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OLD_Spring 2012 Syllabus

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Jour72311 Video Storytelling for the Web, 3 credits
Spring 2012 Syllabus, Thursday  9.30-12.20, room 436

Instructor: Bob Sacha:  bio and examples of work ,  best contact=  bob.sacha@journalism.cuny.edu

Office hours: Wednesday, 1.30-5.00, in the cubicle farm near West 40th  ( or by appointment or Skype.)  If you’re completely desperate, my mobile is 1.917.969.0201 but email is best.

*** Please view this syllabus as a work in progress. Things can change but the assignments & deadlines will not change.***

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Course Objectives

This is a class firmly rooted in journalism. Students will learn to research, report, shoot, and edit short, focused video stories designed specifically for the web. This class will build on the basic video concepts and skills taught in first semester interactive and broadcast craft classes — using video cameras and editing in Final Cut Pro, shooting, transcribing and editing video for compelling visual journalism, telling successful stories through  strong characters, and basic interview skills — and move on to more advanced techniques in  these  areas.

Because web viewers demand highly engaging material, with a fast start, sharp focus, short narrative, and natural voices, students will focus on capturing stories with strong visuals and ambient audio of people personally affected by issues. We will focus on the concept of subjects telling their stories in their own voices, without heavy narration or a reporter on camera.

Students will work in pairs at the beginning but solo by the end, to prepare them for the major shift in journalism requiring one reporter to be highly skilled in many jobs. They will also learn how to freelance pieces to meet the growing demand for professional-quality video for a  growing number of websites.

We’ll be using Canon DSLR cameras to shoot HD video, staying ahead of the industry trend.

 

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Course Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify current and future trends in web video
  • Report and research topic to strengthen the video capture, edit and presentation
  • Find the voice of the story and understanding structure
  • Produce tightly focused video pieces with compelling narratives arcs
  • Write short summaries of their stories and provide web links to additional info
  • Write effective headlines and subheads following the 60/160 length of SEO
  • Effectively edit video stories using several forms of media
  • Create strong video stories of several styles
  • Write title cards that are concise and clear to help move a story forward without narration
  • Develop editorial judgment to critique their own work and the work of others in the industry for video storytelling
  • Instruct and supervise fellow journalists in choosing stories that can become effective video stories and guide them in the production of those stories for the web.
  • Freelance refined video pieces for the web.

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Assignments:

This is a class that values good research and smart reporting. Visual storytelling is also key in the form of capturing compelling scenes and sequences and “visual evidence” of your story.

You will have three assignments in the class.

Each will consist of a short video (1-3 minutes)  for the web.

The assignment subjects will be, in order:

Assignment 1.  A Person

Assignment 2.  A Place

Assignment 3.  An issue

    • One of these projects must be done only with visual storytelling and without a sitdown,  formal interview.
    •  You must work as a team of two for the first assignment, but each person must cut their own verison in FCP.
    •  You must work solo for one the other two projects.
    • One of your three projects must use some still photography.

There will be milestones due almost every week for these projects.

These include:

- a 2 minute in class pitch based on your reporting and research plus a shot list

- a radio cut, with a full word-for-word transcript, uploaded to the VSW class vimeo site.

- a rough cut, uploaded to the VSW class vimeo site.

- the final story or fine cut, uploaded to the VSW class vimeo site with supporting text posted to the VSW site

These milestones will  help you produce outstanding work for the final  pieces. Think of these projects as a giant lake that you will swim across for each assignment. The weekly milestones are like equally spaced platforms across the lake where you can stop, take a look at what you’ve done and have your fellow students act as your coach to improve your performance. These milestones also discourage you from doing something foolish, that is, swimming across the lake in a single go.

I suggest you do your interview before you pitch the class. That’s the very best way to know if the story is going to work, or even what your story will be. You are welcome to pitch me before you head out for the interview.

Do not be deceived into thinking that short visual journalism is easy. Think of how difficult it is to write a brilliant headline or the ideal tweet, or condense a 90 minute documentary perfectly into 2 minutes. That’s because these short messages are designed to stand out above the crowd, to cut though hundreds of visual messages each day and to say to someone ”click here and be wowed.”

Simple is hard.  It takes time and effort to make it good. That’s our goal.

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Exercises: 5 Shot Stories

Shooting a sequence in visual storytelling is as basic as writing a compelling sentence for a print story, and as important too.

For the first two weeks you’ll create a short sequence, a story in 5 shots, that will be in total 1 minute long or less.  They must be of a real event and they can not be staged so think repetitive action.These can be silent.

The first 5 shot story is on a subject of your choosing. The second 5 shot story will be a sequence that illustrates one of these words: love, fear, stress, anxiety, hope, surprise, rejection

These sequences are due by 5pm on Wednesday before class, uploaded to the Vimeo account. They will be pass/fail.

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Film Festivals

Also in class for the first three weeks we’ll have “film festivals”

Here’s how they work

By Sunday, 5 pm you will post the URL of your submission for the film festival to the class Vimeo page. Your submission = an inspiring short doc video you find on the internet. Everyone must watch the videos and cast their vote for the strongest submission by 5 pm the following Wednesday. We will start the class by watching the winning short film.  Submission should be no longer than 10 minutes.

You can not use a video that we have seen in class or that’s on my class notes or has been on the VSW blog. However, you are encouraged to find work that is compelling or experimental or different from the usual run-of-the-mill garbage we see online.

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Requirements for Written Journalism and  Delivery of each project:

Each final project will be posted on Vimeo on or before the deadline. Remember it takes time to upload your video and it takes time for Vimeo to process you video, depending on the time of day, the traffic at Vimeo and the speed of your connection. This process might take  several hours. If I log on at the deadline and I can’t watch your video, for whatever reason, I’ll consider it a missed deadline and you’ll be automatically dropped a grade to start.

Each piece must be accompanied by the following six written journalistic elements which must be placed on Vimeo with the video.

 1) – a 240 character description of the story. (For use in TubeMogel)

2) – a longer 250 word description of the story. Details like name, age, addresses are important here.

3) – a compelling headline and subhead that  are SEO optimized plus at least 5 tags

4) – a word for word accurate transcript of the final piece

5) – at least three suitable links to the subject, story or theme from other sources

6) – a short behind-the-scenes story about how you found the character, something interesting that happened that’s not in the final piece, why you created this story, etc (great for blogging)

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Required Equipment

You will need your own portable hardrive that is at least 500 gb,  7200 rpm and at least firewire 400 or even better, firewire 800.

You will also need your own digital media for the cameras. A 16 gb sdhc high speed card is a good start but it’ll will only capture 30 minutes at full HD (1920×1080) resolution. Be sure it is class 10 (which is the speed of the card.)

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Classes:

Thursday, February 02 Class ONE

Conversation      Syllabus, web video, a good web video, story structure, FILM FEST

Hands On             Video with the DSLR, controls, tripods, BBC Five shot rule

Student work       SEQUENCE, shoot simple sequence all CU, working  pairs

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Thursday, February 09 Class TWO

Conversation       Reporting, 7 Basic Plots, Story Arc, Audio Basics, interviews, dual audio

Hands On              2 minute audio interviews of classmate

Student Work      play interviews, discuss story arc of interviews

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Thursday, February 16 Class THREE

Conversation       Reporting Video stories, Shooting and Lighting interviews

Hands On             Shoot “True Lies”, partners will be assigned by random draw.

Student Work     Cut “True Lies”, talk about watching docs

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Thursday, February 23 Class FOUR

Conversation     Power of Characters/ the Shot list,  Review basic FCP,

Student Work    Show True Lies Cuts,

Hands On            2 min. story pitch in class, shot list for Assignment #1:

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Thursday, March 01 Class FIVE

Hands On             Show  2 minute story cuts of docs

Conversation       Shooting in Sequences, Paper edits

Student Work     Show & Critique Radio Cuts Assignment #1 + transcript

———————-[no class Reporting Week March 8-13]—————————————-

Thursday, March 15  Class SIX

Conversation       Journalism ethics of the edit, Advanced FCP,

Hands On              Present & Play Rough Cuts  Assignment #1

Student Work      Critique Rough Cuts Assignment #1

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Thursday, March 22 Class SEVEN

Conversation        Written journalism,  web video as part of a package

Hands On               Present & Play Fine Cuts  Assignment #1

Student Work       Critique Fine Cuts Assignment #1

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Thursday, March 29 Class EIGHT

Conversation       Better Visual Journalism, Powerful stills in web video,

Hands On               Shooting exercise in class

Student Work       2 minute in class pitch of assignment #2, shot list

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Thursday, April 05  Class NINE

Conversation       Guest

Hands On               Present Radio Cuts of Assignment #2 + transcript

Student Work       Critique Radio Cuts of assignment #2

———————-[no class Spring Break (!!) April 6-15]—————————————-

Thursday, April 19 Class TEN

Conversation        Guest:  Advanced Storytelling

Hands On               Present Rough Cuts, assignment #2

Student Work      Critique Rough Cuts,  assignment #2

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Thursday, April 26  Class ELEVEN

Conversation        Story and guest

Hands On               Mastering FCP: Audio Mixing, Color Corrections

Student Work       Present & Critique Fine Cuts, assignment #2

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Thursday, May 03 Class TWELVE

Conversation        Web context/ Graphics

Hands On               2 min in class Pitch + shot list for assignment #3

Student Work       Open Lab (tentative)

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Thursday, May 10  Class THIRTEEN

Conversation       Web delivery services/ advanced Exports

Hands On              Present Radio Cut Assignment #3 + transcript

Student Work     Critique Radio Cut Assignment #3

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Thursday, May 17 Class FOURTEEN

Conversation       Guest who buys work (could be Skype)

Hands On              Present Rough Cut Assignment #3

Student Work     Critique Rough Cut Assignment #3

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Thursday, May 24 final class Class FIFTEEN

Conversation        Guest:  what is the next step, Future of web video

Hands on                Present Fine Cut Assignment #3

Student Work      Critique Fine Cut Assignment #3

                                    final projects due May 24 , 2012 at 10 a.m.

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Human  resources: 

Bob Sacha office hours

Thursday, 1.30-5.00, in the cubicle farm near West 40th  ( or by appointment or Skype.)  If you’re completely desperate, my mobile is 1.917.969.0201 but email is best.

Wonboo Woo- CUNY’s own rockstar video coach and ABC Nightline producer.

Office hours Monday nights, ~7-10pm. but please email for appointment wonbo.woo@journalism.cuny.edu

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ONLINE RESOURCES

The History of Online Video ok, the last 5 years (or here)

National Film Board of Canada:

Capturing Reality, the Art of the Documentary

check out their amazing interactives too

Ira Glass on storytelling

#1 the basics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loxJ3FtCJJA

transcript http://public.youtranscript.com/zs/868.html

#2 finding great stories

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW6x7lOIsPE&feature=channel

transcript:http://public.youtranscript.com/zs/869.html

#3 on good taste

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY&feature=channel

transcript: http://public.youtranscript.com/zs/864.html

#4 on common pitfalls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baCJFAGEuJM&feature=channel

transcript: http://public.youtranscript.com/zs/870.html

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SUGGESTED READINGS:

In the Blink of An Eye, by Walter Murch 

by the brilliant Oscar winning editor and sound designer, with great advice for all visual storytellers.[$8.43....ISBN-13: 978-1879505629]

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The Visual Story, Second Edition: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media 

Bruce Blockhas written the classic book that explains how to relate visuals to your story by understanding visual structure. If you’re lacking an education in visual storytelling, this book will bring you up to speed.[$22.95... ISBN-13: 978-0240807799]

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Writing for Story, Craft Secrets of Dramatic Non-Fiction    [$9.17....ISBN-13: 978-0452272958]

by Two-Time Pulitzer Price Winner  Jon Franklin. Best book ever for thinking about stories, characters and dramatic story structure in print, video, radio.  No high brow theory, just practical stuff. [$9.17....ISBN-13: 978-0452272958]

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DSLR Cinema, Crafting the Film Look with Video   

by Kurt Lancaster. Geeky, tecky and right on the money. Uses all the same tools and work flows we do but explains them in depth. Also has excellent case study chapters.  [$24.86 …. ISBN-13: 978-0240815510]

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Telling True Stories, A Non Fiction Writers Guide  

edited by Mark Kramer & Wendy Call, Nieman Foundation, Harvard

A huge well of great insight into non-fiction storytelling.  Just substitute  “video storyteller” everytime they use the word “writer. Probably 99% of what makes a great dramatic nonfiction print story  works in video.[$9.52 … ISBN-13: 978-0452287556]

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Since this is graduate school, I assume all of you are adults and I will strive to help you succeed in whatever way I can.  However, there are two areas where this class will reflect the real world and  the following two problems are not tolerated: missing deadlines and being late to class.

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DEADLINES

In the fast paced world of online journalism, deadlines seem to come constantly and repeatedly. They are also very serious business (check the first citation in Merriam Webster) So please regard them with awe and don’t even think of missing them. If you are late on a deadline, even by a minute, your grade will automatically be lowered by a half grade. Your grade  will drop a half grade for every day you are late.

Plan ahead. It almost always takes more time than you think to complete these assignments, so please don’t leave this to the last minute.  If you’re encountering difficulties reaching a source or finding information or shooting or editing come see me or contact me via email  at least 48 hours before the deadline.I can help guide you.  I want you to succeed but I will not tolerate last minute excuses.

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ATTENDANCE

Attendance is mandatory and unexcused absences will be reflected in your final grade.  Job interviews, conferences, work obligations, computer problems,  routine medical appointments, meetings with advisers, transportation issues, and even scheduled source interviews are not valid reasons for missing class. Only a severe personal illness or family emergencies are valid reasons for missing a class—and you’ll need to provide a written excuse and documentation before I’ll consider them. If you miss two classes without a written excuse or documentation, you will drop a grade. I will hold you to the same standard as your editor at the New York Times: that is, missing class for a wedding or because you feel crummy is not excusable in the real world and it won’t work in class either. Basically, there are no excused absences in this class outside of you being in the hospital or someone in your immediate family dying, and only then if you have paper evidence to support it.

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PROFESSIONALISM

We’re all adults here so I feel silly saying this:

Please be on time.  A sign in sheet  will be passed around when  class begins.  If you have not signed in,  I will assume it was because you were not in class and you will be marked absent.

Please don’t take phone calls during class. It’s insulting and will not be tolerated.

Also, I suggest you don’t post to Facebook or Twitter or answer your email during class because those will be  the first things I remember when you ask me for a job recommendation or when your employer asks me about your work habits.

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GRADING,

I will grade each assignment on the 100-point scale:

A+     97.1-99.9        A future Online Journalism Award winner perhaps?

A       93.0-97.0        Publishable quality, with minor edits or questions.

A-      90.0-92.9        Nearly publishable, with just a few minor issues.

B+     87.1-89.9        Better than just good…w/ more work, it could possibly be published.

B       83.0-87.0        Good, solid work with several minor issues or a single major problem.

B-      80.0-82.9        Decent work with several bigger issues.

C+     77.1-79.9        Gaping holes in reporting and severe issues with the product

C       73.0-77           Poor

C-      70.0-72.9

F         0.0-69.9

Each Assignment will be graded:

50% storytelling,

30% Technical,

20% written materials

Final grade will be 

70% assignments,

30% attendance, in-class participation,  and in-class exercises.

REVISE:

You’ll have exactly 2 weeks from the fine cut assignment deadline to revise your fine cut. Your final grade will be the average grade of the fine cut and the revised cut. If you miss the fine cut deadline, you will also forfeit your chance to revise.

this is the worksheet I used when I’m grading your pieces”

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PLAGIARISM & ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

All work in this class must be your own. Plagiarism is the use of another’s ideas or words, video or recordings or ideas without properly and clearly acknowledging the source of the information.

Using other people’s work,  video, audio, music, text  or ideas without attribution and their written permission will result in an for the assignment or potential dismissal from the course depending on the severity of the infraction.

Other forms of academic dishonesty include:

Unauthorized collaboration.

Fabrication of information, quotes or sources.

Impeding the work of others.

If you are still unsure whether you’re about to cross over to the dark side, PLEASE COME SEE ME. Again, I want you to succeed and academic dishonesty is the worst kind of failure.

If you have any other questions, please check the student handbook or ask me.