Visual Story (53-608)

Course Schedule

Visual Story Syllabus 2019

Visual Story is a filmmaking class for non-filmmakers. Students are taught the basic language of filmmaking and the director’s craft as it applies to the digital format. Aspects of mise-en-scene, classical continuity-style coverage, temporal and spatial montage theory, directing actors and thinking visually, will be essential to the new media director’s palette. All forms of digital filmmaking will be discussed including dramatic, documentary and independent features as well as commercials, music videos and experimental subjects. Through lectures, readings, screenings, web-postings, discussions, writing and production assignments, you will learn the basic principles and vocabulary of film theory and aesthetics. Understanding these fundamental ideas are critical to developing a more critical eye towards creating new media.


Students will work in teams to write, produce, shoot and edit several visual story assignments. Each assignment is designed to actualize key components in the creative and production process. The selected teams will remain constant throughout the term. Teams will be assigned within the first week of class.

Primary Course Objectives

  1. Understand the basic visual story components and how they are used to tell effective visual stories.
  2. Demonstrate how the basic visual story components can be applied to achieve dramatic results.
  3. Apply an informed vision of how the dynamics of visual storytelling work across all media such as video games, the web and interactive entertainment.

Secondary Course Objectives

  1. Analyze: How images are constructed.
  2. Meaning: How images create meaning.
  3. Impact: How images affect us on a personal level.
  4. Influence: How they are applied across different mediums.

Grading and Assessment

Group performance must be translated into individual grades. In order to avoid issues of fairness and equity as well as motivate and discourage the ‘free-rider’ student the following grading criteria will be used to help in process assessments:

  1. A teams process will be assessed, not just the final product including an individual’s ability to cooperate, communicate, etc.
  2. Students will be asked to assess their own contributions to the team.
  3. Individual students will be held accountable as well as group products and processes.
  4. Students will be asked to evaluate their group dynamics and the contributions of their teammates. This will be based on effort, participation, cooperativeness, accessibility, communication skills, etc.


Each student is allowed 4 excused absences for medical or other special/emergency considerations.  Those 4 excused absences must be approved by the instructor.  

If you need to miss class for any reason, please notify John Dessler or myself ahead of time. If you don’t ask to be excused the following applies:

  • 2 unexcused absences lower letter grade by ½ grade.
  • 3 unexcused absences lower letter grade by 3/4 grade.
  • 4 unexcused absences lower letter grade by a full letter grade.

Late arrivals

We’ll be keeping track of all late to class arrivals and taking note of how many times each student is late.

3 times late to class will lower grade ¼ grade.

Phone texting will not be tolerated.


You will be required to fill out a survey to help select your role in the class and help sort you into teams. The link will be mailed to your andrew account. You must fill out this survey by Wednesday, September 4 at 11:59:59PM.

Survey Link:

TA Assignment

After filling out the survey, you will be assigned to a TA. You will talk to that TA to check out equipment, ask questions, and get assignments checked off.

Randon Submission

Assignments will be submitted to Randon: dfs/classes/2019_semester_3/visualstory/Assignment/Assignment Number. Create a folder with your name / team name and place your materials inside. Name your folders sensibly, and only have one version inside that you plan to turn in.

Some assignments will be individuals, and some will be in groups. You are required to notify your TA when you have turned in an assignment that they need to check before the deadline.

Visual Story TAs Office Hours

You are assigned to one particular TA. However all TAs are available to help and may have specialties that interest you.  TAs will have office hours listed online in the coming week. You should strive to only access TAs during office hours for help or to check out equipment.

Equipment Check Out

You will be working with various equipment during Visual Story, such as cameras, microphones, and lights. You must check out equipment from your TA, and return it in a timely manner. Equipment you check out will count against the three items you can check out from the ETC, so plan wisely.

Equipment Check out is NOT available on the weekends. If you plan on shooting over a weekend (and you probably will) plan ahead.