Catalog Code: DDA 660 A/B - 2 

Course Title: Thesis I/II

Department: Digital Arts

Chairperson: Peter Patchen

School: School of Art

Term/Year: Fall 2019

Course Credits: 6

Location & Time: Monday 2:00-4:50 PM, Myrtle Hall, Room 4W-06

Req or Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Seminar

Instructor: Claudia Herbst-Tait


Phone: 718 636 3490

Fax: 718 399 4494

Office Hours: I am available on Mondays & Wednesdays, please schedule a meeting ahead of time

Office Location: 4W-16

Syllabus Version: August 12th, 2019

Course Description

In this course, students are expected to develop and present a significant original contribution to the field of digital art in the form of a visual project and a written documentation of the entire process, from research through completion.

This course does not entail any "formal" instruction. Students will meet with the instructor (Thesis Advisor) on an individual basis and as a group (see weekly schedule below) during which students present work to their peers. Students are asked to take the lead in discussing their peers' work and address aesthetic, conceptual, and technical issues. Active participation and a willingness to respond to presentations with well-thought out and formulated comments are at the heart of this course -- and determine the quality of everyone's experience.  

Because students are expected to work independently, this course requires a high degree of self-motivation and organization. While the instructor provides deadlines for completed Thesis projects and its components (visuals and the written Thesis), each student must devise their own detailed production schedule. The instructor will make suggestions as to best practices for the completion of a project based on which each student must devise their own production pipeline. 

Formal presentations to the Thesis Committee every semester are mandatory and an integral part of this course. Students are expected to prepare for these presentations and rehearse beforehand. Presentations should be carefully timed, communicate clearly and succinct. All students are expected to attend presentations all day, i.e. it is not acceptable to leave after your own presentation is completed, or to be disruptive by talking, or walking in and out of the lecture hall during the presentations.

Entry Requirements

Students must have developed their Thesis project in Graduate Seminar and be ready to begin executing their project. For time-based projects, animatics should no longer require significant revisions but be at a stage of development that allows full production to commence. In other words, Thesis I is designed as a production, not a development, course. Students who enter Thesis I with an underdeveloped or unfinished animatic must realize that they are behind schedule and are asked to get ready for actual production at the beginning of the semester.

Since this course does not entail technical instructions, students must be ready to take on the technical challenges their project presents. 

Goals of the Course

The goal of this course is to provide guidance for students who are embarking on the completion of their Thesis project. The instructor will assist students in an advisory role with both the completion of the actual work as well as the written thesis. The advisor also facilitates discussions; most of the talking should be done by the class. Each student should strive to improve their own work and work on helping his/her classmates on finding ways to improve theirs.  

Course Requirements

For animation projects, students are encouraged to not exceed 4 minutes in total runtime. For longer projects, students are asked to check with the department. 

Attendance is mandatory; class starts at the specified time. Students should be aware that they are expected to be on time -- and prepared -- for all meetings and presentations. Unexcused absences are not acceptable. Late arrivals of more than 10 minutes count as an absence; 3 absences or more result in failure of this course.

Active participation is expected from all students during discussions and critiques; students are further expected to be thoughtful in their comments and to make insightful and helpful suggestions. It is further encouraged that students follow up on conversations from class once class is over -- engage in an ongoing dialogue about your practices. 

Thesis I and II are each 6-credit courses; consequently, students must demonstrate significant progress on a weekly basis. This can be documented with work in progress, test renders of successful and failed attempts, etc. Insufficient progress or poor attendance will result in failure. Similarly, participation during critiques is a requirement that factors into grading.

Students are required to maintain a blog and post weekly updates on their progress. Each entry has to include specific descriptions of progress that has been made, technical hurdles encountered, and solved, or currently being researched. The blog is also a place to note issues a student would like to discuss. And, of course, the blog should include visuals of progress, animatics, stills, etc. 

Students should plan ahead and ensure that technical requirements necessary for the review of work are addressed prior to meetings with the instructor. Please, no fumbling through folders -- come prepared and ready to discuss, make the most of your time.

In the event a student has little or no progress to show, he/she is still required to attend his/her meeting or class. If a student is unable to attend class, he/she is requested to contact his/her Advisor well in advance. 

Please note: Missed meetings will not be rescheduled; students will have to wait for their next assigned meeting time.

ThesisI, Thesis II, and Thesis in Progress (TIP) students will present their work in progress to the committee at the end of every semester. Students are advised that, in addition to the thesis advisor, it is the committee that evaluates students' progress and completed thesis projects.

All deadlines on this syllabus are firm. If a student expects to graduate this semester but does not meet all of the deadlines listed below -- including deadlines for drafts of the Thesis paper -- the student may not graduate. 

This semester Thesis I, Thesis II and TIP students will present their projects in progress and finished projects to the committee for review during the week of TBA

Presentation Preparation: Students who did not test their files, will not be allowed to present their work.

Thesis in Progress, TIP, students should review the section "Thesis in Progress" (below).

Students are expected to make progress on their paper and to hand in drafts as required in the schedule below.  

Library guidelines are located here.  

Student Blogs Fall 2018:


Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao


Henrike Lendowski

Ge Gao

Shuhei Matsuyama 

Jun Huang

Anshou Wu

Chantal Kassarjian


 August 26th

Session 1

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Syllabus overview.

Introduction and review of Thesis I projects, all students participate in critique.

Drafts of Thesis papers are returned.

September 2nd — Labor Day, Institute Closed

 September 9th

Session 2

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

TIP students share their projects in progress, all students participate in critique.

 September 16th

Session 3

In-classroom work session for Thesis I students only, instructor will speak with each student. We are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

 September 23rd

Session 4

Individual meetings:

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

 September 30th

 Session 5

All Thesis II and TIP students hand in an advanced draft of their paper that includes at least four completed chapters of their paper and 90% of illustrations. Drafts must have been proofread  the Writing Center. Students are required to doule-check all formatting efore sumitting a draft.

Individual meetings:

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

October 7th

Session 6

Individual meetings:

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

October 14th

Session 7

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Thesis I and TIP students present their work in progress, all students participate in critique.

Drafts of Thesis papers are returned.

October 21st

Session 8

Students who are planning to graduate this semester hand in a near finalized draft of their Thesis paper today. This draft should include all visuals and a References and Bibliography section.

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Thesis I and TIP students present their work in progress, all students participate in critique.

October 28th

Session 9

Individual meetings:

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

November 4th

Session 10

Individual meetings:

Hongying Chen

Wen Chun Liu

Xueyan Wang

Yuxin Zhao

November 11th

Session 11

Students who are planning to graduate this semester hand in a finalized draft of their Thesis paper today.

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Thesis I and TIP students present their work in progress, all students participate in critique.

November 18th

Session 12

Group meeting — we are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Thesis I and TIP students present their work in progress, all students participate in critique.

November 25th

Session 13  

In-classroom work session for Thesis I and TIP students (bring your work/files), instructor will speak with each student. We are meeting from 1 pm to 3:50 pm.

Students who are planning to graduate this semester also hand in the final draft of their Thesis paper for one last review to check for missing commas, etc. (This means the paper is finalized and I am simply proofreading it one more time to check for any small corrections. This copy of your draft is not yet on archival paper, black and white suffices but I recommend test printing for color.)



VIDEO FORMAT: H264, 30 fps (for 3D and 2D animation), 1920 x 1080 pixels, with 2 seconds of black at the END of the film (NOT at the beginning). Please NO COLOR BARS. 
AUDIO FORMAT: Sample Rate: 48 kHz sampling rate, Sample Size: 16-bit stereo, Channels: Stereo

December 2nd

Session 14


Complete Thesis packages -- including all visuals and finalized papers printed on archival paper -- are due today.

Completed Thesis packages include

--two copies of the paper printed on archival paper with color illustrations (no staples or clips, etc.), each copy in its own labeled envelope

--a labeled jump drive with your uncompressed film (see example label below),

include also:

5 high-res still images (save as .tif)

Information sheet, proofread (PDF)

Current resume, proofread (PDF)

PDF version of the Thesis paper (check formatting once saved as PDF)

--a labeled jump drive with your compressed H264 version of your film 

--follow the proper naming conventions, spellcheck your documents, credits, labels, etc.

December 9th

Study Day /Exam Conflict Day No Classes

 December 16th

Session 15

Group Meeting — preparing for presentations…

Your advisor will hand signed Thesis projects to the Chair’s office for review no later than TBA

Methods of Assessment

Format of Thesis Projects:

Each type of thesis project - depending on platform and type - has to follow a specific format. 
For example, an interactive project has a different set of requirements than a 3D animation, 
or a video project. It is the students' responsibility to find out what the guidelines for his/her
project are. For specifics, students should consult the Thesis Requirements and Guidelines
document (available in the DDA office). It is important all Thesis students carefully read this document.
(Click here for the credit template. Please note that this template is meant only as a general guideline and only includes basic information. Depending on project, music credits, code resources, etc. and/or other/additional information may need to be added.)


Written Thesis:

The written component of a Thesis project discusses the aesthetic and technical issues of the Thesis project. Generally, the written Thesis is 25 - 40 pages in length. Students are advised not to underestimate the breadth and scope of writing such a paper. The written Thesis needs to be carefully planned and must adhere to specific guidelines. Students are advised to review previously completed Thesis projects and papers (available at the DDA Resource Center). Students are required to submit preliminary drafts of their Thesis paper throughout the semester. The deadlines for handing in drafts will be discussed in class (also, please see the Weekly Schedule section above). I suggest that students follow the MLA style of citation.


For the Library Guidelines, check here. Read the instructions carefully. (Please note that the binding fee is $90.)

Generally, the deadlines for submitting completed Theses are
The third week of April for May graduates. 
The first week of December for February graduates.

The deadlines for spring semesters include Screening Day, typically the third week of April.

Completed Thesis packages (all files, labeled, copies of the paper -- click here for details) are due to me well before the end of the semester. I will review and drop all materials and hand completed Thesis packages to the Chair, Peter Patchen.

Thesis presentations will be held during the week of TBA. All Thesis students are expected to attend the entire presentations. If there is a class conflict, students should inform me as soon as possible.

Please note that the DDA deadlines for handing in final projects and papers are ahead of the library's deadlines. Students should keep in mind that only 100% completed projects will get approved. Upon approval by the thesis committee, the Thesis Advisor and the Chair of the Department (Peter Patchen) will have to sign off on the Thesis project and paper and require time to carefully review the submitted materials.

Only when the Thesis Advisor has signed off on a Thesis will it be given to the Chair of the Department for review. In other words, ample time has to be reserved for this process (min. of 2 weeks). 

Each student enrolled in Thesis I/II is responsible to keep abreast of all requirements and deadlines he/she has to meet in order to successfully complete his/her Thesis project.

A thesis student is required to inform his/her instructor during the first week of the semester if he/she intends to graduate during that semester.

Thesis I and II semesters should suffice to complete a Thesis project. If the project is incomplete or the Committee finds that it does not meet the standards of the Department, students will be required to repeat DDA-660C:Thesis II or, at the discretion of the Committee, you may be granted a single Thesis In Progress (TIP) semester. Students must meet all of the following criteria to be granted a TIP: 

a) The quality of your work thus far is excellent ("A" quality work) 
b) You have worked diligently throughout your Thesis II semester 
c) It is clear that you are capable of working independently to conclude your thesis 
d) Your project is very nearly complete
e) Your grade point average is sufficiently high. 

If you are granted a TIP semester, you should understand that you are being granted exactly one TIP semester, during which the Department expects you to fully complete your thesis project. 

TIP students should further be aware of the following:

1) Normally the Thesis Advisor remains the Thesis Advisor until the thesis project is completed.

2) A TIP student is expected to work even more independently than he or she did as a Thesis student. The instructor will continue to meet with the student, however, it is the student's responsibility to contact the instructor and to arrange for a meeting. 

3) Every TIP student must remain in good standing in order to remain enrolled. A student who does not "remain in good standing" will receive an "F", and fail the course. In this event, the student would be required to re-enroll for Thesis, pay full tuition, and to start over. 

Readings/Bibliography: N/A

Supplementals: N/A

Student Guidelines

Please see the Thesis Guidelines document for a list of final Thesis materials to be submitted. Also, consult the section below ("Graduating? Here is What's Due...") for instructions. To avoid complications when you are trying to graduate, make sure to follow the requirements exactly.

Please note that all envelopes and cases must be labeled, indicating:
student name
title of work
type of work
format of medium
"Pratt Institute DDA MFA Thesis Project"

Example of Label:
Pratt Institute DDA MFA Thesis December, 2019
Nina Simone "My Baby Just Cares For Me" 
3D animation, 3:00 minutes

Un/Compressed version

Label all discs/drives clearly.

Signature Page Titles: 
Claudia Tait, Thesis Advisor, Department of Digital Arts
Peter Patchen, Chair, Department of Digital Arts

Please note that the credits of your project have to follow a template and include the DDA logo.
For the proper formatting of credits, see the Thesis Requirements and Guidelines document.

Graduating? Here's What's Due...

Thesis Paper: Read the Library Guidelines thoroughly.

Be advised that your thesis paper will likely require several revisions before it can be considered "final."
This process takes time. Also, always turn in your previous draft (which includes my comments) along with the new draft. 
Handwrite the date on each draft. On average, I will take between 5 and 7 days to read your paper.

Please note that I will review your paper but not correct grammar issues. Make sure to have your paper reviewed by someone
in the Writing Center (located in North Hall 101) before you turn it in. You can reach them at 718.636.4461.

Do Not consider your paper "finalized" until I give you the go-ahead to print on archival paper.

Hand in two copies of your final paper, printed on archival paper (check here for specifics regarding the paper). Note that you
may want a signed copy for yourself in which case you prepare three copies of the paper. Do not bind the paper, staple the paper, 
or attach a clip, etc. 

Place each copy of the paper in an envelope that is labeled properly. Only use printed labels, no hand written labels, please.


Data and Naming Conventions

Follow this naming convention on all files.


• PDF files: G_19FA_ShinJ_resume.pdf, G_19FA_ShinJ_doc.pdf
• Image files: G_19FA_ShinJ_1.tif (_2, _3, etc.) 
• Quicktime files:

Do not use spaces (use an underscore instead). Do not use punctuation (like apostrophes or accent symbols), 
even if your name contains them.

Include a Resume and Information Sheet in PDF format. All documents must be checked for proper formatting and proofread.

The information sheet is to be included with your Deliverables as a PDF file (include on the jump drive).

1. Name - Your full first and last name.
2. Email Address - Your Pratt email and personal email addresses.
3. Phone Number
4. Date of Birth - Month, day, and year.
5. Nationality
6. Title - of your project.
7. Total Run Time (TRT) – the duration of your project, in minutes and seconds
Example: 03:15 min/sec
8. Synopsis - A one (1) to three (3) sentence description of your project. (30 words
9. Summary - A brief* description including information on concepts, themes and
techniques used. (between 100 and 150 words)
10. Production Notes - List all components you are responsible for, and include any
contributors here. List composers, actors and performers appearing in your project.
11. Hardware and Software – List all equipment and software programs used to create
your project.
12. Bio – Write a brief narrative bio in the near-future tense*. Include your most recently
earned degree, any notable achievements, awards, honors, where you currently reside and what you do. 
Use your own words; be succinct and professional. (100 words maximum)

Include a PDF version of your Thesis paper. Double-check formatting remained consistent after saving as PDF.

Preparing Animation and Video Files for Graduate Thesis Projects

  • Do not consider your work "finalized" (e.g., render "final" frames) unless I give you the go-ahead.


  • Include five well-composed, high resolution .tif images. Follow the naming convention above. (Confer with your advisor which images are most suitable.) Note that these images have to be high-res (5K or more) in order to qualify. Depending on your process, you may have to “up-res” your images.


  • Hand in two separate jump drives, one with a H264 compressed version of your film; one for an uncompressed version of your film (make sure to attach a printed label to each, see example included on this page). Note that these drives will not be returned to you.

The opening or closing credits on all visual projects must reflect the information contained on the
title page of the thesis. This includes the following:

• Your name
• The title of your thesis
• The name of your thesis advisor
• The name of the department Chairperson
• Credit for contributors or collaborators, if any
• List of software used
• The words “Pratt Institute” (logo required)
• The words “Department of Digital Arts”
• The date (month and year)
• A copyright statement in the following format: “© [year] [Your name]”*


Do not place text close to any edge of the video frame because it will be cut off when it is projected. 
Turn on the “title safe/action safe” indicators in your video editing software to show the safe areas.

 For projects containing visual effects work, include a separate .mov file with your complete project.

All time-based projects must be edited using either DV-NTSC or HDTV settings specified below:

•Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080)

•Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square

• Frame Rate: 30 fps

• Interlacing: NONE

• Compression: NONE

• Audio: 48 kHz sampling rate, 16-bit stereo, uncompressed (WAF, AIFF or SD-II)
It is important that the Codec option in the Export options box is set to “None”. 

Label all storage devices (jump drives) clearly with a permanent marker or use LightScribe.

Preparing Video Documentation for Graduate Thesis Projects

Documentation: Still Photography
Use a camera which saves raw images at a resolution of at least 5000 x 3000. TIFF only (note that .jpg or .png
formats are not acceptable). Experiment with exposures. Gallery lighting alone may not be suitable for high-quality
photographs. Consider using supplementary lighting. Shoot both with and without visitors. Stills submitted may
also include digital image files of the project. 

Documentation: Video (for installations)

Contents of the Installation Documentation video maximum 3 minutes

Formats and Setting

Resolution 1080p (1920 x 1080)
16:9 aspect ratio
Frame Rate - 12-30 fps
Interlacing - None Compression - None (not DV, not h.246) NONE = “uncompressed”
Pixels - Square
Audio - 48 Khz, 16 bit Stereo, uncompressed

“Apple Animation” compressor can be used if the file exceeds 9GB. Alternatively, hand in a jump drive (see above). 

1. Title screen with the name of the project, your name, and copyright. 
Include a one-line statement summarizing the theme or nature of the installation. (4 seconds) 

2. Express the aesthetic goal of the work, including a "Beauty sequence" of highlights of the finished installation
in operation, including details. 30± seconds

3. Visitors' Experience. Live footage of participants interacting with the installation. On-the-spot comments and
reactions are a welcome feature. 30-60 seconds maximum. 

4. Functional Description. Behind-the-scenes review of the primary technology or special techniques used
in creating the installation, with captions or narration. Include animated diagram of the installation components
and software used. 30 seconds maximum

5. Any additional information (be sure you have included all of the Credits information listed in the Guidelines). 
Be sure to use the Hi-Res version of the Pratt logo supplied. 

Sections of the video must include either short text captions, or narration, with descriptions of the scenes or the
activity being shown. Music is sometimes used as a backdrop; make a professional and tasteful choice, otherwise
no music. Live sounds from the installation / project are preferred over a “wall-to-wall” promotional music track. 
Quality considerations during production: 

- Use a tripod. 

- You are shooting motion footage. Compose your shots like a cinematographer would. Include closeups. 

- Consider the lighting of the space. Very high contrast or very dim scenes do not make good video footage. 

- Allow extra time to thoroughly photograph the installation (high-resolution stills and video) while it is running, 
without casual visitors. Use supplementary lighting and bracket your exposures! 

- If the ambient sound in the installation does not record well through a microphone, be prepared to capture the
sound directly from the software to mix with the visuals during post-production. 

- If the installation includes screen or projection imagery, make digital "grabs" or captures of those images directly
from the computer, and edit these into the final reel with your live footage. (Do not count on photos/videos taken
during the installation to convey the quality and details of your graphic work.)

Do not underestimate the time it takes to finalize and prepare your materials for submission!

What do I have to do to graduate?

When all the Deliverables are in order, your advisor will sign the papers, and deliver the packages to the Chair’s office. 
Assuming the committee has approved your project...

The Chair’s office will contact you when the Chair has signed your papers. 

You then deliver the Library copy (and your copy) to the Pratt Library, in person. 

Pay their binding fee (see the Library website). They give you a receipt. 

You take the receipt to the Registrar, where they confirm your graduation. 

The Library will have the papers professionally bound. Your copy will eventually be sent to you to keep (included in binding fee). 



Pratt Institute considers Academic Integrity highly important. Instances of cheating, plagiarism, and wrongful use of intellectual property will not be tolerated.

Faculty members will report each incident to the registrar for inclusion in student's files.
More than one report to the registrar during a student's program of study at Pratt will result in a hearing before the Academic Integrity Board, at which time appropriate sanctions will be decided. These may include dismissal from the Institute.
The nature and severity of the infraction will be determined by faculty members who can: ask students to repeat an assignment, fail students on the assignment, fail students in the course and/or refer the incident to the Academic Integrity Board.
For more details about these procedures please see the Pratt Student Handbook, the Pratt Bulletins, and the pamphlet entitled Judicial Procedures at Pratt.


If students use dishonest methods to fulfill course requirements, they are cheating. Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

Obtaining or offering copies of exams or information about the content of exams in advance.
Bringing notes in any form to a closed book exam.
Looking at another student's paper during an exam.
Receiving or communicating any information from or to another student during an exam.


Plagiarism is a bit more complicated, but the rules of documentation and citation are very specific and are tailored to different academic disciplines. Types of plagiarism include:

Including any material from any source other than you in a paper or project without proper attribution. This includes material from the Internet, books, papers, or projects by other students, and from any other source.
Using your own work to fulfill requirements for more than one course
The extensive use of the ideas of others in your work without proper attribution.
Turning in work done by another person or a fellow student as one's own.
Please remember that all work must be the student's own. If it is not, the source should be cited and documented appropriately.

If there are aspects of this statement that are not understood, ask faculty members for help.



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.