The Media Arts Department offers majors in photography, film/digital video, and animation, while providing elective classes to the University at large. The three-year curriculum of each major is built around a sequence of courses designed to move the student to a position of independence within the discipline. Many of our studio courses feature a written component to provide a balance between technical skills and the critical thinking and historical context necessary for a complete exploration of one’s medium. An introduction to the fundamental ideas and techniques of the medium fills much of the Sophomore year. During the two remaining years, the student is expected to refine techniques, develop a sense of personal vision, identify goals, and pursue activities directly related to professional practice.
The Media Arts Department provides extensive studio facilities and equipment for students enrolled in its courses. Students majoring in Media Arts programs, and all students checking out equipment from the Media Arts Equipment Room are required to purchase UArts-approved insurance coverage prior to being granted permission to check out gear. The insurance is available from the department for a small additional fee.
Philadelphia’s professional resources have allowed the department to develop an extensive internship program for advanced Media Arts majors. This program allows students to gain professional experience while earning academic credit. Internship sponsors have included commercial photography studios; galleries; independent artists; animation, film, video, and multimedia production houses; television stations; medical facilities; magazine and book publishers; and digital imaging studios.
The Media Arts Department also offers minor concentrations in all three of its programs–film/digital video, animation, and photography–which are available to students outside of their major studio program. Those interested in this option should consult with both their major advisor and the Media Arts Department.
This major prepares students for a wide range of careers in photography by providing a solid grounding in traditional photography and digital imaging. In the Sophomore year, students receive in-depth training in craft and ideas fundamental to photographic imaging. Technical exercises emphasize electronic imaging as well as traditional black-and-white and color processes. The curriculum covers both descriptive photography and more experimental manipulated image-making.
During the Junior year, students consider photographic forms beyond the traditional print, such as the photographic book, non-silver processes, and installation work. Large-format photography and studio practice with its control of artificial lighting are also part of the Junior curriculum. In both the Junior and Senior years, students may pursue the study of specialized interests on an elective basis, including illustration and editorial photography, photojournalism, environmental portraiture, creative portfolio development, advanced digital imaging, and professional practice.
The Senior year is primarily devoted to the production of an independent body of work of the student’s own choosing and direction. The Senior thesis provides the opportunity to begin the process of self-definition as photographer and artist. A required Junior-level course in photographic criticism, coupled with required classes in the history of photography, exemplifies the strong emphasis that the department places on critical thinking and self-expression in words as well as through photographs.
Each spring, the Media Arts Department hosts the Paradigm Lecture Series, an outstanding resource available to photography majors. Through this series, photographers of national and international renown are invited by the department to visit the campus to discuss their work and meet with the students.
The Film/Digital Video program in the Media Arts Department prepares students to work in Narrative, Documentary, and Experimental film. A solid preparation and foundation in craft has enabled an extremely high percentage of our graduates to enter the professional field as freelance editors, sound recordists, cinematographers, technicians, animators, screenwriters, and directors.
The Filmmaking major provides students with a background in all phases of film and video production, including film cinematography, videography, film and video editing, and sound/image manipulation. As in still photography, filmmaking students acquire a strong background in criticism, theory, and history of media. All Film/Video majors pursue at least one practical internship as part of the degree requirements.
The study of film and video at the University has been supplemented by a number of other activities, including the Paradigm Lecture Series through which each spring film and video artists of national and international renown visit the campus to conduct lectures and present screenings of their work.
The Animation program in the Media Arts Department prepares students to work in computer, traditional, stopmotion, and experimental animation. The basic principles of animation can be applied to all forms of image and object manipulation. The program gives its graduates a strong understanding of timing and motion, and a grounding in the wide variety of techniques available to the animator. Animation majors get a solid background in life drawing and traditional modes of animation, as well as 2D and 3D computer animation. Animation majors choose the area(s) on which to focus as they construct their Junior and Senior thesis films.
This broad-based approach has allowed graduates to obtain professional positions in both the animation industry and as independent artists. Alumni become computer animators, directors, storyboard artists, production assistants, special-effects animators, and character designers.