Course Missive

Staff
Hours and Location
Introduction
Prerequisites
Course Content
Assignments and Time Commitment
Evaluation
Collaboration
Inclusivity

Staff

Instructor: Prof. Barbara Meier
CIT 401; office hours by appointment, just email me to work out a time
barbara_meier@brown.edu


Hours and Location

Mondays 2-4:30
CIT 316


Introduction

This class brings together the concepts and workflows learned in CSCI1250 and CSCI1280 into a large group project. Students will create a short animated film over the entire semester. We will follow the production pipeline including story, art design, character design, modeling, texturing, character rigging, animation, lighting, rendering, compositing, editing, and sound design. Students will be cast into roles based on their interest and past performance in each stage of the pipeline. The instructor will serve as the director or co-director to ensure that the overall vision is achieved in a timely manner. The basic story will be decided before the semester begins so that the entire semester is available for production.


Prerequisites

Students should have taken CSCI1250 at a minimum. It is preferable if they have also taken CSCI1280. Admission is by written permission.


Course Content

Class meetings will be spent reviewing and critiquing the work currently in progress. Students will be required to take on a high level of responsibility since completing each step in the process on time and to a high standard is crucial to the project’s success. Students will refer to online tutorials, books, and instructional DVDs when needed to supplement their existing knowledge. We will view professional and student films for technical and artistic direction. Outside class meetings, students will work on their assigned tasks, meeting in small groups if necessary


Assignments and Time Commitment

Each student’s workload will vary throughout the semester depending on the roles they take on. We will use an online system to manage the project that will include each student’s tasks, critique notes, and due dates. It is expected that the weekly workload will be similar to that of CSCI1250 and CSCI1280: 15-20 hours/week. Since students will be working on different assignments and areas, there may be high variance in workload from week to week.

One student will have the role of Producer. They will take notes during critiques, make these available to the students, and keep a detailed schedule up to date with dependencies.

If there is interest by a particular student, they will have the role of technical support. They will support the project by creating and maintaining the software environment needed (aside from the commercial software used) to complete the work, and also debugging problem areas.


Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on both the ability to meet deadlines and on their final contributions. 40% of the grade will be based on the process of making the short film with particular attention to professionalism, meeting deadlines, and collaboration.

Students will be expected to attend all course meetings, work with other students to achieve a common vision, provide constructive feedback to other students, meet deadlines for assigned work, and maintain a positive attitude and creative approach to the project. In the context of this course, professionalism means that students will behave in a constructive way to complete the project. All parts of the project must be completed to achieve the class goal of making the film, so students will accept and complete their assignments graciously even if they don’t receive their first choice. They will implement the changes needed in their work to achieve the director’s vision, even if they disagree with it. The process grade will be derived from ongoing participation and attendance checks. Students will be given a progress report regarding this part of their grade at mid-semester and the end of the semester.

The remaining 60% of the grade will be based on the content of the work contributed to the group effort. This includes the quality of individual work, the ability to organize tasks and schedules, and to work in a creative manner that supports the vision of the project. This part also includes self-critiques from time to time. Each student will work on different parts of the project, so the length, complexity, and deadlines for each task will vary. When tasks are assigned, students will be given deadlines for work-in-progress and final revisions. As each major section of the pipeline is completed, students who contributed to it will be evaluated on their work in that section. Of this part of the grade, each task completed by a student will be weighted according to the time given to it in the pipeline since more complex tasks take longer. For example, a 6-week task is weighted twice as much as a 3-week task. Tasks will be assigned based on ability demonstrated in previous courses and personal interest. The instructor will strive to make fair assignments that reward skills and interest and distribute less desirable tasks amongst all students.


Collaboration

Since students will be working on one large group project, collaboration will be required at many levels. They will need to coordinate and agree on standards to which assets (models, shaders, scene files, etc.) should adhere. Students should be prepared to create clean, documented assets and assist other students in using them further down the pipeline which may require additional editing or debugging. Students may freely share knowledge, ideas, and help each other to complete their tasks, with the caveat that everyone must still contribute to the project.

It is common to have differences of opinion regarding technical and aesthetic decisions during a large multi-person project. Students are encouraged to come to consensus by making and listening to valid arguments. Some students may have leadership roles for a section of the project and will be given more authority to make decisions. The instructor will make decisions in cases where students cannot come to a consensus. No student’s significant work will be removed or redone without their knowledge (within reasonable limits of contacting them); in other words, students will not be ambushed.

While we sincerely hope to complete the project, this goal will not be achieved at the expense of a positive working environment.


Inclusivity

Creating an inclusive educational environment that embraces diversity is a matter of utmost importance. We want to ensure that all students feel welcome and capable of excellency inside and outside class despite differences in race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical or cognitive abilities, economic background, military experience, political ideology, and many other dimensions. You are encouraged to discuss any issues of inclusivity or the lack of it with other students or the professor at any time during the course. You may also contact the CS Department’s Diversity Coordinator (Laura_Dobler@brown.edu) if desired. While we aim to do our best, please remember we aren’t perfect. Feel free to mention or send a quick email to say, “I felt weird when….” to help our community create the best learning environment possible.