- 2014 Spring Syllabus
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Sam office hours: Mondays 1-2 p.m. and 5-6 p.m, or by appointment. In cubicles on the 4th floor. Cell (347) 327-1521.
*** Please view this syllabus as a work in progress. Things can change but the assignments, exercises & deadlines will not change.***
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.
At the end of this course, students will be able to:
In the class you will produce four exercises and two assignments, all done outside of class time.
Exercises : all are pass/fail, extra points may be earned for creativity.
Exercise 1; due week 3—Document a Location and edit it in ten shots (important elements are good clean composition, focus, exposure, and proper white balance)—(pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity)
Exercise 2; due week 4—Light and Mic a Subject for an interview with artificial lighting using three different frames. The final piece should be less than 2 minutes. (important elements are lighting; clean audio)—(pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity)
Exercise 3; due week 6—Document an Action or Event in ten shots (important elements are composition, focus, exposure, white balance) and edit (you need to include at least one matched action, shots tell the story; no interview)— (pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity)
Exercise 4; due week 12— Create a Visual Poem with no interview, told predominantly through visual storytelling. Can have ambient sounds of conversation. (important elements include good composition, lighting, clean audio, and original sound design and music, edit for pacing and rhythm. (pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity)
Exercise 5; due week 15 — Profile a Relationship with action shots in natural lighting and create a natural sound design (important elements include good composition, lighting, clean audio, and original sound design and music, edit for pacing and rhythm. (pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity
(pass/fail; a pass will earn 10 points; extra points may be earned for creativity)
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. We want to capture “present tense” storytelling.
Each assignment will consist of a short video (1-3 minutes) for the web.
The assignment subjects will be, in order:
Assignment 1; due week 9— A Person
Assignment 2; due week 14— An Issue
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 through 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.
Also in class for the first three weeks we’ll have “film festivals”
Here’s how they work:
Before Sunday at 8.00 pm you will post the URL of your submission for the film festival to the class VSW page. Your submission = an inspiring short doc video you find on the internet. Submission should be no longer than 10 minutes.
Everyone must watch the videos and cast their vote for the strongest submission before 5 pm the following Wednesday. We will start the class by watching the winning short film. Submission should be no longer than 10 minutes. The voting form is here…
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.
Each final project must be posted on Vimeo the class starts. 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.
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.
Each piece must be accompanied by the following six( update: SEVEN) written journalistic elements which must be placed on Vimeo with the video. You have 5000 characters to accomplish all of these so use them wisely ..remember , a tweet is 140 characters so 5000 should be no problem.
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) – 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)
7) – a custom poster frame that includes your title and your name. (this improves click ability)
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 the speed of the card is at least class 10.
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 text is best with email next best.
Wonboo Woo- CUNY’s own rockstar video coach and NBCNews producer.
Office hours :check with Wonbo via email
please email for appointment email@example.com
Ira Glass on storytelling
#1 the basics
#2 finding great stories
#3 on good taste
#4 on common pitfalls
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
Attendance is mandatory and unexcused absences will be reflected in your final grade.
Job interviews, work obligations, computer problems, routine medical appointments, meetings with advisers, transportation issues, and even scheduled source interviews are not valid reasons for missing class.These excuses, err, reasons will be considered an unexcused absence. 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.
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.
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
Each Assignment will be graded:
20% written materials
Final grade will be
80% assignments and exercises (each exercise 10%, each assignment 20%)
20% attendance, in-class participation
Revisions: You’ll have exactly 1 week 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. YOu must send me an email when you post your revision.
this is the worksheet I used when I’m grading your pieces”
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 F for the assignment or potential dismissal from the course depending on the severity of the infraction.
Other forms of academic dishonesty include:
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.