LEH 353: Aesthetics and Techniques of Visual Storytelling

This course explores many different attributes of film and television in the context of visual storytelling. These topics range from aesthetic concerns such as color, lighting, narrative, and visual design, to more technical concerns such as editing, cinematography, and sound design. You will be reading about different aspects of film and television, watching many films and TV episodes, and be writing extensively about all of it.

Note: This class is fully on-line. Films and/or TV episodes will be provided to you in advance, as will the reading assignments, and post-film analysis questionnaires. You can learn how to access the readings and media for this class in the following sections. 



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Click on the image above to download the course syllabus. 



Screen Shot 2019 11 12 at 9.47.31 AMThe textbook for this class is entitled The Art of Watching Films (8th edition), by Dennis Petrie and Joseph Boggs. I have provided a PDF of the textbook for you here, but you are welcome to purchase your own copy as well. 

This book is really great and accessible, and breaks down different aspects of film and television into understandable modules in each chapter. We will be exploring most of these chapters over the course of the semester, watching some films with the chapter or module content in mind, and then answering some questions at the end of each module. 



Software Requirements and a Note On The Media

With perhaps a few exceptions, all media for this class is running off of my personal server. That being the case, there are just a few things you need to know, and few steps to complete, to access this media and begin the course modules.


plex mac icon 100634511 largeSend me your Plex account email: I host films and episodes for you on my server using a client/server application entitled Plex. Think of it as my own personal Netflix... or Daveflix!  To access the media, you will need to download Plex, install it, create a Plex account, and log in with your new user credentials. I will then share the media library of films with each of you via the email account you used to create your Plex account (which you should send to me!). Once you have successfully created your account and opened the shared library – entitled "LEH 353 - Visual Storytelling" – you will be able to watch the media. I will be able to monitor what you’ve watched, when you’ve watched it, and how much of it you have completed...so no skipping movies or skimming thru them!


Getting Plex: The good news is that, because Plex is cross-platform and web-accessible, you can watch the media for this class in any browser, on your desktop, laptop, mobile device (iOS, Android), streaming device (e.g. Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, etc), even on your gaming consoles.
Plex Accounts: As I said above, to access the media library, you will need to download Plex, install it, create a Plex account, and log in with your new user credentials. I will then share the media library of films with each of you via the email account you used to create your Plex account (which you should send to me!). You can access the media library with each and all platforms that Plex runs on: I myself have Plex Media Player running on my laptop, iPhone, iPad, and my Apple TV…it’s pretty incredible.


A quick note about watching the media

As the films and episodes for this class are running on my own personal server, there is the possibility of server slowdowns. If everyone in the class is trying to access media at the same time, it could cause pretty considerable slowdowns. So please keep in mind that if you’re experiencing playback stuttering and buffering errors, you may want to check back later on.


Course Structure

In general, each module for this course is structured as follows:

  1. Reading from the Text
  2. Watching the Assigned Media
  3. Answering Analysis Questions

A Note and Asynchronous Online Courses: This course is asynchronous, meaning you don’t need to complete the various modules on any particular schedule, and you may complete them in any order at any time before or during the course dates shown on CUNYFirst. You could, for example, complete three modules in one day, assuming you had nothing else to do! Or you could take three days off, doing no work at all, and then resume. As long as the movies have been viewed by you and the questionnaires have been answered before the last class date (again – check CUNYFirst for this) you'll be fine!

This class incorporates extensive film and television viewing with readings and written pieces. The required readings will be from The Art of Watching Films by Joseph M. Boggs & Dennis W. Petrie (8th Ed.).Reflection questionnaires will be posted here on Schwittek.com and the Blackboard site, to complement the readings and film and TV episodes viewed in a given week.