Category Archives: Uncategorized


Hi everyone,

I hope your exams are finishing up smoothly.  I have begun receiving projects in person and via my box and things are looking really great!  I will be IN MY OFFICE (HUM OFFICE BLDG 400) from NOON TODAY until about 2pm if you need to hand in your work in person.  Remember, you can put it in my box (#45 on the first floor of the office bldg) anytime before noon.  As I’ve requested before, because of the large amount of mail (mostly 101 portfolios) please send me a quick email letting me know you submitted your work to the box.  Digital submissions (and final blog projects) can be submitted by 8am TOMORROW to my email.  GOOD LUCK!



Some notes in response to questions

A few of you have asked questions that others might be thinking about, so I decided to respond as a blog post.

If your work is digital, you can submit it digitally.  Please consider the form and organization of such a submission.  In other words, avoid sending me a bunch of poorly named files via email without any instruction about how they should be arranged.  If your work is small (a DVD in a case or a flash drive) you can submit it to my box (use the inter-campus envelopes and clearly include your name).  I have just been informed that the mail room is quite busy with an influx of 101 portfolios, so just to be safe, please send me an email if you drop your project in my box, that way I will know to look for it.  If your project contains larger elements (a poster or some other material instantiation) you need to organize a time to hand it to me personally.  I will be on campus tomorrow from about 10am until mid afternoon.  I will also likely be on campus on Friday at some point.  It is your responsibility to make sure I have your work by noon on Saturday.

I understand the limitations of technology and access to it.  I made a concerted attempt to give you more ‘production’ time than in most English courses precisely because I understand that everyone doesn’t have the same access outside of class time.  That said, the resources are there if you make an effort (Gambrell, Thomas Cooper, and Free Trials).  A question was posed concerning whether your promotional material might be designed in other programs than the Adobe Illustrator we engaged in class.  An extension of this is whether you can edit your film on something other than Premiere Pro.  I hope over the duration of the semester you got a reasonable explanation about why a knowledge of these programs (as opposed to simpler programs like iMovie or Word or PowerPoint) is useful going forward.  Also, I hope I never implied that interesting work couldn’t be produced with most any program.  It absolutely can and absolutely is, a lot.  So use the available tools.  If you feel more comfortable with one program or another, use it.  I would suggest however that you discuss the tools you use in your reflection.  If you use Word to design a poster, I hope you will understand that it isn’t the most professional option.  I am interested in your experience with the production of this material, so I hope that you will use part of your reflection to carefully and thoroughly consider the limitations of your choice of tools.



To get started, compose a short blog entry giving a reaction to the Truffant quote above, an update of your progress, and a freeze frame from your film.  If you haven’t learned how to grab a frame easily in Premiere Pro, HERE is a good overview.  PS…freeze frames can be a super useful visual component in your reflection text or promotion/branding material.  In other words, refer to a freeze frame from the film when reflecting on a certain portion of the production.  (Say that three times fast!)

As promised, today will be a workday.  Work on your projects, ask questions.  Before you leave, hand in your Response #3 (or make sure it is emailed to me).

If you need some music for your film (or just like cool websites) check LOOPTRACKS.  It strikes me that the legal status/ownership of the composition a user might create in a site like this is very questionable.  However, using this music (that you create after messing around with this site and recording it somehow) will almost certainly be MORE legal than using Jay-Z.

A note on music.  I’ve noticed a lot of copyrighted music in your drafts.  To reiterate: it’s OK (every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief) and (probably) legal under Fair Use statutes for this assignment.  Having said that, the stipulation I placed on using copyrighted material is that you attempt to get permission.  Write an email at least and include the attempt in your reflection.  In professional media organizations, there are whole departments dedicated to attaining copyright permission and avoiding legal issues.  As in other parts of your production, I’m not expecting you to do the work of a whole department, but you need to consider it (and then demonstrate to me that you have considered it).  The easiest way to get around this issue is to use open source material.  Mine the local music scene.  Pappa Jazz is a good source of local stuff.  There are also many online sources of free music.  The biggest is ARCHIVE.ORG.  It takes time to wade through the myriad (and of questionable quality) tracks that are available, but you should be able to find something.  If a copyrighted song is key to your film, figure out the publisher and write them a letter.  You’ll sometimes be surprised at how easy it is to get permission.

Here is my letter to the Charles Mingus foundation to ask for permission (feel free to use this as a template).


My name is Brian Harmon and I am a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at The University of South Carolina.  I took part in a class this semester called The Trial of Othello…an interdisciplinary experiment in how to teach literature differently.  Our class teamed with an acting class and the law school to conduct a mock trial of Othello.  We, of course read the text carefully and combined our reading with critical theory.  Part of the class was responsible for recording and archiving the trial and we would like to use a Mingus piece for the project.  I hope it goes without saying that this is not a money making venture, rather a pedagogical exercise.  We are considering both Track A (Solo Dancer) and Track C (Group Dancers) from “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady”.  As this is a school project, we are confident that this is clearly ‘Fair Use’ but, we are hoping to underscore the importance of copyright awareness by approaching The Jazz Workshop for official permission.  Is there a standard form you use to license the Mingus catalog?  If you have any questions, or if you would like to see a draft of what we have in mind, please let me know.  Thanks so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind Regards,

Brian Harmon

Here is Sue Mingus’ (Charles’ widow and executor of the foundation) response (3 hours later):

Sounds interesting….go right ahead!

–Sue Mingus
(would love to see a draft)
I hope it goes without saying the level of excitement in our team was very high when we got this response.  It is a big, mean corporate world in many ways, but there are also real people in control of the reigns occasionally and to ask is just the right (and legal) thing to do.  If you need a release form, check HERE.  I have also added some generic forms to the class Dropbox.


Our exam time is Saturday, December 14, 12:30pm.  We will not meet for the exam.  If you are handing in material objects larger than what will easily fit in my box, you need to hand it to me in person.  I will be in my office throughout the week by appointment (also, arrange a time if you need some editing help or have questions) and at the exam time on Saturday until 1pm.  I will begin grading your work on Sunday morning, so I’ll extend the deadline for digital submissions until then…8am Sunday December 15, 2013.
I need the following from each of you by then.
1. A link to your finalized class blog.  This should be added as a comment to harmon460(dot)wordpress on the ‘Final Blog’ page.
2. Your Final Project including:
An object documentary.  This can be a link to a (working and public) youtube/vimeo page, a DVD, or a flash drive (with a stamped envelope if you need it back).
Some kind of promotion or branding.  This doesn’t necessarily need to be printed (or printed at size), digital submission will be fine (make sure the files are easily navigable and clear).
A reflection of the process This should be a reflexive, multimodal object.  I can imagine digital and material versions of this part of the assignment.

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.