COURSE SYLLABUS for CTVA 230 Fundamentals of Audio Production

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Course Information

COURSE: CTVA 230 Fundamentals of Audio Production  Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Fred Ginsburg, C.A.S. Ph.D.

  • (818) 231-1038 cell
  • (818) 892-9236 fax
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tues       11am to 1:45pm  @ MZ 295 computer lab 2nd floor
Thurs:      11am to 1:45pm   @ MZ 160a Foley/ADR studio 1st floor audio suites


Being part-time faculty, on-campus meetings are in classroom (or my office (MZ167) one hour before/after class and by appointment. Meetings can also be arranged on campus on other days if I am available. Just CALL or TEXT to locate me! 818-231-1038


  1. On-line multimedia coursebook: Craft of Production Sound, published by EQE Media & Consulting Group. Includes numerous articles, tips, tricks, equipment reviews, tutorials, news, forum, calendar of events, and way more. ($25)
  2. Producing Great Sound for Film & Video, 4th Edition, by Jay Rose © Focal Press/Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN-978-0-415-72207-0. Available from Matador Bookstore
  3. Pro Tools 101 Official Courseware Version 11.0, © Avid Technology, Inc. 2013, Published by Course Technology (CENGAGE Learning), ISBN-13: 978-1-285-77484-8 (Current Paperback Price: $30.23)
    Note: Entire book is available as a free eBook online via the Oviatt 
    Note: Assigned book chapters will be available online via class links.

Class links to additional materials for download

In addition to the Readings list on our website, there is a special link for the class for downloading additional course materials including handouts and Pro Tools session files


  • You will need USB portable media for storing your projects while using the computer lab, such as an external HD or 16gig flash drive. In addition, you will need another smaller flash drive to use for submitting/receiving projects and completed exercises.
  • Make sure that you affix a hang tag or visible label to all of your portable media/flash drive with your name PRINTED CLEARLY. Merely putting the flash drive into a labeled envelope is not sufficient.
  • Although not mandatory, it is recommended that you consider purchasing a set of professional quality headphones, as you will be using these throughout your CTVA education and profession. Check with the professor BEFORE purchasing, so that I can advise you about specs, etc.
  • Although not mandatory, it is recommended that you (or with your lab partner) lease or purchase your own copy of AVID Pro Tools 12 Academic version, which is available for PC or Mac. Students can subscribe on a monthly basis for under ten dollars per month; or save even more by agreeing to a 12 month lease ($99/year, but payable monthly).   Another excellent source for acquiring Pro Tools, besides the AVID website, is through Pricing is the same, but Sweetwater includes their own technical support which is really beneficial (in addition to the official Pro Tools “support”). Call Sweetwater directly rather than trying to purchase from their website, so they can make sure you get the proper student pricing.
  • Please note that individual technical support (computer hardware issues) for students is available at the Oviatt Library; but that CTVA Engineering only deals with CTVA editing systems and not personal machines.

FEES: Subscription to the online coursebook is only $25 for students, but that will give you access to texts and other materials that would cost considerably more if offered as print items. If you send me an email before your six month subscription ends, I will extend it a few years at no additional charge. In addition, students may have to share the cost of recording media and/or some equipment rental for their projects. Students should seriously consider acquiring or sharing Pro Tools software.

Course Description & Purpose

To provide students with a basic understanding of the techniques and aesthetics of Basic Audio Recording; along with its relationship to the sound design and overall production of the completed soundtrack for various audio/visual media.

Student Learning Outcomes

(CTVA Department SLO 1, 2, 3) Intermediate/Practiced Students in this course will:

  • understand and articulate the history, theories and critical models of electronic media.
  • understand the fundamental concepts of pre-production, production and post-production in film/television/multimedia sound.
  • have an understanding of basic film/television Sound production principles, terminology, and procedures and use them in the assigned projects. Including (but not limited to) proper rigging of lavalier mics, proper "over/under" coiling of audio cables, proper use of mixing panels, and proper use and identification of microphones.
  • understand the basic oral and written communication tools to function professionally in film/television Sound.
  • record and edit audio sound exercises. All students must be able to produce professionally acceptable audio CD's and standard file formats.

Course Expectations

CTVA 230 students will be required to read all assigned readings by the due date listed in the class schedule. Attendance at lecture as well as "lab" days is mandatory and students will be expected to take good lecture notes. Students will also be expected to participate in all class discussions and activities. Students are expected to read about, practice with, and complete projects in Pro Tools.


Take special care in cultivating and nurturing a workable, communicative partnership. Collaboration skills are necessary in every stage of filmmaking. Without them, talented filmmakers can find themselves working alone, without access to the essential talents that other colleagues bring to a project.


Lecture, PowerPoint, guest speakers, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises. Realistic production situations will be simulated, explored, and discussed.

Learning Pro Tools

Because students tend to learn software at very different paces, I favor the small team approach that lets you and your lab partner progress as slowly or quickly as you want to.

Read each chapter of the Pro Tools textbook, and then explore that chapter's content in your Pro Tools lab session. Most of the chapters include a brief exercise challenge; do them! You are not graded on the results, but it is a good way to learn. You are also provided with a demo session, entitled Getting Familiar with Pro Tools. In it, you will edit a short narration and mix in some basic sound effects/music (all of which are provided). Do this exercise so that you learn the basic skills and gain some proficiency. When you feel comfortable with Pro Tools, then you can move ahead and begin work on your podcast and creepy promo projects.

Although our computer lab sessions are pretty much "self paced, independent study" -- I am available to help you on an individual basis whenever you need assistance or tutoring, so please do not hesitate to ask me to come over to your work station.

For those of you who are serious about a production career in media, I strongly urge you to lease your own academic copy of Pro Tools so that you can work freely on your own computer.


Audio theory; Sound Design; intro to audio editing (Pro Tools); audio podcasts. Mixing panels; digital recorders; Microphone Basics; Booming; Plant Mics; Lavaliers; Wireless; Set Etiquette; Communications; Sync Playback; Multi-track workflow; Intro to Mixdown.


Classroom attendance & participation; 3 quizzes & 1 major exam; completion of assigned readings, recording projects and [Pro Tools] lab exercises.

Note that there are two categories of reading assignments. The reading list on our website reflects the assigned chapters from the two text books that need to be read. In addition, the online reading lists —-found on the website — hyperlink additional website articles that need to be read.

Our weekly online class blog/Forum (functions similar to Moodle) will communicate which topics and readings will be covered each week, based on the actual progress of the class, along with whatever unforeseen variables may cause moving things around a bit.

Students are to view & sign in to the class blog every week.


An essential part of successful filmmaking is the ability to meet deadlines regardless of the troubles encountered along the way.  Being well prepared, organizing your time well, anticipating and planning for disasters or no-shows are essential in 230.  Attendance (and being on time) in class, meeting deadlines for dailies, rough cuts, and fine cuts are all a part of the professional behavior of a filmmaker and are a factor in grades. There are no incomplete grades available for any reason other than severe medical cases or serious emergencies.

 NOTE: Students are to view & sign in to the class blog at every week.

All students are expected to attend all classes and lab sessions. There will be NO MAKE-UP of lab assignments without prior consent of the instructor. If you miss a lab assignment you will receive a zero for that assignment. Unexcused absences as well as tardiness will be considered in your final grade. THREE unexcused absences may result in a grade reduction (i.e. up to one full letter on the final grade). Attendance is taken daily and it is the student’s responsibility to SIGN THE ATTENDANCE SHEET! These penalties are designed to encourage professionalism, participation and fair treatment for all. Disruptive, unprofessional behavior will be counted as an unexcused absence and will also entail written assignments as punishment. Group or project switching is prohibited without prior consent of the instructor.

IN THE EVENT OF ABSENCE, it is the student's responsibility to catch up on missed content and to arrange to take make-up exams.



Grading Criteria

Evaluation is based upon student performance in the following areas:
20%       Final Exam (approx 50 questions, covering entire semester)
30%       Quizzes (three; short answer, multiple choice).
15%       Current Events podcast w. Interview
15%       Creepy radio promo
20%       Audio Book podcast

Project descriptions and requirements are described later in this document. Failure to view & reply to the online class blog may result in the loss of one grade point for each week’s non-compliance.

Classroom performance, professionalism, and optional projects will be considered to improve grades.

Letter grades are derived from the following table, based on 100 total points possible:

A = 94-100 B+ = 88-89 C+ = 77-79 D = 60-67
A- = 90-93 B = 83-87 C = 73-76  
  B- = 80-82 C- = 68-72  

Once all points are added up for each student, they may be curved to determine the final grade.

Due Dates

All assignments are expected to be completed on time and grades will be lowered substantially for overdue assignments.

Except for extreme circumstances, students are expected to complete the requirements of this course absolutely no later than the last day of classes (official date of Final Exam).

Projects are due as announced, but not later than the last official day of instruction (which is one week prior to CSUN official Final Exam Date). Students who have not taken all exams and turned in their projects may be subject to a failing grade.

Except for extreme circumstances, students are expected to complete the requirements of this course by the last day of classes (official date of Final Exam). Projects are due not later than the dates posted in the syllabus. Students who have not taken all exams and turned in their projects may be subject to a failing grade. In extremely rare cases, students with valid reasons for not being able to complete the course may petition the Instructor, in writing, for an Incomplete


Requests for Incompletes must be submitted prior to the last day of classes. Students granted Incomplete grades are responsible for contacting the Instructor during the semester break but not later than one month after the start of the following semester in order to set up an arrangement and timetable. Although the University allows up to one year to convert an Incomplete, it is the prerogative of the Instructor to determine how and when Incompletes may be completed. Failure to set up and adhere to this timetable is an automatic F. Students with an outstanding incomplete in this course, or a grade less than B minus, will not be able to continue on in the CTVA major.

Department Regulations

It is understood to be a privilege not an entitlement for students to use the facility and equipment here in the CTVA Department at CSUN. Therefore, each student is responsible for the rooms they use and the equipment they check out for use

Film Stages

As in the use of any location the filmmakers MUST leave it like you find it (or better). If there is any possibility of contention in this regard, take some before pictures.

By stages we include the film stage, the green screen stage, and the ADR Stage. These rooms may be used by students for their class room assignments only during class time. No exceptions.

No food or beverages allowed except where relevant to the story being shot.

Stages may be used only by those only who have been accepted into the CTVA and is not available to those who are Pre-CTVA.

Editing Suites and Sound Rooms/Bays

All post production rooms have the strict rule of having no food or beverages AT ANY TIME. If this rule is broken you will be asked to immediately give up your editing privilege. At a minimum editing space can be reserved (4) four hours at a time, twice a week. Reservation is handled by signing up on the sheets next to the systems or posted on the doors.

The Pre-CTVA students may only use those editing rooms specifically assigned on the first floor.

The only students who may edit in the edit rooms are those who have the permission card from the instructor.

Department Equipment

You break it… pay for it. Before a student can check our equipment he or she must have approval from the instructor. Instructors are required to give an approved list of students to Michael Bryant at the beginning of each semester. You may only check out equipment set aside for 250 classes.

Equipment Checkout

To check out equipment for the Equipment Room please note that 250 students have a limit as to what equipment may be used. Please check with your instructor.

You MUST also do the following:

  1. READ the Equipment Room check out procedures.
  2. You may check out equipment using your student ID number or your name.

The equipment may be checked out between 1 and 4 pm on check out dates. When you pick up the equipment check it all over and make sure everything is there and in good working condition because if it does not work when you return it is your responsibility to pay for repair or replacement. "Assumption is the mother of all mess ups."

Equipment Return

The equipment must be returned between 8 am and noon on the appointed date of return.



Much of what the class does will involve group activity, use of sophisticated equipment, and interaction with industry professionals. Students are expected to display professional and courteous behavior towards people and equipment. Disruptive, unprofessional behavior in this class will not be tolerated. Irresponsible professional behavior that reflects negatively on the department may result in academic penalties; inappropriate behavior will be dealt according to the university regulations and be referred to the Dean of Students.

Academic Dishonesty

In conjunction with examinations, projects and written assignments, it should be noted that severe penalties—including failure in the course and even expulsion from the University—might be applied for any infraction of accepted academic rules of honesty. Among other things, it is understood there shall be no sharing of information on any examination: there shall be no reference to any notes during any test (unless otherwise announced); and despite the collaborative nature of the class, individuals assigned to a position should be the one completing the task.

Use of computers and smart electronic devices

Unless deemed by the Instructor as pertinent production equipment for a specific in-class exercise, the use of personal computers and other smart electronic devices may be PROHIBITED. Too many students have used these devices to browse the internet, edit/screen videos, and perform distracting tasks not relevant to class activity. Under no circumstances may cell phones, cameras, and similar devices be within proximity of written tests. (Students with special emergency issues may arrange to leave their phones at the instructors desk.)


You are all strongly encouraged to provide the instructor with your views about me, the course, or the department. Feel free to meet with me, phone, or even leave anonymous notes! Feedback helps all of us grow, students and faculty alike.

Problems, Questions, Etc.

Please, and I cannot stress this point enough, CALL ME! Confusion and logistical problems are natural, but curable. There is bound to be something in the readings or lectures that you are unsure about. During class, if I rattle off some industry jargon that you do not understand — interrupt me and ask. If you have any questions about the readings or lectures, problems with the assignments, need production advice, or whatever...THAT IS WHY I GIVE OUT MY PHONE NUMBER!


The personal safety of yourselves, your cast and crew members is a vital consideration as you plan and shoot your projects. Please check with your instructors before shooting if you have any questions or concerns.

Free Resources

In order to complete some of the minor exercises, students will need to perform some simple audio editing. Some of you already own, or plan to purchase, major editing programs such as Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Cubase, Izotope, or a few others. But for the purposes of this course, students should try to use the industry preferred software Pro Tools, especially if they are considering a professional career in the mainstream media. For the first project, you may also use less professional software, such as Audacity, while you are just getting started with ProTools.  Also, many of the for sale programs, such as Pro Tools, can be downloaded for free  trials at no cost.

As you may or may not know, the Oviatt Library now houses a Creative Media Studio, which has eight iMacs loaded with Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro X, and Adobe Creative Cloud.  This, then, could be a great safety valve if your students need to work on assignments for your classes but find it difficult to secure a spot in any of our labs.  Therefore, I encourage you to let your students know about this facility. Here's the link to their page on the library's web site:

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities must register with the Center on Disabilities and complete a services agreement each semester. Staff within the Center will verify the existence of a disability based on the documentation provided and approve accommodations. Students who are approved for test taking accommodations must provide a proctor form to their faculty member signed by a counselor in the Center on Disabilities prior to making testing arrangements. The Center on Disabilities is located in Bayramian Hall, room 110. Staff can be reached at (818) 677-2684.