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Unit outline_

CAEL3016: Experimental Film

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study explores key processes and issues related to the production and exhibition of experimental film works. The unit includes discussions, readings and screenings of relevant historical and contemporary film works. It focuses on the creative potential of the physical properties of film. You will produce a short 16mm film project. A Bolex 16mm camera workshop and hand processing of 16mm film will also be an integral part of this unit of study.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Sydney College of the Arts
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in Visual Arts or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Studio Foundation
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Andrew Sully,
Lecturer(s) Cordelia Beresford,
Rowena Crowe,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Final Project + Research Blog
Self-directed creative audiovisual work + 6 blog posts (150-200wd each)
60% Formal exam period
Due date: 13 Nov 2022 at 23:59

Closing date: 27 Nov 2022
Video, 2-4 min (eq 2200 wd) + 900 wd
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Rhythm Film Project
Creative audiovisual project responding to theme of rhythm
30% Week 08
Due date: 18 Sep 2022 at 23:59

Closing date: 02 Oct 2022
Video, 60 seconds (1200 wd equivalent)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation Final Project Proposal
Written task and oral presentation
10% Week 09
Due date: 02 Oct 2022 at 23:59

Closing date: 16 Oct 2022
5 min presentation + 200 word blog post
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Rhythm Film Project: Create a short audiovisual work that explores the theme of rhythm (including sound). You will be introduced to various techniques for making experimental film, including camera-less techniques for working directly on 16mm film celluloid as well as other techniques such as rotoscoping and stop-motion animation. You will also be asked to research into how these methods have been used historically and in contemporary practice.

  • Final Project Proposal: 5 minute presentation in class using Powerpoint or from your blog. Make a blog post with links to relevant references/support materials. For the Final Project, you need to develop your own self-directed idea/concept. Students must choose two of the techniques explored in the workshops and describe how they relate to their idea conceptually. The proposal must also address the resource requirements and projected production schedule timeline for the project. In addition, the proposal must reference at least two existing works of other artists that are relevant to your project for conceptual or aesthetic reasons.

  • Final Project + Research Blog: Conceive, create and present a substantial moving image work employing at least two of the techniques acquired within the class. You need to develop your own self-directed idea/concept which is informed by the techniques, historical concepts and theories of experimental film. Post regularly about your research and project development to a blog. You are expected to make at least 6 posts of approx. 80 words each. You should articulate the development of your major project idea and contextualise it within the field of experimental film.

PLEASE NOTE: Assessments have been adjusted and reweighted from what appears in the handbook, including the incorporation of the Research Blog task into the Final Project Proposal.

All assessment tasks must be attempted to pass this subject.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.  

This unit uses standards-based assessment for award of assessment marks. Your assessments will be evaluated solely on the basis of your individual performance You need to satisfy requirements as determined by academic staff, including attendance, communicated to you through the Sydney College of the Arts Handbook, unit of study outlines, other written notifications and/or verbally through tutorials or seminars. All requirements must be met in order to be eligible for an assessment.

Your work will be assessed according to the following criteria, based on: attendance; participation and responsiveness to the unit of study and academic direction; written work; studio work and other unit of study work; tutorial and seminar team discussion. These criteria apply to studio-based learning and to theory units of study.

1. Competence
Demonstration of the development and application of practical and intellectual competency and skills appropriate to the unit of study.

2. Development
Demonstration of the ability to initiate and realise your own objectives for studio practice and theory work within the requirements of the unit of study and of your developing knowledge of the historical and theoretical context of your practice. You are expected to improve your abilities, competency and understanding over the course of a semester, and over successive semesters.

3. Critical Awareness
Demonstration of developing a critical awareness and knowledge of the unit of study and the ability to objectively evaluate your own work, select appropriate methods and materials and to formulate and evaluate ideas/methods.

4. Commitment
Demonstration of commitment and self-motivation in respect of the unit of study. The level of commitment to study in the academic program is reflected in; the development of self-motivation applied to individual, group or assignment-based work; the degree of participation in all units of study including group work, project submissions, essays and discussions; the development of a consistent work pattern; and the regularity and punctuality of attendance and submissions.

5. Innovation
Demonstration of innovative and imaginative thinking, appropriate to the unit of study, evidencing the quality of ideas underlying your work and development in your studies.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction and course outline; 2. Introduction to experimental cinema; 3. Project 1 discussion 4. WHS induction Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 02 1. Films made without a Camera - DIY Zoetrope. 2. Introduction to photochemical film terms. 3. Digitising and Steenbeck induction. Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 1. Films made without a camera : Additive and Subtractive techniques - lecture, screenings and practical. 2. Scratch and paint techniques. 3. Introduction to the Bolex. Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 04 1. Films made without a camera - scratch and paint techniques continued + other approaches. 2. Darkroom Induction & WHS. 3. Steenbeck/digitising inductions Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 05 1. Films made without a Camera - Inkjet printing on 16mm. Introduction to optical sound. 2. Darkroom Induction & WHS. 3. Steenbeck/digitising inductions Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 06 1. Rhythm and the audio visual relationship. 2. Digital / Analogue technques - Rotoscoping on paper with stop motion app. 2. Darkroom Induction & WHS. 3. Steenbeck/digitising inductions Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 07 1. Revision of concepts. 2. Work-in-progress screenings for Assesment 1 - Rhythm Film. Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 08 1.Student presentations of Rhythm Films Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 09 1. Student presentations of Project 2 Proposal; 2. Discussion and feedback Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 10 1. Student project consultations and feedback sessions. Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 11 1. Work-in-progress Screening; 2. Project problem solving, development and feedback session. Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 1. Work-in-progress problem solving, development and feedback session Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 13 1. Work-in-progress class presentations and peer feedback session Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Additional requirements from Sydney College of the Arts

  • Students must attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for this unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Unit Coordinator.
  • All assignments are compulsory and must be attempted. 
  • You must attend scheduled assessments to be eligible to pass. Non-attendance at assessment on any grounds insufficient to claim special consideration will result in the forfeiture of marks associated with the assessment. 

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Experimental Filmmaking: Break the Machine by Kathryn Ramey (2015)

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an in-depth understanding of experimental film practices, histories and theories that informs their own creative processes to produce a self-directed experimental 16mm film project
  • LO2. express an understanding of the context of their experimental film work in relation to international current and historical film-art practice
  • LO3. demonstrate rigorous and independent thinking and technical competency in 16mm film production
  • LO4. engage critically with social, cultural and ethical issues and apply local and international perspectives to extend their creative practice
  • LO5. use appropriate technologies and media to effectively gather information
  • LO6. communicate their ideas creatively and effectively.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Changes have been made since this unit was last offered - it has been modified and refined for online and in-person delivery

Additional costs

There are optional experimental film techniques that you will be introduced to that will incur additional costs. eg Super8 film stock, processing and scanning


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.