Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Entertainment Concepts
Syllabus Fall 2014 Course info:      
ILL 561 MOO2 Entertainment Concepts
Monday 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM
Shaffer Art Room 332
Instructor: Sean Andrew Murray

Office hours: Mon. 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM (By appointment only)
Mail box: Viscom office


The purpose of this class will be to introduce students to the world of entertainment design for film, animation and video games, taken from a professional and artistic perspective.

The course will give students real-world assignments that would be given to a concept artist in the Video Game, animation, and Film industry, and will have to make critical design choices based on creative feedback from the professor, who will take on the role of client or art director in this case.

The course will challenge students to work on long-term, in-depth group projects. The challenge will be to work within the group to meet major design requirements, while also finding a way to express themselves stylistically.

All students will be required to work on character designs for one of three projects, broken into three teams:

1. Live-action film
2. Animated feature film
3. Video game

The theme/story behind each project will be decided upon by the project’s producer (that’s me) and will be based on an existing story, book, mythology, or film that has multiple characters. The students will then work together to establish an artistic vision and narrative interpretation of the source material.

Examples of a possible theme would be: Norse/Celtic/Greek Mythology, The Wizard of Oz, Arthurian Legend, 7 Voyages of Sinbad, Pinocchio, Dune, Brothers Grimm, etc.

Assignments will cover character, environment, architecture, prop, vehicle, weapon, and creature design, as well as storyboarding.

At the end of the semester, each group will be required to give a “pitch” presentation on their project. Each student is required to participate equally.

Learning Outcomes

After taking this course, the students will be able to:

  • Work effectively within a creative team
  • Differentiate between style vs. design
  • Give, receive and respond to critique/feedback
  • Build and design a convincing imaginative world
  • “Convince the client” through effective conceptual illustrations.
  • Find their niche within a group project

Bibliography/ Texts / Supplies – Required

1. “Imaginative Realism” by James Gurney
2. Star Wars (the original trilogy – New hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) – I am serious about this, if you haven’t seen these movies, you will be required to watch them and there WILL be a quiz.)

Bibliography/ Texts / Supplies– Additional
  • “The Skillful Huntsman” By DesignStudioPress
  • “Understanding Comics” By Scott McCloud
  • Any and all Gnomon DVDs/videos by Iain McCaig
  • Online video tutorials by Feng Zhu
  • ImagineFX Magazine

Grading Standards

A = 90 and above: achievement is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
B = 80-89: achievement is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
C = 70-79: achievement meets the course requirements in every respect
D = 60-69: achievement is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet the course requirements
F = 59 and below: achievement is not worthy of credit or was not completed / represents failure

Things that make me happy that you can do to receive extra credit

  • Doing more than the required amount of thumbnail sketches I ask for
  • Doing extra research to enhance your group project or your individual assignments
  • Sharing a cool new piece of inspiration with your group and/or the class
  • Visiting museums or interesting places to get inspiration and learn about your world
  • Doing lots of sketching in your sketchbook to explore ideas for your group project
  • Finding new and interesting ways to increase the coolness factor of your group’s project and final pitch
  • Checking out the stuff I reference in class like movies, books, websites, tutorial videos, etc.
  • Laughing at my jokes

Class Policies

  • Laptops/tablets may not be used during the class unless it is at DESIGNATED TIMES only for the purposes of research and development for in-class assignments. Anything else will not be tolerated, (unless you wish to share something extremely relevant to the class or extremely funny…. But I warn you, if it isn’t funny – I will not be pleased and you will never be trusted again.)
  • Please no texting or phone calls during class. If I have to ask you more than twice to stop texting during class then your grade could be seriously damaged. Don’t make me bring down the hammer of justice.
  • All devices that receive calls, messages, tweets, likes, notifications, +1s, or anything else that makes a sound should be put on vibrate or turned off entirely. If you receive an emergency phone call or text you should leave the classroom to answer it.
  • Three unexcused absences is an automatic failure.
  • Mechanical failures (alarm clocks, car failure, robot attacks, etc.) are NOT valid excuses, no matter how hilarious. Lateness of an hour or more will count as a half absence. Chronic lateness or skipping out early will also count towards an absence and will lower your grade.

Class Incompletes

Incompletes will be granted only in extenuating circumstances. If you have a valid medical excuse or family emergency, and you’ve completed the bulk of course work for the semester, an incomplete is possible. You are responsible for initiating the paperwork for an incomplete.


The syllabus is subject to change as the need arises.

Academic Integrity

Syracuse University’s Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about course-specific expectations, as well as about university policy. The university policy governs appropriate citation and use of sources, the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments, and the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verification of participation in class activities. The policy also prohibits students from submitting the same written work in more than one class without receiving written authorization in advance from both instructors. The presumptive penalty for a first offense by an undergraduate student is course failure, accompanied by a transcript notation indicating that the failure resulted from a violation of Academic Integrity Policy. The standard sanction for a first offense by a graduate student is suspension or expulsion.

For more information and the complete policy, see

Disability-Related Accommodations

If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services(ODS),, located in Room 309 of 804 University Avenue, or call (315) 443-4498 for an appointment to discuss your needs and the process for requesting accommodations. ODS is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations and will issue students with documented Disabilities Accommodation Authorization Letters, as appropriate. Since accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact ODS as soon as possible.

Religious Observances Policy

SU religious observances policy, found at, recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holidays according to their tradition. Under the policy, students are provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to are religious observance provided they notify their instructors before the end of the second week of classes. For fall and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through MySlice/StudentServices/Enrollment/MyReligiousObservances from the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.

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