratively to create 2-3 minute films in which each student will participate as both actor and director. Focus will be on the clear articulation of movement and story through performance and shot design. This course focuses on single camera directing techniques with emphasis on filming the narrative script and the director's relationship with the actor. Through exercises in class, student directors will learn script analysis and methods which will increase their ability to penetrate a text and communicate with actors. Visualization skills will be introduced to help students discover the most effective means of telling their stories.

This course explores the historical eras of cinema from its birth in the late 1800s through current trends, focusing on Hollywood's formation and transformation as well as major international movements. Students gain an understanding of how technological advances, business practices, and cultural influences have changed the art of filmmaking, and how cinemas of different countries have influenced each other.

In Fundamentals of Design, students learn the skills required to research, analyze, and communicate theatrical design ideas in sets, lights and costumes. Students gain experience in the basic graphic techniques used by design professionals including freehand sketching, thumbnail drawing, figure drawing, watercolor painting, drafting in scale, and mechanical perspective drawing. Students study design process and objectives, as well as collaboration, along with contemporary design and designers.

Figure exploration is a study of figurative anatomy and proportion as depicted through observational painting and through digital technology. Students develop a working knowledge of both skeletal and musculature anatomy and how these can be employed and manipulated to create a convincing figure. Students develop strategies for work through the process of creating an armature, sculpting, and finishing. In this course, students also look at digital tools of capturing a three-dimensional model and explore how this can be employed as a tool in hand sculpting and painting. 

This course investigates the foundations of drawing, painting, and design principles while encouraging proficiency in a wide range of approaches. Students strengthen their drawing and painting abilities and knowledge through practice and progressive exploration. They examine the differences between media, such as oil and water-based paint, and experiment with a variety of surfaces, such as panel, canvas, and paper. Preparation of surfaces is emphasized, while students learn to build their own painting stretchers in the woodshop. Study of proportion, form, perspective, visual measurement, portraiture, chroma, mark and value making with a wide range of materials are emphasized in a series of observational and experimental projects. In addition to foundational techniques, conceptual development is promoted. Students are also expected to take part in critiques, classroom discussions, and research.

Figure exploration is a study of figurative anatomy and proportion as depicted through observational painting and through digital technology. Students develop a working knowledge of both skeletal and musculature anatomy and how these can be employed and manipulated to create a convincing figure. Students develop strategies for work through the process of creating an armature, sculpting, and finishing. In this course, students also look at digital tools of capturing a three-dimensional model and explore how this can be employed as a tool in hand sculpting and painting. 

In this course, students explore a broad range of digital image editing tools. Students enhance their digital literacy by examining the different capabilities of image editing software programs, and understanding the difference between vector and raster-based imagery. Graphic design, image formatting and photo editing, and digital painting and more will be explored. 

An introduction to the history and developments in arts and culture from the ancient world through the Renaissance. This encompasses Prehistory to 1600 CE. Students will study the historical chronology of humankind's expressive impulse and the evidence that reveals it. The interconnected evolution of culture, patronage and technological advancement will be examined in art, architecture, and styles of dress.

Upcoming Courses Offered in Rotation
  • Animation Thesis
  • Music Production & Engineering: Sound Design 
  • History of Animation
  • Animation I: Stop Motion and Cel Animation
  • Digital Animation: Two-Dimensional
  • Digital Animation: Three-Dimensional
  • Directing for Animators: Voice Actors
  • Figure Drawing (VA)
  • Digital Painting: Character Design
  • Storyboarding (FIL) 
  • Digital Painting: World (VA)
  • Color Theory / Aesthetics (VA)

Sample Animation Curriculum for 4-Year Student

For the 2021-22 academic year, Animation students will begin the year in a special Film Guest Artist (FIL302) class.

Semester I

Required Courses
Animation I: Stop Motion and Cel Animation
Visual Arts: Two-Dimensional Ideation / VA101-102
Film: Story / FIL101

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester II

Required Courses
Digital Painting: Character Design
The Figure (Figure Drawing)
Film: Visual Story (FIL201)
Storyboarding

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French


Semester III

Required Courses
Digital Animation:  Two-Dimensional
Photo
Film: Editing
Storyboarding: Project

Sample Academic Courses
Geometry; World History; English II; French II

Students are encouraged to take one foundational elective in another arts area.


Semester IV

Required Courses
Visual Arts: Digital Painting: World 
Visual Arts: Color Theory / Aesthetics
Creative Writing: Screenwriting

Sample Academic Courses
Geometry; World History; English II; French II

Students are encouraged to take one foundational elective in another arts area.


Semester V

Required Courses
Digital Animation: Three-Dimensional
Choice of Visual Arts Elective
Directing for Animators: Voice Actors
History of Comic Animation

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry

Students are encouraged to take one foundational elective in another arts area.


Semester VI

Required Courses
Digital Animation: Three-Dimensional
Visual Arts: The Figure (VA121-122)
Music Production & Engineering: Sound Design: music, effects

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry

Students are encouraged to take one foundational elective in another arts area.


Semester VII

Required Courses
Animation Thesis
Music Production & Engineering: Sound Design: dialogue, ADR
Arts History Elective (FIL203, VA351, or VA352)
Choice of Visual Arts Elective

Sample Academic Courses
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV

Students are encouraged to take one foundational elective in another arts area.


Semester VIII

Required Courses
Animation Thesis
Choice of VA Elective

Sample Academic Courses
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV

Students are encouraged to take two foundational electives in another arts area.