MTEC 1001 – E270 (24676) – Game Design and Media Skills Lab
Wednesday 6 PM – 8:30 PM
Room V314
Professor: Chloe Smolarski
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Description:
This 3-hour lab consists of a series of workshops that offer supportive instruction and training in a variety of software programs, digital tools and platforms. These workshops are introductions to the programs and tools for digital imaging, graphics, video, sound, and interactive design. Specifically, students are work with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects, Audition and Unity. The workshops are designed to foster a culture of collaboration and sustainable learning communities.

Students are expected to complete a series of guided assignments that cultivate digital skill sets as well as offer conceptual frameworks, which lend themselves to interactive storytelling and game studies. Active participation in class is required as well as timely completion of assignments.

Students will be maintaining Open Lab portfolio blogs in which they post all assignments. Students are also required to reflect on each post and discuss in writing their ideas, and challenges in completing the assignment. This is a portfolio-based class and in order to complete the course successfully, students are required to have uploaded all assignments to their Open lab portfolio and to have actively participated in critiques and class challenges.

Course Goals:
To give students an introduction to:
to some of the software relevant to the game design and development pipeline including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects and Unity.
to the design principles, the iterative process and an enhanced ability to discuss and evaluate your own work as well as the work of others.
to digital culture including but limited to using online resources and archives, online portfolio development, mash-ups, memes, Creative Commons etc.

Learning Outcomes:
By the successful completion of this course, students will be able, at an introductory level, to:
employ design principles and visual storytelling methods to the development of project concepts.
demonstrate a basic comprehension of digital tools pertaining to still images (Vector and Raster), Video, Sound and Interactivity
understand the iterative making process, using incremental methods such as prototyping and testing.
apply obtained knowledge to other contexts including programs and platforms.
archive work in a reflective manner for an online portfolio.
demonstrate an ability to speak about their work as well as the work of their peers in an analytical and constructive manner.

Course Materials:
Google Drive account to back up files
Flash drive

• Arrive on time and attend all classes— see below for attendance policy.
• Spend at least 2-4 additional hours a week (outside of class) on class projects.
• Check OpenLab for assignments and materials.
• Post weekly assignment responses OpenLab by midnight on Sunday unless otherwise specified in the assignment.
• Actively participate in class discussions & group critiques.
• Back up your work regularly.
• Thoughtfully contribute to a positive classroom environment, while actively supporting and challenging your classmates’ ideas.
Push yourself creatively and technically. Be ambitious. Work hard. Stay open and curious!

Attendance Policy:
• Students are expected to attend every class, arrive on time, and actively engage/participate.
• If you will be absent, or if you are running late, email your instructor ASAP.
• In the case of an absence, contact a classmate for notes and what you missed, check OpenLab for assignments, and contact the instructor if you have additional questions.
• Lateness and absences will impact your grade. Worse, not showing up will impact everyone else in the class. As most of our projects are collaborative, we are dependent on everyone’s presence and full participation.
• All in-class activities are graded for participation. Unexcused absences will result in a 0 for participation for the day.
• Unexcused lateness counts as 1/3 absence when up to 25 minutes late, 1/2 absence when 26-50 minutes late, and a full absence beyond that point.
• Absences may be excused in the following cases: documentation of illness provided by a doctor, religious observance with advance notice, official school-related activity (with documentation and advanced notice), and on a case-by-case basis for other critical events.
Project critiques are mandatory and cannot be made up. Missing a critique will result in a deduction of one letter grade for the corresponding project.

Academic Integrity Policy:
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.

Grading Policy:
50%     Online portfolio
5%       Mid-term
5%       Final Project
30%     Class Participation and critiques

Grading Rubric:

Course Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Student Support Services Program (SSSP). Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with Ms. Linda Buist, the program manager of SSSP (Phone: 718–260–5143, e-mail: If you have already registered with SSSP, please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with him/her.

Week Outline:

Week 1 – 01/29 – Overview of the Course, and Key Concepts
Lecture – Key concepts to digital culture. Using City Tech’s OpenLab to create a WordPress Blog/Portfolio. Ice breaker and logo project Intro
Lab – Creating blogs, evaluating and customizing templates, uploading media, toggling between visual and HTML. Emphasis on professional presentation – and personalizing the design
Project – OpenLab portfolio – customizing WordPress – Due 09/04

Week 2 – 02/05 – Design Concepts
Lecture – design concepts: composition, negative and positive space, design with a message. Introduction and navigating the Adobe Illustrator environment, understanding difference between raster and vector, creating scalable objects, basic vector tools including shapes, brushes, direct select, fills, strokes, text as object, exporting
Lab – Logo project
Project – Logo project –3 Variations: white background /black background and transparent background – 5in X 5in – export as .png

Week 3 – 02/19 Vector Drawing
Lecture – Common vector workflows and best practice, exploring the vector aesthetic
Lab – Mastering vector drawing with the pen tool (curves and angles). Understanding color information, RGB, CMYK, swatches, libraries, gradient, transparencies
Project – Vector Silhouettes – 10 in X 15 in

Week 4 – 02/26- Text Text Text
Lecture – Working with Text in Adobe Illustrator – understanding the grid and fonts
Lab – Kerning, leading, tracking, grids, writing on paths, filling objects. Word challenges.
Project – group challenge – Words and Meaning & design a business card

Week 5 – 03/4 Hyper Realism and De-contextualizing the Normal
Lecture – Understanding best practice with-in a Photoshop environment. Playing with context, creating and shifting meaning through combining images. Image mining and Creative Commons
Lab – Downloading large images, understanding resolution and dpi, subtracting and adding to and from selections, quick mask, layer masks, custom brushes, adjustment layers (nondestructive), clone tool
Project – Hyper Realism and De-contextualizing the Normal – A series of 3 images – 8.5 in x 11- Combine at least two images to create a surreal scene. Consider the light source and creating shadows.

Week 6 – 03/11- The Magic of Photoshop
Lecture – Manipulating images and attention to detail – conveying ideas visually and of understanding audience
Lab – Photoshop continued: histograms, levels, curves, healing tools, content aware – photo correction
Project – Old and New Photo Correction

Week 7 – 03/18
Lecture – Concept development. Considering the relationship between music/story and image.
Lab – text in Photoshop, clipping masks, implementing previous tools
Project – Album Art/Book Cover – Re-design an album/book cover or create an original design that responds to the content

Week 8 – 03/25
Midterm presentation and class critique

Week 9 – 04/1 Sound Design
Lecture – Introduction to sound design. Audition workshop.
Lab – Adobe Audition workflow – importing, basic tools, basic effects including pitch, speed and tempo, sound transitions, exporting .wav/mp3/m4a.
Project – Group Challenge – Using recorded foley sounds and downloaded sounds create 1-2 min. design project.

Week 10 – 04/7 (follow wed) Combining to Create the New
Lecture – Remix culture, open source, copyright issues
Lab – Adobe Audition continued – layering sound, panning, BPM, creating loops – critique and skill share.
Project – Sound Mash-up – combine at least 3 (2 music and 1 spoken word) sound sources to create a new piece. Prompt: secrets

Week 11 – 04/22 – Video Montages
Lecture – Introduction to editing in Adobe Premiere. organizing clips, importing, in and out points, sequences, editing tools, transitions
Lab – Group challenge – music video – critique and skill share
Project – Music Video – create a music video using multiple sources

Week 12 – 04/29 Movie Trailers and the art of Editing Video
Lecture – non-destructive adjustment layers, basic color correction, effects with keyframes, cropping, opacity, text
Lab – working with Adobe Premiere – Critique and skill share
Project – Movie Trailer – Using two or more films, games, etc. create a trailer. Consider the soundtrack and the title

Week 13 – 04/06- After Effects environment and Time Travel Bumper
Lecture – Introduction to the After Effects environment: special effects, motion graphics, text in motion. composition, importing, keyframes, masks.
Lab – Group challenge
Project – Time Travel Bumper – create a 15-30 sec. bumper in groups

Week 14 – 04/13 – The Moving Still
Lecture – Adobe After Effects continued: tracking, keying, text animation, transitions, rendering timeline.
Lab – cinamagram production and critique
Project – Animated Postcard – Create a moving 5-10 second animated image using at least one still image and one moving sequence Prompt: Home

Week 15 – 04/20- Introduction to Unity 5’s Environment
Lecture – Introduction to the Unity 5’s environment and interface including skyboxes, objects, sound assets and components. Workflow and best practice. Finding resources on line.
Lab – Using provided assets and C# code create a solar system. The earth should rotate and orbit around the sun. The moon, a child of the earth should rotate around the earth.
Project – Solar System – Creating a solar system in Unity

Week 16 – 12/16 -12/18 – Wrapping Up
reworking any past work and making sure on-line portfolio are complete
Final Critique