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Freestyle Academy of Communication Arts & Technology

1299 Bryant Ave, Mt. View, CA 94040 T 650-940-4650 x0090
2 Required Classes: English and Digital Media 3rd/Elective Class:  + Animation or Design or Film


Instructor: Matt Taylor

Email: or
Voicemail: 650-940-4650 x0093

Junior Projects


1st Quarter

Visual Narrative
2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

4th Quarter

(1st required class)


Short Story + Presentation

Magazine Article or Book

Lyrical Essay and Presentation

Digital Media
(2nd required class)

Photography, Premiere Pro, Photoshop

HTML, CSS, Pro Tools, Audition, SFXs

Illustrator, InDesign

After Effects, MIDI Music Composition

(3rd elective class)

Photography, Conceptual, Photoshop

Illustrated Creatures & Portrait Photography

Documentary Book

Explore a Topic of Your Choice

(3rd elective class)

Phenakistoscope Wheels, FlipBooks, Zoetrope Animations, Stop Motion Animations

Lip Syncing, Puppet Character Bios, Poses, Walk Cycles, and Mood Scenes

Animated Documentary

Explore a Topic of Your Choice

(3rd elective class)

Experimental Film

Narrative Short Film

Documentary Film

Explore a Topic of Your Choice

Senior Projects


1st Quarter

Narrative Perspectives
2nd Quarter

Various, Zenith, Showcase & Exhibition
3rd & 4th Quarter

(1st required class)

Personal Essay

World Building

World Building, Humor

Senior Showcase

Digital Media
(2nd required class)

Mandalas with Illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop Painting

HTML/CSS/JavaScript, More After Effects, Photoshop Compositing

Multi-layered art with Illustrator, After Effects 3D

Personal Stationery
Senior Portfolio & Showcase

(3rd elective class)


Movie Posters/Book Jackets,
Product Logo and Triptych

Zenith and Showcase in Design

(3rd elective class)

3D Animation Overview, 3D Environment modeling and texturing, Digital Sculpting, 3D Character Design

3D Animation: Keyframe Animation and Motion Capture, Action-Reaction Scene

Zenith and Showcase in Animation

(3rd elective class)

Video Essay

Narrative 2 Film

Narrative 2 Film, Zenith and Showcase in Film


Expected School-wide Learning Results:


To prepare students to live, learn, and work successfully in today's knowledge-based digital society, our emphasis at Freestyle will be on developing:

  • Visual Literacy - the ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking, decision making, communication, and learning.
  • Technological Literacy - knowledge about what technology is, how it works, what purposes it can serve, and how it can be used efficiently and effectively to achieve specific goals.
  • Creativity - the act of bringing something into existence that is genuinely new, original, and of value either personally (of significance only to the individual or organization) or culturally (adds significantly to a domain of culture as recognized by experts).
  • Self Direction - the ability to set goals related to learning, plan for the achievement of those goals, independently manage time and effort, and independently assess the quality of learning and any products that result from the learning experience.
  • High Productivity - the ability to produce intellectual, informational, or material products that serve authentic purposes and occur as a result of students using real-world tools to solve or communicate about real-world problems. These products include persuasive communications in any media (print, video, the Web, verbal presentation), synthesis of resources into more useable forms (databases, graphics, simulations), or refinement of questions that build upon what is known to advance one's own and others' understanding.
  • Teaming and Collaboration - cooperative interaction between two or more individuals working together to solve problems, create novel products, or learn and master content.
  • Social and Civic Responsibility - the ability to manage technology and govern its use in a way that promotes public good and protects society, the environment, and democratic ideals.
  • Risk Taking - the willingness to make mistakes, advocate unconventional or unpopular positions, or tackle extremely challenging problems without obvious solutions, such that one's personal growth, integrity, or accomplishments are enhanced.

What Is Expected From The Student

Assessment and Grading:

Quarter grades will be determined on the basis of performance on projects and classwork.

*Please note: Only semester grades appear on transcripts.

For a breakdown of grading and late policies, see the class syllabus:

Grade Book Update Policy:

Grades may be viewed 24/7 through individual online accounts on Canvas and/or Aeries/SIS.

Daily Assignments:

Daily assignments are determined by tasks needed to achieve project goals. Students are responsible to check assigned tasks and project goals on Canvas and work toward achieving those tasks and goals.


Attendance will be taken each day, each class period. Attendance will be documented if the student was present or not in a class. You have been enrolled into a Period 9 Supervised study class - which is for attendance purposes only. Note: Students may receive a failing grade "F" in a class where they accumulate 15 or more unexcused absences.

Make Up Work

Absent students are allotted the same number of absent class days to complete assignments. If a student is absent for extended periods of time, it is the student's responsibility to consult with instructor for make-up work.

Classroom Norms

  • Use appropriate language, dress, and behavior.
  • Be on time for our class sessions. Attendance is taken daily.
  • Phone charging stations are provided in the classroom. Leave your phone in the charging station. Phones should not be used at your desk.
  • Monitor your tone and expressions during discussions. Think before you respond. Make sure your words, tone, and expressions are school appropriate.
  • Maintain the focus of class-time. Make comments specifically related to the purpose of the class discussion.
  • Be forgiving of mistakes during classes. There will be technical glitches; be patient with classmates, and be patient with your teacher.
  • Speak up when addressing the class or teacher. Allow other participants time and opportunities to contribute, and share their ideas with the group, also.
  • It is important, and rewarding, for you to participate in discussions! It is just as important for you to consider the opinions of others. Strive for balance among participants.

Classroom Rules:

Because of the various expensive equipment provided for each student, no eating, drinking and chewing gum will be strictly enforced. Students not in their seats when class begins will receive a tardy. Cheating on any assignment or evaluation will not be tolerated. Any student caught cheating will be given a zero for the item and will be subject to further disciplinary action.


Email me at


Film 1


  • The Bare Bones Camera Book for Film and Video
  • Practical DV Filmmaking
  • Understanding Movies
  • The Filmmaker’s Eye

Film Equipment Contract

Field Trip for off campus video shoots Parental Permission Form


Course Description:

Film I provides an introduction to understanding developing effective film language. Through analysis and critique, students learn to effectively tell a story with image and sound using film language and established story structures. Students work individually and in groups to write, develop, and produce experimental, narrative, and documentary film stories. Stories are written and developed in class through pitch, student presentation, and storyboard. Stories are produced on location using DSLR cameras, professional lights and remote sound equipment. Students learn basic editing skills using industry standard technology. Film I introduces students to film theory through readings, screenings and student presentations.


Film 1 Projects

Project 1 - Conceptual

Project Map

For the Conceptual Project, Juniors develop their abstract thinking and communication skills to answer the question,

"How can I use unconventional forms to express myself?"

This project emphasizes creative risk-taking through poetry, music, art, animations, experimental film and web production, challenging students to express their opinions through a distinct personal aesthetic. Students begin developing their technical communication skills by learning a variety of modern professional equipment and applications such as DSLR cameras, Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), Wacom Cintiqs, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Animate, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Audition, Avid Pro Tools, WordPress websites, and Google Apps.

In Film, you will learn various approaches to filmmaking. Developing a theme through interesting juxtapositions of image, sound effects, text, voice over and music, this project challenges students to explore their personal vision while avoiding conventional, narrative devices. You will ultimately:

  • Produce a 2-3 minute Experimental Film

What's new? Everything!

Examples -
2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Project 2 - Visual Narrative

Click for
Project Map

The Visual Narrative Project asks Juniors,

How well can you visually tell a structured story?"

Beginning with an exploration of prose fiction and the graphic novel, students practice communicating character and story arc through descriptive storytelling, narrative digital art, storyboards, films, and animations. Students deepen their technical communication skills by learning a variety of modern professional equipment and applications such as Wacom Digital Drawing Pads, lighting equipment, downshooters, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Animate, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Avid Pro Tools, Propellerhead Reason, HTML/CSS, DragonFrame, and Google Apps.

In Film, you will:

  • Learn visual story telling without dialogue
  • Learn more film editing techniques through Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Produce a 4-6 minute Narrative Video based on English Project work

What's new? You will learn production techniques for effective narrative point of view and continuity. You will study how film directors manipulate the passage of time. You will learn how to create an effective pitch and treatment. You will develop your narrative through storyboarding and directing strategies for effective production. And you will use professional editing software to establish continuity.


Examples - 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Project 3 - Documentary

Click for
Project Map

For the Documentary Project, Juniors develop their documentary and communication skills to answer the question,

"How do you creatively and truthfully portray a significant person, group, place, idea, or issue in the community?"

For the Junior Documentary Project, students will portray an intriguing person, group, place, idea, or issue, gathering primary and secondary research sources to develop a distinct perspective about their subject’s significance in the community and/or world. Students will produce documentary magazine articles or books, animationed documentaries, documentary films, documentary websites, and photogalleries. This unit emphasizes narrative-style journalism.

In Film, you will use Premiere Pro, Canon T6i, and the Tascam DR-05 recorder to:

What's new? You will learn more advanced tools to create cinematic, sophisticated shots.  You will learn how to develop your subject's story, using narrative structure within the context of a broader social or political issue. When appropriate, you will use Adobe After Effects for visual interest.


Examples - 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014A, 2014B, 2013A, 2013B, 2012A, 2012B, 2011A, 2011B, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007


Examples of previous units with different conceptual and technical emphasis - 2011, 2010, 2009

Project 4 - Explorations

For the Explorations Project, all Junior Freestyle students will explore his/her own passion and improve upon a particular skill set that addresses 21st Century Skills. Ultimately, each student will share his/her exploration with classmates as their Semester 2 Final. Students will have production time in all classes to complete this project.


  • All productions must ultimately become digital so that we can have a digital archive of your work to share with the world on our website.
  • Topics are self-chosen but must address one of our 21st Century Skills - see below.
  • Topics are self-chosen but must be related to your Elective class (Animation / Design / Film) and approved by your Elective class teacher. Elective class time will be solely dedicated for working on your Explorations Project - here are the details.
  • In English, you will learn to write a lyrical essay by synthesizing poetry, narrative, and research.
  • In Digital Media, you will produce Experimental Music and producing your Explorations Website.

    Experimental Music Archives from 2008

    Archives Websites from 2022 | 2021 |2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

    Archives infographics from 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

  • During Semester 2 Finals, we will all share and celebrate your newly learned skill and learn more about you and your passion(s). Each student will, at the very least, share his/her infographic and final production(s) to an audience of teachers and classmates. All students will create a presentation to use for the celebration and to also document the Explorations Project.

Archived celebration presentations/media from



Film 2


  • The Filmmaker’s Eye
  • Shot By Shot
  • Advanced Editing Techniques in Final Cut Pro
  • After Effects Apprentice
  • The Video Cookbook
  • Save the Cat

Film Equipment Contract

Field Trip for off campus video shoots Parental Permission Form


Course Description:

Film II introduces new advanced techniques in film language and cinema. Students practice heavier analysis of film techniques, story genres, and character archetypes to further the creation of their own narratives. Heavy attention is given to screenwriting, dialogue, character arc, and story development. Advanced cinematography techniques are discussed and practiced including, composition, color, blocking, and lighting. Students collaborate on exercises and advanced narrative projects, modeling these specific film conventions. Film II further elaborates on film theory through readings, screenings and student presentations.


Film II Projects

Project 5 - Reflection

Click for
Project Map

The Reflections Project challenges Seniors to explore a question that is at once simple and deeply complex:

"Who am I?"

Experimenting with personal as well as lyrical essay forms, students develop insights about their experiences and identities before translating those ideas visually in an HDR photography diptychs, video essays, websites, and short animations. Students deepen their technical communication skills by learning a variety of modern professional equipment and applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Avid Pro Tools, Autodesk Maya, Propellerhead Reason, HTML/CSS/jQuery, and Google Apps.

In Film (for Film students only), you will use Premiere Pro, Canon T6i, and the Tascam DR-05 recorder to

  • Produce a 2-3 minute Video Essay based on English writing
  • What it is


What's new? You will use a DSLR camera and learn more advanced tools to create cinematic, sophisticated shots. When appropriate, you will use Adobe After Effects for visual interest.


Examples - 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

Project 6 - Narrative Perspectives

Click for
Project Map

The Narrative Perspectives Project asks Seniors,

"How well can you apply advanced narrative techniques to build a compelling story?"

By exploring various narrative points of view and experimenting with dialogue in their story writing, students develop more advanced storytelling techniques and ideas they apply in the creation of book jacket designs, screenplays, films, animations, trailers, and websites. During this project, Seniors also experiment using photography to explore dreamlike narratives in a unit on Surrealism. Students deepen their technical communication skills by learning a variety of modern professional equipment and applications such as studio strobe photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Avid Pro Tools, Propellerhead Reason, Dragonframe, Autodesk Maya, HTML/CSS/jQuery, and Google Apps.

In Film (for Film students only), you will use advanced pre-production, production, and post-production techniques to

What's new? You will learn advanced cinematography and lighting techniques, learn how to make films look more cinematic, learn moving camera techniques, study film theory, and when appropriate, use Adobe After Effects for visual interest.


Examples - 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Project 7 - Zenith

The purpose of the Senior Zenith Project is to ignite your passion and elevate your skills and experiences to create your ultimate and most successful Freestyle project.

For all classes, you will complete the following between mid-November and end-of-April:

  • Choose your own project topic and form based on your passion, skills, and experiences.
  • Use the research process and writing to explore, plan, and reflect on your project in a 5-7 page research paper and reflective post-project addendum.
  • Write a proposal for approval by your Production Teacher, including:
    • Your own timeline of achievement goals (including scheduling and incremental deadlines)
    • How you will use at least all eight Freestyle 21st Century Skills to develop your project
    • A plan for assessment
  • Follow your timeline and produce the media for your project in Animation, Design and Film class. You will still attend English and Digital Media classes as usual.
  • Present your Zenith Project informally to your similar Production Classmates including Juniors in early May. So all Film students will watch Film Zeniths. All Animation students will watch Animation Zeniths. All Design students will watch Design Zeniths. Everyone in each Production Class will vote on the top three presentations. Then on the last day of presentations, the top 9 presentations will be repeated FOR ALL STUDENTS.

Archives (this project started in 2016): Best of 2019 Zenith Celebrations, 2019 Wesites, 2018, 2017, 2016



During Animation/Design/Film class time, you will work to produce your Zenith Project media that you have planned.

Project 8 - Portfolio Showcase

The purpose of this final Showcase Project is for Senior students to celebrate and demonstrate their growth at Freestyle by presenting information, findings, and supporting evidence to convey a clear and distinct perspective as a digital artist and receive feedback from professionals in a related field to their presentation content. An additional goal is for community professionals to provide feedback about the Freestyle Academy program based on Senior Portfolio Showcase presentations.

Using the professional vocabulary of the mediums, students will communicate a line of reasoning by presenting projects to a professional audience to elicit feedback with

  • Strategic use of digital media - two Freestyle works (optional 1 non-Freestyle work) to feature the development of the artistic process from conception to completion
  • Justify effective choices for meaning or style or design
  • Demonstrate growth/discovery/development of passion, skills, talent, potential


  • Produce a 5-minute presentation through a website, developing a distinct perspective of yourself as a digital artist through evidence of your growth across at least two Freestyle projects (optional 1 non-Freestyle work). Your deadline to have your Wordpress website completed is May 14th, 2018 so that we can send those links to the professionals who will review your work prior to your presentation with the goal of providing you more detailed feedback after your presentation.
  • You will ultimately make your 5-minute presentation to a panel consisting of two community professionals related to your presentation content, a Freestyle teacher, and a panelist member that you choose to invite. All presentations are at Freestyle and are open to the public and you may invite family and friends to be part of the audience for your presentation.
  • Here is the presentation schedule and panelist info.
  • At the end of your presentation, the panelists will take 10 minutes to ask questions and provide you feedback about your presentation. The entire process time is maximum 15 minutes.
  • In your 5-minute presentation, you will display your chosen projects and briefly discuss for each one:
    • Demonstrate the development of the artistic process from conception to completion
    • Justify effective choices for meaning or style or design
    • Demonstrate growth/discovery/development of passion, skills, talent, potential
  • Here is the Showcase Presentation Rubric

In English, you will:

  • Compose and record (audio only) a reflection of your Zenith project in the context of a larger reflection about your overall growth and best work throughout your Freestyle career.

Presentation logistics

  • Presentations will occur simultaneously in each of the 5 classrooms at Freestyle grouped according to content (Film content in Film room, Design content in the Design room, etc.)
  • Each student will be assigned presentation time based on content so that we can provide the appropriate professional panelists for your topic.
  • Each student must invite 1 person to be part of the panel and each student can invite any family and friends to be part of the audience for the presentation.
  • Tuesday May 25, 2021 - 1st presentation starts at 6 PM
  • Wednesday May 26, 2021 - 1st presentation starts at 6 PM
  • Thursday May 27, 2021 - 1st presentation starts at 6 PM

Film Resources

  1. - Introduction to DSLRs (with Philip Bloom Episode 1)
  2. - Setting up your DSLR (with Philip Bloom Episode 2)
  3. - DSLR Lenses (with Philip Bloom Episode 3)
  4. - Shooting Video with a DSLR (with Philip Bloom Episode 5)
  5. - Recording Sound for DSLRs (with Philip Bloom episode 6)
  6. - Nighttime Shooting with a DSLR (with Philip Bloom episode 8)
  7. - Behind the Glass Part 1: An Intro to Lenses
  8. - Behind the Glass Part 2: Focal Length
  9. - Behind the Glass Part 3: Depth of Field
  10. - 10 Steps to Shooting Your First Interview
  11. - Breaking Down the 180-Degree Rule
  12. - Read real movie sceenplays
  13. - Sound effects library
  14. - Bounce Lighting
  15. - Examples of film shots
  16. - Room Tone & Ambience
  17. - Using a Green Screen
  18. - How to Get the Film Look (Good resource for color grading)
  19. - Timelapse with DSLR - (with Philip Bloom episode 7)
  20. - Zoom vs. Moving Camera
  21. - AfterEffects RotoBrush


Matt Taylor
Film Teacher

Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor

Email: or
Voicemail: 650-940-4650 x0093

Matt Taylor is a local product of Los Altos and a graduate of Mountain View High School. He received a Bachelors degree in Film and an Associates degree in Film/Television with an emphasis in Animation. He has worked in a variety of roles in the film and video industry including writer, director, editor, camera operator, and actor. His recent experience includes working in sports broadcast for both the San Jose and San Francisco Giants. Prior to teaching, he successfully owned and operated his own video production company catering mainly to private event and corporate work. He is absolutely thrilled to be a part of Freestyle Academy where he has the opportunity to share his passion for film, technology, and storytelling. When he isn't teaching, he enjoys playing baseball, ice hockey, and creating his own comics and cartoons for his website Raccoon Toons.