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Information and Syllabus

Intro to Sound & Image

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Northwest Annex, B213

Office Hours:
T R  9:00am-12:00pm
& by appointment

M W @ 09:00am-10:50pm - Comm 1116, (additional space in Comm 1021)

Section 001: F @ 09:00am-10:50am - Comm 0009A, (additional space in Comm 0008)
Section 002: F @ 11:00am-12:50pm - Comm 0009A, (additional space in Comm 0008)
Section 003: F @ 01:00pm-02:50pm - Comm 0009A, (additional space in Comm 0008)

Lab instructor - Sections 001 & 002: Lindsay Washington
Contact: lwash@siu.edu
Office: Comm Room 12
Office Hours: R @ 04:00pm-06:00pm

Lab Instructor - Section 003: Jamie Sheffer
Contact: jvsheffer89@gmail.com
Office: Comm Room 12
Office Hour: R @ 01:00pm-02:00pm

Course Syllabus Location:  http://www.robertspahr.com/cp102/

Course Information:
Sound & Image Production - CP 102 001 CRN: 21960
Sound & Image Production - CP 102 002 CRN: 21963
Sound & Image Production - CP 102 003 CRN: 21964

Required Text:

Lynch, David. Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, New York, NY: Tarcher / Penguin

All other required reading materials will be provided by the instructor.


Suggested Reading:

Roberts-Breslin, Jan. Making Media: Foundations of Sound and Image Production 3rd Edition, New York, NY: Focal Press


This course will provide conceptual and hands‐on experience making media with a focus on critical arts practice. Emphasis will be placed on independent production from the creation of the project idea to post‐production. Assignments and course content focus on a wide range of creative image and sound making guided by theoretical, aesthetic and cinematic principles. Students will be introduced to basic production and editing skills as well as produce assignments that reflect a breadth of media arts practice. This course will give students a solid foundation from which they can begin to develop their own artistic voice.


  • Increase knowledge relevant to the analysis and history of media arts.
  • Develop technical skills for creating and analyzing media arts.
  • Develop an awareness of the creative process as it applies to media arts practice.


Please note syllabus is subject to change with notice.

Jan 18
Introductions, Image, Sound, & Self-Portraits
Lecture Notes: Principles of Organization
Assignment: Weekly Self-Portrait & Create a Wordpress.com blog.

Please email a short introduction of yourself and the URL of your wordpress blog to rspahr@siu.edu, talking about your interests, and why you are here studying media.

Jan 20
Equipment, Recording Sound, Audacity

Jan 23
Image, Creativity, Critique
Lecture Notes: Critique and Self-Portraits
Assignment: Project One: Explorations in Sound
Blog: Self-Portrait #1, Reaction/Reflection

Steve Reich: Music as a Gradual Process
Tzara: How to Make a Dadaist Poem
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery
William Burroughs: The Cut Up Method

Duchamp: Readymades
Man Ray: Indestructable Object
Robert Morris: Litanies & Document
David Greilsammer - John Cage - "prepared piano"
Cut-Ups William S. Burroughs
Pendulum Music / Steve Reich / 1968

Jan 25
Sound Machine Works-In-Progress
Blog: Self-Portrait #2, Reaction/Reflection

In class viewing / listening:
Miles Davis: Improvisation, 4:50
Miles Davis: So What, 9:06
Aporee Radio
Luigi Russolo: Intonarumori, 00:27
John Cage: About Silence, 04:18
Steve Reich: Come Out, 13:11

Luigi Russolo: The Art of Noises
John Cage: Experimental Music

Jan 27
Sound editing using Audacity. Complete Project One, Part B: Sound Mix: Cut-Up Method / Gradual Process

Jan 30
Lecture: Sound: Parts of a Wave & Diegetic / Non-Diegetic Sounds

Francis Ford Coppola: Apocalypse Now (1979) - Opening Scene (The Doors - The End), 7:35
Orson Welles: Touch of Evil (1958) - Opening Scene, 4:25
Francis Ford Coppola: The Conversation (1974) - Opening Scene, 9:30

In class observing / writing:
With your group, go to a location that will provide an interesting mix of sounds and where it is safe for you to sit and listen. As you listen, take notes. How many distinct sources of sound can you hear in a 10 minute period? Where are those sounds coming from? How do they compare in terms of amplitude and frequency? Are there sounds that start as background sound and become foreground sound or vice versa? If you heard these sounds blindfolded, without knowing where you were, would you be able to identify your location? Record your observations on your blog

In class exercise:
Field Recording / Sound Collage - Using the tascams, your group will create a sound collage that defines a particular location and communicates a sense of place. Each of you will be responsible for recording 60 seconds of the total collage.This can be the place you visited in the Observing / Writing activity above, or a different one. This is not an edited exercise, so you will need to think about the order and duration of your recordings. Combine voice and environmental sound. Think about foreground and background sound. Think about presence created by microphone placement. Be sure to write down the file name of your sound collage. This will be uploaded to your soundcloud account. In your blog post be sure to mention which minute you authored.

Feb 01
Project One: Explorations in Sound is due.
Exercise - Field Recording / Sound Collage is due.

Blog: Critique a peers self-portrait. (an image of your choice)

Feb 03
Labs - Comm 0008
Critique Continued

Feb 06
Composing the Frame
Lecture: Composing the Frame

In class exercise:
Seeing Through a Frame - Use a still camera to start viewing your world through a frame. Create the following images:
1. One that shows a symmetrically balanced composition
2. One that is asymmetrically balanced
3. One that obeys the rule of closure
4. One that doesn't obey the rule of closure
5. A close-up with appropriate headroom
6. A long shot with appropriate headroom
7. A balanced image that obeys the rule of thirds, balancing the subject with the weight of his or her gaze.

Upload these photos to your blog.

Feb 08
Exercise - Seeing Through a Frame is due.
Watch television with the sound off so you can concentrate on the formal aspects, not the content. Watch for difference in balance and shot sizes. Watch for the use of the golden mean, rule of thirds, headroom, lookspace, and leadroom. Be aware of the differences in aspect ratios and the ways those differences are dealt with. Record your observations on your blog

Feb 10
Introduction to video cameras
Final Cut Pro Basics (intro to application, import, timeline, sound, organizing files)

Feb 13
Reproducing the Frame & Depth and Movement
Lecture: Reproducing the Frame
Lecture: Depth & Movement
View in class: David Lynch: Eraserhead, 1977
Blog: Self-Portrait #4, Reaction/Reflection

Feb 15
Time & Space
Lecture: Time & Space
Assignment: Project Two: Time: Past and Present (Two Variations)
Blog: Self-Portrait #5, Reaction/Reflection

View in class:
Chris Marker: La Jetée, 1962

Feb 17

Feb 20
Lecture: Understanding Light
Exercise: Lighting
Blog: Critique a peers self-portrait. (an image of your choice)

David Lynch: Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

David Lynch, Big Fish Idea, 2:02
David Lynch - Meditation, Creativity, Peace, 1:10:57

Feb 22
Project Two: Time: Past and Present (Two Variations) is due.

Feb 24
Camera and Final Cut Pro Basics (download and log)

Feb 27
Linear Structure - Event, Scene, Beat, and Sequence
Mamet: Glengarry Glen Ross - The Leads are Weak Scene
Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet, Act I, Scene I
Reading: James Joyce: Eveline, 1914
Blog: Self-Portrait #6, Reaction/Reflection

Assignment: Project Three: Linear Structure: Adaptation of Eveline

Mar 01
Linear Structure - Setting and Character
Blog: Post a DRAFT story treatment of Eveline.

Mar 03
Final Cut Pro Basics (text generators, transitions, effects, sound, and music)

Mar 06
Screening: Do The Right Thing - Spike Lee
Blog: Self-Portrait #7, Reaction/Reflection

Visiting Artist: Christopher Harris at 6:30PM, Guyon Aditorium at Morris Library. Harris' award-winning films include a long take look at a post-industrial urban landscape; an optically printed and hand-processed film about black outlaws; a pinhole film about the cosmic consequences of the sun’s collapse...

Mar 08
Practice of Linear Structure
Lecture: The Theory of Linear Structure
Storyboard templates
Linear Structure: NEW DRAFT of your Treatment is due. (bring a printed copy to class)
Blog: Reaction/Reflection on the film: Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee

Mar 10
Final Cut Pro Basics (text generators, transitions, effects, sound, and music)

Mar 13-17    Spring Break

Mar 20
Production Groups will work on treatment and script
Due: Storyboard of your adaptation of Eveline.

Mar 22
Production Plans
Blog: Self-Portrait #8, Reaction/Reflection

Mar 23
Visiting Artist

Hannah Higgins
Guyon Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
This will be free and open to the public.

Professor Hannah B. Higgins has been teaching at UIC since 1994. Her research and course topics examine twentieth century avant-garde art with a specific interest in Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, performance art, food art and early computer art. Her books and articles argue for the humanistic value of multimodal aesthetic experiences.

Higgins is solo author of Fluxus Experience (University of California Press, 2002) and The Grid Book (MIT Press, 2009) and co-editor of with Douglas Kahn of Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art (University of California Press, 2012). She has received the UIC University Scholar Award, DAAD, Getty and Philips Collection Fellowships and is co-executor of the Estate of Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press.

Mar 24

Mar 27
Discuss Production Plans
Critique: Rough Edits

Mar 29
Critique: Rough Edits
Blog: Self-Portrait #9, Reaction/Reflection

Mar 31
Lab is cancelled to allow time for production planning/shooting

Apr 03
Critique: Rough Edits
Upload a link to a rough edit of your project to your blog.
Blog: Self-Portrait #10, Reaction/Reflection

Apr 05
Critique: Fine Edits
Hitchock:The Birds (Editing Analysis)
Upload a link to a fine edit of your project to your blog.

Apr 07
Lab is cancelled to allow time for production planning/shooting

Apr 10
Critique: Rough Edits
Upload a link to a rough edit of your project to your blog.

Apr 12
Critique: Fine Edits
Upload a link to a fine edit of your project to your blog.

Apr 14
Final Editing

Apr 17
Critique: Completed Project Three
Project Three: Linear Structure: Adaptation of Eveline is due.
Upload a link to completed project, to your blog.

Apr 19
Critique: Completed Project Three - Continued
Blog: Self-Portrait #11, Reaction/Reflection

Apr 21
NMC: Interactive Media
Lecture notes - Speedviewers Guide to New Media
Lecture notes - Internet, Typography, HTML
Lecture notes - Image formats, CSS style, CSS layout
Net.art Example: http://robertspahr.neocities.org

Apr 24
Expanded Cinema: Video Art, Performance, Installation, Net.Art
Mark Tribe: Introduction to New Media Art
Blog: Link to your net.art project hosted on neocities.org
Further Resources

Apr 26

Workshop Nonlinear Structure: Live Art / Performance
Assignment: Project Four: Nonlinear Structure: Adaptation of Eveline

Apr 29
Lab is cancelled to allow students the opportunity to attend the Graduate Symposium and/or the MFA Exhibit.
Grad Symposium and Exhibition Announcement

May 01
Project Four: Nonlinear Structure: Adaptation of Eveline is due.
Blog: Self-Portrait #13, Reaction/Reflection

May 03
Project Four: Nonlinear Structure: Adaptation of Eveline continued.

May 05

May 08
EXTRA OFFICE HOURS - 12 noon - 3PM - opportunity to drop off high resolution formats of all work completed this semester.

May 12 - 08:00-10:00
I will be in my office. All work from the semester will be collected in high resolution formats. Details to be discussed.


Students will create a series of projects using sound and/or images. Images can be uploaded to their wordpress blog, all other file formats such as sound should be uploaded to a SoundCloud account, and video should be uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo. Students then post the URLs to their projects on their blog. All projects will be collected in high resolution formats at the end of the semester.


View the Class Blogs

Students will create an online journal hosted at wordpress.com. Please email the URL of your wordpress blog to rspahr@siu.edu

1. Each week you will be writing a reaction/reflection entry reflecting on your progress in the class. Topics could include your creative process, reflections on readings, work we have viewed in class, discussion, and critique
2. You will be creating self-portraits and uploading them to your blog.
3. There may occasionally be written critiques and reviews of blogs, movies, or artwork.

Each entry should be approximately 250 words and no more than 500 words. I encourage you to freely discuss creative ideas for films, things that inspire you from the readings or films screened in class, concerns regarding theory or production, and most importantly, how you plan to apply what is learned to your own body of work.

Do not simply repeat information or facts that were mentioned during lecture or in the readings: REFLECT on them.

No plagiarism!

The objective of this assignment is for you to have an ongoing investigation creating a self-portrait. I want you to continue to explore the idea of self, incorporating ideas, concepts and theory from the lectures, readings and discussions.

MCMA Equipment Checkout:
Call: 618-453-7763
Email: mcma.checkout@gmail.com

Necessary Equipment: You must have your own portable external hard drive. You will also use this drive in upper level production courses, including HD production, which requires large storage capacity and fast speed. We recommend something like Western Digital "My Passport Ultra" pocket drives. They have a fast USB3 interface and seem to be very durable. And relatively cheap ($60-70 for 1TB).  No need to buy the "for Mac" type. That's a scam. Even if it comes formatted in DOS, or NTFS, they can be formatted for Mac. You will also need access to headphones that are not ear buds (preferably headphones that cover your ear) and SDHC flash card (at least 16gb). You will also need a hardbound composition notebook or sketchbook (at least 8.5” x 11”) for your notes and sketches.

Helpful Equipment: You will have the opportunity to check out video and sound recording equipment from the college. However, if you have your own point and shoot camera, DSLR still image camera or video camera, those items will be very helpful in this class.


The work in this course requires motivation, exploration, risk-taking, and most importantly, an openness to new ideas. The grading policy of this class is meant to encourage you to explore new ideas and take chances. Do not think in terms of "What must I do to receive an A grade", but think in terms of what you would like to learn.

Attendance: Attendance to all classes is expected. You are allowed up to TWO unexcused absences. Unexcused absence beyond this threshold may result in failing this course.

Assignments: All assignments and projects are due at the beginning of class. Late projects will not be accepted. If you anticipate difficulty completing an assignment, see me for assistance well before the deadline. You must turn in every assignment to pass the class. If you do not turn in one assignment, you cannot get any grade higher than a C on your final grade.

Critique: Students will work closely with each other to develop their media production projects. This includes learning to speak clearly expressing oneself when discussing their own and others artwork.

Quizzes: There may be occasional unannounced quizzes regarding recent lectures and/or readings.

Each Project will be graded on artistic, creative and intellectual merit.

Grades will be based on the following:

  • 20% Originality of concept
  • 20% Delivery (execution of the concept)
  • 20% Documentation / Process
  • 20% Craft
  • 20% Critique & participation

Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 20% Participation / Exercises
  • 20% Project #1
  • 20% Project #2
  • 20% Project #3
  • 20% Project #4

Web Resources:

Equipment Manuals
Tascam Manual
Canon HFS10 Manual











SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - Spring 2017 - PDF