Rhode Island College Syllabus

Comm 345 Non-fiction Video Production

Monday and Wednesday 4:00-5:50 Whipple 104 Fall 2012

Instructor: Professor Philip J. Palombo

Catalog Description: Students explore the development, design, and creation of non-fiction oriented video programming through the use of  various production techniques. Emphasis is placed on identifying, developing the story and digital post-production design and project completion.
Prerequisites:  Communications 246 and/or Instructor's Approval.

Objectives Of This Course:

1) To learn to think visually and conceive ideas in terms of shots and sequences in essence, how to tell an effective story.

2) To learn how to plan and execute video shoots and production sessions in the most cost- and time-efficient manner possible.

3) To gain a better understanding of current video and post- production techniques including digital graphics and non linear editing.

4) To develop a comprehensive understanding of digital video production equipment and its operation in order to use that equipment as a tool for communicating.

Suggested Text: Hillman Curtis on Creating Short Films for the Web

This title is very available at Amazon.com 

Another title I believe you will find helpful is:

The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production By: Anthony Q. Artis Focal Press. There is an electronic book version available as well. And he maintains a very interesting Blog: Down & Dirty DV. as well

This course REQUIREs that you have an external Self Powering USB2/Firewire Hard Drive of at least 500 MGB. Much of what is required you is readily available at :  BestBuy

if you like to save a few bucks then try these online sources:
TigerDirect.com, NewEgg.com, Amazon.com DataMemorySystems.

Required memory for the Panasonic HDC-TM700 High Definition Camcorder, that you will check out from AV is: SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card 

You should be looking at least CLASS 6 and above, 8 and 10 however this unit seems to perform appropriately with Class 6

A pair of noise canceling headphones, ear buds just won't provide the noise canceling required in editing. With noise canceling headphones you can work at comfortable levels of volume.

General Information: You should now be aware that television and video production is a demanding field and that it requires a great deal of knowledge, skill, and hard work. The industry operates at a high pace at what may seem to some like unusual hours. Video production is not a 9-5 career and requires extraordinary undying and dependable individuals. The goal of this course is to help you gain an understanding of how mediamakers communicate with video and the Web as a medium.

Operation of equipment is not an end in itself. While using hardware can sometimes be a complex job, it is only one step in the chain of events required to tell a story and complete a quality production. To ensure a consistency in quality, a high degree of discipline, good attitude, professionalism and team spirit is a must. PLEASE BE absolutely careful with the equipment you are loaned.DO NOT leave the equipment especially the camcorder in the trunk of your car. You are responsible for the equipment while it is on loan to you.

During this semester there will be programming scheduled and reserved for your viewing that is intended to initiate discussion, a high degree of interaction, and critical analysis.

As a result, there is a great deal of information to assimilate but try to keep in mind that the objective is for you to start thinking like a producer.

Never feel reluctant to seek me out to discuss course requirements, assignments or any other matter of concern. If you have any special needs, please feel free to bring them to my attention sooner rather than later. It is mutually beneficial that I am made aware of any particular circumstances that may impede your learning so that if at all possible I can help.

The overall goal of this course is to learn to better implement these skills:

A) Shooting Techniques

1. Camera and tripod operation

2. Lighting for interior and exterior shooting

3. Composition and framing

4. Rule of Thirds and camera angles

5. Focus, zooms, pans, tilts, dolly, tracking including SteadiCam

B) Audio Techniques

1. Microphone - Choices

2. Lo Impedance - Hi Impedance

3. Audio Design

C) Editing Techniques

1. Digitizing acquisition video (footage)

2. Color Bars, Audio Tone and Countdown, Titles and lead in.

3. Audio/video matching

4. Non-linear with iMovie and Final Cut Pro

5. Special effects and Audio Sweetening

6. Others as needed

Class Activities: To achieve these goals we will spend the first half of our meeting time screening various projects and the second half working in post- production- ie. Final Cut Pro and iMovie.

There will be considerable discussion on converting various media file types, file formats and compression. We shall introduce streaming and particular sites that host streaming media.

1) Assignments.

Some Guidelines for Assignment 1. Good lighting and good audio is required, in fact it is a must --plan this as a major consideration which means schedule appropriately -- you can only achieve a well lit scene with either the use of daylight or through the use of external quartz lighting. Hi Power Quartz lighting is now available very inexpensively at Home Depot, Lowe's amongst other hardware stores. ie “Work Lights” $10-20. Check out an external microphone.

2) Grading. Course requirements contribute to your final grade according to this approximate distribution:

Project 1: 10 Minute Video Documentary on a place (Sense of Place) = 25% 

Project 2: The Interview (The Portrait) = 25%

(1) Minimum 10 Minute Video Documentary. Emphasis again is on Lighting and audio 

-Refer to Curtis (pages 78 & 79 & 131) consider split screen, multiple/parallel stories

Project 3 (Final) Topic of  your choice,  20 Minute minimum

Class participation/attendance: 20%

You will be evaluated fairly, according to industry standards meaning, how closely you meet the following criteria. "A"-quality

Video and Film production is:

1) Communicative --it expresses ideas and uses video technology to reinforce those ideas.

2) Well-organized -- time and facilities are used efficiently and intelligently.

3) Visually literate -- the cuts, transitions, scripting elements and camera shots make sense; they are done for specific reasons and reinforce the basic idea of the project. ie. Not EFX for EFX sake.

A production not turned in at the specified time will cost you a letter grade. If you miss the first deadline then the class will already be onto the next project. For the last projects storyboards, scripts, and treatments, must be generated on the computer. Hand written work will not be accepted, so please don't hand that in. Communications majors have an obligation to learn to write well, not just stylistically but clearly communicate a message, start practicing now.

4) Attendance. I do realize that all of us face a certain number of unavoidable health, transportation, and family problems, but excessive unexcused absences will affect your grade tremendously. On a video production team we make the assumption that every member of that team is present when scheduled. Think of this course as your now scheduled as part of a production team - your presence will be counted on. Since this course meets only once a week, your attendance is MANDATORY. No more than TWO absences will be permitted. If you incur 3 absences - SEE ME IMMEDIATELY. Your next absence could mean failure of this course this is a college policy and will be strictly enforced. If you feel you are falling behind, or having problems, bring the situation up during class or speak with me privately.

You may find that teamwork is necessary; you are however each responsible for individual projects. If you continue to work in video production you will discover that this medium requires a cooperative effort, always and forever - so get used to it now. As in other courses I've taught, here or otherwise, we learned that group efforts require just that- EFFORT. So PUT the effort in and please help each other. It’s worth it.

Approximate Schedule:

August 27/29

  Overview and Orientation of the Course.

—Week 1 Viewing: Early examples of Documentary Film.  Edward R. Murrow's Harvest of Shame (1960), The Salesmen (1968). Review Equipment and Computer Operations for Storyboarding and Logging. Brainstorm ideas. Select idea and begin shaping the project. Develop and submit a treatment. Review the equipment available to you and discuss location.

September 3 (Labor Day)
September 5 —Week 2 Viewing: The Salesmen (1968). Discuss treatments and strategies. Begin research; develop a storyboard and an outline - review the available equipment and non-linear editing software; location shooting, audio and video considerations.

September 10/12 —Week 3 Begin Research; develop a Storyboard, and or a shooting script and or a treatment. Develop and/or review script and treatments with me. (Pre Production)

September 17/19 —Week 4 Begin Shooting. (Production)

September 24/26 —Week 5 Shooting. Begin Logging/Editing

October 1/3         —Week 6 Editing. (Post Production)

October 8               Columbus Day Holiday
October 10            —Week 7 Screen Completed Projects.

October 15/17      —Week 8 Screen Completed Projects.

October 22/24      —Week 9 Begin Research; develop a Storyboard, a simple shooting script and or             a treatment. Develop and/or review storyboards and treatments with me. (Pre Production)

October 29/31        —Week 9 Begin Shooting.

November 05/07     —Week 10 Shooting/Logging/Editing.

November 12            Memorial Day Holiday

November 14            —Week 11 Shooting/Logging/editing.

November 19/21     — Week 12 Editing

November 26/28    — Week 13 Editing

December 03/05    — Week 14 Begin Screening Final Projects


December 10               Last Class Meeting.

Production Resources

Top Documentary Films