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

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 introduces fundamental colour relationships, effects, types and their application through practical in-class exercises involving painting, digital photography and collage. Students engage with various exercises that explore the constitution of the visible light spectrum, monochromatic, complimentary and analogous colour, dissonance, harmony, tonality, value, and complexity. This is a hands-on, studio-oriented course.

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.

Art & Creativity explores the utility of ideas, forms and practices within Contemporary Art, Design, Cultural Studies and Art History for creative process and content development within the Entertainment Arts.  Curriculum revolves around projects-based learning and introductions to the sensibilities of recognized contemporary and historical movements, styles, artists and works. Term One focuses on storytelling, self-portraiture and the body.

The course starts by examining the basic question: why is drawing relevant now? We take a look at the history of drawing in human culture and its contemporary relevance and applications. The course is designed to explore drawing as an indexical process of mark-making through which the body translates and externalizes what the eye sees. An emphasis is placed on sight, perception, and the psychology of seeing. How do the marks we make come to represent information that is visible to the human eye? The semester focuses on contour line drawing, hand eye coordination, nuanced mark making, and concepts of spatial representation.

This course establishes well-grounded skills and habits in the operation of software and hardware in different environments. Students learn to organize their workflow using professional file management systems and industry-standard file-naming nomenclature. They learn basic troubleshooting and system backup processes. Students will experience the basis of creating projects using InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. This includes proper image resolution, file types and output methods for print and screen based media. They will discuss the history and importance of typography, and how to use it as a tool for a well thought out design, and the practical tools to execute this using Adobe products.  Students explore and troubleshoot programs to gain confidence through a combination of guided lectures and trial and error learning.

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

This course provides students with a methodology for developing and conceptualizing branded interactive experiences. Through workshops, lectures and class assignments, students will gain a better understanding of their role as a designer.

Starting with lessons in research and conceptualization, students explore the world around them and learn to see opportunities for innovation — from identifying their target audience and perceptual mapping, to SWOT analysis and personas. Students then implement these tools and processes to aid in decision making and testing, in order to better understand the goals and motivations of an audience.

As a final assignment, students develop their interactive brand through moodboards, experience boards, brand character and the design process, creating and presenting a complete identity system to be used in Term 3 (Innovation Design 2).

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, 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 compliments that of Media Production 1 and is designed to teach the fundamental principles, practices, and techniques for the production of digital imagery and design. This includes learning the techniques for creating and editing photo-based imagery, digital painting, image correction, retouching, and manipulation. Students also discover the tools, techniques, and purpose of using and creating vector-based graphics in Adobe Illustrator. They will work towards creating a portfolio of artwork that refines their design skills and incorporates a combination of images, illustration, and typography.

This course will build on concepts presented in Communication Design 01 through lecture and class discussion, areas of focus include creating symbols, working with grids, and integrating typography and image. The primary objective of this course is to encourage the student to develop and master the basic conceptual thinking, visual, and composition skills that define effective visual communication. Students will develop an eye for visual design through  assignments and exercises involving creative problem solving with an emphasis on doing, seeing, presentation, rationale and critique. Students will present their final solutions in class and participate in peer review & critique.

The intro to Programming course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of computer programming. Students are initially exposed to the Scratch visual programming environment and then transitioned to using Visual Studio C# for the remainder of the course.

Students will complete a final project that implements a simple text 'adventure' that features a playable dice game.

Art & Creativity explores the utility of ideas, forms and practices within Contemporary Art, Design, Cultural Studies and Art History for creative process and content development within the Entertainment Arts.  Curriculum revolves around projects-based learning and introductions to the sensibilities of recognized contemporary and historical movements, styles, artists and works. Term Two focuses on image-based storytelling and thematics informed by historical artistic sensibilities, including those of the Romantics, Neoclassicists and Realists.

Expanding on Seeing/Drawing techniques from the previous semester, Drawing 2 includes in-depth exercises in working with tonal values - focusing on shading and shadow to add naturalistic depth and volume to drawings. We examine a variety of strategies for creating dynamic pictorial space using still life objects and found imagery, considering both shading and composition. Creating dynamic pictorial composition is important not only for drawing, but all screen applications, from film to gaming.

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.

The concept of  story is as old as human experience, language, and the desire to make sense of our existence. In this course, we will explore the origins of the story, its archetypal structure in myth, and we’ll focus on how that structure ultimately provides the template for all dramatic writing regardless of medium, sector or interactivity. Students will be tasked with breaking down stories into their core elements in order to identify and understand the “nuts and bolts” that make up a film story.

Term 3 Course Descriptions

This course introduces animation and image compositing techniques with Adobe After Effects. The students will investigate functionality of key frame animation, protocol and technical considerations in creating motion graphics and effects.

A continuation of Innovation Design 1, this course further explores the development of branded interactive experiences. Previous research, conceptualization and expression work from Term 2 will also be refined and applied.

Through in-class assignments, students translate their identity design work to prototypes and mockups, as well as create a promotional strategy and select advertising mediums. This all culminates in a final investor presentation — a pitch of all their work from Term 2 and 3, highlighting experience concepts, design process, branding, communication strategy and prototypes.

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.

This course is designed to introduce Foundation students to the basic concepts behind audio production and audio engineering.  The first class will introduce the fundamental theory underlying audio production as well as some exposure to basic digital audio
concepts. The other classes will introduce students to the standard workflow involved in any audio project; pre-production, recording, editing, mixing and final mastering using the industry standard digital audio workstation, Avid Pro Tools

This course will introduce students to some of the world of Pre-Production, with an emphasis on film, but applicable to many courses in Foundation. This will be a support mechanism for the work that is later required for all video, motion, or performance-based projects that require release forms for talent, city & park permits, budgeting, marketing plans, distribution, etc.

Art & Creativity explores the utility of ideas, forms and practices within Contemporary Art, Design, Cultural Studies and Art History for creative process and content development within the Entertainment Arts.  Curriculum revolves around projects-based learning and introductions to the sensibilities of recognized contemporary and historical movements, styles, artists and works. Term Three focuses on Modern and Postmodern experimentation and unorthodoxy with artistic form and content.

This course is focused on life drawing: representing the human figure from live models. We examine various techniques using both pencil and charcoal. Through looking at skeletal structure, basic anatomy and proportion, students will develop the necessary tools to be able to make more convincing, anatomically accurate representations of the human form. With practice and proficiency in drawing the human figure, students are prepared to represent just about anything the imagination can conjure.

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.

Writing II expands on the “creative writing” focus of Writing I, with an emphasis on the practical application of writing skills as required by creative professionals in film, television and internet production. Topics covered include: concept, character, three-act structure, Final Draft, cinematic writing, the short film and one-sheets.

This course will introduce students to some of the basic principles of storytelling with the motion picture camera and the sound recording associated with picture production. Single camera film style will be introduced and incorporated with Boom Pole operations, Movement, Green Screen and the production of Public Service Announcements. Additional Topics will include; Basic Camera Functions & Care, Exposure, Sound Recording Techniques, Picture Editing & Green Screen Keying Review, & Scene Blocking.

Term 4 Course Descriptions

Adobe Flash was originally developed for web design, but soon became a viable tool in creating 2D animation, so much so that Adobe recently rebranded it Adobe Animate. With a little practice, great cartoons can be made fast and easy with this program. Animate is now used for countless TV shows of varying styles and this class will give you the basics to get started.

This course reviews the basics of digital video production & lens-based media acquisition. This includes a more in-depth understanding of the technical aspects of utilizing video & audio equipment, and a reinforcement of the fundamentals of proper camera operation, composition, etc. The main project in Cine Basics 02 is the FREAKY-13 short film assignment, which is a group project that combines many of the skills and concepts taught in previous terms, including: pre-production, storyboarding, 2-D design, acting, art history and color theory.

Art & Creativity explores the utility of ideas, forms and practices within Contemporary Art, Design, Cultural Studies and Art History for creative process and content development within the Entertainment Arts.  Curriculum revolves around projects-based learning and introductions to the sensibilities of recognized contemporary and historical movements, styles, artists and works.  Term Four explores contemporary art, noir, sci-fi and essay film genre practices relating to first person voice, narrative, persona and audio/visual storytelling.

In this course, students focus their attention on the development of a single cohesive project that will pass through stages of research, experimentation, consultation and production. The goal is to sharpen both individual creative skills and the ability to bring an idea to fruition via skilled project management. As a microcosm of the larger arts professional sphere, this course culminates in a semi-public exhibition and reception that affords students an opportunity to showcase their work while networking with other students across various terms and streams in the VFS community. Set to take place in week 7 of term 4, the exhibition is also an important watermark, concluding student participation in Foundation drawing coursework.

Final Project is the coursework component of Foundation students’ development of their Final/Graduation project.

The Final Project spans the final three terms of the VFS Foundation program. During this time, students progress from concept development, design, production and deployment of their chosen final project. The Final Project course assists them at the first step by providing both an overall understanding of the project development process across the various program streams, as well as “just in time delivery” of relevant skills and preparing for the pitch of their Grad project concept to the panel.

Writing III expands on the “practical application” focus of Writing II, with an emphasis on rewriting and the creation of a production-ready script. Topics covered include a more in-depth study of concept and character as well as dialogue, causality, perspective & point of view, workshopping and theme & symbol.

Discovery introduces and develops vital research, production management, creative process and presentation skills in relation to individual, self-directed projects in Drawing 4. Students are also exposed to a diverse array of working practices in different disciplines and professional contexts through guest instructor workshops throughout the term.

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 and producing comics and graphic novels. Each student will produce the art for a segment of a full length comic book in conjunction with the VFS Writing for Film & Television program, who provide the scripts through a collaborative process.

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 in-class practice exercises and one-on-one mentoring sessions, students guide their projects through casting and all of the various stages of development, pre-production, production, and post-production.

Students will be introduced to the basics of directing actors, casting, working with the 1st A.D. & D.O.P. on set, developing shot lists, defining a film's style and tone through the production of a comprehensive Director's Vision Document, etc. The main focus of this course is to prepare Student Directors for their final film projects, with an emphasis on communication and professionalism. Additional course topics include: Gathering Effective Coverage, Constructing Scenes for the Editing Room, Maintaining Eyelines, Storyboarding, Production Design Concerns & Considerations, Composition, and The Psychology and Philosophy of "The Frame".

This course will further develop on the basic principles of storytelling with the motion picture camera and sound recording associated with picture production. Double-System Set-Protocol will be introduced, with a focus on Single-Camera (film style) production techniques including: Master Scene Coverage, Triple-Take Approach, etc. Several styles of Cinematic Lighting will be discussed and demonstrated, and students will participate in multiple lighting workshops and perform camera tests in preparation for their Final Film project shoots.

This course is designed to introduce Foundation students to the basic concepts behind audio post production.  The first class will introduce the fundamental concepts underlying audio post approaches, as well as review of ProTools knowledge from Term 3.

Required Courses for Digital Design Stream

The Motion Design course is designed for students to develop technical skills in After Effects and strengthen creative ability in motion design. The course is structured to encourage students to think about the details of motion graphics such as pacing, composition, transitions, lighting and messaging. Each class is comprised of lectures, industry examples, hands-on exercises and workshop periods to complete in-class assignments. At the end of the course students will walk away with a solid understanding of what motion design is and the broad spectrum of what it can be used for, as well as a working knowledge of After Effects and broadcast design.

Students will learn motion and shape-tweening, and will apply these techniques to both in-class exercises and
take-home assignments. Students will be introduced to Adobe Animate Interactivity, and the creation and use
of buttons, movie clips and basic Action Script and HTML 5.


In-class demonstrations of website design with Adobe Animate will introduce students to interface creation
and publishing projects to the Web. Students will have the opportunity to apply the skills and techniques
they have learned in the course to a final project.

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.