Honors Scholars 120.004

Freshman Seminar:

“Computer Animation:

Special (And Not So Special) Effects”

Fall 2007

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Engineering Building 1011



Instructor: Bill White

Engineering Building 3041



Office Hours:

MW 8-11:30AM, 12:30-3PM,

and by Appointment!


Course Description:

Recent advances in graphics hardware and software have made it possible to produce dazzling visual effects via computers in motion pictures, commercials, and games. This course explores how these images are created, using an elaborate combination of mathematics, physics, art, and imagination. In addition, the potentially negative social effects of this work will be examined, including the decline of traditionally rendered animation attributed to Pixar-seduced audiences, the shorter attention spans and limited reading skills associated with the Playstation generation, and the effects-rich, plot- poor films that have characterized the post-Lucas era.

Prerequisite: Freshman status; acceptance into the SIUE Honors Scholars Program.

Course Objectives:
Examination of the artistic merits, technical foundations, and social impacts of entertainment-based computer animation, including special effects in motion pictures and video games. Development of composition and oral communication skills.
Cover Image
The Illusion of Life
by Frank Thomas
and Ollie Johnston
Special Effects:
The History and Technique
by Richard Rickitt
Got Game
by John C. Beck
and Mitchell Wade
by Heather Chaplin
and Aaron Ruby
Rounded Rectangle: Assignments
Two 50-Point Position Papers	100
Two 100-Point Essays	200
Two 50-Point Panel Discussions	100
Research Paper	200
Research Paper Presentation	50
Midterm Exam	150
Final Exam	200
Total Points for Course	1000
Rounded Rectangle: Grading Scale 
900-1000	A
800-899	B
700-799	C
600-699	D
0-599	F

Rounded Rectangle: Late Policy
Late assignments will not be accepted unless verifiable documentation of a legitimate reason for their lateness is provided to the instructor. Legitimate reasons are limited to documented medical problems. If you are unable to attend on an assignment due date for illegitimate reasons, then you will be expected to submit the assignment early. Late (or early) exam arrangements must be made in writ-ing with the instructor.





Reading Assignment

Assignment Due/

Activity Planned


Tuesday, 8/21/07

Animation as Art

Illusion of Life 1-2

Thursday, 8/23/07

Principles of Animation

Illusion of Life 3-4


Tuesday, 8/28/07

Aesthetic Quality

Illusion of Life 5-7

Position Paper #1 Due

Thursday, 8/30/07

Traditional Production

Illusion of Life 8-9


Tuesday, 9/4/07

Backgrounds, Effects, & Sound

Illusion of Life 10-11


Thursday, 9/6/07

Animated Realism

Panel Discussion #1

Tuesday, 9/11/07

Plot & Character

Illusion of Life 12-14


Thursday, 9/13/07

Facial Animation & Emotions

Illusion of Life 15-18


Tuesday, 9/18/07

SFX Historical Perspective

Panel Discussion #2

Thursday, 9/20/07

Optical Effects

Special Effects 1


Tuesday, 9/25/07


Special Effects 2


Thursday, 9/27/07

Computer Animation

Panel Discussion #3

Tuesday, 10/2/07

Backgrounds & Make-Up

Special Effects 3-4


Thursday, 10/4/07

Physical Effects

Special Effects 5-7

Essay #1 Due

Tuesday, 10/9/07


Special Effects 8-9


Thursday, 10/11/07

Midterm Exam

Tuesday, 10/16/07

Video Game Prevalence

Got Game Intro & 1-2


Thursday, 10/18/07

Game Social Impact

Got Game 3-5

Position Paper #2 Due

Tuesday, 10/23/07

Gamer Attitude

Panel Discussion #4

Thursday, 10/25/07

Antisocial Gamers

Got Game 6-8

Tuesday, 10/30/07

Gamers in the Workplace

Panel Discussion #5

Thursday, 11/1/07

The Gaming Culture

Smartbomb 1-3

Tuesday, 11/6/07

Gaming Historical Perspective

Panel Discussion #6

Thursday, 11/8/07

Civilized & Uncivilized Gaming

Smartbomb 4-6

Tuesday, 11/13/07

Role-Playing & Simulation

Panel Discussion #7

Thursday, 11/15/07

Platform Volatility

Smartbomb 7-8 & Epilogue

Research Paper Due

Tuesday, 11/20/07


Thursday, 11/22/07


Monday, 11/26/07


PowerPoint Slides Due

Tuesday, 11/27/07

Research Paper Presentations



Thursday, 11/29/07

Research Paper Presentations



Tuesday, 12/4/07

Research Paper Presentations


Essay #2 Due

Thursday, 12/6/07

Research Paper Presentations



Thursday, 12/13/07

Final Exam (10:00-11:40 AM)