Assignments for Media Production

Documentary Project

In this project, you will make an original documentary film on the topic of your choice. Think of this as your major project for 3rd quarter as it will be the last BIG thing you do before Spring Break.

Project Guidelines

  • Target length is 5:00
  • You must have at least two interviews
  • You must blow my mind with your creativity and awesomeness

Before You Begin

Review some of the major documentary concepts such as b-roll and interview skills. Watch the following shorts and try to identify the things that make them quality documentaries.

Sarah DiNardo. Tape Artist. from gnarly bay on Vimeo.

Paper Towel Artist. from gnarly bay on Vimeo.

Unlocking The Truth – Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

Lights, Camera, Action: An Inside Look at Skyview Broadcasting from Skyview Broadcasting on Vimeo.

Project Roles

Remember to stick to your production roles! Remember how much smoother things go when roles are stuck to. You will likely have more than one role.

  • Producer: responsible for overall production and communication among team members; schedules interviews
  • Director of Photography: responsible for visual aspects of the film; may have assistants as camera operators; shoots b-roll and interview, ensures proper lighting in interview
  • Audio Engineer: responsible for capturing sound in interviews and music creation in post-production
  • Editor: responsible for editing the film in iMovie
  • Talent: narrator or host, interviewer
  • Writer: researches topic and prepares interview questions; writes narration or voiceover script

Project Steps

1. Choose a Topic: You will have a few days to develop your “pitch” – a quick summary of your topic that you will present to the class on Monday. The class will vote on three topics to pursue. Some tips for finding an interesting topic:

  • Find the emotion in everyday life
  • Choose an issue that people can relate to, or affects them directly whether at school or at home
  • Find an interesting person or group you think the world should know more about
  • Choose a subject you are personally passionate about
  • Choose a subject that’s currently in the news or on people’s minds
  • Explore an injustice or unfairness in society, or a problem you’d like to see fixed

You have two choices to deliver your pitch.

  • Give an in-person presentation to the class on Monday
  • Record your pitch on your iPad and play it to the class over AppleTV on Monday.

Personally, I think the second option gives you the opportunity to do a more thoughtful job…you can rehearse and make mistakes that no one will see and you can add some extras by editing in iMovie. Take a look at the following example for some ideas of what to do and what not to do.

How to Pitch a Documentary from Skyview Broadcasting on Vimeo.

2. Develop a Concept: Brainstorm how you will explore your topic. Will you tell a story? Will there be a narrator or host? Will your film seek to persuade, advocate or simply inform about the topic?

3. Develop Your Plan

  • Create an outline: What will happen at the beginning, middle and end? Remember to have a “hook” at the beginning to draw your viewer in.
  • Research Your Topic: Documentaries need to have facts! Know your topic well and gather the facts before you do anything else.
  • Download the Project Planner to plan your production. Edit using Pages on your iPad and email the final copy to Mr. Lewis.
  • Plan out your interviews. Who will your subjects be? Schedule the interviews and get permission. Begin writing questions for your interviews.
  • Create a Shot List for B-roll: Remember to include lots of closeups and shots that create emotion with your subject

4. Production

  • Remember your interview skills. Quality interviews can make or break a documentary.
  • Shoot b-roll before and after interviews; allow the interview answers to influence what b-roll you shoot afterwords.
  • Remember to shoot various storytelling shots and “chill footage” – ex. your subject entering and leaving rooms, working at their desk or “doing their thing,” signs and room numbers, establishing shots of buildings, etc.

5. Post-Production

  • Edit interview and b-roll together using cutaways
  • Record your voiceover narration if you are using it
  • Tie everything together with background music and subtitles or other text if necessary

Documentary Unit

Goal and Purpose

Goal: To introduce students to non-fiction filmmaking and the documentary format with emphases on the historical aspects of the genre and components of the modern documentary.

Purpose

  • You will gain an appreciation of the documentary genre and the historical purpose of non-fiction films
  • You will understand the components of documentary with a specific focus on interview skills, archival footage and b-roll

Key Vocabulary

  • Docudrama
  • Advocacy
  • Biopic
  • Travelogue
  • Propaganda
  • Archival
  • B-Roll
  • Mockumentary
  • Bias

Unit Lecture Notes

The Documentary Filmmaking Keynote presentation can be downloaded here: Keynote Version | PDF Version

Film List

Caine’s Arcade: Part 1 (2012)
Directed By: Nirvan Mullick

Caine’s Arcade: Part 2 (2012)
Directed By: Nirvan Mullick

Pass the Bucket with Jeff Ament (2012)
Directed By: Lukas Korver

Moscow Clad in Snow (1909)
Directed By: Joseph-Louis Mundwiller

Why We Fight (Part 1): Prelude to War (1943)
Directed By: Frank Capra

Pressure Cooker (2009)
Directed By: Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker

Activities and Projects

Interview Practice

Documentary Project

Film Review Assignment: Documentary

**If you have any problems submitting through Schoology, please email your review to me!**

Your next film review will focus on the topic of our current unit: the documentary. The film you review must be a feature-length documentary.  Feature length means it should not be a half-hour Animal Planet show or a recent episode of your favorite reality TV show – it should be at least one hour long.  Your review will be posted on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the most popular websites for movie reviews.  The entire world will see it – so be thoughtful, insightful and double check your spelling and grammar.

Take a look at the documentary section of the suggested films list if you are looking for ideas of what to watch.

Use the following template as a guide for your review.

Name of Film:

Director:

Genre:  Documentary

Star Rating (out of 5):

Introduction

Introduce the film you saw. Include any background information about the film that may be interesting to the reader.

Story Elements

Good documentaries should still contain story elements, just like dramatic films. How did the filmmaker use these elements to create a story of a non-fiction topic? (Think about plot structure, characters and conflict.)

Documentary Elements

What was the overall theme, message or purpose of the film? Was there a deeper theme other than the documentary’s main topic?

How did the director use documentary elements such as interviews, narration b-roll, and archival footage?

How did the director move the story along? (Was there a narrator, a host, text on screen?)

Do you think their was any bias in the film’s message?

Technical Elements

How was the film’s visual appearance?  Is there anything interesting about the camera work (angles, shots, etc.)?  What about sound and music?

Conclusion

Conclude the review with your overall opinion of the film.  Try to persuade the reader to either see or not see the film based on your review.

Lighting Unit

Goal and Purpose

Goal: To introduce students to the fundamentals of lighting and its importance in making a film’s cinematography come alive.  As a real-world example, we will study the film Hugo and pay particular attention to its exceptional cinematography and lighting.

Purpose

  • To gain an understanding of the importance of proper lighting in bringing the director’s vision to the screen

Key Vocabulary

  • Three-Point Lighting
  • Reflector
  • Gel
  • Diffusion
  • Altitude
  • Exposure

Unit Lecture Notes

Film List

Hugo (2011)
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Motion Picture and Video Lighting DVD
Blain Brown
Lighting Fundamentals Chapter

Projects

The Magical Lighting Scavenger Hunt:  In this project you will complete a lighting scavenger hunt by manipulating lighting variables and taking short video clips of one of your group members.

 

Film Review #3 – Your Choice

One of the best ways to improve your own film-making skills is to watch as many movies as possible.  It also helps to look at them from a filmmaker’s perspective and apply techniques and knowledge that you’ve learned in class to judge the film as a creative work.

In this assignment you will be writing a movie review that will serve as a guide for other moviegoers as they choose what movies to watch.  Your review will be posted on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the most popular websites for movie reviews.  The entire world will see it – so be thoughtful, insightful and double check your spelling and grammar.

This review can be ANY movie you have seen in the past month.

Take a look at my suggested films list if you are looking for some quality movies to watch.

Use the following template as a guide for your review.

Name of Film:

Director:

Genre (guess if you’re not sure):

Star Rating (out of 5):

Introduction

Introduce the film you saw. Include any background information about the film that may be interesting to the reader.

Plot Summary

Give a BRIEF summary of the plot.  Is the plot original or predictable?  What are the major conflicts? Be careful not to include spoilers (don’t give away the ending!) but show that you watched beyond the first 15 minutes.

Themes

What was the overall theme, message or purpose of the movie?  Does the movie teach the viewer anything about life, love or relationships?  Is it purely meant to entertain? What are some ways the director communicates this theme to the audience?

Technical Elements

How was the film’s visual appearance?  Is there anything interesting about the camera work (angles, shots, etc.) or the set designs (costumes, locations) or the lighting (light/dark).  What about sound and music?

Conclusion

Conclude the review with your overall opinion of the film.  Try to persuade the reader to either see or not see the film based on your review.

Music Video Project

In this project, you will make an original music video for a song of your choice. This will be your last major project before the semester break.

Before You Begin

1. Watch the Film Riot “How to Make a Music Video” video on YouTube.

2. Watch some example music videos.  There are three main types of music videos depending on what kind of footage you see in the video.

  • Performance Only – The artist is performing through the song the entire video.  You will only see people playing instruments, singing along with the music and dancing.
  • Performance/Concept – The most common type of music video.  It switches back and forth between the artist performing the song and shots that tell a story or have a common concept.
  • Concept Only – A more complex story is told, almost a short film set to music.  You will not see any shots of the artist singing or performing.  The artist may not even appear in the video.

OK Go – Here it Goes Again.  This is an example of a purely performance music video.

Phillip Phillips – Home.  This is an example of a performance/concept music video.

Beastie Boys – Sabotage.  Purely a concept music video.  No musical performance by the band at all.

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass.  Possibly the greatest music video of all time!

Project Roles

Remember to stick to your production roles! Remember how things got off track during the silent film when those roles were not stuck to.

  • Producer: responsible for overall production and communication among team members
  • Director of Photography: responsible for cinematography and visual aspects of the video; may have assistants as camera operators
  • Audio Engineer: responsible for ensuring synchronization of the song’s music with the video footage
  • Editor: responsible for editing the film in iMovie
  • Talent: actors and actresses, band members

Project Steps

1. Choose a Song:  It obviously must be school-appropriate (by my judgement, not yours).  Given the fast-approaching holiday season, I would LOVE it if one group chose a Christmas/Holiday/Winter song.

2. Develop a Concept: Brainstorm story or concept ideas based on the song’s meaning or mood.  If it’s a fun, upbeat song, the concept should focus on having fun, etc.

3. Develop Your Plan

  • Create an outline: If you’re telling a story, what will happen at the beginning, middle and end?
  • Download the Project Planner to plan your production.  Edit using Pages on your iPad and email the final copy to Mr. Lewis.
  • Think about locations, props and costumes.  Will you be in one place the whole time? Will you be dressed up? Will you be playing instruments?
  • Create a Shot List: Make sure to be specific if shots need to match up to certain places in the song.  Ex. Close-up of lead singer as lyrics say “Jingle Bells”

4. Production

  • Focus on sticking to your plan and getting good, creative camera shots.
  • If you’re doing any performance, the song should be playing on an iPad so talent can perform in sync.
  • During performance scenes, do several takes of the song and highlight different aspects each time (ex. one with the whole band, one for each performer, etc.)

5. Post-Production

  • The most difficult part will be making sure the song syncs up with your performance clips.  Be patient and remember to undo if anything gets messed up.


Sound Design Project

In this project you will practice manipulating sound in post production.  You will be adding sounds over the top of a silent piece of video footage.

Before You Start

Watch The Sound of the Hunger Games Video to see how sound design happens in the real world.

Watch the Forgotten video and complete the analysis activity on Schoology.

Project Steps

  • Download the silent video footage to your iPad’s Camera Roll – Download Link (it’s a large file, it will take a few minutes).
  • You will choose FIVE scenes from the video to create a sound design for – you’re NOT using the entire video.
  • Begin filling out your Sound Design Cue Sheet.  Download the document and open it in Pages to begin. The Cue Sheet should include EVERY sound that is required for your project.  Think about foley AND ambient noise or room tone. Watch the video and note the time that sound effects will be needed.  Be sure to note the length that sounds should play for.
  • Begin gathering your sounds.
    • Use the Voice Recorder instrument in GarageBand on your iPad to capture original audio.  Be sure to use headphones to monitor the audio you are recording.  The audio should be clean with no unnecessary background noise.
    • Check off each recording on your cue sheet as you complete them.
  • Export your sounds from GarageBand and email them to yourself to transfer them to the computer.
    • Go to your email on a computer and download each sound file to a new folder to keep your sounds organized.
  • Using the Movie Track feature in GarageBand, begin adding your sounds to the video using your cue sheet to insert the sounds at the correct time.

Resources

  • Free Background Music Collection:  An excellent collection of background music that you can download in .mp3 format and insert into your projects.
  • Freesound.org: A huge collection of sound effects you can download and insert into your project.  **Note: You must log in using the skyviewbroadcasting account in order to download sounds.**
  • Final Cut Pro Sound Effect Library: Find this folder on the Shared drive to browse sound effects.

Sound Design Unit

Goal and Purpose

Goal: To introduce students to the importance of sound in film, with emphases on capturing on-camera sound and manipulating sound in post production.  As a film history component, we will study the musical genre by focusing on Singin’ in the Rain.

Purpose:

  • You will gain an appreciation of the musical genre and an important chapter in film history
  • You will understand the importance of sound in all phases of production and how sound can add another level of emotion to your films

Key Vocabulary

  • Foley
  • Track
  • Score
  • Dubbing
  • Synchronization
  • Omnidirectional
  • Unidirectional
  • Lavalier
  • Room Tone
  • Ambient Sound

Unit Lecture Notes

The Sound in Film Keynote presentation can be downloaded here: Keynote Version | PDF Version

Film List

Steamboat Willie (1928)
Directed by Walt Disney
Detailed Film Notes

 

Forgotten (2012)
Directed by Michael Cameneti

 

SoundWorks Collection: The Sound of The Hunger Games (2012)

 

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Detailed Film Notes
Glee’s Singin’ in the Rain/Umbrella Mash-Up – Season 2, Episode 7

Activities and Projects

Sound Design Project: In this project you will practice manipulating sound in post production.  You will be adding sounds over the top of a silent piece of video footage.

Music Video Project: In this project you will create a music video for a song of your choice.

 

Silent Era Unit

Goal and Purpose

Goal: This unit will expand on earlier film history topics with an overview of the silent era and a specific focus on Charlie Chaplin’s, The Gold Rush and F. W. Murnau’s, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors.

Purpose

  • You will gain an appreciation of an important chapter in film history
  • By removing sound and dialog from your project, you will be able to focus more on composition and acting to tell your story

Key Vocabulary

  • Pantomime
  • Slapstick
  • Physical Comedy
  • Prospector
  • Intertitle
  • Somnambulist

Unit Lecture Notes

1. The Silent Era Keynote Presentation (Download PDF)

Film List

The Gold Rush (1925)
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Detailed Film Notes

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)
Directed by: F. W. Murnau
Detailed Film Notes
  |  Nosferatu on Spongebob

Activities and Projects

Silent Film Project:  In this project you will create your own original silent film.  Think of this as your final project for first quarter.  You will be in larger production groups with more clearly defined roles. Each group will have:

  • Producer: responsible for overall production and communication among team members
  • Director of Photography: responsible for cinematography and visual aspects of the film; may have assistants as camera operators
  • Audio Engineer: responsible for making music in GarageBand
  • Editor: responsible for editing the film in iMovie
  • Writer: responsible for creating the story, developing an outline and creating title cards
  • Talent: actors and actresses

Project Steps

  • Pre-Production
    • Start with a story; develop a basic plot and characters
    • Producer pitches idea to Mr. Lewis
    • Create an outline with major events and scenes within those events. Think about how you will introduce characters, build conflict and end your story (resolution).
    • Download the Project Planner to plan your production.  Edit using Pages on your iPad
    • Producer emails outline and project planner to Mr. Lewis
  • Production
    • Focus on camera shots, pantomime, and facial expressions to convey emotion and tell your story
    • Think about how you could match the style of the movies we watched in class (ex. harsh shadows and emotional acting of German Expressionism, physical comedy and pantomime of Charlie Chaplin, etc.)
  • Post Production
    • Convert your film to black and white and play with clip speed and video effects to match the silent film style
    • Use title cards when necessary
    • Create appropriate background music in GarageBand; no sound effects, no dialog; your music should change periodically to match the story or visuals
  • 5 minute length maximum length

Film Review #2 – Silent Film

Submit this assignment through Schoology. Film reviews are due Monday, September 23rd.

Your next film review will focus on the next period of film history that we will be studying – The Silent Era.

For this review you must watch a silent film from this era. In selecting your film to review, follow these guidelines:

  • Film must be at least 30 minutes long
  • Film must have been released between 1910-1930
  • Notify Mr. Lewis what you plan to watch by Monday, 9/16 (Email or respond to Schoology discussion)

How do you find a film to watch? It’s easier than you think!

How do you get your hands on these masterpieces? Try the following suggestions in your quest:

  • Netflix or Hulu+
  • The Pikes Peak Public Library has an excellent collection of films you can rent for free! Go to ppld.org and search for specific titles.
  • Many silent films can be found for free online at sites like Archive.org – check out their collection (just remember your film must be at least 30 minutes long)

Review Format

Use the following template to format your review:

Name of Film:
Director:
Genre (guess if you’re not sure):
Star Rating (out of 5):

Introduction
Introduce the film you saw. Include any background information about the film that may be interesting to the reader.

Plot Summary
Give a BRIEF summary of the plot. Is the plot original or predictable? What are the major conflicts? Be careful not to include spoilers (don’t give away the ending!) but show that you watched beyond the first 15 minutes.

Themes
What was the overall theme, message or purpose of the movie? Does the movie teach the viewer anything about life, love or relationships? Is it purely meant to entertain? What are some ways the director communicates this theme to the audience?

Silent Film Characteristics
How did the director advance the story and communicate the theme without using sound or dialog? Think about title cards, camera shots, pantomime, etc.

Conclusion
Conclude the review with your overall opinion of the film. Try to persuade the reader to either see or not see the film based on your review.