Catalog Code: DDA 410

Course Title: Senior Project Pre-Production

Department: Digital Arts

Chairperson: Peter Patchen

School: School of Art

Term/Year: Spring 2019

Course Credits: 3

Location & Time: Tuesday and Thursday 02:00PM - 04:20PM, Myrtle Hall, Room 4W-08

Req or Elective: Required

Prerequisites: DDA400

Instructor: Claudia Herbst-Tait


Phone: 718 636 3490

Fax: 718 399 4494

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, Lunch

Office Location: 4W-16

Syllabus Version: January 10, 2019


Bulletin Description:

This is the second in a required two course series in which students produce a 3D-animated Senior capstone project that was developed in DDA-390 Senior Project Development. A highly polished animation of portfolio quality is required for the completion of this two course series. The quality of motion is expressive, depicts strong poses, timing and sense of weight; surface treatment, lighting and rendering convey a distinct, original aesthetic and strengthen the message of the film. Open to senior students only.


Detailed Description:

In this course, students finalize their 3D-animated films, up to four minutes in length. This film is to be of portfolio quality and demonstrates advanced technical and creative skills. By the end of February projects have been fully animated and are rendering/rendered; in March, all shots are in post-production for final polishing and editing. Students are advised that their films are due the third week of April. No later than April, students edit their demo reels and prepare for careers in their field. Students submit their films for exhibition.

Course Goal(s):

  • To finalize and polish a professional quality 3D-animated Senior Project started in DDA390 Senior Project Development, and DDA400 Senior Project I.

  • To edit a demo reel and prepare for a career in 3D animation.


Student Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate the ability to finalize and polish 3D-animated short film within the time allotted.

  • Demonstrate advanced presentation and communication skills.

  • Compile a succinct demo reel showcasing breadth and depth of skills.



Until a film is completed, the animatic should always include the most current version of each shot and the most up to date version of sound design. Thus, animatics should be updated and posted on a weekly basis.

Students are not allowed to scrap their ideas or change their projects at this point. Late story alterations will not be an excuse for missing production deadlines.

Animations must be 4 minutes or less.

Planning Students continue to manage and organize their data, assets and resources in a professional manner. All production documentation must be kept current throughout the production of a Senior Project and shared with the instructor online.

Finalizing Character-driven animations as well as experimental animations are expected to show expressive motion that connects with the audience. The refinement of motion -- bringing characters or objects to life, offsetting broad against nuanced movement -- takes time. It is important that students allow for this process in their scheduling.

Senior Project films must be completed at a high level of finish. Lighting and rendering styles are expected to convey a distinct and unique aesthetic; surface treatment, lighting and rendering are to demonstrate an advanced understanding of rendering tools. Most projects benefit from some treatment in post-production. Students are expected to schedule their work so as to make time for finishing touches. Titles and credits should be designed in accordance with the the film’s overall aesthetic.

All films must meet the deadline for Screening Day, the third week of April.

Authorship Each student is solely responsible for all visual components of their films. Any plagiarism of third party assets of any kind could result in failure or expulsion. This includes sketches and designs, animation, editing, matte painting, textures and texturing and also rigging. Rigging tools, such as Advanced Skeleton, are acceptable provided that credit is given. Using online services to rig characters, or applying pre-made animation cycles, is not permissible. Use of online services such as CG textures to obtain individual texture maps is acceptable. Using entire online shader networks is not acceptable. Please read Pratt’s plagiarism policies at the end of this document.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with a skilled/professional musician or sound designer in order to achieve a high quality of sound design.

Presentation During the last week of February (exact date TBA), students give one last, formal presentation to the department. Each student is allotted 15 minutes to present their work to date, this includes 5 minutes to present his/her project, followed by up to 10 minutes Q&A. Attendance is mandatory for the entire length of presentations. For this presentation, students must meet or exceed these milestones:

● 70% of animation is polished and rendered

● environments are complete

● texturing is complete

● audio is finalized

● include examples of post-production

Students are advised that they may not graduate without completing their Senior Project film as approved by the Senior Advisor(s); furthermore, for a film to be considered finalized, it must be of portfolio quality.

Note that ‘incompletes’ will not be granted simply because work is not completed. Incompletes are granted only for documented illness or extraordinary hardship.

Storage and Backups Students are expected to use cloud-based storage and/or obtain external hard drives for daily and weekly backups. Lack of work due to data loss is no excuse.

Naming Convention: Class_YearTerm_LastNameFirstInitial (ex. UG_19SP_GannisC and G_19SP_BlazerG).

Formats Final rendering must be delivered at HDTV 1080p (1920 x 1080) pixel aspect square, 30 fps, interlacing none, compression none, audio 48 kHz sampling rate/ 16 bit stereo/ uncompressed. NOTE: For detailed information, see the Capstone Requirements document for the current academic year, available from the office.

Useful References

Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps For Creating Animation and Motion Graphics, by Liz Blazer

Basics Animation 01: Scriptwriting, by Paul Wells

Inspired 3D Short Film Production, by Jeremy Cantor

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee

Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen, by Steven D. Katz

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Adobe Premiere Pro CC Classroom in a Book, Maxim Jago, 2018.

Cool Tricks & Hot Tips for Adobe Premiere Elements, Steve Grisetti, 2018.

Nuke 101: Professional Compositing and Visual Effects, Ron Ganbar, 2014.

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design, Tod Paulson, 2013.


● First Week of February

Modeling CheckPoint: All models 100% completed

● Third Week of February

Texturing 100% complete

Animation 70 % finished/polished, 30% 2nd draft

1/3 of midterm grade (1/3 of 50%)

● Last Week of February Midterm Presentation (last formal presentations to the department)

70% of animation is polished and rendered

Environments are complete

Texturing is complete

Audio is complete

40% of the final grade

● Third Week of March

Modeling and Texturing

Lighting and Camera revisions

● First Week of April

100% of project rendered at 1080p and ready for post/editing

● April 30th Final Projects due

Final projects are due All documents and materials must be delivered in accordance with the Capstone Requirements document for the current academic year.

May 1st Reel Due online

10% extra credit available for a complete professional website



Final rendering must be delivered at HDTV 1080p (1920 x 1080) pixel aspect square, 30 fps, interlacing none, compression none, audio 48 kHz sampling rate/ 16 bit, stereo/ uncompressed. NOTE: For detailed information, see the Capstone Requirements document for the current academic year, available from the office.


Blog Links

Bowditch, David R.

Dela Cruz, Isabela N.

Epperson, Amissa B.

Goldblatt, Perle S.

Holub, Morgan E.

Johnson, Angelica B.

Maragni, Michael J.



Weekly Breakdown


January 22nd & 24th


Course overview. Students present their most recent animatics and progress.

Assign revised production schedule

Assign revised shot list

Assign deadlines for early weeks of semester:

Modeling finished week 3

Texturing finished week 4

70% of animation completed week 5

January 29th & 31st


Critique continuing animation, modeling, texturing

Assignment: finish all modeling for next week, continue animating and texturing

February 5th & 7th


All modeling is complete. Graded checkpoint

Critique of continuing animation and texturing

In class meetings

February 12th & 14th


Critique continuing animation, texturing

In class meetings

February 19th & 21st


70% of animation is finished

All texturing is complete

Critique of above

Graded checkpoint

In class meetings

February 26th & 28th


Formal presentations to the department begin

30% of final grade

70% of animation is polished and rendered

Environments are complete

Texturing is complete

Audio is complete

March 5th & 7th


Discussion of presentation feedback; reevaluating schedule for spring break.

March 11th - 17th SPRING BREAK

March 19th - 21st


Submit any Modeling and Texturing, Lighting and Camera revisions for critique

In class meetings

March 26th & 28th


All animation is complete

Post-production on rendered frames is nearly complete

In class meetings

April 2nd & 4th


All Rendering is complete

In class meetings

April 9th & 11th


All post-production is nearly complete. Minor project revisions assigned for next week in class meetings.

April 16th & 18th


Last review of work in progress and assistance with exporting files.

April 23rd & 25th


Assignment: Begin work on reels and online portfolio

In class meetings



Final films are handed in at the beginning of class as .mov files for Screening Day. Films must meet the following requirements:

Resolution: 1920 x1080

Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square

Interlacing: NONE (this may be referred to as Field Order: Progressive, or Field

Dominance: None, or Field render: Off)

Frame Rate: 30 fps

Video Codec/Compression: H264

Depth: 24 bit or millions of colors


Sample Rate: 48 kHz sampling rate

Sample Size: 16-bit stereo

Channels: Stereo

Audio Codec: Uncompressed (WAF, AIFF or SD-II)

May 2nd

Critique of evolving reels

In class meetings


May 19th


Final review of reels and online portfolios

In class meetings

May 14th Last Day of the Semester


Submit final reel



A key goal of this course is to prepare students for the professional world. A student’s grade is dependent upon his or her level of “professionalism.” Most people have some intuitive grasp of what this means but we would like to say a few candid things about what it means in our classes. Here are a few do's and don'ts:

1) Show up on time every day with all of your work done and placed in a location where the instructor can easily access it for critiques. No excuses.

2) Handle critiques graciously and don't take tough critiques personally.

3) Avoid juvenile behaviors. Do not bang computers and curse. Do not have side conversations which interrupt lectures, presentations and critiques. Do not publicly damage the reputation of your colleagues because you have had a bad day.

4) Don't be arrogant. In the professional work space, arrogance leads to termination.

5) Take direction. Be comfortable being told to do something and do what you are told. That said, it is always possible to disagree. Just do it politely and without excessive emotion. In a nutshell, production is a high-stress environment of sleep-deprived people whose flaws are easily placed on display. Professionalism is a means of keeping the environment productive and harmonious for everybody. Most importantly, professionalism is how you keep your job. Your work and interview usually get if for you, but after that, your people skills in the workplace are essential to your survival. Your grade depends heavily on your professionalism because your future career does as well.

Methods of Assessment

Instructors will provide early grading feedback. Individual instructors may add additional checkpoints between the major project deadlines. In these cases, the instructors will provide the class with the adjusted grading weights for each stage of the project.

A student’s progress is assessed based on their level of professionalism as demonstrated during presentations, level of organization and ability to meet deadlines. Students are also evaluated based on their ability to receive feedback and to implement suggestions they have received during critiques. A student’s project is assessed based on the demonstration of technical ability and originality of ideas and overall creativity.

Missing deadlines, rehearsals, presentation schedules, late arrivals, or leaving during a presentation are not acceptable and negatively affects a grade.


Midterm presentation: 30%

Professionalism: 20%

Overall quality of Project: 50%


A= Exceptional Work

A-= Excellent Work

B+= Work of high quality

B= Very good work that satisfies goals of course

B-= Good Work C+=Average Work

C= Barely adequate work

C-= Poor Work

D= Poor Work; doesn't understand the assignments

F= Failure, no credit


Institute-wide policies listed in the “Community Standards” section of the bulletin: Any additional applicable school, departmental, or personal course policies:


Homework assignments are given each week in class and are due at the beginning of class without exception. Failure to submit homework will affect your semester grade.


Four absences will result in an automatic failure. Three absences will result in an automatic full grade deduction (ie. A becomes B). Two tardies equals one absence. You are tardy if you are late for class. In addition, all students are required to present at major critiques during the semester. Be present and on time. No exceptions.

Attendance at Critiques

Any student who fails to attend a critique and does not email their work on that day, will receive a 0 (that's zero, lower than an F) for that assignment.

Policy on Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a series of laws designed to protect individuals with disabilities in the workplace and within educational environments. Pratt must make a reasonable effort to accommodate your disability. ADA includes not only physical disabilities, but also learning disabilities, and mental health disabilities. It is your responsibility to notify the Institute and your instructors of your disability, in a private manner, at the beginning of the course or as soon as your disability becomes evident.

Academic Integrity Code

When students submit any work for academic credit, they make an implicit claim that the work is wholly their own, completed without the assistance of any unauthorized person. These works include, but are not limited to exams, quizzes, presentations, papers, projects, studio work, and other assignments and assessments. In addition, no student shall prevent another student from making their work. Students may study, collaborate and work together on assignments at the discretion of the instructor.


Examples of infractions include but are not limited to:

  1. Plagiarism, defined as using the exact language or a close paraphrase of someone else’s ideas without citation.

  2. Violations of fair use, including the unauthorized and uncited use of another’s artworks, images, designs, etc.

  3. The supplying or receiving of completed work including papers, projects, outlines, artworks, designs, prototypes, models, or research for submission by any person other than the author.


  4. The unauthorized submission of the same or essentially the same piece of work for credit in two different classes.

  5. The unauthorized supplying or receiving of information about the form or content of an examination.

  6. The supplying or receiving of partial or complete answers, or suggestions for answers; or the supplying or receiving of assistance in interpretation of questions on any examination from any source not explicitly authorized. (This includes copying or reading of another student’s work or consultation of notes or other sources during an examination.)


For academic support, students are encouraged to seek assistance from the Writing and Tutorial Center, Pratt Libraries, or consult with an academic advisor about other support resources.

Refer to the Pratt website for information on Academic Integrity Code Adjudication Procedures.

Also, see the section labeled “Authorship” above for specifics regarding the use of digital media (such as code, 3D models, textures, etc).


Students with Disabilities
The instructor will make every effort to accommodate students with both visible and invisible disabilities.  While it is advisable that students with disabilities speak to the instructor at the start of the semester if they feel this condition might make it difficult to partake in aspects of the course, students should feel free to discuss issues pertaining to disabilities with the instructor at any time.  Depending on the nature of the disability, and the extent to which it may require deviations from standard course policy, documentation of a specific condition may be required, in compliance with conditions established by the campus Learning Access Center, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who require special accommodations for disabilities must obtain clearance from the Office of Disability Services at the beginning of the semester. They should contact Elisabeth Sullivan, Director of the Learning Access Center, 718-636-3711.


Religious Policies

In line with Pratt’s Attendance Policy, Pratt Institute respects students’ requirements to observe days of cultural significance, including religious holy days, and recognizes that some students might need to miss class to do so. In this, or other similar, circumstance, students are responsible for consulting with faculty ahead of time about how and when they can make up work they will miss.