Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pixelbending, or CS 222: Digital Image Mastery

I am very pleased to announce a new class I'll be teaching in the spring, targeted at media makers who want to get the most out of their pixels. Here's the description from the Hampshire course catalog:
Digital Image Mastery: Under the Hood of Modern Filmmaking

With an affordable digital camera and simple editing software, anyone can be an image maker. But what does it take to be an image master? How does one take control over the images and films one makes rather than ceding it to the engineers of the software and hardware?

This course is designed for students who seek mastery over the digital images they create, capture, edit, and/or distribute. The class will expose the foundational core that hides behind the interfaces of digital imaging and filmmaking technologies but which is crucial to using them with precision and finesse. Topics that may be covered include digital image representation, compression/decompression (codecs), frame rate changes, compositing, matting, tracking, color correction, color grading, and more.

PRE-REQUISITE: an evaluation/passing grade from least one digital media production class (film, video, animation, photography)
I blog about classes like this because the descriptions can only say so much. Basically, are you an image maker who feels like the tools are in charge of you instead of the other way around? If you are, and if you want to invert that relationship, then this is probably the class for you. We'll expose the inner workings of modern digital imaging technologies with an eye towards solving visual problems.

Although the language in the description waffles between film making and more general image making, I would guess that about 2/3 of the material we cover will apply to digital image making of any kind. The last third will probably be more directly related to image sequences, aka time-based digital imaging, aka digital film/video.

So I'm on the hunt for tasty exercises that are based on real problems and whose solutions emerge from a clear understanding of (and control over) the fundamentals. Readers of this blog will probably understand why I will be sure to have a frame rate conforming exercise in there. And others who know me will understand when I add a problem related to the plague known as matte lines.

What problems do YOU face that have solutions buried in the foundations of digital media? What was it that you learned about codecs and bit depth and color grading and the like that revolutionized the way you make work?

Feel free to offer your suggestions and/or ask questions about the class by posting comments. I'll respond to them that way as well.

And big thanks to K.C. Line for the real name of this class: pixelbending. More like waterbending than circuit bending, mind you.

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