basic info

fdm 170a: Introduction to Digital Media Production.
when: Winter 2011
instructor: Margaretha Haughwout
office: Communications 110
class times: tu & th 10:00am-12:30pm
office hours: th 3:30pm -5:00pm
online office hours: tba
email: xmargarethax AT geemail
skype chat: mllebuffalo
twitter: me: mllebuffalo class handle: #fdm170a
delicious: margaretha's 170a delicious page
pdf of syllabus
coursebook -- digital foundations wiki
ucsc academic calendar (PDF)
info about computer labs on campus


This course is a hands-on introduction to digital media technologies: the methods, tools and concepts of a digital/ new media art practice. It is meant to inspire, provide launching points for personal and collaborative exploration, to provide resources as well as foundational skills for creativity. This quarter our technical focus is on digital practices that include drawing, photo manipulation and web design. Our technical, how-to manual draws from the Bauhaus school, a school that emerged in Germany in the early 20th-century and was dedicated to new forms of design that responded to industrialization and modernity. Perceptually, one of our tasks for this course is to study the Bauhaus approach to design while considering how this approach can be updated for the needs of the 21st century. Conceptually, we make a study of collapse and restructuring, of the unmaking and remaking of our world, be it environmental or financial; how are our digital media practices situated in these turbulent times?

As engaged students within the field of digital media, you are expected to attend class having read the required readings and completed assignments on time. This means you come to class brimming with question/s and comments about the material, eager to not only advance your own ideas, but to push the entire group towards thoughtful and engaged work. By the end of the quarter, students will be expected to have a technical understanding of vector and raster environments, and the basics of DHTML and php/MySql, a perceptual understanding of gestalt principles of design, and a conceptual understanding of process-based art practice..

required texts

burroughs, xtine and Michael Mandiberg. Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design. Berkeley: New Riders, cc Attribution, Non-Commercial, 2009 or online: digital foundations wiki

software applications and social network accounts required for this class:

skitch (free)
colourlovers (free)
jing (free)
skype (free)
illustrator (can get 1 month free trial)
photoshop (can get 1 month free trial)
course blog (free, will email logins)
html editor (free - crimson editor is a good free one for windows try smultron, textmate or text wrangler for mac)
ftp client like filezilla (free)
recommended: twitter (free), flickr (free)

grading formula

participation/ collaboration/ helping/ asking: 10%
in class work: 9%
9 projects: 81%

grade breakdown

conceptual:conceptual strength of image/s student chooses to work with, ability to think critically about visual work through interpretation, response to readings + class discussion, integration of class discussion & conceptual prompt, demonstration of cognitive processes around creative work, contextualize work historically/ aesthetically/ critically.
technical: mastery and understanding of of tool/s used, ability to explain technical processes, integration of readings + class discussion as they pertain to the technical - tutorials, etc.
perceptual: application of design techniques: color, gestalt, alignment, etc., experimentation, implementation and exploration of original visual expression, contextualize work historically/ aesthetically/ critically, integration of readings + class discussion as they pertain to design.

grading rubric

A -- Excellent. Student exhibits exemplary ability and creativity in implementing technical skills, a close reading of the any required materials, and ability to successfully communicate ideas and processes to others. All work is lucid and engaging.
B -- Good. Student completes assignment, and demonstrates a grasp of most of the main aspects of each lesson, but not all. Is able to communicate information, and "how-tos" well. Detail, creativity and critical analysis is present.
C -- Satisfactory. Student completes the assignment but may lack enthusiasm or drive to push the work into a detailed creative or critical space. Student performs little or no creativity and does not demonstrate knowledge of the application or programming environment. Problems exist in student's work, the work is underdeveloped.
D -- Unsatisfactory. Student does not complete the work as assigned. Substantial problems exist in student's work.
F -- Fail. Student does not submit work, or work is below unsatisfactory level.

email etiquette

Please visit: for tips on appropriate email practices.
In your subject header, indicate your course, and a couple of words about your question/comment -- ie:

subject: FDM 170a assignment question

Allow for a 48 hour response time from the professor (if it is urgent, please put URGENT in the subject header for quicker response time)

emailing and naming assignment files

Students may be required to submit assignments electronically to mhaughwo AT ucsc DOT edu. assignment file names should begin with the week number, an underscore and the student's last name, another underscore, and then their first name:


files emailed that do not follow this format run the risk of not being graded. this naming schema does not apply to web work viewed online.

late work policy

Work is considered late if handed in or emailed after due date/time. 11:59pm is the default deadline time unless specified otherwise in the schedule. For each day the work is late (marked each 24 hours by the day and time of original deadline), the work decreases by half a grade (a B+ goes to B-, a B- to a C+, etc.).
Assignments not completed because of lost work will not be excused.


Attend class. This course runs through material so quickly that should you choose to skip class, you risk missing important material for your assignments as well as any in-class assignments that are graded. Students who miss 3 or more classes are candidates for a failing grade.