Syllabus Spring 2017.pages

This course is an introduction to the methods and tools of visual storytelling. Students will learn story structure, collaboration, how to give/get notes, to create story images from written/spoken ideas, to develop these images and ideas into a clear and dramatic narrative arc, and to edit these images into an emotionally engaging story reel.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Upon course completion, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the elements of story structure and describe their function

  2. Identify and compose visual elements to support story ideas

  3. Utilize the grammar and language of cinema in shots and sequences

  4. Communicate visual story ideas through pitching

  5. Give and receive productive notes

  6. Revise and refine their work

Class Structure:

This is a three (3) hour class meeting twice per week. The class will consist of lectures, pitches, dailies and screening clips from various live action and animated films. Most work on projects will be done outside of class, allowing time for pitching and giving/getting intensive notes to elevate the quality of everybody’s work.


  1. Show up. Missing three (3) classes will result in an F grade for the course.

  2. Be prepared to provide constructive criticism on everybody else’s projects. Be open to constructive criticism on your projects.

  3. Deliver story assignments on time. Late work will not be accepted.

  4. Failure to show a story reel (due on the last day of class) will result in a failing grade

    for the course.


Class Participation: 10%

Come to class, participate in discussions and critiques, and be passionate about your work!

Projects - 90%

Project 1 - simple sequence storyboard - 10%

Project 2 - film scene storyboard - 20%

Project 3 - action/drama ANIMATIC- 25%

Project 4 - final project ANIMATIC - 35%

Storyboard projects must be delivered DIGITALLY at 1280 x 720 resolution. Boards should be either in a PDF format or image sequence. You can either:

  1. Draw them on paper, and then scan them

  2. Draw them in a drawing program (Photoshop, storyboard pro)

Animatic projects should be delivered digitally via a. h264 compressed movie file at 1280 x 720 (2/3 HD) resolution. The first and last frames should be black.

Project 1 - Simple sequence without words - 10-20 boards - due day 5 - Tue 19 September

  • Create a simple story sequence using no words or dialogue.

  • The story can be about anything, and does not have to involve people.

  • The story should be extremely simple, but should still have a sense of beginning, middle and end.

    Project 2 - One minute sequence from film or script - 20 - 40 boards - due day 10 - Thu 5 October

  • Pick a 1-minute scene from a film or a script to storyboard

  • You must use the same location, characters, dialogue and actions from the script/film

  • You may use existing camera angles from the film in no more than 50% of your project; the rest you should re-imagine!

    Project 3 - Action or drama sequence - 30 - 50 board ANIMATIC - due day 18 - Thu 2 November

  • Pick one of the two scenarios (Action/Drama) listed below.

  • Plan out the sequence, writing out a beat sheet and shot list

• Storyboard the sequence, and then make an animatic with sound effects!


Setting: City Park.

  1. A man jogs at a leisurely pace

  2. An out of control rollerblader enters the park across from the jogger.

  3. The jogger passes a couple walking their dog.

  4. The dog barks at the jogger, causing him to flinch and throwing him off course, directly into...

  5. The path of the oncoming rollerblader, heading towards the jogger at full speed!

  6. How does it end? Resolve the situation - do they collide? Does the dog save the day?


Setting: fancy restaurant

  1. A sits alone at a table/bar looking at his/her watch, annoyed.

  2. B enters frame.

  3. A expresses his/her unhappiness at B’s lateness.

  4. B quietly stews. A mutters one last comment.

  5. B erupts angrily at a. A shrinks back in fright.

  6. How does it end? Resolve the situation - do things settle down, or does someone get hit with a wine bottle?

Project 4 - Original story reel ANIMATIC - 40 - 60 boards - due day 29 - Thu 14 December

The final project for this class is the creation of an original story animatic. Your story can be any genre: drama, comedy, science fiction, suspense, mocumentary, etc. It can be a self-contained story, or part of a larger narrative.

  • The completed final project is due on the final day of class.

  • Story reels must have sound and music. They don't have to but can have dialogue, if needed.

  • Story reels should be a maximum of 1:00 long.

Syllabus Fall 2017.pdfSyllabus Fall 2017.pdf