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Tisch Undergraduate Film & Television Courses

Curricular Overview

The Tisch Undergraduate Film & Television curriculum integrates theory, practice, history and craft studies in order to provide a stimulating context for the creative and artistic expression of young filmmakers. Students take a variety of production classes and expand their education through the liberal arts, media internships and study abroad. We work in a collaborative environment that includes and extends beyond New York City.

Our program is structured around four primary stages: freshmen, sophomore (fundamentals), junior (intermediate) and senior (advanced). We offer classes in a range of disciplines that include animation, cinematography, screenwriting, acting, directing, sound production, editing, producing and television.

Students engage with multiple forms of narrative, experimental, documentary, interactive, web and installation based work. Whether students begin the program as freshmen or as transfer students, the programmatic goals, skills, opportunities and expectations are identical.

Year by Year Breakdown

Freshman Program

A foundation in image and sound production, the primary storytelling elements of the dramatic form, performance studies, film in a historical and critical context.

Frame and Sequence

Frame and Sequence is a core production course, taken as a complement to Sound Image in preparation for Fundamentals of Sight and Sound. It examines the creative and practical choices that contribute to lens-based narrative expression. Initial sessions consider camera operation and the still frame. Storyboards and narrative sequences are introduced and assignments become more complex as the semester progresses. Through individual and collaborative exercises, students develop an understanding of the camera, lenses, light-meters and shot progressions as they transport the viewer through the time, space and action of their stories. Each student completes a simple narrative, an experimental project and a crew-based documentary, along with a final project with the option of shooting video.

Sound Image

A fundamental-level core production workshop introducing the world of sound in film, television, and other audio/visual media. Students will explore through individual and group projects of increasing complexity and sophistication the art of storytelling in the sound medium. Laboratory periods are designed to provide a wide variety of sound recording experiences both on location and in studio. Specific production techniques such as live recording, mixing, and editing will be stressed. Lectures focus on the theories of basic acoustics and audio electronics, the aesthetics of sound design, and the development of critical listening skills.

Introduction to Animaton

A beginning production course in which students learn the basic principles of animation, develop visual language, storytelling, observation, and communication skills. It is the prerequisite for several of the other animation and visual effects courses. Prior drawing experience is not necessary.

Performance Studies

This is a required course for all freshmen enrolled in Sound Image. This is a graded course designed as an introduction to the language and culture of acting and to the nature of the relationship between director and performance.  It is intended as a complementary class with Storytelling Strategies.  By the end of the semester, students should understand something of the history and culture of schools of acting, comprehend a basic vocabulary of the actor and feel confident with the casting and rehearsal process (including "organic blocking").  Students should attain a basic working knowledge of all areas of creative interpretation including script analysis and orchestrating performance.  They should be equipped to talk to actors using accepted vocabulary and be able to stimulate the creation of vital, memorable performances for the screen.

Storytelling Strategies

The ability to understand what makes a good story well told is a skill that is crucial to your growth as a filmmaker whether you become a writer, director, producer, actor, editor, cinematographer, etc.; Storytelling Strategies looks at how narrative stories work through an examination of the structural and mythic elements first established by the ancient Greek playwrights and recognized by Aristotle in his "Poetics" thousands of years ago.; The course continues this examination up to and including such contemporary story models as Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" as well as the current Hollywood paradigm, "the three-act structure."; We will seek to find those principles that form the backbone of successful narrative screenplays and contribute to a film's ability to resonate with an audience.; The lecture is for analysis.; The recitations are for applying what you have learned, through writing exercises and a completed short screenplay.

Language of Film

A basic introduction to the study of film, this course gives an overview of the historical development of cinema as an artistic and social force, while at the same time acquaints the students with the aesthetic elements of the cinema, the terminology governing film production, and the lines of critical inquiry that have been developed for the medium. The objective of the course is to equip students, by raising their awareness of the development and complexities of the cinema, to read films as trained and informed viewers. From this base, students can progress to a deeper understanding of film, a greater grasp of the technicalities of film production, and the proper in-depth study of cinema.

Art and Practice

Art and Practice surveys the intersecting creative, craft and critical traditions that inform contemporary media production. Lectures will incorporate a range of presentations that explore animation, documentary, television, cinematography, post-production, directing, audio and screenwriting from an aesthetic, practical and cultural perspective. This class is intended to further ground students in the programmatic opportunities that exist for them in Undergraduate Film & Television. Several sessions will focus directly on production protocols, with an emphasis on safety, organizational roles and the development of professional and ethical performance standards. Selected lectures will feature guest faculty, industry professionals and alumni.

Fundamentals

Production and screencraft across multiple disciplines.

Sight and Sound Filmmaking

Every student will conceive, produce, direct and edit five short projects (3 silent and 2 with sound) using digital filmmaking technology. Working in crews of four, students will produce a variety of specific assignments in visual storytelling that feature a broad spectrum of technical, aesthetic, craft and logistical problems to be solved. Collaborating with other students through rotating crew positions will be a central focus of all production work. Lectures, labs, critiques, technical seminars, screenings and written production books will be an important component of this class. All student work is screened and discussed in class.

Sight and Sound Documentary

The course teaches students to look at their world and to develop the ability to create compelling and dramatic stories in which real people are the characters and real life is the plot. Through close study and analysis of feature length and short documentaries, as well as hands on directing, shooting, sound-recording and editing, students rigorously explore the possibilities and the power of non-fiction storytelling for video. The course is a dynamic combination of individual and group production work in which each student will be expected to complete five projects.

Sight and Sound Studio

The course provides an in-depth exploration of the creative capabilities (technical, logistical, aesthetic) of producing narrative-based studio production work in a multiple camera television studio environment. Students will be trained in working with actors and learning how to connect script and performance to the production of four short studio based projects (each of increasing complexity). Students will have the opportunity to develop a single idea into a full-scale production that will be produced “live” in the studio at the end of the semester. The fundamental skills learned in this class (script, performance, lighting, camera, art direction, coverage) will serve as a foundation for all narrative-, experimental-, and documentary-based production work and will be applicable in classes. 

Dramatic and Visual Writing

Through lecture and recitation, this class is an intensive examination of the short film and the fundamental grammar of dramatic and visual writing.  

Intermediate

Primary focus is on expanding the foundation of experience for advanced study and practice by concentrating on a more specific area of craft drawn from the entire programmatic range of classes.

Intermediate Narrative Production

Intermediate Narrative Production Workshop is a practical course in which students (collaborating in crews of four) are exposed to a broad range of production techniques through production experience and class discussion. During the semester the class will explore craft, aesthetic, production and storytelling issues. Each student directs one short film, not to exceed 8 minutes in length (including credits). Students may shoot their projects in film or digital format and are restricted to the allocated class equipment. As a group member, each student may serve in rotation as director, producer, camera, sound, and AC/gaffer.

Experimental Production

A production course in which students experiment with non-narrative approaches to content, structure, technique, and style. Themes and orientations include many possibilities, such as music, choreography, visual or audio art, investigations of rhythm, color, shape, and line; poetry, fragmentation and collage, abstraction, performance; and subversion of linear narrative and documentary conventions. 

Commercial Short Forms

An intensive production course for students interested in exploring the creative and commercial aspects of producing & directing TV commercials, music videos and branded entertainment. As screen sizes decrease, opportunities have increased for emerging technologies to facilitate the production and distribution of both long and short form film, video and animation based projects.

Intermediate Television

A continuation of the studio television experience begun in Sight & Sound: Studio, the Intermediate Television Workshop is a collaborative class in a variety of television genres between Undergraduate Film & Television (UGFTV) directing students and acting students from Stone Street Studios.  This class will give twelve intermediate level directing students instruction in developing a vocabulary for clear communication with actors, and further experience in blocking actors and camera. 

Children's TV Production

This intermediate level class builds on skills acquired in both Sight & Sound: Studio and Intermediate Television as well as introduces students to the collaboration process, which is the heart of Advanced Television and the industry.  Students will collaborate as writers and producers to write and then produce a television show, 15-30 minutes long, aimed at a specific age group such as pre-school or “tweens.”  They will participate in every aspect of creating a show from the bottom up – writing, producing, directing, sound design, music, graphics, casting, and editing.  Once the show is written students will work in groups to produce segments of the show, taking on such roles as producers, directors, sound mixers and designers, videographers, and editors.

Intermediate Animation

An intensive intermediate production class exploring “personality” animation and “thinking” characters who express emotions. Analysis of live-action and animated films frame-by-frame. By semester’s end, students produce a 30-second film or video using 3-D and/or 2-D techniques incorporating principles of personality animation. Students gain experience in all phases of animation production, i.e. concepts, storyboards, layouts, exposure sheets, lip sync, test animation, inbetweening, animation, sound, etc.

Experimental Animation

This production and workshop class explores a wide variety of experimental animation techniques and technologies, from the historic (including pre-cinema) to the present and on, looking to the future. The very nature of cinema/animation will be the jumping off point for an aesthetic and philosophical consideration of the phenomena of persistence of vision in the context of moving pictures.  A wide range of work will be presented in screenings, trips to galleries, guests and on line. The spirit of experimentation, trusting your "what ifs" and how to learn and apply the results of experiments in the creation of finished works will be pursued throughout the class. 

Advanced

Advanced level work with a connection to the world beyond school.

Advanced Production

Advanced Production Workshop is one of several senior-level courses that serve as the 'capstone' of our production curriculum. This workshop is a year-long Advanced-level production course exploring the short form, in which each class will produce up to twelve short films (maximum length per film is 20 minutes).  All aspects of production are viewed as a creative extension and continuation of the film writing, directing, and producing process.  Most of the films produced in this course go on to screen in our First Run Film Festival each year, and have traveled the festival circuit, gaining worldwide attention.  These films also give our graduating seniors the opportunity to showcase their filmmaking talents, not only in front of festival audiences, but before industry professionals as well.  Some have also evolved into feature-length films. 

Documentary Production

The technical skills of producing, directing, writing, editing, camera, lighting, and sound, as they pertain to documentary production are examined in depth. Career planning and job opportunities are discussed. Professionals working in the field show their work and advise students how to get work. There will be workshops in writing proposals and budgets; selling and pitching ideas; fund-raising; legal issues; rights, clearances, and licensing; insurance; and multiple camera/multi-track recording (e.g., concerts, plays, music videos, reality television). Exemplary works in the field and student work are screened and discussed on a regular basis. 

Experimental Production

A production course on the advanced level in which students experiment with a variety of approaches to production, content, structure, technique and style.  Themes and orientations include many possibilities such as music, choreography, visual or audio art, investigations of rhythm, color, shape and line; poetry, fragmentation and collage, abstraction, performance; and subversion of linear narrative and documentary conventions. 

Advanced Television Production

Advanced Television is a year-long course consisting of one semester of scriptwriting and one semester of production.  During the (spring) scriptwriting semester, students will investigate series television and create their own ideas for an ongoing series.  These ideas will be developed into full-concept documents (series “bibles”).  Students will pitch their concepts to the rest of the class and a script (or scripts) will be selected for production in the second (fall) semester.  Either one hour-long or two half-hour pilots will be produced.  In the second semester, the scriptwriters will become producers and “show runners” as the scripts are realized by directors and crews, operating under professional protocols. 

Narrative Workshop

This workshop is a practical course exploring the short narrative form in which each class will produce up to ten short films (maximum length per film is 15 minutes). All aspects of production are viewed as a creative extension and continuation of the film writing, directing, and producing process. Students interested in directing a film in this class must be prepared to submit a script at the first class of the term, and are encouraged to submit a copy of their intermediate-level project for review.  Selected scripts will be chosen in class.

Advanced Animation

A one-year (two semester) course in which a finished animated moving picture with sync soundtrack is required. Advanced Animation is designed to meet individual problems in concept and technique. Use of varied equipment, mixed media techniques, and a personal approach to content is encouraged. An opportunity to work closely with the instructor as well as meet and consult with other professional animators for criticism and advice. Individual development is stressed.

Advanced 3-D Computer Animation

A collaborative, one-year (two-semester) core production course in which students will work as a team to complete at least one 3D animated film with sync soundtrack by the end of the spring semester.

Modeled after real-world 3D animation studios, Advanced 3D Animation Production will expose students to tried-and-true 3D production practices by breaking the work down as if by department. Students will have numerous opportunities to expand upon their 3D, compositing, audio, design and story skills and gain valuable production experience while creatively contributing to a polished 3D short that will showcase their talents and look great on their reels.