The Art and Science of Animation CMDI-2200

Table of Contents

Note to commuting students: This course uses software that may be difficult for you to access off campus.

Contact and course information:

  • Instructor: Evelyn Stiller
  • My Web page:
  • Office: 415 Hyde
  • Phone: 535-2531
  • Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 11:00 - 12:15 and Tuesdays 12:15 - 1:30 or by appointment
  • Electronic Mail: estiller[at-symbol]mail[dot]plymouth[dot]edu (this is an anti-spamming technique)
  • Text Book: ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash CS3 Professional by Todd Perkins
  • Reference manual: ActionScript 3.0 Language Reference (available online).
  • Meeting Times and Places: Hyde 419 Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:05 - 10:45.

Course Description

This course introduces its participants to animation programming using state-of-the-art animation tools. Students learn animation programming by experimenting with programs, formulating hypotheses about how to create animation effects and testing their hypotheses. This course includes a significant hands-on component in which the instructor is available to assist students with laboratory assignments.  Students also learn about the math and physics of motion, friction, momentum, and the interaction of objects in motion.

Course Objectives

  1. Learn how to interact with Flash as an animation and programming environment.
  2. Learn basic programming techniques, such as formulating  sequential conditional and looping instructions. 
  3. Learn how to adapt programs to achieve new objectives.
  4. Learn how interact with users by using the event-handling mechanism of Flash.
  5. Learn principles of hypotheses formulation.
  6. Learn to test hypotheses adequately.
  7. Learn how to conduct effective experiments.
  8. Learn how to effectively model the motion of objects using principles of Physics.
  9. Learn how to model the collision of objects, taking into account:
      1. momentum of each object
      2. gravity
      3. friction
      4. displacement.
  10. Learn how to create animations.
  11. Learn about various types of files used for digital images and animations.
  12. Learn about ethical/societal issues associated with animation.

Tentative Course Schedule

I reserve the right to spend more time on any given topic, should students require it. So, the following schedule reflects an optimistic projection for the semester.



Readings to be done before the first scheduled class of that week. Chapter references below address readings from: ActionScript 3.0 for Adobe Flash CS3 Professional.

Hand outs will be available through Blackboard.

You will need to reference the ActionScript 3.0 Language Reference as needed.


Introduction to the scientific method.

Introduction to Flash.

online reading:

Read main article called "Scientific method":

Read entire section on "Elements of scientific method":

Read this subsection on "Evaluation and Iteration":

Hands-on assignment: frame animation: Wednesday



Introduction to animation programming and the Flash programming environment.

Chapter 1:

Hands-on assignment: Vector animation: Monday

Flash coordinate system exercise.




Basic concepts of Action Script-based animation.

Basic motion.

Hypothesis formulation and testing.

Chapter 2


No class Wednesday due to Winter Carnival






More Action Script: creating functions

Simple gravity

Chapter 3

Reading on Pseudoscience

5 User interactivity: responding to events.

Chapter 4




Decision making a nd repititon


Chapter 6:




Using math - and loving it!

Random events.

Chapter 7




Spring break


9 Interacting with multiple objects Chapter 8:Using text and arrays
10 Studying Collision reactions.

Collision reactions: Blackbaord reading



Animating color change

Chapter 10: Advanced graphics



12 Introducing random events: motion in 3D

Science reading TBA





Work on students projects.

Article on media portrayal of science TBA



Work on projects





Student presentations




Final exam week


      20% - Animation Project

     20% - Quizzes

     20% - Assignments

     20% - Lab work including Hypothesis formulation and test plans.

20% - Final Exam

Assignments and Labs:

Approximately half of the class will be dedicated to in class lab assignments. . On those days the instructor will give a lab assignment which is due at the end of the lab period., unless the instructor indicates otherwise. The purpose of lab assignments is to ensure that students feel comfortable with a new concept, and can demonstrate their mastery of this concept. Students who do not attend a lab class cannot receive credit for the lab assignment.

The instructor will also give students assignments to be done outside of class, which are due on a specified date. Assignments handed in late will have 10% deducted per calendar day after the due date.


Unannounced quizzes will be given so that the instructor can assess student learning on a regular basis. No make-up quizzes will be given, but the lowest quiz will be dropped to allow for legitimate absences.


The work you submit in this course must be your own. Whenever possible, it is preferred that students paraphrase/explain key concepts in their own words and cite the original source material appropriately. However, if you include four or more consecutive words directly from any source, be certain to surround them with quotation marks, and to properly cite the source and page number. Plagiarism, however unintentionally it may occur, is a serious violation of academic integrity. A student who is found to have plagiarized on any assignment should expect to receive a failing grade for the entire course. There are no exceptions to this policy.

General Education

This course is a Scientific Inquiry Direction in PSU’s General Education program.

Scientific Inquiry Direction 

The methods of science are powerful tools with which we can attain a clearer understanding of the world.  

In the modern world, science has real application to all people’s lives.  Scientific literacy helps people to make sense of the explosion of information they encounter every day.  Scientific Inquiry courses use scientific methodologies to examine relationships between events in the natural world and make students aware that science occurs in a social, cultural, political, and ethical context.

Use of scientific methods in laboratory or field settings is an integral part of these courses.  As students plan investigations, collect, analyze, and interpret data and develop their ability to propose answers, offer explanations, and make predictions, they come to see both the power and the limitations of science.  Students investigate the distinctions between rational thinking and anecdotal argumentation and develop an understanding that answers are never final, but always subject to revision. 

 Scientific Inquiry courses emphasize the skills of critical thinking, writing, conducting research, quantitative reasoning, working with information technology, and collaborating with others..  

Attendance Policy (Very Important)

Students are expected to attend each course meeting and to arrive at class on time. It is acknowledged, however, that a student may need to miss class occasionally. Accordingly, each student is limited to three unexcused absences during the semester (the equivalent of missing an entire week of course content). Absences beyond the third will result in the deduction of one-half letter grade (five points) per absence from the student’s final grade in the course. In addition, arriving late to class is an unacceptable practice. As such, two late appearances to class count as one absence. Appropriate official documentation for excused absences must be submitted to the course professor within one week after the student returns to class; otherwise, no credit will be granted for such absences. There are no exceptions to this policy.