Digital Media Arts

Digital Media Arts

Courses & Curriculum

The Communication Studies Department offers a Bachelor of Science degree through the Digital Media Arts program. As new and more powerful communication technologies in the digital age transform ways in which we communicate and interact, students will have a vast array of new career options. Students can position themselves to take advantage of these new opportunities by gaining cutting-edge practical and theoretical skills to create and design content using digital tools.

The Digital Media Arts degree in the Communication Studies Department focuses on design for web and print, video production/post-production, and 3D modeling and animation, in a 13-course, 39-credit major. State-of-the-art facilities are featured at the Digital Media Arts’ home in Lyons Hall.

Qualifications for the major

Digital Media Arts majors must have a cumulative G.P.A. of at least 2.00, including a minimum grade of C- in all digital media arts courses. It is expected that students in the program must have a GPA much higher than 2.0 to continue as a DMA major.  Because of the highly competitive nature of the program, the performance of all majors is subject to review relative to their continuation in the program.  Second semester sophomore DMA majors that have accumulated 45 credits are reviewed using the following:  overall GPA, GPA in DMA201 and at least two other DMA courses, and a portfolio of the students work.  Transfer students and students who change their major to DMA are reviewed after they have completed three DMA courses at Canisius.

Digital Media Arts Curriculum

1. Core Curriculum Requirements 
View the Core Curriculum requirements.  All students complete these requirements as part of their overall Canisius education.

2.  Major Requirements (13 courses)

A.  Major Course Requirements (8 courses) 39 credits
DMA 201 Introduction to Digital Media Arts 3 credits
DMA 202 Digital Media and Culture 3 credits
DMA 203 Digital Media Design Concepts 3 credits
DMA 204 Digital Media Law 3 credits
DMA 205 Digital Graphics 3 credits
DMA 206 Interactive Multimedia 3 credits
DMA 207 Digital Media Programming 3 credits
DMA 408 Capstone 3 credits
B.  Major Electives (5 courses)
DMA majors must complete major elective courses in accordance with their sequence. See your DMA advisor to select appropriate courses for major elective credit in your sequence

3.  Free electives:
Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach a minimum of 120 credit hours for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.

DMA Electives
*= offered even years in fall (e.g., fall 2012)
**= offered odd years in fall (e.g., 2013)
***= offered even years in spring (e.g., spring 2012)
 ****= offered odd years in spring (e.g., 2013)

Graphic Design / Web Design
DMA 363: Print Design****
DMA 384: Digital Typography**
DMA 393: Advanced Digital Design***
DMA 395: Digital Illustration*
DMA 342: Intro to Web Design*
DMA 442: Advanced Web Design****
CSC 108 - Intro to Web Computing
COM 311 - Principles of Advertising Fall
COM 315 - Advertising and the Creative Process Fall
FAS 110 - Two-Dimensional Foundations
FAS 111 - Studio Drawing I
FAS 112 - Studio Painting I
FAS 113: Studio Design I
FAS 114 - Intro to Still Photography
FAS 115 - 3D Foundations Intro Sculpture
FAS 122 - Travel Photography
FAS 141 - Digital Photography
FAS 150 – Color
ISB 455 - E-Commerce and Web Site Design
ISB 470 - Cybersecurity
PHI 325 - Philosophy of Art and Beauty

3D Animation / Game Design
DMA 346 - Video Games: History & Technique**
DMA 347 - Electronic Game Design*
DMA 351: 3D Modeling, Texturing & Lighting**
DMA 352: 3D Character Animation****
DMA 353: 3D Dynamics*
DMA 354: 3D Graphics for Electronic Games***
DMA 370: Designing for Mobile Devices****
DMA 371: Game Design for Mobile Devices ***
CSC 111 - Intro to Programming
CSC 127 - Introduction to Game Design

Video / Audio Production
DMA 309 - Digital Music Technology****
DMA 310 - Digital Audio/Music Production***
DMA 316: Intro to Special Effects*
DMA 317: Intro to Motion Graphics**
DMA 385: Intro to Digital Filmmaking****
DMA 413: Advanced Motion Graphics***
DMA 416 - Advanced 2D Computer Animation****
COM 361 - Introduction to TV Production**
COM 491, 492, 493- Video Institute I, II, III
COM 325 - Media Literacy
COM 373 - Best Picture: Academy Awards
COM 374 - Film History
COM 375 - Film Classics
COM 376 - Film Genres: Thrillers/Comedies
PHI 397 - Philosophy & Film

Additional Information

The Digital Media Arts program combines design, technical and critical approaches with intensive instruction in the use of digital tools. Dual majors are available with the permission and guidance of both chairs.

For information/news in regard to the students’ Digital Media Arts Club, please refer to the club’s blog.


Note: Some communication studies courses count as DMA courses. For descriptions of the Communication Studies courses, refer to the Communication Studies sections. Additional courses may be offered each semester in both the day and evening. Students should consult the department. 

DMA 201 Intro to Digital Media              3 credits
Introduces the fundamentals of digital systems and technologies through class lecture and hands-on approaches. Software and hardware used for web design, multimedia, video production, graphics and audio production.

DMA 202 Digital Media Culture        3 credits
Explores how digitization impacts our personal, business, cultural, institutional and international lives. Also examines the ways in which digital media transform communication and expression.

DMA 203 Digital Design Concepts  3 credits
Introduces the conceptual, perceptual and manual skills in traditional graphic design,. Topics include typography and visual communication, color theory, the principles of form, structure, spatial design and photo manipulation.Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 204 Digital Media Law  3 credits
Introduces a wide range of legal and ethical issues in cyberspace, including: the First Amendment, copyright, fair use, libel, hate speech, pornography/obscenity, privacy, commercial speech and national security.

DMA 205 Digital Graphics                3 credits
This course will familiarize students with digital graphics techniques, file formats and applications. Students will develop digital image creation skills along with effective workflow habits. Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 206 Interactive Multimedia          3 credits
This course will examine the types, processes and application of Adobe Flash needed to create multimedia content. Emphasis will be on critical analysis, interface design, organization of content and manipulation of video, sound and animation elements to create interactive computer presentations.Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 207 Digital Media Programming   3 credits
Students will learn Action Script 3.0, the scripting language of Adobe Flash, to build interactivity into web pages and digital applications. Students will learn how to structure and develop small online games for advertising, educational or entertainment purposes. Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 309 Music Technology            3 credits
Explore music sequencing, midi, audio plug-ins and other tools used by professional musicians, sound designers and multimedia specialists. No music background required. Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 310 Digital Audio/Music Production     3 credits
Learn fundamental techniques of digital audio and music production using current technologies in digital recording, software and audio post-production. Discuss current trends in audio production and the tools used for composing and producing electronic music. No music background required. 

DMA 316 2D Computer Animation           3 credits
This course is an overview of all forms of digital animation. Through hands-on exercises and projects utilizing After Effects, Cinema4D and other digital animation applications, students will explore both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional digital animation. 

DMA 317 Introduction to Motion Graphics      3 credits
New methods of visual communication include sequences of  digitally enhanced visual imagery. One of the most popular methods of enhancing the appeal of these sequences of visual imagery is through the addition of computer generated motion graphics. Through hands-on projects and exercises utilizing primarily Adobe After Effects and Photoshop students will unlock the secrets of motion graphics.

DMA 340 Writing for the Digital Media    3 credits
Intensive writing assignments employing message-design principles/style guidelines for writing for the web, CDs, DVDs, etc.

DMA 342 Intro to Web Design                3 credits
Introduction to the state of the art in on-line multimedia publishing. Working individually and in teams, students learn to publish well-designed World Wide Web documents that communicate effectively. DMA elective.

DMA 346 Video Games-History/Technique      3 credits
Provides an analytical and historical approach to the advancement of entertainment software. Encompassing cultural, professional, business, and scientific and technical evolution, the History of Video Games will communicate the socio-cultural impacts of interactive entertainment on society.

DMA 347 Electronic Game Design                 3 credits
Covers the art, craft and business of creating electronic games. Develop your own game concept, learn the basics of interactive authoring and produce a storyboard. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the gaming industry and the languages of game design.

DMA 351 3D Modeling, Texturing and Lighting      3 credits
This course is a hands-on overview of the broad and complex areas of 3D computer modeling, texturing and lighting. Different modeling approaches will be explored, including box modeling, lofting and sculpting. Various 3D texturing techniques and lighting approaches will also be investigated.

DMA 352 3D Character Animation              3 credits
A hands-on overview of the broad and complex areas of 3D computer character rigging and animation. The process of rigging the underlying structure of bone and muscle will be explored along with styles and techniques of character animation. Students will uncover secrets for rigging and animating bipeds, quadrapeds and other living creatures, real or fictional.

DMA 353 3D Dynamics                   3 credits
Computer 3D graphics are behind today’s visual effects in film and computer games. Students will gain technical and artistic background in how to use 3D dynamics like smoke, fire, water, gravity, wind, and collision for animation, special effects and games. Class demos and lab exercises will provide students with practical experience to achieve desired results in Maya and Unity game engines. Prerequisite: DMA 201 

DMA 354 3D Electronic Gaming            3 credits
This course is a hands-on overview of 3D computer-generated content creation for electronic games. Students will explore the concepts of low-poly modeling, low-poly UV texture-mapping and the interaction between the Maya 3D toolset and state-of-the-art game engines, such as Unity3D.

DMA 359 Criticism and Evaluation            3 credits
This course explores criteria for judging aesthetic quality, functionality, usability and effectiveness of digital media projects. Students will combine selected theoretical topics and research with hands-on work intended for review by real-world clients, design competitions and digital media festivals.Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 363 Print Design                     3 credits
Focuses on critical topics in layout, folding, binding and printing, as well as critical/creative issues in magazine, publication and high-end corporate design. Prerequisites: DMA 203 Digital Design Concepts or DMA 205 Digital Graphics.

DMA 384 Digital Typography        3 credits
Principles of typography will be presented, including popular and classic typefaces. Students can design their own typefaces for both print and screen. 

DMA 387 Digital Video Production           3 credits
Focuses on the technical and creative processes involved in digital video field production and post-production. Topics include scripting, lighting, camera operation, audio, non-linear editing and video streaming for the web.Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor.

DMA 393 Advanced Digital Design           3 credits
Advanced course demanding innovational, intellective, design and technical skills in multimedia and cyber-communication projects. Authoring, video and sound editing computer applications, animation, as well as cyberspace file transfer and programming are emphasized. Prerequisite: DMA 203 or permission of instructor.

DMA 395 Digital Illustration          3 credits
Don’t violate copyrighted imagery off the web — create your own! You don’t have to know how to draw to create stunning graphics. Use Adobe CS to learn approaches, techniques and current trends of professional illustrators.Prerequisite: DMA 201 or permission of instructor

DMA 408 Capstone             3 credits
Students will develop a portfolio helpful for an entry-level position in digital media. A professional-level project will be required of all majors to demonstrate specific strengths in visual communications, web-based research, interactive CDs, DVDs, web site design, traditional print materials and the like. Service learning option.

DMA 413 Advanced Motion Graphics              3 credits
Hands-on development and critical analysis of advanced techniques of creating motion graphics. Special attention to real-time rendering technologies available on the Macintosh.

DMA 416 Advanced 2D Computer Animation         3 credits
Expanding upon 2D Computer Animation, this production course will develop an entire animated feature from start to finish. Processes involve creating detailed storyboards, character design, background and stage imaging and motion studies. The project will be broken into a series of smaller scenes and re-assembled with animated titles and credits resulting in a complete 2D animated short. Prerequisite: DMA 316.

DMA 442 Advanced Web Design               3 credits
Concentrates on effective website design, practical web programming skills and the understanding of Flash for web development.

DMA 480 Advanced Digital Media Programming     3 credits
In this course students explore advanced server and client side programming using PHP, MySQL, XML, AS, and DHTML in order to create complex database-driven on-line systems and interactive art works. Examples include content management engines and procedural epoetry.

DMA 487 Advanced Digital Video Production     3 credits
This course focuses on advanced techniques in non-linear editing, motion graphics and digital video production. Critical analysis of micro-media digital films, important avant-garde breakthroughs, streaming video and the development of graphic design in motion will be covered. Software: Apple Final Cut Pro HD and Adobe After Effects.

DMA 488 Internship I Seminar           3-12 credits
Student experientially learns communication functions in compatibly matched professional setting, locally or out-of-town. Faculty and on-site supervision. Seminar required. Pass/fail. May be repeated as DMA 498; 12-credit limit for DMA 488/498 combined. Prerequisite: Open to junior and senior majors with G.P.A. of at least 2.50, Digital Media Arts average of 2.70 and approved by department faculty. Applications on Communication Studies Department website. Fall, Spring

DMA 498 Internship II Seminar             3-9 credits
Sequel to DMA 488 for students taking a second internship. Each student is limited to a combined total of 12 credit hours for DMA 488 and 498.Prerequisite: Same as for DMA 488. Fall, Spring

DMA 499 Independent Study            3 credits
Student conducts original project or self-designed course of study under the tutelage of Digital Media Arts faculty member. Prerequisite: Open to junior and senior majors in good standing with consent of instructor and chair. Fall, Spring