Media Arts

Middle School Courses

Introduction to Digital Photography

This course introduces dynamic composition and expressive exposure techniques that apply to digital and film photography. Students create portfolios of printed photographs, and their work is exhibited on a regular basis. Coursework is performed with Nikon D40 digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras provided by the school and common "point-and-shoot" digital cameras provided by the student. Students learn to organize, edit, and print their photographs using Adobe® Photoshop® and Epson ink-jet printers.

Introduction to PhotoGraphics

This course introduces Adobe® Photoshop® as well as digital darkroom techniques and special effects. Course projects are designed and selected by current and previous students as well as by the instructor. Students are encouraged to explore as they develop sensitivity to craft, composition, picture design, and graphic impact. Students create portfolios containing printed photographs and graphics, and their work is exhibited on a regular basis. Coursework is performed with Nikon D40 digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras provided by the school and common "point-and-shoot" digital cameras provided by the student.

Introduction to Animation I

Students in this class use animation and live-action techniques to create and tell stories. Students write, shoot, edit, and screen film art individually and collaboratively. They explore a variety of techniques, such as clay animation, drawing, Flash® animation, pixilation, and live-action video to make their stories come to life. Students add soundtracks, special effects, and credits using video-editing software to create finished work. Students create digital portfolios of completed projects and exhibit their work throughout the semester.

Introduction to Animation II

This course expands on the exploratory nature of Introduction to Animation I. Further refinement of animation-making skills, combined with an emphasis on three-dimensional space as seen through the camera, allows for an increasingly cinematic approach to animated storytelling. Flash® animation and video filmmaking are included. Prerequisite: Introduction to Animation I.

Introduction to Graphic Design

This course is for students who want to communicate through words, images, and ideas on paper, T-shirts, the Web, or anywhere else. Students learn to think like designers while conceptualizing and creating real-world projects. Fundamentals include shape, scale, pattern, color, composition, logotypes, typography, product design, brand identity, and poster, magazine, and book-cover design. Students learn to use Adobe® Creative Suite® 6 software (Photoshop® and Illustrator®) to create projects that define their personal design aesthetic and promote events within the Harvard-Westlake community.

Upper School Courses

Photography I

Photography I reviews fundamental camera and composition skills and introduces black-and-white 35mm film and silver gelatin printing using a traditional wet darkroom. In the second half of the course, students apply what they have learned in the darkroom to create projects using both film and digital media. Alternative processes are also explored, including pinhole-camera, photograms, cyanotype, and handcoloring techniques. Students use photography as a medium for self-expression, documentation, and social commentary. They participate in trips and exhibit their work in the school gallery. A 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera with manual controls is required.

Photography II

Using the technical skills learned in Video Art I, students spend the year writing, producing, directing, filming, and editing their own projects. Students become more familiar with the "language of film" through class presentations and screenings in conjunction with filming in the studio and in the field. The first semester is devoted to writing scripts and filming short exercises, such as staged dialogue and montage scenes and dolly and hand-held shots. The second semester is devoted to working on a film crew (usually six students) and producing—from scratch—an original film. Each student has the opportunity to work in the various roles on a film crew: director, assistant director, director of photography, grip, boom operator, and editor. Students learn about technical and aesthetic aspects of the film medium in the process of creating their own work. Prerequisite: Video Art I.

Photography III

This course is for photographers who wish to improve their technical skills, further develop their individual styles, study the history and aesthetics of photography, and work with digital photographic manipulation. A digital-image portfolio, suitable for inclusion with college portfolios, is produced in the first semester. During the second semester, students present their work for review by the photography department and mount a final exhibition. Prerequisite: Photography II.

Video Art I

This full-year course teaches the basic techniques used in making experimental and short films, including how to create professional camera shots, edit, and add soundtracks, special effects, and credits. No previous experience is necessary. Students also learn about the history of film, television, and video so they can use that knowledge to interpret the world from their own points of view and tell their own stories. Assignments include experimental videos, dramatic stories, and media manipulations. Students exhibit their works on campus in screenings, installations, and gallery shows, and selected works are submitted to film festivals.

Video Art II

Using the technical skills learned in Video Art I, students spend the year writing, producing, directing, filming, and editing their own projects. Students become more familiar with the "language of film" through class presentations and screenings in conjunction with filming in the studio and in the field. The first semester is devoted to writing scripts and filming short exercises, such as staged dialogue and montage scenes and dolly and hand-held shots. The second semester is devoted to working on a film crew (usually six students) and producing—from scratch—an original film. Each student has the opportunity to work in the various roles on a film crew: director, assistant director, director of photography, grip, boom operator, and editor. Students learn about technical and aesthetic aspects of the film medium in the process of creating their own work. Prerequisite: Video Art I.

Video Art III

This class is for self-motivated students with a passion for pursuing their filmmaking goals. Student filmmakers take the technical skills they have learned over the preceding two years and apply them to the production of original short films. The yearlong series of projects are written, produced, directed, filmed, and edited completely by the students. Work is screened on campus, but there are also opportunities for students to submit films to a variety of festivals and competitions around the country. It is recommended, but not required, that students in this class concurrently enroll in Cinema Studies. Prerequisite: Video Art II.

Cinema Studies

Designed for film appreciation, criticism, and analysis, this course teaches students the art of "reading" film. Students are taken step-by-step through the vocabulary of film with the goal of gaining a command of "the grammar of film" and an understanding of how films tell their stories. Bonnie and Clyde is used as a benchmark to look at the movements and directors preceding and following that seminal film, including, among others, film noir, Italian Neorealism, the French New Wave (particularly François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard), Peter Bogdanovich, and Alfonso Cuarón. Over one-hundred films are viewed, several of them in their entirety. Films highlighted include A Clockwork Orange, Battleship Potemkin, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gallipoli, Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean's Oliver Twist, The 400 Blows, The Birth of a Nation, There Will Be Blood, and Y tu mamá también. Directors studied in-depth include Lean and Stanley Kubrick. Texts include a notebook prepared by the instructor entitled CinStuds and Sidney Lumet's Making Movies. Over the course of the year, students prepare two term projects and review four films. The first project is on the topic of "The Language of Film." Students choose their topic for the second project. Several tests and a mid-year examination are also given.