Week 4

Everything is due July 17 by 11:59.

Some of you have gotten a lot of things up and running and fixed by using the Digital Knowledge Center.  The University of Mary Washington’s Digital Knowledge Center provides peer tutoring to all University students on digital projects and assignments. Students can schedule 50 minutes, one-on-one tutorials with a trained peer tutor on any DS106 related projects.  Click Here to set up an appointment.

Here is the topic most students find both the most challenging and/or rewarding portion of ds106: video. It presents challenges with file formats, creating more complex narratives, and working with more complicated software.

But it is also one of the most engaging forms of media — hence the current statistic that in the span of one minute, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.

Before jumping into video editing, you will spend some time first looking critically at some cinema techniques. Read the rest of this post for details about the work for this unit as we learn to “read” movies. Then you will be completing your own video stories, from start to YouTube.

 Video Ready Your Tools

For the work in this assignment, you will need to be using software that allows you to combine, edit, augment re-sequence video, as well as being able to add or even replace the soundtrack within a video.

Reference the Tools for the Trade for links to software you might want to use as well as our new Video Guide for video resources and tutorials.

We most strongly recommend for future assignments that you use the applications that come with your computer either Windows Movie Maker Live or Apple’s iMovie, these are generally the easiest to get started with and should be available on your computer.

We recommend using video editing software that allows you to cut and re-arrange clips on a timeline, and to add, and layer audio tracks. Most typically this is the software that came with your operating system- iMovie on Macs and MovieMaker on Windows PCs.

Many of the assignments will require downloading of clips from web sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. You will need to use a tool that can download videos to a file format you can use on your computer (usually MP4). 

Windows users may have challenges in importing the downloaded mp4 video files into Movie Maker (We have been told that the Windows Movie Maker Live can import MP4)- you may have to use a converter to change mp4 into AVI or WMV file formats. See the ds106 Handbook for some video converter options.

Other resources that may help you include:

Focus on the storytelling aspect of your video making- -do not get caught up in the technical points or making the video just for the assignment points…  Be very sure that your videos tell a story, that it surprises us, that it perhaps jars us, and that when you write up your blog post you are providing full details and context for your videos

Learn How to Read a Movie

You have likely watched plenty of movies, but when we say “reading” movies, we mean looking at them with a keener eye for the cinematic elements that make them successful (or not). This is not about reviews of “good” or “bad” movies, but how well they convey the story to all our senses, how well they suspend our disbelief to make the plot real, to draw us in– how well they tell a story.

For your work in this assignment, you are expected to look for details in movies, many of which are found in Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” which you must read the assignment.

In addition, to get a deeper appreciation for the power of cinematic techniques, watch at least 3 of the following videos about filmmaking.

Look, Listen, Analyze

Now apply some of the criteria you reviewed above to a classic movie scene. From the YouTube playlists below, pick one scene from a classic movie you will analyze — do not watch it yet! — just choose one that might interest you. If you want to use another clip, it should be a complete scene, not a movie trailer.

You will now analyze the clip by watching it three times, in different ways.

  1. Analyze the camera work. Before watching the first time, turn the volume on the clip (or on your computer) all the way down. Take notes on the visual aspects of the clip. Look for camera angles, cuts, how many times the camera switches view, the quality of light, the cuts or transitions. Look for the ways the camera tells, guides the story.
  2. Analyze the audio track. Now turn the volume up, but play it without looking at the screen (or turn off the screen); just listen to the audio. Take notes on the pacing of the dialogue, the spaces in the audio, the use of music or sound effects (think back to our work earlier on listening to audio).
  3. Put it all together. Finally, watch the scene as normal. Pay attention to something you may have missed the first time or how the elements you saw in the first two steps work together.

Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?

Also, use what you have read in Ebert’s column or anything else you observed in the cinematic technique videos to identify key elements of this scene. Include specific reference to Ebert’s ideas of left/right character placement, what the camera angle suggests, how the way the scene is shot builds the story element. We are looking for the video aspects that makes this work well (or not) – not just “this is a great scene” or “this is my favorite movie”.

Video Assignment Bank

For this assignment you should complete two ds106 video assignments of at least eight stars, each should be posted to your blog, appropriately tagged and categorized. All videos should have an opening and closing title/credits sequence.

I have to reiterate because many people are not doing this.  Each assignment blog post should include:

  • Write about thinking behind the assignment, the inspiration, what it means to you. What is its story? Does it make a story spine?
  • The video you produced for the assignment is embedded in your blog post. Your videos should have an opening title sequence and a closing credits sequence. Check your video software for it’s title creation features.
  • Share your process. What tools did you use? What techniques? Think of this as information that would help someone else doing the same assignment. Include a screenshot of your video editing screen. You must provide URLs/sources for all media you included that were not ones you created yourself.
  • To have your work connected back to the assignment, your blog post must include the two tags for the assignment, one will be VideoAssignments and the other will have a name like VideoAssignments447. Look for the tags entry box on the right side of the WordPress editor, below the Categories.

Summary Checklist

Your summary blog post for this assignment should include and link to the following requirements. Remember, I am also looking for more than a list of what you did; take some time to reflect on what you learned or discovered in this assignment. Include in your summary again a sense of what kind of feedback you are getting on your blog and how you are giving feedback to others.

  • Reading Movies Write a blog post that includes your response to the methods suggested by Ebert- why might they work (or not)? Summarize what you learned from the two videos you watched about cinema techniques.
  • Look. Listen. Analyze. Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip for the scene you reviewed, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?
  • Assignments: You should link to and discuss the posts for the two ds106 video assignments completed. Each post should be put in categories that you made for your site, and should also include the tags specific to each assignment. 
  • Comment on another blog posts: Make sure that you do different people for each comment.  Make sure you comment on at least 4 blog posts and that you take a screenshot and put it in your summary.
  • Daily Creates: Do 2 daily creates.

2 thoughts on “Week 4

Comments are closed.