Rhode Island College Syllabus    Comm 345: Non-fiction Video Production
Monday 2-5:50 Whipple 104 Spring 2013
Instructor: Professor Philip J. Palombo
Associate Professor Communication/Graduate Media Studies


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. The prerequisite for this class is 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: The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide; A Down and Dirty DV Production By: Anthony Q. Artis ISBN 9780240809359 Focal Press. There is an electronic book version available as well.

This course REQUIREs that you have at at least a 500 GB external Firewire Hard Drive and a Secure Digital Flash Card Preferably 32 GB Class 10 ($26.70).

Both of these are available less expensively from: Data Memory Systems A highly reliable source that will get it to you quickly.

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.

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. We typically will not screen the entire film so you will have to view it on your time. Arrangements for accessing the week’s viewing material will be in course reserves in Adams Library .

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 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 amongst other hardware stores. ie “Work Lights”

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

    Project 1
    : 5 Minute Video Documentary on a place portraying a " Sense of Place" = 25%

         Project 2: The Interview (The Portrait) = 25%
        (1) Minimum 5 Minute Video Documentary. Emphasis again is on Lighting and audio

        Project 3 (Final) Topic of your choice, 10 Minute min = 30%

    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:

January 28 Overview and Orientation of the Course.

Week 1 Viewing: Early examples of Documentary Film. 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.

February 4 —Week 2 Viewing: Examples of: Documentary and Portraits. Discuss treatments and strategies. Begin research; develop a storyboard and an outline, the available equipment and non-linear editing software; location shooting, audio and video considerations.

February 11 —Week 3 Begin Research; develop a Storyboard, a simple shooting script and or a treatment. Develop and/or review storyboards and treatments with me. (Pre Production)

February 18 —Week 4 Begin Shooting. (Production)

February 25 —Week 5 Shooting. Begin Logging/Editing

March 4 —Week 6 Editing. (Post Production)

March 11- Spring Break

March 18—Week 7 Screen Completed Projects.

March 25—Week 8 Begin Research; develop a Storyboard, a simple shooting script and or a treatment. Develop and/or review storyboards and treatments with me. (Pre Production)

April 1 —Week 9 Begin Shooting.

April 8 —Week 10 Shooting/Logging/editing.

April 15 —Week 11 Shooting/Logging/editing.

April 22 — Week 12 Editing

April 29 — Week 13 Editing

May 6— Week 14 Editing

May 13— Week 15 Editing Semester Ends

Free and abundant    Top Documentaries Online

Many Tutorial, Production Resources and articles will be posted.