Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Nov 30 Draft Notes

Good morning everyone.  I spent this morning with your drafts.  Those who have not yet submitted a draft in an acceptable format should do so immediately.  While I will send individual comments out shortly (for those drafts we didn’t screen in class), I’d prefer to avoid redundancy so I’ll use this space to address some general issues.

Frame size.  Make sure you dont have ’empty’ space in the frame unless it is for a clear purpose.  If you are sampling youtube and still need to download some clips, check out ClipGrab.  Remember to ask permission (these permission letters and release forms can go in an appendix to your reflection) and get citation information.  This applies to still images as well.  While it can definitely be effective in certain instances, a black border, especially if it is not uniform across a montage, tends to indicate a sloppy, quick production.  Use panning and zooming, but use it sparingly.
Titles.  The reason we spent some time with Illustrator is so that you could have some experience with graphic design.  I hope to see some inventive, topical designs in title screens that can be translated into other promotional materials.  I have seen some really interesting uses of title cards.  Check your spelling.  A general rule of thumb is to make sure that text remains on screen long enough so that you can read through it TWICE.  Clearly this is most important with longer passages.
Audio.  Make sure you consider the levels of your audio…explore filters and mixing.  Abrupt sound changes are jarring so use them carefully.  Fade in and out of interviews and music.
Color.  If you shoot on different days in different locations at different times of day (even if it is the same camera) the ‘look’ will be very different.  Use color filters in Premiere Pro to try and make a uniform visual style.
Resolution.  I understand that in some of our exercises throughout the semester, I’ve encouraged you to just grab any image from a Google Image search and throw it into Premiere Pro.  Generally speaking, the resolution of images is very small and when you adjust the size it becomes very pixilated.  Poor resolution is OK for a draft, but you need to really do some work to find higher resolution images for your final project.  There are several strategies to consider.  First, take images yourself.  Images from even a small, consumer digital camera will be higher quality than most online images.  Go to the library, find images in books and scan them at an appropriate resolution.  Standard frame size is 1280 x 720 (or 1920 x 1080) so your images need to be at least this big (unless you use multiple images simultaneously).  If you plan to zoom into the image in any significant way, it needs to be proportionally bigger.  You can limit your search size in Google Image to ‘large’ (I’d just avoid downloading any image that is small than 1000 pixels either way) and you can set most scanners to scan the size you want.  Do some math, do some planning, try your best to avoid poor resolution.  If you can’t, give some justification in your reflection.
Credits.  Give credit to those who helped you.  You might give a dedication, you might create a production company and logo and include a year…there are many possibilities, but you need to end somehow.
-For those interested in Object Oriented Philosophies, a new issue of Ozone just got released and has some downloadable material that might be useful.  HERE is the link.
-An interesting example of the/an emerging twitter genre came across my radar over the holidays…HERE is “The Woman in #7A”.
-Check #harmon460 on twitter for extra credit opportunities.  Those who have turning things in late or missed blog posts might consider boosting their ethos in this way.

Nov 26


If you feel comfortable sharing your draft with the class, please use the Comment section (link to the left) to post a link to youtube or vimeo (or to your blog, if you have embedded the video).  I encourage everyone to have a look at what your classmates are doing and comment on their work.  While we have mostly sidestepped important issues of collaboration that are inherent in multimodal production, I hope, as we near the end, you can find time to engage with the disparate work in the class and give your two cents.

Today we will screen drafts from anyone who is ready and willing to share publicly.  If you would prefer not to have us comment on your work, you need to make sure I get access somehow (send a link, give me a file or DVD in person, send a file via dropbox or wetransfer) so that I can comment over the break.  As of today, you have about two and a half weeks to complete your final project.  If we don’t comment upon your film in class today (and you get me the file), I will do my best to get comments out before this weekend.


Over the break (in addition to working on your documentary itself) take some notice as you watch TV and talk to your friends of the ways new movies are marketed virally on social media.  HERE is an example of a clever use of documentary to promote the new X-Men movie.  What documentary conventions are taken up by this short trailer? What is archival material and what is produced by the filmmakers?  How is it (if it is) effective?  HERE is a list of five of the best viral marketing campaigns.  What can you pull from these efforts to promote your film?  Blog about it over the break.  Remember, your reflection should cover the branding/promotion of your object documentary as well.  Get your thoughts down ‘in medias res’ so that your final reflection will be more accurate (and easier to write).


In light of our initial delays with getting the Adobe Suit installed, I have made some adjustments (in your favor, I believe) to the ‘responses’ portion of the class requirements.  I urge you to have a look HERE for more details about what is expected.  For some background to this pedagogical thinking, look ‘at’ (and ‘through’) Richard Lanham’s work.  I’ve added a few PDFs to the Dropbox and there is an interview HERE.  There may be useful material here to use in your reflection (particularly the AT/THROUGH distinction).

Nov 24 Draft notes and links

Just a reminder…first drafts are due on Tuesday!

Make sure to have your draft EXPORTED and uploaded to youtube (make sure it is public) OR loaded onto a flash drive as a ‘.mov’ file.  Please export BEFORE coming to class so we can hit the ground running with our screenings.

Here is another object lesson from the Atlantic…this time on OLD RAILROAD TIMETABLES.

Here is an example of some multimodal scholarship about Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivner.  In no way is this a perfect example (it actually falls quite short in some production ways) but I want you to notice the transcript and the works cited portion of this site.  I suggest including a transcript of any text you write for your film and (again) include a works cited page for ALL MEDIA you deploy.

If you are having trouble thinking about ways to describe the stylistic moves you make while editing, perhaps have a look at THIS list of ancient rhetorical devices.

Nov 21

If you have a draft ready and would like to get feedback from the class, let me know and we will screen it.  For those not ready, you have until next Tuesday to finish a draft and submit to me.  Post online or bring on a DVD or flash drive to class on Tuesday.

Today, I’d like to show you a few clips:

Jessica Williams on The Daily Show HERE

Bombay Beach (trailer is HERE)

As you watch, consider the following:

Into what mode(s) could these ‘films’ be categorized?

How would they look on a time line? Where are the cuts?  What are the transitions? How are stills, freeze frames, music, frame size, etc deployed?

What can use (stylistically, aesthetically, organizationally) from these films?

Spend the rest of the class period working on your draft.  I’ll come around and get updates from each of you individually.


Nov 19


First Draft Due – Thursday 11.21 (no later than 11.26) – You will need to present your draft either online (vimeo/youtube), on a DVD, or on a flash drive.   We will screen (as a class) each draft and discuss.  Extra time can be devoted to editing.

Third Response – Thursday 12.5 – Similar to Response #1, I am asking you to engage with one of the extra readings I’ve provided on Dropbox.  The choice of reading is yours and the medium in which you respond is also fluid.  I’d like to encourage you to move beyond written/academic responses, but I understand that some of you are uncomfortable with this open-ended type of assignment, so a traditional 2 page response will be accepted.  As before, give an overview of the article and then give some details about how it corresponds/influences your thinking/practice in your own film.

Final Exam – Saturday 12.14 @12:30 – To screen in class or submit before this day?


Organize yourselves into groups of 2.  Take turns discussing your object documentary and showing your progress.  Use this as an opportunity to test ideas that you are considering and to ask questions about media relevance, aesthetic choices, music, interview effectiveness, edit choices, etc.  Get feedback.  Take notes in a blog post to record any suggestions or ideas that emerge from your discussions.  Repeat with a second group.


Read through the Promotion/Branding notes that were posted over the weekend.  Do a web search for a movie you have recently seen and discuss the way it was promoted.  How did you hear about the film?  Was your interest stoked through online or social media promotion?  (Include media if appropriate…links or images.)  Then use the rest of your post to brainstorm about how you will promote your film.

If you have extra time, use it to ask questions or continue editing you draft.


Check into the free trial of Adobe Creative Suit so you can edit at home!

I have 2 HD cameras and an audio recorder available for “checking out” if anyone needs some extra media gathering firepower.  See me after class for more details.

Project Promotion/Branding

An important part of the final project is the branding of your film.  As compositions move into a multimodal existence, and (especially) as complex ideas get disseminated in abstract/performative ways, it becomes more important for producers to frame their work through appealing, effective promotion.  In the past, writers have written and a graphics design department dealt with covers of books, flyers, posters, advertisements, etc.  Increasingly, scholars and professionals in many fields are taking a central role in every aspect of their compositions.  This change has been precipitated by many factors not the least of which is the proliferation of programs like Adobe Illustrator and the prevalence of social media.  So, remembering that we are working with strict time constraints and no budget, I want you to think carefully about how you will promote your film and take some steps to begin that process.

As in other parts of this process, there are many possible directions for you to consider.  At the very least, you should submit your project on a dvd with some kind of packaging.  HERE is a free template for DVD covers.  There are other templates available for posters, flyers, etc.  You might think about a web/social media presence for your project (apart from the class blog).  Again, I am not interested in you spending TOO much time on this aspect of the project and you shouldn’t feel obliged to spend a ton of money on printing and fancy paper or on coding complex websites.  I will be happy with some evidence that you have thought about the branding and made some plans about the directions you might go.

Check out past and current cinema promotion campaigns.  The work promoting the new version of Oldboy is especially intriguing (and at the heart of this part of the assignment)…check out their web presence HERE.