Sean Fitzroy: Digital Compositing
MM340 Syllabus Assignments Resources Contact





The New England Institute of Art

IMD340: Digital Compositing
Fall 2007
ffice Hours and Contact Info

Fall 2007 Class Sections and Meeting Times

Tuesday 7:00pm - 9:50pm

Email (accessible at: )

All students are provided with an Art Institute email account. Students are expected to know how to use the email system and to check email regularly. Instructors use email as the primary method of communicating with students outside of class. Students who don’t wish to check the NEiA account on a regular basis should forward it to the email account they check most frequently, or risk missing important class instructions. Students are expected to use email responsibly and respectfully. Refer to Student Code of Conduct as well as “Policy on Computing Ethics” and “Acceptable Use Policy for Networks.”

Course Description

This course focuses on animating and compositing digital imagery using the layer-based compositing model of Adobe After Effects. Particular emphasis will be given to motion graphics, combining real-world and synthetic elements using chroma keying, animated mattes, and rotoscoping. Issues to be examined include nesting compositions, compositing in 3D space, render-pipeline optimization, and basic scripting.


IMD240 Digital Video
IMD245 Image Design for Multimedia II

To successfully complete this course you need to have a solid understanding of the Macintosh Operating System, including the Finder, Chooser, Disc Burner, etc. You should understand the information design principals used in visual communication. You should be proficient with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, and iDVD. This class assumes a solid understanding of digital video concepts and technologies including RGB colorspace issues, raster and vector imagery, layer-based compositing, masks, alpha channels, apply modes, compression, resolution, and bandwidth issues.

Course Outcomes Assessment

This course covers the core creative and technical concepts related to animation, compositing, and motion graphics for video. The information deals primarily with 2D raster-based media, however integration with 3D and vector-based media will be covered.

  • Understand Layer-based compositing, including apply modes and transparency
  • Understand keyframe-based animation
  • Understand nested-compositions and the rendering pipeline Understand issues relating to compositing interlaced media
  • Proficiency with using Adobe After Effects for animation and compositing
  • Understand temporal and spatial interpolation
  • Understand the role of motion graphics in effective information design
  • Proficiency using Photoshop and Illustrator in the After Effects workflow
  • Understanding of specific rendering and output options

    The class is extremely equipment intensive and many assignments will need to be completed in the on-campus labs. Most projects require Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Some projects may require a DV camcorder and Final Cut Pro. Expect to work in the Lab an average of 6 hours per week in addition to class. If you cannot commit to being in the lab for the above projects, you should not take this class. Computer labs are open for student use 24 hours a day (including weekends) beginning the 3rd week of class (except during the times classes are being held). This course is comprised of hands-on lab activities, lecture, assigned reading, and interactive feedback and discussion. Students are required to check the class web page frequently. Students are responsible for all reading assignments and materials.

Required Books/Materials

  • After Effects Apprentice (DV Expert Series) (Paperback)
    by Chris Meyer, Trish Meyer
  • 8 Blank DVD-R Discs minimum (Apple brand recommended) 
  • Storage: CD-R discs, portable hard drive, or USB flash memory drive
  • 1 Black Sharpie™ Marker (for labeling CDs and DVDs)
  • A Portable FireWire Mac Formatted (HFS+) Hard Drive is required for the class

Grading Policy

A (93-100)
A- (90-92)

Excellent to Very Good; comprehensive knowledge and understanding of subject matter; marked perception and/or originality

B (83-86)
B- (80-82)

Good; moderately broad knowledge and understanding of subject matter; noticeable perception and/or originality

C+ (77-79)
C (73-76)
C- (70-72)

Satisfactory; reasonable knowledge and understanding of subject matter; some perception and/or originality

D (60-69)

Marginal; minimum of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; limited perception and/or originality

F (<60)

Failing; unacceptable low level of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; severely limited perception and/or originality; absences in excess of allowable limit

Assignment Values

See the Assignments Page

Late Assignments

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the designated date, unless otherwise noted. Late assignments and make-up tests will be accepted up to 1 week after the due date for half credit. Late projects are strongly discouraged. Project stages are graded separentely (concept, mockup, rough draft, final project)

Assignments may not be submitted electronically, except by prior arrangement with the instructor. All writing assignments must be typed.

Academic Integrity

College guidelines for academic integrity are strictly enforced. Using the words, ideas, or audio/video/graphics files of others, without attributing proper credit to the author, constitutes plagiarism, which will result in failure of the project, and possible failure of the class and expulsion from the college. Students must document the original sources of all material that is not his/her own.
Refer to the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook.


Course work at NEiA is very hands-on and students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. Poor attendance will affect a student’s final grade in a class as follows:

Our college-wide standard is, that a student with more than 3 absences (2 during Summer Semester) will have their earned academic grade lowered one letter grade (ex: B+ to C+). More than 4 absences (3 during Summer Semester) will lower their grade to D.

Students are responsible for making up assignments and communicating with their instructors regarding missing classes. All faculty members have school voice mail and email to help students contact them.

The college does not distinguish between excused or unexcused absences.

A student who misses all of his or her classes for two consecutive weeks will be withdrawn from the college.


If a student arrives late or leaves early from class, it is noted in the attendance roster.
4 late arrivals/early departures = 1 absence
Further, if a student misses more then 30 minutes of class, he/she will be marked with a one-half absence for that class.
2 half absences = 1 absence

Other Class Policies

Students must adhere to all lab rules during class. Food and beverages are not permitted in the computer labs.

Respect for self, instructor, and classmates is required at all times. Refer to Student Handbook for Student Code of Conduct.

Students must turn off cell phones, beepers, and portable audio devices during class. You may be asked to leave the class for any of the events listed below. If you are asked to leave, you will not be allowed to return for the duration of the class and you will be marked absent for the entire class. If the problem occurs again during the semester you will be removed from the course and your tuition will not be refunded.

You will be asked to leave the class if:
You place or answer a phone call during class
You use chat/IM or email software during a lecture or an in class assignment
You are listening to a personal audio device during class
You attempt to disconnect or circumvent the Links system (unplug monitors, etc)
You disrupt the lecture

Academic Support and Learning Disabilities

Students with known disabilities should contact their instructors as well as the Student Services Office (Jim Ryan extension 4467). All information regarding disabilities is kept strictly confidential.

Academic Support (tutoring) is provided to any student in need of tutoring, at no cost. Students who feel they are able to assist with tutoring this course should also contact the Academic Support Center (617-582-4403) for more information.

Semester Class Meeting Schedule

All course content information, including lecture topics, test dates, reading assignments, and resources can be found at