Foundation Visual Art + Design CURRICULUM

Specializations

In the final months of the Foundation program, students choose from three specializations below, and are mentored by our faculty of industry professionals as they develop their final projects.

  • Animation
  • Film
  • Digital Design

Term 1 Course Descriptions

Drawing 1 is designed to explore drawing as a self-evaluating process. Many questions are posed for students to begin considering their own inhibitions (if they have any), so they can grasp the essentials of their process. Looking at basic questions, like how drawing occurs, students are evaluated on their progress with in-class model drawing sessions, which include using “straight line technique” to increase efficiency in time management.

This course establishes well-grounded skills and habits in the operation of software and hardware in different desktop computer environments. Student learn to properly operate file management systems, as well as basic trouble shooting, industry-standard file-naming nomenclature, proper file and folder creation, system backup processes, and hardware and software behaviour under specific operating system environments.

The principles of digital photography are combined here with traditional concepts in digital media techniques. Instructors touch upon the history, technical, physiological, and aesthetic aspects of photography. In Term 1, this course acts as a companion to Digital Media and include technical topics such as basic camera knowledge, the care and handling of photographic equipment, exposure and metering, shutter speed, focal length, perspective and depth of field, and contrast and lighting.

Exposing students to introductory perspective and composition work, this course allows them to discover varying viewpoints of a chosen scene in order to develop differing emotional responses in the viewer. Students learn classical compositional techniques for the purpose of scene construction that can be applied across a variety of industries. While drawing skills are helpful, emphasis is placed on composition regardless of drawing ability.

Students explore the concepts behind visual storytelling through the use of images, and image sequences, to convey ideas and create a narrative. Emphasis is placed on film as the dominant form of storytelling, but the core concepts apply to all forms of visual media. Students demonstrate their skills and understanding of theories by creating their own short documentaries.

Colour Theory is designed to discover colour relationships through practical in-class exercises. Students engage with colour relationships through various exercises that explore temperature, complements, dissonance, harmony, value versus colour, and composition. This is a hands-on course where grading is heavily based on completed exercises.

Introducing students to communication design through lecture and class discussion, areas of focus include using basic shapes, letterforms, imagery, colour, and the basic principles of composition. Students develop an eye for visual design through a series of creative assignments that expose them to creative problem solving. Each class concludes with take-home assignments due the following week, when each student presents solutions and participates in peer review critiques. These assignments focus on shape, lines, the principle of less is more, images, typography, and composition.

This course explores the relevance of art historical concepts and processes within cultural production today. Key ideas and terms are introduced chronologically over four terms, from prehistory to contemporary art. There are no written components or exams – instead, students engage in creative projects and participate in group curatorial presentations, media screenings, lectures, and art exhibition field trips. Term 1 considers prehistory to Egypt, Greece, and Rome as well as specific artistic cultural movements.

Through demonstrations, discussions, in-class exercises, out of class rehearsals, written assignments, and performances on camera, students experience the basic techniques used by actors to bring characters to life. Lessons include physical and vocal warmups in addition to games, improvisation, and other activities used to prepare oneself for performing. Students work in pairs on scenes that require rehearsal outside of class time. The course culminates in a recorded performance of their work.

Term 2 Course Descriptions

The self-evaluating process continues in Drawing 2, where students move into understanding the human body as whole shapes or spherical forms. Building on the skills introduced in Term 1, they learn a more concentrated way of “seeing” that requires more attentiveness and allows them to enhance their creative approach in all other aspects at VFS.

Students discover methodology for envisioning and designing interactive prototypes through the three major stories of interactive design: the story of the designer, the story of the consumer, and the story of the experience. They follow a design process that introduces them to the core values of human-centred innovation in labs, workshops, and lecture sessions. As they gain additional insight into personality types, design leadership, and trends, students create and present their design ideas both individually and as part of a team.

Exposing students to introductory perspective and composition work, this course allows them to discover varying viewpoints of a chosen scene in order to develop differing emotional responses in the viewer. Students learn classical compositional techniques for the purpose of scene construction that can be applied across a variety of industries. While drawing skills are helpful, emphasis is placed on composition regardless of drawing ability.

This course provides students with an introduction to the fundamental relationships between moving images. Students learn how to combine images in ways that allow them to structure a short visual sequence. In conjunction with practical hands-on procedures, students are introduced to concepts of non-linear editing, which includes an understanding of the technical aspects of digital video capture, compression, and output. They also review the fundamentals of proper file management operations, importing and exporting, and basic post-production planning.

The Adobe Photoshop instruction in this course complements Media Production 1 and is designed to teach the fundamental principles, practices, and aesthetics for the production of digital imagery and design. This includes the tools and techniques for photo-based imagery, digital painting, image correction/retouching, manipulation, storage media, scanning, and printing. Students also discover the tools and techniques of vector-based graphics in Adobe Illustrator, creating a personal body of artwork that incorporates image, illustration, and text.

Introducing students to communication design through lecture and class discussion, areas of focus include using basic shapes, letterforms, imagery, colour, and the basic principles of composition. Students develop an eye for visual design through a series of creative assignments that expose them to creative problem solving. Each class concludes with take-home assignments due the following week, when each student presents solutions and participates in peer review critiques. These assignments focus on shape, lines, the principle of less is more, images, typography, and composition.

Introducing students to the role psychology plays in understanding human behaviour, this course enables students to understand how works of art can be seen and experienced. The focus is on the importance of the perceptual process of humans and how it relates to the entertainment arts industry, providing students with a better understanding of how to tell their stories more effectively. Lessons examine sensory systems, audition, psychophysics, and perception process as they apply to works of art. For artists who wish their work to be viewed in a particular manner, it is critical to have a good understanding of how human beings perceive a given message.

Students experiment with different styles of writing, including poetry and the short story. They practice various writing techniques and fundamentals, including point-of-view, imagery, punctuation, and grammar. Instructors utilize examples of effective and ineffective writing from several genres. Students require a basic command of the English language and grammar.

This course explores the relevance of art historical concepts and processes within cultural production today. Key ideas and terms are introduced chronologically over four terms, from prehistory to contemporary art. There aren't any written components or exams. Instead, students engage in creative projects and participate in group curatorial presentations, media screenings, lectures, and art exhibition field trips. Term 2 delves into the advent of modern times and returns to classical art movements previously introduced.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

Drawing 3 enables students to understand the movement and structure underlying the human form. A number of techniques are discussed, allowing students to experience a variety of approaches to the same subject. Short studies focus on movement, structural proportion and its iconographic representation. Through extended and intensive long studies, students discover classical measuring techniques and develop a familiarity with anatomy. They also examine expression of form to further develop an individual style and compositional preference.

This course introduces students to animation and image compositing techniques with Adobe After Effects. They investigate the functionality of key frame animation, protocol, and technical considerations in creating motion graphics and effects. Techniques from each class are put into practice to provide a process in planning, compositing, editing, and rendering a time-base design. Topics explore the creation and manipulation of type, layers, masks, and key frame animation, as well as techniques for creating multi-layered compositions and effects with the inclusion of music and/or narration.

Interactive Design is geared towards the exploration of design as it relates to media experienced and affected by the actions of the user. Students explore different techniques and topics related to interactivity and how it applies to other aspects of their studies.

The principles of animation are universal and are the foundation of all animation mediums, whether it is traditional 2D, 3D, or claymation/stop-motion. Students learn to apply fundamental principles to traditional animation exercises, acquiring a practical understanding of the principles of animation as they build skills with pencil and paper to create believable movement.

This course provides students with fundamental knowledge of visual storytelling application through storyboards of live-action and animated film. Subjects include shot composition, terminology, camera-axis, continuity, transference, visual storytelling, and professional presentation. Students complete several assignments and create a short storyboard from a script.

Continuing on from Writing 1, Writing 2 focuses on writing through the study of specific structure. Student are guided through three-act screenplay structure, four-act TV drama structure, and two-act TV sitcom structure. They're challenged to write a simple three-act structure assignment that is assessed in class as part of the workshop process – an experience that also helps build critical skills in giving and accepting feedback.

Students learn the fundamental tools and techniques of Autodesk Maya, focusing on a general overview of Maya as a tool for modelling, texturing, animation, and rendering. Instructors emphasize real-world application, as each class covers various aspects of the software and include the tools necessary to complete class projects.

This course offers a preliminary perspective on the issue of job search skills. Students discuss industry expectations, a suitable résumé format, and what they can offer as participants in the entertainment arts industry.

This course explores the relevance of art historical concepts and processes within cultural production today. Key ideas and terms are introduced chronologically over four terms, from prehistory to contemporary art. There are no written components or exams – instead, students engage in creative projects and participate in group curatorial presentations, media screenings, lectures, and art exhibition field trips. Term 3 looks at high art and popular culture in the 20th century in addition to revisiting colour, form, materials, and the ideas of modern masters.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

Drawing 4 continues where Drawing 3 left off, building on the process that was established with colour. Techniques in this course focus on ways of simplifying mark-making to achieve a sense of depth and perspective. Students also learn about negative space along with foreground and background relationships with colour.

Students delve into applied creative process and project management, developing an understanding of how to manage a scalable creative project and how the principles can be applied to team management in a collaborative professional framework. This process is applicable to all the student streams, as students learn the skills to be creative with predictable results in quality, time, and resources. At the end of the course, they have created a detailed project plan and all the design development work for their final project, which will be produced in Term 6.

Adobe Flash was originally developed for web design but soon became a viable tool in creating 2D animation, and is now used for countless TV shows of varying styles. This class gives students fundamentals to get started. With a little practice, great cartoons can be made fast and easy using Flash.  

The Discovery Project course is designed for students to develop an awareness of each of their individual artistic abilities through a self-directed project. They examine their individual creative process as the key tool for production, and learn how to apply and challenge themselves technically and artistically. The result is a stronger sense of the processes and principles of art, based on the student's own direction and discoveries made during the creation and development of a chosen project.

This course introduces students to the concept of lens-based visual storytelling. Emphasis is on images as a form of storytelling in our culture, but course concepts also apply to all forms of visual media, from animation to web design. Students acquire basic skill sets in the fundamentals of digital lens-based media, including an understanding of the basic technical aspects of digital video equipment, proper camera operations, framing, and lighting.

Students continue to explore narrative forms, story structure, and poetics through the creation of an original narrative work. Many of the principles of dramatic storytelling have existed since Aristotle wrote Poetics more than 2,000 years ago. This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply their understanding of narrative storytelling, from plot to structure, character, and perspective.

This course explores the relevance of art historical concepts and processes within cultural production today. Key ideas and terms are introduced chronologically over four terms, from prehistory to contemporary art. There are no written components or exams – instead, students engage in creative projects and participate in group curatorial presentations, media screenings, lectures, and art exhibition field trips. Term 4 considers the students' own relationship to contemporary art and examines current practices in post-modernism, appropriation, and identity politics.

Term 5 Course Descriptions

Required Courses for Animation Stream

This course builds on Classical Animation 1 and focuses primarily on character movement. It also supports the pre-production of students’ Term 6 projects as they learn the principles of motion, manipulating action through drawing, and the medium’s traditions of storytelling.

Covering some advanced tools and techniques of Autodesk Maya, this course introduces techniques in advanced modelling, lighting, shading, rendering, and character animation. The emphasis is on real-world industry application.

Comics and graphic novels have become a well-respected part of the media industry, allowing creators to tell a wide variety of stories – from traditional high-concept superhero tales to smaller, more personal and experimental fare. In this course, students learn the fundamentals of writing for comics and graphic novels as well as the basics of online comic production. Each student writes and produces a segment of an online comic anthology in conjunction with the VFS Writing for Film & Television program. They also write an industry-standard script for a mini-series or graphic novel.

Required Courses for Film Stream

In this course, students begin production on the Final Film Projects they have been writing and developing since Term 4. Through one-on-one mentoring sessions, students guide their projects through the various stages of development, pre-production, production, and post-production.

Looking at a variety of filmmaking concepts, practices, and exercises, students critically engage with films to learn how filmmaking principles can be applied to their own work. Course exercises introduce students to different forms of filmmaking, ranging from dramatic narrative to documentary and experimental. They learn how to experiment with images and sound, and are encouraged to develop interesting narratives. At the beginning of the term, students can choose between making a live-action dramatic short, documentary, or experimental film. They then prepare a pre-production package – including a script or treatment and director’s notes – and pitch this film to a panel of instructors. The Final Film Project is spread out over Terms 4, 5, and 6.

Students explore basic principles of storytelling with a motion picture camera and sound recording equipment. They discuss single-camera production for both dramatic and documentary styles and discover techniques such as the master scene, triple takes, camera placement considerations, shooting for the editor, microphone selection, boom placement, and sound recording.

The basic premises behind sound for film and other visual media are introduced through a variety of film clips and other examples that demonstrate the different approaches and methods of sound designers. The second class introduces students to Apple's Garage Band software, which can be used to compose music and effects for their projects. (Optional for Digital Design and Animation streams)

Required Courses for Digital Design Stream

This course marries the technical skills of graphics art with those of video production. A good motion designer has extensive knowledge of both mediums and the tricks and tools of each. Common examples of motion graphic work are title sequences, advertising, infographics, and music videos. In the video component of this course, students are taught the fundamental industry-standard techniques of pre-production, cameras and lighting, and location sound procedures. In the audio component, they begin working with various sound effects options and the basics of ADR and voice over recording.

Students discover interface design, applying the tools and techniques necessary to develop an appreciation of user-focused design. They also learn how to make well-planned interfaces for their own portfolios.

Term 6 Course Descriptions

Final Presentation review is a series of final meetings with the Term 6 graduating class. It is a survey of each student's creative abilities and progress throughout their year in the program. They are required to present a collection of their class work and independent projects in a variety of media including a print portfolio, an online gallery, and digital video presentations. There is a technical screening in week 7 and Sound Mentoring is available for those students who wish it for their final project. Assessment is based on demonstrated knowledge, competence in production techniques, and aesthetic quality of the work.

Required Courses for Animation Stream

Animation Stream students produce an independent short film in an environment that simulates a real-world production experience. With the help of a mentor, they develop technical and traditional artistic skills that are important for a successful career in animation while also applying them in a 3D object or character project.

Required Courses for Film Stream

Students in the Film Stream begin production on their Final Film Project, which they began writing and developing in the previous term. The course is built on a one-to-one relationship as mentors guide students in the creation of projects through the various stages of pre-production, production, and post-production.

Required Courses for Digital Design Stream

Digital Design Stream students enter the production phase of their final projects that were pitched and planned in the previous term. This course is comprised of a series of mentor sessions during which students work on a one-to-one basis. They draw upon their previous experiences in the program while looking to the instructor for support and instruction on all technical and creative issues relevant to their work.