Participation (10%)

  • full attention to lectures, screenings and discussions
  • involvement and preparedness in class discussions and exercises (do the reading!)

Blogging (20%)

I will provide blogging prompts and/or exercises to help you think critically and creatively about the themes each week. Blog posts should be approximately 250-500 words , demonstrate a solid understanding of the readings/screenings and the ongoing themes in the course, be crafted as mini-essays with proper grammar and spelling and include relevant links, media inserts, “featured image” and metadata (tagging, categories).

You will also be posting all video assignments and projects (embedded from your youtube or vimeo accounts) to your blog, along with a text introduction and proper metadata.

As upper-level university students at a Tier 1 research institution, your writing proficiency should reflect that status. We will discuss what makes good blog writing throughout the course.

-posts are a proper and timely response to the week’s reading(s) and prompt
-posts are developed arguments with (if required) supporting evidence (quotes, embedded videos, images etc.)
-posts are around 250-500 words
-posts are formatted with a featured image,  blockquotes, external links (where appropriate), categories, tags
-you make 5-10 comments on classmates’ (in your group) blog posts (during the semester)

B:  significantly deficient in any one of the above areas

C:  significantly deficient in any two of the above areas

D-F:  significantly deficient in all 3 of the above areas

Framing (5%)

no more than 30 seconds!
In visual storytelling, establishing a setting is very important for narrative context. Where are we? When is it? And what is the story about? The first shots of scenes in documentaries, as well as fictional movies, often provide the viewer with a wide context and then essential details. Or, alternatively, starting on a detail and proceeding to reveal something in the wider context.

In this assignment, you are to show the aftermath of a situation or event in a sequence of video frames. No moving shots. No acting or dialogue, just a sequence of static shots that presents the aftermath of an event and the possible clues for what happened. This does not have to be a crime. It could be an accident caused by a child, pet or… teenager. The aftermath could be from something mysterious. The point is to use framing to convey, describe or evoke. Use at least 5 different framing compositions (long shot, medium shot, close up, etc.). Shoot, edit, compress and upload these videos to or Present the assignment to the class with a  blog post.

Continuity (5%)

Shoot and edit a short video that follows the principles  of continuity to create the illusion of continuous space and time.  Try to vary the angles and distances of your shots:  establishing shot, medium-shot, close-up, extreme-close-up. Sound may be an element here, but please do not include talking, music or verbal explanations. We are working on visual explanations, depicting continuity of action. Below are some ideas.

  • Making or Doing Something:
    Document someone making something or doing some focused activity. The process may take 3-30 minutes, but the final video should be no more than 60 seconds. Document a single continuous action (making art, playing sports, cooking a meal, walking a dog) and edit it into a sequence that is between 30-60 seconds. 
  • “Lunch Date” redux:
    Using continuity editing, narrate a 30-60 sec. story about a character suspecting another character of taking something belonging to them.

Post your Continuity Assignment with a Vimeo/Youtube embed (place the url on its own line) and write a 500 word assessment of your video from the standpoint of framing and continuity editing. What works and what doesn’t work to tell the visual story?

Loops (5%):

Shoot and edit three video loops (6-10 seconds) that depict or evoke different subjective experiences of time: cyclic, slow, timeless, frantic, rhythmic. In some of the loops, try to incorporate continuity editing – POV shot, match on action – to maintain unity. In others, try out a more discontinuous style. Also, create a variety of shot lengths (durations) for emphasis. A 4-second shot sandwiched between 2-second shots, will seem to stretch time. Although Youtube has a loop setting, with these short videos you might want to upload them to your server and then use the wordpress shortcode to insert the video and set to loop.

Montage (5%):

As an element of film language, montage (the juxtaposition of discontinuous fragments) can be a powerful tool for storytelling: getting across ideas or emotions, summarizing events, conveying the cyclical or simultaneous, making poetic associations and creating rhythm and tension. Because juxtaposed images act on our subconscious, montage is effective in propaganda and marketing as well as storytelling. In other words, be free to juxtapose images for narrative/expressive effect, but be aware and sensitive to how those juxtapositions will be perceived. In this assignment, pay attention to Eisenstein’s methods of montage: metric, rhythmic, tonal, overtonal, intellectual.

Option 1: Idea Montage (5%):
no more than 60 seconds

Express an idea, a feeling or an issue or any complex subject through the juxtaposition of images and sounds.  You may use natural sound or keep it silent, but please no music tracks. I want you to find the rhythm and pacing of your edits in the narrative, not in external music. The video could be a dream-like association of images and sounds. Or images and sounds that collectively express an abstract idea or that have an emotional impact. Use contrast between shots to make the viewer work at understanding.  Use similarities between shots to build connections. 

Ideas: a montage of a rainstorm, mobile phone addiction, a student experience at WSU, fear or anxiety, peace or calm.


Option 2:  Spatial Montage (5%):
no more than 60 seconds

Create a 30-60 second video that has at least two distinct video frames simultaneously on the screen. Think about the relationships between each frame’s content (for continuity or montage effects), the relationship between each frame’s editing rhythm, the combinations of their sound tracks and the similarities or differences in the proportions and positioning of the frames themselves.

Ideas: portrait of a place, coverage of an event from multiple points of view, simultaneous views of two or more people or characters.


Option #3: Temporal Montage

Use montage (discontinuous editing) as well as continuity editing to summarize an event or series of events in time. In a 30-60 second video, you are to convey event(s) that take place for a duration greater than the screen time; greater by either minutes, hours or years.  The subject must be about the passage of time. Use natural sound, but please no music tracks for now. I want you to find the rhythm and pacing of your edits in the narrative, not in external music.

Ideas: your morning routine or a commute, boredom while waiting for something, the short summary of a trip.

Compositing 5%

Create a 30-60 second video that explores a screen space made of multiple layers of video, audio, text and/or graphic imagery. There are many techniques you can combine to create a collages of video elements: compositing (layering of video tracks), green screen, video effects, spatial montage, etc. The only rule is you must  incorporate the “indexicality” of video (your own or remixed from other sources).

Video Essay (5%)

Make a 30-60 second video essay about any subject. Draw on various techniques from course modules. Use text and/or voice-over, clips from other videos or games, your own footage, graphics, still images.  A video essay may also include personal anecdotes and have a unique style. Although there are video essays without language, please include some written text and/or voice over.

Job/Hobby Profile (15%):

no more than 2 minutes 
In this assignment, you will do a 1-2 minute profile of a person at their job or doing their hobby, like gardening or painting. What does this person do at their job or hobby?  What is the activity? How often do they do it? What experience are they getting? What experience did they need before getting the job or starting on the hobby?  If the person works at home, how do they manage home life and their work? How might you tie the job or hobby to larger questions about work or creative activity? 

The two areas of focus in this assignment are 1) moving with the camera and 2) conducting an interview, but you should of course pay attention to continuity and framing. So choose a subject that does not spend the day sitting in front of a computer, even though most jobs do include some of this.

  • First, have a pre-interview discussion with your subject. Find out some things about them and their job.
  • Prepare a story outline, interview questions and a shot list for visual evidence.
  • Then set up a time/place with your subject and conduct a sit-down interview at a good location for lighting and sound recording.
  • After the interview, get the visual evidence you need by following the person at work or, even better, as they work on a particular project. Continue to ask questions while following the subject with the camera. You may find that the answers are more interesting than in the sit-down interview.

Final Project (25%)

Based on the assignments, readings , screenings and class discussions, create a final project that explores/exploits  at least one feature of “digital cinema”: cinema language (continuity and montage),  visual evidence,  video loops, glitched video, composited video, networked video, hyperlinked video, database video, etc.

You may create a fictional, non-fictional or abstract project. However, the project must be made of video (moving digital images originally captured as video), incorporate thoughtful editing and you must engage with the class ideas in the conception of your project. Your grade we will be based on the quality and effort of your creative work as well as its conceptual foundation.

Some suggested ideas:

  • a short documentary
  • a short fiction
  • another profile
  • a video essay
  • a prototype of a Youtube web series (2-3 short episodes)
  • video loops in an hyperlinked html project
  • a mashup or series of mashups
  • a video that creates a hybrid space with composting, spatial montage and other effects
  • a multilinear database narrative

Group projects are possible. Each student must write an artist statement about the project.