Animate Arts II:
Perception and Programming in Time
CAT-380/480 Spring 2005
TTh 4:00-6, W 4:00-5:30pm   /    Kresge 1-370

Instructors:  Annette Barbier (RTVF), Fisk 113B, office hours Th 11-1
Ian Horswill (CS), 1890 Maple Avenue, room 317, office hours by appointment
Marlena Novak (Art), Crowe 3-128, office hours Th 12-1
Gary Kendall (Music), MAB 128, office hours by appointment
TAs: Bernard Geoghegan (RTVF), Robin Hunicke (CS)
Graders: IIlya Blokh (CS), Ying-Zhu Chin (CS)
Studio staff: Alanna Krause, Vani Oza
Texts: The primary texts for this quarter will be:
  • Cantine et al., Shot by Shot: A Practical Guide to Filmmaking, Pittsburg Filmmakers Press, 1993.  ISBN: 0963743309.
  • Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000.  ISBN: 019285383X .
  • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, Perennial Currents Press, 1994.  ISBN: 006097625X.
  • Optional: Michael Rabiger, Developing Story Ideas, Focal Press, 2000.  ISBN 0240803981.

We will also continue some readings from last quarter in:

  • Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, Routledge, 1999.  ISBN: 0415158761.

You should also purchase a subscription to Modern Tales ($3/month) and read it.

And you will be expected to be familiar with the information from last quarter's design text:

  • Alan Pipes, Introduction to Design, Prentice Hall, 2004.  ISBN: 0131841068.

Other readings will be made available through blackboard.

Before you panic, please note that of the three main texts, the longest one is McCloud, which is itself a comic book.

Other materials:

Media for file storage (CDR, DVDR, or keychain drive)

Programming environment: meta (windows-only)
Digital audio: Audacity (cross-platform), SuperCollider (Mac only)
Digital imaging: Adobe Ilustrator and Photoshop, or equivalent
Other Microsoft PowerPoint

All software will be available in the studio (Kresge 1-370), however students are free to work on their home machines if they prefer.

Equipment: Students must have access to:
  • A Macintosh computer
  • A Windows-XP-based computer
  • A digital camera

The studio (Kresge 1-370) contains both Macs and PCs and is available for use by CS-110 and CAT-380 students 24 hours a day.  Keys can be obtained for a $50 deposit from the Louis Hall equipment cage.

Cameras may be checked out from MMLC during weeks 5 and 6 for a $50 deposit.


This is the second quarter of a 4-quarter curriculum in interactive, computer-based art and entertainment systems. This quarter focuses on time-based media, such as film and music, and on software in which time is an integral part of the systems behavior, such as interactive simulator programs (video games, etc.).  Projects will involve the construction and manipulation of of time-based software and media. Pieces will be critiqued both as works of art and as engineering. The interaction between art practice and art theory will be addressed through discussions, critiques and readings, examining issues in the interpretation, understanding and production of art and visual culture.

Tentative curriculum by week

This will be updated throughout the quarter

  1. Introduction Time and Time-based Media
    Introduction and administrivia; Philosophy and models of time; Use of time in time-based media.
    Thomas McEvilley, "13 Ways of Looking At a Blackbird", in Art & Discontent: Theory at the Millennium.
    Assignments: 13 Ways assignment (described in class, Wednesday).

    Slides: Intro and administrivia, Time and temporality.


  2. Music and Melodic Line
    Introduction to supercollider; composing melodic lines; Programming: imperative programming.
    Audio assignment 1;
    Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000).
    Slides: Imperative programming

  3. Art Theory and Criticism
    Group Presentations of 13 Ways assignment; Barthes on the function of advertisment; Programming: Objects and members; Collection classes.
     Programming assignment 1
    Slides: Types, subtypes, and inheritance, container classes

  4. Narrative I
    Narrative and Narrative structure; Audio project critique.
    Assignments: Narrative assignment 1.
    Media: Rashomon (Kurusawa, 1950).
    Slides: Stream classes
  5. Narrative II
    Pierre Huyghe; Narrative assignment crit; Programming: more on classes and methods; object-oriented simulation
    Media: Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) (Tom Tykwer, 1998).
    Slides: Object-oriented simulation
  6. Film
    Film form; Space and time; Programming: Text adventure games
    Assignments: Narrative 2; Text adventure game.
    Media: Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
    Slides: More on the adventure game
  7. Appropriation
    Contemporary images garnered from the past; Appropriation; Narrative 2 crit; Programming: Event-based programming
    Media: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michael Gondry, 2004).
  8. Polyphony
    Theory of polyphony; Programming: ALGOL-style syntax; Static typing.
    audio 2
  9. Sound and image
    Sound and image; Programming quiz (in class, Wednesday).
    Assignments: Final project
  10. Wrap up
    Audio 2 crit., TBD.
  11. Final Crit
    Monday, June 6, 7pm-10pm.  Attendance mandatory.


Grading will be based on the following components:


This is a studio art course in addition to a programming course.  It involves a process of active apprenticeship that takes place during class.  Moreover, not all of the lecture materials will be covered by readings or will be available on the web.  Therefore, as with other studio art courses, attendance is required.  Unexcused absences, tardiness, or leaving early may lower your grade by a full letter grade.

Late penalties

Cheating policy for programming assignments

[Sorry this is so long; it's essentially a catalog of every misunderstanding we've ever had in class, along with what our policy is on it.  So please read this - you will be held responsible for understanding it. ]

You are encouraged to consult with other students, and even to ask them for help. Working with other students is often more enjoyable and allows you to learn ideas faster with less frustration.

For some assignments, you may be allowed, or even required to work with other students on your program. On these assignments, you will all work together on one program that you submit as a group. These assignments will be rare and will be clearly marked as group assignments.

For all other assignments, however, you must write your own code. You are allowed and encouraged to discuss the problem set with other students, but it is not acceptable to:

Every term, a couple of groups of students get caught cheating and claim they didn't realize they were cheating. For this reason, we will adopt the "edit contamination policy":

In other words:

For those of you who want to grow up to be lawyers:

That said, we do still want to encourage you to work together. In particular the following are acceptable and encouraged:

So basically, you can get lots of help from friends, but you have to (at a minimum) do all the typing.

For further information, see Northwestern's policy statement on academic integrity, below.

University policy statements

Students with Disabilities

In compliance with Northwestern University policy and equal access laws, the instructors are available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability.  Request for academic accommodations need to be  made during the first week of the quarter, except for unusual circumstances, so arrangements can be made. Students are encouraged to register with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) for disability verification and for determination of reasonable academic accommodations.  For more information, visit:

Academic Integrity at Northwestern

[See also the policy on cheating on programs, above]

Students are expected to comply with University regulations regarding academic integrity. If you are in doubt about what constitutes academic dishonesty, speak to one of the instructors before the assignment is due and/or examine the University web site. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to cheating on an exam (e.g., copying others' answers, providing information to others, using a crib sheet) or plagiarism of a paper (e.g., taking material from readings without citation, copying another student's paper). Failure to maintain academic integrity on an assignment will result in a loss of credit for that assignment - at a minimum. Other penalties may also apply. The guidelines for determining academic dishonesty and procedures followed in a suspected incident of academic dishonesty are detailed on the website.  For more information, visit: