Assignment Instructions

Assignment #1                                                                spring 2009

Note on the assignments reproduced from the syllabus:

(Assgts. 1-4) These are analysis tasks during Units I & II. I will give you a template that you will apply to a short segment in a film. You will be asked to describe the sound track, analyze sound track/image track interactions, and narrative functions of sound. The films will be given (two classics: Psycho and Meet Me in St. Louis; and three more recent titles that you propose and we will vote on in class) but you may choose any 1-3 minute segment in the film. I will also allow you to work on these in groups of no more than 3-4 students and share the grade.

Here is the final film list. Because several films received multiple nominations, I have decided to use them, rather than ask for a vote in class.‡ Because five films were tied for second and all are available in the AV LIbrary, I am allowing all of them, not just three—see below. Please do NOT go outside this list – I won't accept the assignment.

Three original titles: Psycho (1960), Psycho (1998 remake), Meet Me in St. Louis

Six titles added from class suggestions: The Dark Knight, Forrest Gump, The Fountain, Jurassic Park, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood

For Assignment #1: Pick a short sequence (no more than 5 minutes max).† Analyze it using the "events table" in Exercise 1 at the end of Chapter 3 (p. 89)          – OR –           the updated analysis checklist in Exercise 2 at the end of Chapter 3 (p. 90). The analysis checklist was introduced already in Chapter 1 (p. 31) and was updated in Chapter 2 (p. 55). Try to be concise in your presentation – aim at no more than 500-600 words total.

† You may not choose the main title sequence or the "Temptation" scene from Psycho or its remake – those are sequences that we examined in detail in class. You may not choose the main title sequence from Meet Me in St. Louis – that is discussed in detail in Chapter 6.

Assignment #2                                                                spring 2009

Assignment #2 is due next week. Instructions: Choose a scene from one of the eight films (and one remake) on our list. The scene may be the same one you analyzed for assignment #1 or a different scene from the same film or from any of the other films on the list. Answer ONE of the questions below in no more than 300 words. (You will recognize these as the questions from Part II of Exam 1.)
  1.  List and rank the main sound elements (speech/effects/music) in terms of foreground/background. Using these as a starting point, comment on the sound track elements as empathetic, neutral, or anempathetic.
  2. List and rank the main sound elements (speech/effects/music) in terms of foreground/background. Using these as a starting point, comment on the sound track elements in terms of their diegetic or nondiegetic status, remembering that the status could be ambiguous.
  3. How does the non-diegetic music interact (or fail to interact) with the other sound elements? What is the role of the non-diegetic music?.
  4. How does the music create or contribute to a sense of continuity in this scene? Among things to consider: levels of sync points, overall shape, presence/absence, transitions, pacing (tempo), textures.


Assignment #3 was cancelled because students wrote considerably more than I expected (or required) on the first two assignments.

Assignment #4 was also cancelled under pressure of time at this point of semester and because the students' performance on the earlier assignments was quite strong.  

Assignment #5 is described in the syllabus and is unique to this semester (students are being asked to produce outlines of the chapters in Part III). Under other, more normal circumstances, the first four assignments would lead to assignment #5 as a culminating exercise using the writing models in the two Interludes as the basis and resulting in a complete analytical or critical essay.