Aesthetics & Storytelling 40-1103 3 credits Columbia College Chicago Television Department 600 S. Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60605



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Aesthetics & Storytelling


40-1103

3 credits
Columbia College Chicago

Television Department

600 S. Michigan Ave

Chicago, IL 60605

312/344-7410 (office)
Instructor Name:
Contact Phone Number:
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Course Description: Aesthetics and Storytelling is the foundational course for future work in the TV Department, whether you are aiming to be a director, writer, producer, or editor…the fundamentals of aesthetics in relation to TV are crucial to doing well in any of these areas. In this course we learn how to choose the right shots and how to construct a coherent sequence, as if we are constructing clear and understandable sentences (the sequence) out of the best words possible (the shot). To learn this skill, we at times break down things even further, focusing on the elements of shot construction (mise-en-scene, lighting, color, compositional balance and framing, perspective, etc.). Because these “words and sequences” are a specialized language, this course will emphasize becoming proficient in terminology so that you can communicate with those whom you are trying to “reach”—from a crew you are a part of, to a crew you are directing, and ultimately to the TV viewer who wants to hear your story.

Course Rationale: This class is designed to help students gain control of basic storytelling elements in TV, to master the use of these elements in telling stories visually, and to foster an understanding of and appreciation for the aesthetic choices at work in designing a story for TV.

Text: Your instructor will provide you with a packet of readings, a glossary, and a set of assignments.
Attendance: Two tardies equal one absence and three absences may result in the grade “F.” Repeatedly running late just a few minutes will lead to a loss in participation points. IT IS UP TO YOU TO GET TO CLASS ON TIME AND TO MAKE SURE YOUR INSTRUCTOR HAS YOU MARKED FOR ATTENDANCE. This course is based on participation through discussion and in-class exercises, so there is no way to do work outside of class that will make up for a missed class.

Learning Objectives:


  • Throughout the course the student will:

  • recognize the basic terminology of TV aesthetics at work in the industry and in criticism

  • investigate the aesthetic motivations at work in choosing shots and composing sequences

  • comprehend the basic structural elements of storytelling in TV, including act structure and characterization

  • apply the language of TV to work they engage in, from interpreting scripts visually to designing a story that can be told with images and sound

Grading Policy:

Two vocabulary quizzes 30 points* 550 POINTS TOTAL

Camera Story Draft 15 517 up =A 94-100%

Camera Story Exercise 45 495-516 =A- 90-93%

Interpretation Pre-Work 20 473-494 =B+ 87-89%

Script Interpretation/Visualizing 110 462-472 =B 84-86%

Photo Roman Pre-Work 20 440-461 =B- 80-83%

Photo Roman 140 418-439 =C+ 77-79%

Attendance and Participation 170** 412-417 =C 74-76%

(attendance worth 80 points) 385-411 =C- 70-73%

330-384 =D 60-69%

below 330=F (less than 60%)

***COLLEGE-WIDE POLICY ON MINIMUM GRADE*** It is policy that for any class a Columbia student takes in their list of departmental core courses, the student must achieve a minimum of a “C” (above, 412 points). If you are a TV major, or if you are planning on this class counting towards another department’s core requirements, you will not be able to move on into classes requiring Aesthetics and Storytelling as a prerequisite (or to take advanced classes beyond the core) with a grade of “C-“ or lower in this class. DO NOT EXPECT EXCEPTIONS TO BE MADE OR TO BE ABLE TO RELY ON EXTRA CREDIT AT THE LAST MINUTE. Pay attention to your grades as you go, and work with your instructor: turn in your work on time and follow the assignment guidelines, take care to be on time and present in class, and ask questions when you have them!
* Class policy is that there will be no makeup quizzes as they are scheduled on the syllabus.

** Your attendance and participation are important—collaboration is a critical part of TV courses! Remembering that 2 tardies=1 absence, repetitive lateness of even just a few minutes will chip into these points also (as well as leaving early, returning late from breaks, using the cell phone, etc.). Points will begin to be deducted after 1 absence/after 2 tardies: if you acquire 2 full absences (even if via tardies), you will lose at least 20 attendance points; going over 2 means you will lose at least 25 points; 3 absences or more means you will lose all attendance points and this is likely to lead to an F in the class overall; more than 3 and you start losing particpation points also.

Participating in in-class activities and exercises and turning assignments in on time is part of your grade. BEING UNPREPARED TO PRESENT CLASS ASSIGNMENTS ON THE DAY ASSIGNED WILL LEAD TO A LOSS OF 12 PARTICIPATION POINTS PER OCCURRENCE. On the day of presentations, once they start the class door is closed so students will not be interrupted while presenting. If you’re late, your “show-up” time gets marked as the next time the door opens, after the presentation is done. It is to the instructor’s discretion to accommodate students with extensions on assignments, or to determine if an absence is excused. It is the student’s responsibility to keep instructors informed of all problems in a timely manner, and to provide documentation of problems if the instructor requests that.
COURSE CALENDAR

(syllabus subject to change as the instructor deems necessary)
WEEK 1: Aesthetics & Storytelling in Television

Read for next week: “Understanding Comics” and “Storytelling and TV”
WEEK 2: Story Structure & Characterization

(CAMERA ASSIGNMENT EXPLAINED)


Read for next week: “Fundamental Compositional Principles”
***NEXT WEEK, BRING IN THREE OBJECTS OF VARYING SHAPES AND SIZES TO PRACTICE SHOOTING IN CLASS***

***NEXT WEEK, BRING IN A TYPED DRAFT OF YOUR STORY FOR THE CAMERA ASSIGNMENT—KNOW YOUR CATALYST, TPs, AND CLIMAX***

WEEK 3: Story Visualization~Mise-en-Scene & Cinematography


***STORY DRAFT DUE***

(SCRIPT INTERPRETATION ASSIGNMENT EXPLAINED)


Read for next week: “Perspective in Your Environment,” “Editorial Storyboarding (Pt. 1)

WEEK 4: Continued ***QUIZ***

Read for next week: “Editorial Storyboarding (part II),” and “Color in the Modern Film”


WEEK 5 : Editing as Storytelling: The Basics ***CAMERA ASSIGNMENT DUE***

Read for next week: Book~ chapter 6: p. 218-231


WEEK 6 (Continued)
***FOR NEXT WEEK, BRING IN AT LEAST 5 IMAGES FOR YOUR SCRIPT INTERPRETATION AND A TYPED PARAGRAPH EXPLAINING WHAT MOMENT OF THE STORY YOUR SCENE IS, WHAT GENRE YOU ARE AIMING FOR, AND HOW YOU WANT YOUR CHARACTERS DRESSED AND WHY***

WEEK 7 (Continued) ***INTERPRETATION PRE-WORK DUE***
***TIME IN CLASS TO WORK ON SCRIPT INTERPRETATION

WITH INSTRUCTOR HELP***
WEEK 8
SPRING BREAK

WEEKS 9& 10 ***SCRIPT INTERPRETATIONS PRESENTED IN CLASS***

(PHOTO ROMAN ASSIGNMENT EXPLAINED)


WEEK 11: Editing and Sound: Enhancing the Story

Read for next week: “Chapter Six,” “Wicked,” and “Our Town”



(INSTRUCTOR WILL PROVIDE “OUR TOWN” AT END OF CLASS)

WEEK 12: Personal Visions, Cultural Context, and Storytelling with a Point QUIZ

***FOR NEXT CLASS, BRING IN A TYPED DRAFT OF YOUR PHOTO ROMAN’S STORY—CATALYST, TPs, AND CLIMAX—AND A TYPED PARAGRAPH EXPLAINING WHAT GENRE YOU ARE AIMING FOR, DESCRIBING YOUR KEY LOCATIONS, AND HOW YOU WANT YOUR CHARACTERS DRESSED AND WHY***
WEEK 13: (Continued) PHOTO ROMAN PRE-WORK DUE
***TIME IN CLASS TO WORK ON PHOTO ROMAN

WITH INSTRUCTOR HELP***

WEEKS 14 & 15 ***PHOTO ROMANS PRESENTED IN CLASS***



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