Course Syllabus

4430header.pngSyllabus ARTC 4430/5430

Instructor: Bonnie Mitchell
Office: Fine Arts Building
Office Hours: Tues 12-3 pm
Section: 1001/1002 
Semester: Fall 2016
Lab: 244 Wolfe Center
Time: M/W 2:30-4:50pm

Complete Course Materials


ARTC 3120 Intermediate 3D Animation or Graduate Student status

Course Description/Course Aim 

Catalog Decription:
Creative development of animation and special effects using particle systems and dynamic simulation. Focus on artistic, technical and conceptual aspects of advanced animation techniques and composting. 

Course Overview:
This course is designed for students that have taken ARTC 3120 3D Animation or ARTC 4130 Character Animation I or are a Digital Arts graduate and want to enhance their knowledge of animation and Maya by working with special effects. The course will investigate complex concepts and techniques focusing on non-geometric modeling in Maya. 

Course Objectives

In this course we will study the physics of motion and creative expression of ideas. We will focus on physical dynamics, particle systems and coding to create animations. We will be programming using MEL expressions to enhance the dynamic effects. Students will work with compositing techniques such as transformations, masking, effects layers, etc. to create time-based collages of effects and 3D computer imagery. We will also explore the art of abstraction and metaphor. 

Learning Objectives

1) Students will learn how to use Maya nParticles and Dynamics to create artistic FX

2) Students will learn how to work with compostiing software to combine and manipulate animated layers

3) Students will learn how to use art and design principles as well as the principles of animation and time to create aesthetically pleasing animations

4) Students will learn how to develop animation concepts using metaphor, abstraction, and juxtapositioning.

Instructional Strategies

Class time will include demonstrations, discussions, videos, technical exploration, aesthetic inquiry, and historical information relevant to computer animation, compositing and special effects. The class will meet in the computer lab and the lectures are typically "hands on learning". This class involves "active learning" and collaboration as well as independent learning. Students are encouraged to pursue areas of interest and explore new ideas throughout the course.

Required Resources

Digital storage: External Drive (formatted for both Mac and PC) or Flash Drive . You will be expected to back up your data a minimum of once a week. 

Software: You can come into the lab to work (recommended) or install the software on your own machine. The advantage of using the lab is that you can ask questions of other students when you run into problems and you can share your knowledge as well. This helps create a productive learning community outside of the classroom. 

Free educational student version of Maya:

Reduced Price educational student version of NUKE: 

Adobe Creative Cloud Student Price:  

Recommended Readings

Maya books that may be helpful:

Learning Maya | Dynamics by Alias|Wavefront.
Learning Autodesk Maya: The Special Effects Handbook by Autodesk
Maya Visual Effects: The Innovator's Guide by Eric Keller

These books can be found on or most other book web sites.

Course and Computer Skills Required 

It is expected that you know the basics of Maya modeling and animation before taking this class. I will not be teaching basic Maya skills such as texturing, lighting, cameras, polygonal or NURBS modeling or MentalRay. I will be teaching what you need to know to work with Particles and Dynamics. Some assignments will depend on previous Maya knowledge.

Participation Expectations

Each student is expected to complete all projects, exercises, in-class exercises, the required readings and the final project. Details of the various assignments will be discussed in class. By the end of the semester, all projects should be part of your web portfolio. 

During class time, students are expected to engage in meaningful classroom participation.


Attendance is mandatory. We will be covering a variety of materials throughout the semester. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility meet with a classmate or make an appointment with me to get the information.

Your attendance will be assigned a grade and factored into the overall grade.

Do not miss more than 1 unexcused class in the semester. If you miss 4 classes you will fail the class.

  • Being more than 15 minutes late to class three times will count as one unexcused absence. 
    Leaving class early (15 minutes or more) three times will count as an absense. 

Assignments and Critiques 

All assignments must be turned in on the due date listed and they need to be ready for the critique. Revised projects are due exactly one week from the critique date. I do not accept late revised projects and you will receive a zero on the revised project if it is NOT turned in on time. 

If you miss a regular critique, the project for that critique will be lowered by one letter grade. 

During critiques, I expect each student's full attention and respect. Monitors will be TURNED OFF during critiques. Critiques begin promptly at the beginning of the class. 

Final Critique
Attendance at the Final critique is mandatory. Missing the final critique will result in an F for the Final Project. NO late Final Projects will be accepted! 

Grades / Evaluation 

All project criteria is listed on the project page. Grading is as follows:

A (100-90)
Excellent - Above and beyond, artistically AND technically

B (89-80)
Very Good - Beyond requirements, artistically OR technically

C (79-70)
Average - Met the basic requirements

D (69-60)
Did not meet requirements

F (59-0)
Project not turned in or completely insufficient 

Submitting Assignments

Projects are due in the Homework folder prior to the beginning of class on the date they are due. Come to class early to turn in your work and make sure it is ready to review at 2:30 sharp.

In the Mac lab you must Connect to Server to mount the homework folder. This will be demonstrated in class. 

Always bring your in-progress assignments with you to class. The teacher may ask to view your progress at any time.

Late Assignment Policy

No late assignments will be accepted. There will be no make-up work assigned for missed assignments or to improve grades.

Digital Arts Department Rules and Classroom Conduct

  • No food or drink in the lab.

  • No cell phone usage during class. ALWAYS remember to turn off (or silence) your cellphone before class. This means NO texting as well. After being told to put away your cell phone two times, you will be required to put your phone near the teacher station for 1 month.

  • No sleeping during class.

  • No student is permitted to disconnect, reconnect, or reconfigure any workstation without the permission of a digital arts professor.

  • Any problems with hardware or software must be reported to a digital arts professor, preferably by email. Report should include Barcode number of the workstation and the exact details of the problem.

Communication with the Instructor

Email is the best way to contact me ( or sign-up for my office hours Tuesday. I will be sending an email with a link to the sign-up sheet. Save this email and use it throughout the semester. If you email me, do not expect an immediate response. I try my best to keep up but I get over 200 emails a day and have to avoid my email once in a while to get work done. I also do not answer emails after 9pm and while teaching or in meetings. I sometimes am unable to answer emails on weekends as well (I travel a lot). I am however, available during the week and early evenings.

Course Agenda and Schedule

See the course schedule 

Student Projects 

Projects created in any Digital Arts course may be used by the ART department for the purpose of promoting the student, the department and/or the university in general. These materials may also be used by the ART department for instructional purposes in future courses. Please inform the instructor if you do not want your projects used. 


Academic Honesty

The professor and students will adhere to the general Code of Academic Conduct as outlined of the BGSU Student Handbook. Specifically, students will not cheat, fabricate, plagiarize or facilitate academic dishonesty. This also means using images, code and other copyrighted material without permission or and passing it off as your own work. 

Students who passively engage in cheating (i.e. allowing others to cheat off of them) may receive the same consequences as the person copying. 

In group work, if your partner or teammates do all the work on an assignment, you should not be listed as a contributor and should receive no credit for that work. If you allow an assignment to be submitted listing you as a contributor, but you did not contribute, this is equivalent to plagiarism.

Disability Services

I want nothing to interfere with your ability to perform well in this course. If you have a significant problem that might weaken your performance, please talk to me and/or someone from Disability Services for Students (DSS) Office. The goal of the DSS is to help provide equal access and reasonable accommodations to BGSU students with disabilities.  You can contact them by phone at 372-8495, fax 372-8496, TTY 372-0582, or on the web at

Religious Holidays

It is the policy of the University to make every reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. In such cases, it is the obligation of the student to provide the instructor with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which he or she will be absent. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve the student of responsibility for completing required work missed. Following the necessary notification, the student should consult with the instructor to determine what appropriate alternative opportunity will be provided, allowing the student to fully complete his or her academic responsibilities. (As stated in The Academic Charter, B-II.G-4.b at:

Student Veteran-Friendly Campus

BGSU educators recognize student veterans’ rights when entering and exiting the university system. If you are a student veteran, please communicate with your instructor so reasonable accommodations can be made for absence when drilling or being called to active duty. See ( for more information.

 University Closure

In most cases, the University will not close for winter conditions unless the Wood County Sheriff’s Department declares a Level 3 emergency.   Information about University wide closures is communicated by the Office of Marketing and Communications, which will notify the University Fact Line, local FM & AM radio stations and the four Toledo television stations (see Weather Policy for lists).  For changes in individual class meetings, please refer to the online course for postings by the instructor.

Course Summary:

Date Details