New Media Studies

Requirements & Courses

Areas

New Media Studies at Alma is organized into three areas. They overlap, crossover, and entangle each other constantly. In fact, this would probably be a better representation of them:

All students work across the three areas and develop foundational skills in them. At the same time, our students are encouraged to follow what they love and dig deeper into one or more areas with their advanced work. The expertise they develop stretches into areas like:

 

Working closely with an NMS faculty advisor, majors create individualized learning paths with the common goal of building flexibility, innovative approaches, and expertise. Access to cutting-edge resources and applied learning experiences help students align their coursework with their career goals.

Requirements for Major

Thirty-six credits in NMS, which must include:

  1. Core: NMS-101 and an additional 8 credits from NMS 118, 120, 130, 140, and 160.
  2. Context: At least 8 credits of any 200-level NMS courses and at least 12 credits of 300-level NMS courses.
  3. Capstone: An internship 385, taken for the student’s choice of 0-4 credits and the senior studio, NMS 450.

Honors

Completion of all NMS major requirements, 3.5 GPA in the major, and completion of a senior thesis project of honors caliber (NMS 500).

Requirements for Minor

Twenty-four credits must include:

  1. Core: NMS-101 and an additional 8 credits from NMS 118, 120, 130, 140, 160.
  2. Context: At least 4 credits of any 200-level NMS courses and at least 4 credits of 300-level NMS courses.
  3. Capstone: The senior studio, NMS 450.

Courses

  • NMS
    101
    .
    Introduction to Digital Media
    4 credits
    Introduction to technical, social, and cultural aspects of new media. Topics include media convergence, interactivity, social networking, and participatory culture. Includes lab work exploring basic principles of effective communication employing a variety of digital media for designing and delivering graphics, audio and video.
  • NMS
    114
    .
    Introduction to Web Development
    4 credits
    This course provides an introductory examination of the theory and practice of communication in a digital format, including text, hypertext, visual, audio and video. Stresses application of digital media principles to authoring for the Web. Surveys the technologies underlying the World Wide Web, including Web page construction and JavaScript programming. Laboratory.
  • NMS
    118
    .
    Intro Media Programming and Computation
    4 credits
    Write programs to manipulate images, sounds and movies, developing knowledge and skills in problem solving, data representation, data manipulation, and programming principles including recursion and object-oriented design. Introduction to basic ideas in hardware, software and computing.
  • NMS
    120
    .
    Principles of Visual Design
    4 credits
    Investigation of foundational elements and principles of visual design, as components of visual communication. Two dimensional design and time-based media will be explored traditionally and digitally, using programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop Lightroom, iMovie, and others. Topics include color theory, composition, narrative and non-narrative storytelling, among others. Course fee.
  • NMS
    125
    .
    Introduction to Film Theory
    4 credits
    In this course, we will study a wide variety of films; we will also study characteristics of the film/video medium and see how they are illustrated by the films studied in the course. Emphasis will be on the expressiveness of film techniques, fictional films, alternatives to the live-action fictional film, and how viewers understand films.
  • NMS
    130
    .
    Interactive Media
    4 credits
    In our society, interactivity has become a key component of media. We try to make our messages compelling and memorable, whether designing ad campaigns, websites, or Facebook profiles. Interactivity is widely debated, even within a single medium, and so the various approaches to it will make up the core inquiry for this course: what makes a piece of media interactive? How does meaning get communicated in interactive media? How can we design media using interactivity to deepen communication? Students will focus on social media, transmediation, and games, and will compose digital projects and deliver presentations, both individually and collaboratively.
  • NMS
    140
    .
    Camera Media
    4 credits
    This course addresses the importance of the camera in the twenty-first century and prepares students for advanced production and critical work with its media. Through readings, discussions, and hands-on activities, students develop fluencies in three areas: camera histories, camera techniques, and camera rhetorics (the camera’s persuasive power). Course fee.
  • NMS
    160
    .
    Sound Design
    4 credits
    This course presents an overview of digital audio and video applications and the workflows designed to produce and manipulate digital sound and moving images. This includes music and sound for video, animation, and using audio and video on the Web. Additional topics will include the basics of sound design, syncing of audio and motion video and the rudiments of audio and video production systems. Students will also be introduced to important media standards such as NTSC, HDV, MIDI, QuickTime, MPEG and various SD and HD formats. (Formerly MUS 201)
  • NMS
    180
    .
    Topics in New Media Studies
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: 4 credits in NMS or Permission
    Selected topics in new media innovations, issues and effects. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • NMS
    180M
    .
    Topics in New Media Studies
    1 credit
    Selected topics in new media innovations, issues and effects. May be taken more than once for credit.
  • NMS
    201
    .
    Media Systems & Influence
    4 credits
    Introductory study of the major media industries and effects. Emphasis on analyzing the way media technologies affect information flow and social networks and the influence of media on human perception, behavior and identity.
  • NMS
    210
    .
    Motion Graphics & Animation
    4 credits
    Introduction to 2D and 3D visual effects, animation and compositing. Critical study and theory of motion and animation principles; concepts of key framing, applying behaviors, tweening animations, symbols, generators and particle emission, chroma keying and rotoscoping.
  • NMS
    215
    .
    Audio Recording Studio
    2 credits
    Overview of the impact of computers and technology in the music professions. Topics include design of recording studio and lab environments, MIDI technology, fundamentals of audio technology, multimedia applications and using sound/music on the Web. Cross-listed with MUS-215. (Offered every year)
  • NMS
    220
    .
    Intro to Media Programming & Computation
    4 credits
    Write programs to manipulate images, sounds and movies, developing knowledge and skills in problem solving, data representation, data manipulation, and programming principles including recursion and object-oriented design. Introduction to basic ideas in hardware, software and computing.
  • NMS
    221
    .
    Intimacy and Technology
    4 credits
    Explore the way communication technologies impact and influence our relational lives. Focus on both old and new media, examining the way specific communication channels shape our romantic, platonic, familial and professional relationships. Through readings, discussion, film and scrutiny of their own technology usage, students will investigate the relationship between intimacy and technology.
  • NMS
    225
    .
    Applied Film Theory
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: NMS-125 or Permission
    Applied Film Theory will offer students a study in the theory of film and applied filmmaking. Course topics will include the inspirations, source materials, historical context, production process, and existing critical analyses of important films from the last century. This course combines analysis of film with hands-on digital media projects and is designed to complement other courses in the New Media Studies major.
  • NMS
    230
    .
    Game Design I
    4 credits
    Video game development is a burgeoning creative field that requires collaboration of experts with a variety of skill sets. Students in this course will take on the intense task of designing a video game from comcept through storyboarding to prototyping and playtesting a paper model. Students will develop a game design document outlining the game’s mechanics and story and will create art assets for game. Each student will demonstrate proof of concept for their game in a presentation using the assets they developed. No coding experience is necessary for this course, and no coding will be required in the course.
  • NMS
    232
    .
    Digital Imaging
    4 credits
    Exploration of aesthetic and technical relationships between still images, multiple prints and montage as they are presented in the form of the digital straight print, narratives, and/or series. Course fee.
  • NMS
    235M
    .
    Computer Game Design
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: CSC-220 or Permission
    Explores the process by which computer games go from conception through formal design to implementation and testing. Uses coursework and team projects to cover aspects of the design process including brainstorming and narrative development, game programming, art and sound design, and marketing. Spring Term only.
  • NMS
    240
    .
    Digital Film Production
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: NMS Major or Permission
    Students are introduced to fundamentals of filmmaking and produce their own films. Elements covered include pre-production (financing, screenwriting and scheduling); production (cinematography, sound recording and directing); and post-production (editing, basic effects, marketing and distribution). Must be an NMS major or receive instructor permission to register for this course. Course fee.
  • NMS
    250
    .
    Media, Power and Ownership
    4 credits
    Introduction to the business practices and regulations that shape the American media industry. Emphasis is placed on the roles of audience characteristics and media technology in shaping the content of media, and the role of the First Amendment as the basis for media regulation.
  • NMS
    260
    .
    Visual Communication
    4 credits
    Focus on understanding images in culture from a psychological, photojournalistic and communication perspective. Work from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, communication, media and cultural studies, sociology, psychology and design.
  • NMS
    280
    .
    Topics in New Media Studies
    2-4 credits
    Selected topics in new media innovations, issues and effects. May be taken more than once for credit. Students may need to buy materials for their projects at a cost up to $100.
  • NMS
    282
    .
    Network Analysis
    4 credits
    Examination of tools and techniques used in analyzing social relations, focusing on substantive and theoretical origins and applications of these techniques. Emphasizes basic network concepts and common approaches to network analysis. Introduces advanced methodologies for analyzing social networks.
  • NMS
    299
    .
    NMS Independent Study
    1 credit
    Requires instructor permission.
  • NMS
    300
    .
    Media Theory and Culture
    4 credits
    Survey key benchmarks and texts in the history of media and new media technologies, while also introducing critical readings of 20th and 21st century media culture, both from the theoretical field of media studies and the creative works of artists, filmmakers and writers.
  • NMS
    310
    .
    Social Media
    4 credits
    Social media is a core component of new media studies, and having a course dedicated to covering social media communication is crucial for students across disciplines for their development as ethical individuals and as participants in the business world.
  • NMS
    330
    .
    Game Design II
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: NMS-230
    Video game development is a burgeoning creative field that requires collaboration of experts with a variety of skill sets. Students in this course will build on their experiences in Game Design I to undertake a more thorough and developed game design. Students will develop a game design document and partial game walk-through outlining the game’s mechanics and story and will create art assets for the game using Adobe Illustrator. The end-game of the course is for each student to demonstrate proof of concept for their game in a studio-style pitch/presentation using the assets they developed. No coding experience is required for the course, no coding will be required in the course.
  • NMS
    380
    .
    Topics in New Media Studies
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: NMS-101 or Permission
    Selected topics in new media innovations, issues, and and effects.
  • NMS
    381
    .
    Advanced Documentary
    2 credits
    Combines theory, history and practice, exploring documentary video production through an overview of the history and major styles, field exercises, screening, discussion and critique. Participating in collaborative work with classmates, students are exposed to a range of storytelling, production, aesthetic, and artistic issues. Hands-on demonstrations, field exercises, screenings, readings, lectures and discussion prepare students to produce short documentary videos.
  • NMS
    382
    .
    Advanced Mixing and Mastering
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: NMS-204
    In-depth, project-oriented class that explores the creative and technical issues involved in multitrack sound editing, mixing and mastering. Topics include mono, stereo and multichannel audio formats, understanding mixing consoles, signal flow and busses, sound analysis and metering plug-ins, controlling levels and gain, advanced EQ, compression and “brick wall” limiting, automation and time-based effects. Tools include popular DAW applications Logic Pro, Pro Tools and Reason.
  • NMS
    385
    .
    New Media Studies Internship
    1 credit
  • NMS
    399
    .
    NMS Independent Study
    1 credit
    Requires instructor permission.
  • NMS
    450
    .
    Senior Studio
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Senior Standing
    This capstone studio serves as a bridge between work at Alma and a professional post-graduate career. Students will independently plan and execute a capstone project that applies their specialized skills in new media to a challenging problem. The goal is to develop projects with lasting impacts while deepening the students’ own methods of design. Course also addresses how these skills might fit into post-graduate life through resume and portfolio workshops, as well as seminar discussions about new media’s role in the world. At the end of the term, capstones are assessed by a panel of faculty and industry judges at a public exhibition, which the class organizes and hosts.
  • NMS
    499
    .
    NMS Independent Study
    1 credit
    Requires instructor permission.
  • NMS
    500
    .
    Studies Senior Thesis
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: Senior Standing and Permission
    Development and completion of original scholarly/creative work. May be applied, interpretive, critical, empirical or theoretical. Required for departmental honors. Requires senior standing and permission.