The requirements for the course are as follows: (1) Blog Participation (20%); 2) Blog Specimens(40%); (3) Animation (20%); and (4) Blog Comments (20%); (5) a self-evaluation (one-page, typed, single-spaced) assessing your performance in the course (not graded but required).
Each week you are expected to make a two or three-paragraph (or so) entry in your blog for that week. These must be posted on your blog the day before class. These may take many different forms. Your post may be a standard review in that it recaps the reading’s thesis, articulates the kind of evidence that the author draws on, and makes some critical comment. A post might do an analysis of a particular scene in an animation. How does the animator accomplish a certain technical or narrative task? A post may be a more “free-form” response in which you mount a critique of a screening. Or a post might go further afield and entertain an idea that you have spun out of the reading or film screenings. A post may even review an animation website or compile a brief “webography” on a particular animation topic. A post might also find several reviews of an animated film and summarize them with a critical comment. You can even write about animated films that are not on the syllabus. (In fact, you are encouraged to view animations either via DVD rental, in the theater, or online.)
The blog posts will, to be frank, drive you nuts, but they will hone your writing skills and help you engage the material. Be aware that animation is visual, and images are necessary if you are referring to them in your post, so learning how to do screen grabs or embed movies may be a necessary skill for you. If you find a particularly good animation that probably no one has seen, include it in your post. We cannot imagine an animation we have not seen. Finally, although the blog posts are intended to be informal discussions, they are to be grammatically correct and proof-read.
A caveat. What is not acceptable in a blog post is “animation appreciation.” This kind of post is on order of, “I really liked Bullwinkle cartoons when I was five.” Or, “I can still remember when I first saw Toy Story. I thought it was so cool.” No. No No. The idea is to say something about your reasons underpinning your opinion or critical observations about a particular animation.
Online writing and reading differs from print for a variety of reasons. Clarity is the name of the game. Each post must conform to the following format:
- Post number
- Post title
- Underlined or bolded thesis sentence
- Space between paragraphs
- Titles of books should be italicized, titles of articles or documents should put in quotation marks, and so on.
- Use text links to your comments; you should also use the author’s name as a link. Do not simply use a URL.
- Use text links to sources on the web. Do not simply use a URL.
- A reference to a reading—the class text, an outside reading, a decent article on the web—with appropriate citation
- Do not copy and paste from MS Word
I will read all the blog posts each week; full credit will be given to those writers whose post are complete and punctual.
Twice during the term (at mid-term and during finals week) you will select a post from your blog that you believe is particularly successful. In preparation for your submission, you are welcome to revise your original post and add new elements to it. These will be marked as if they were on the order of take-home mid-term and final examinations.
Each week you are expected to comment on two of your classmates blogs in your comment group. These comments are to be substantive, engage the the blog post, and be something other than, “Snow White rocks!” or “The Brothers Quay are really weird.” Try for a paragraph. You are also free to comment on the writing if writing problems are getting in the way of your understanding what the writer is trying to say. I will read all the blog comments each week; full credit will be given to those writers whose comments are complete and timely.
There is nothing like creating an animation to understand what animation entails. Each class member (or team of two) will be responsible for creating an animation. Animations can be very simple or very sophisticated. The point is to try and work at producing something interesting even if you believe that you are not artistically inclined. At minimum, your animation should be 36 frames and loop; at maximum, anything goes. You are free to use any medium that suits you, although computer generated animations will probably be the easiest for most. I will be demonstrating various approaches and suggesting different ways of accomplishing this project in class. You should, however, plan on starting early because animation—if nothing else—is time consuming. I hope that we will have enough good animations so that we can exhibit the best examples or have our own animation festival. As an alternative, you can also make an optical toy. There are all sorts of plans and examples online. In the past, I have had some lovely zoetropes.
See attendance. In many classes, we will be doing some kind of activity, learning a technique, experimenting, engaging in some sort of group activity, or analyzing the animations or historical context in which they were created, so full mental engagement is necessary.