Here is the topic most students find both the most challenging and/or rewarding portion of ds106: video. It presents challenges with file formats, creating more complex narratives, and working with more complicated software.
But it is also one of the most engaging forms of media — hence the current statistic that in the span of one minute, more than
72 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
Before jumping into video editing, you will spend some time first looking critically at some cinema techniques. Read the rest of this post for details about the work for this unit as we learn to “read” movies. Then you will be completing your own video stories, from start to YouTube– this unit is two weeks long, so plan your time accordingly.
Ken Burns is much more than an overused editing effect in iMovie- hear him talk about what makes a good story in video, how he looks for 1 + 1 equaling 3.
We have a double dose of inspiration!
This video was made by Rachel, a 2012 UMW Student. Isn’t it inspiring?
Ready Your Tools
For the work in the next two weeks, you will need to be using software that allows you to combine, edit, augment, re-sequence video, as well as being able to add or even replace the soundtrack within a video.
We most strongly recommend for the future assignment that you use the applications that come with your computer- either Windows Movie Maker Live or Apple’s iMovie, these are generally the easiest to get started with and should be available on your computer.
We recommend using video editing software that allows you to cut and re-arrange clips on a timeline, and to add, and layer audio tracks. Most typically this is the software that came with your operating system- iMovie on Macs and MovieMaker on Windows PCs (but feel free to look at some of the other options in the ds106 Handbook).
Many of the assignments will require downloading of clips from web sites such as YouTube and vimeo. You will need to use a tool that can download videos to a file format you can use on your computer (usually MP4). Our tool of choice is SaveFrom.net but we review a few other techniques as well.
Windows users may have challenges in importing the downloaded mp4 video files into Movie Maker (We have been told that the Windows Movie Maker Live can import MP4)- you may have to use a converter to change mp4 into AVI or WMV file formats. See the ds106 Handbook for some video converter options.
Other resources that may help you include:
- UMW Digital Video developed by Andy Rush in DTLT, a local video guru
- Vimeo Video School
- The Basics of Video Editing: The Complete Guide
Focus on the storytelling aspect of your video making- -do not get caught up in the technical points or making the video just for the assignment points… Be very sure that your videos tell a story, that it surprises us, that it perhaps jars us, and that when you write up your blog post you are providing full details and context for your videos.
You have likely watched plenty of movies, but when I say “reading” movies, I mean looking at them with a keener eye for the cinematic elements that make them successful (or not). This is not about reviews of “good” or “bad” movies, but how well they convey the story to all our senses, how well they suspend our disbelief to make the plot real, to draw us in– how well they tell a story.
For your work in this week, you are expected to look for details in movies, many of which are found in Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie”
In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them.
Read Ebert’s guide! It is more valuable than gold.
Note that the left/right positioning of characters is best applied in scenes where the camera is facing them- e.g., when the possibility of their position is equally probable, left or right. Many scenes are shot in dialogue, when characters are facing each other, and here the placement must also honor a very important film rule, the 180 degree rule:
To get an appreciation for some of the power of cinematic techniques, watch at least 2 of the following short videos about filmmaking.
- Kubrick // One-Point Perspective https://vimeo.com/48425421
- The Shining // Zooms https://vimeo.com/38828455
- Tarantino // from Below https://vimeo.com/37540504
- Inside The Cutting Room: Sight, Sound & Story
- Examples of Editing Techniques http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Sp59lQD7Q
- Example of a Match Cut http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI3s5fA7Zhk
- Top 20 Cinematic Techniques http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3EnnBDgMww
- Camera Angles and Techniques http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jURepXxuiGE
- The Magic of Movie Editing http://junghans-film.com/magic-movie-editing-1/
- Video fu channel
- Hitchcock loves Bikinis- brilliant demonstration of using film cuts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFkI9FzzkII
- Star Wars Continuity Mistakes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owH54AiCheg (more at http://www.moviemistakes.com/
Other elements of movie reading include:
- Film “tone” (bright, monochrome, washed out, high contrast, low contrast)
- Set design, wardrobe and location
- Sound- music, sound effects (remember Foley?)
- Action, stunts, special effects
Look, Listen, Analyze
Now apply some of the criteria you reviewed above to a classic movie scene. From the YouTube playlists below, pick one scene from a classic movie you will analyze — do not watch it yet! — just choose one that might interest you. If you want to use another clip, ok. But it should be a complete scene, not a movie trailer.
You will now analyze the clip by watching it three times, in different ways.
- Analyze the camera work. Before watching the first time, turn the volume on the clip (or on your computer) all the way down. Take notes on the visual aspects of the clip. Look for camera angles, cuts, how many times the camera switches view, the quality of light, the cuts or transitions. Look for the ways the camera tells, guides the story.
- Analyze the audio track. Now turn the volume up, but play it without looking at the screen (or turn iff the screen); just listen to the audio. Take notes on the pacing of the dialogue, the spaces in the the audio, the use of music or sound effects (think back to our work earlier on listening to audio and Foley techniques).
- Put it all together. Finally, watch the scene as normal. Pay attention to something you may have missed the first time or how the elements you saw in the first two steps work together.
Also use what you have read in Ebert’s column or anything else you observed in the cinematic technique videos to identify key elements of this scene. Include specific reference to Ebert’s ideas of left/right character placement, what the camera angle suggests, how the way the scene is shot builds the story element. We are looking for the video aspects that makes this work well (or not) – not just “this is a great scene” or “this is my favorite movie”.
Bringing That Foley Assignment Back to Life
Do you remember your work in putting together the 30 seconds of foley sounds for the Charlie Chaplin Lion’s cage clip? If you skipped that assignment, take some time to review it. Now you get to re-assemble it back into a new video, and try to make a story out of it.
Your new story can be an explanation of what The Tramp is doing in the cage, why he went in there, the story from the Lion’s point of view, or any other creative interpretation of this sequence. Break out of just literal interpretations, bring in unexpected elements. Maybe he is a time traveler or an alien from another planet. Maybe the Lion is an all powerful wise being. Or a monster. Or just a bored cat. See examples previous students have done.
You will need to download the clip from YouTube (see section above for tips on how to download clips form YouTube) and remove the original audio sound track (Look for a editing feature for the clip to either “Mute” the audio or separate the audio from the video, and then remove the audio track).
Your video (and all the video assignments) should have that beginning, middle, and end. What you make is the middle, but your videos also should have an opening, original title sequence that sets up the scene and launches the story- include a new music sound track, it can be modern or old fashioned, but it should match the theme for your story (we suggest exploring the royalty free collection from incompetech). And it should have an end, more than “THE END” but closing message, credits.
For your middle, add any other media that you think might help complete the story. The idea is to re-imagine this scene using your video editing chops.
Now download from SoundCloud the segments of audio that other ds106 participants have created, re-assemble them to line up with the action in the video. It can get tricky if the segments are not exactly 30 seconds long, so you get some practice trimming audio or inserting filler audio (sound effects?).
- Sounds from 00:00 to 00:30 (tag chaplin-lion-01)
- Sounds from 00:31 to 01:00 (tag chaplin-lion-02)
- Sounds from 01:01 to 01:30 (tag chaplin-lion-03)
- Sounds from 01:31 to 02:00 (tag chaplin-lion-04)
- Sounds from 02:01 to 02:30 (tag chaplin-lion-05)
- Sounds from 02:31 to 02:55 (tag chaplin-lion-06)
Add a closing credits sequence and anything else to make the story complete. Publish it to YouTube.
In your blog post for this assignment, use the tags for the video assignment based on this clip — VideoAssignments, VideoAssignments655
Are you able to make a different and new story out of this material? Try to do more than just stitch media together, give The Tramp’s adventure with the Lion a new meaning.
Each assignment blog post should include:
- Write about thinking behind the assignment, the inspiration, what it means to you. What is it’s story? Does it make a story spine?
- The video you produced for the assignment is embedded into your blog post. Your videos should have an opening title sequence and a closing credits sequence. Check your video software for it’s title creation features.
- Share your process. What tools did you use? What techniques? Think of this as information that would help someone else doing the same assignment. Include a screenshot of your video editing screen. You must provide URLs/sources for all media you included that were not ones you created yourself.
- To have your work connected back to the assignment, your blog post must include the two tags for the assignment, one will be VideoAssignments and the other will have a name like VideoAssignments447. Look for the tags entry box on the right side of the WordPress editor, below the Categories.
If you do this correctly, your own example will be added to the assignment within an hour of your publishing your blog post.
Below is a list of assignments I recommend you choose from (but feel free to select from the other Visual Assignments)
- Return to the Silent Era: Select a trailer or movie segment you can use for this assignment. Outline the things you can add to make it more like a silent movie style, or write the text you will use on the screens that display dialogue.
- Vintage Educational Video Assignment: Identify an educational video you could use to create your own; create a script and set of media needs to complete the assignment.
- Play by Play: Write a script and record audio you can use for this assignment.
- Mash A Movie For DS106 : redub a part of a movie and add other elements to change the meaning of the scene to promote ds106.
- Do the Hitch Cut Experiment with a technique that includes the same shot of a character, which cuts to different scenes and back.
- Sardonic Tours Create a video taking us on a tour of somewhere you love or hate, providing commentary that points out the unusual in a tone distinct from most “tourist” videos.
- Make a Scene from a Horror Film Recreate (or make your own!) scene from a horror movie. Whether you recreate the “Hereee’s Johnny!” scene from The Shining or create a new idea all together is up to you.
- Plinkett Review: Write a script and record audio you can use for this assignment.
- Make a Scene from a Horror Film: Outline and describe what you would need to do for this assignment.
- Why So Serious? Remove the audio from a scene of a serious movie and replace it with the audio from a comedy or just a different movie. You will need to figure out how to separate audio and video tracks in your editor.
- Where are they now?? Create a followup from a movie from at least a few years ago, and detail what happened to the character (or characters) since that time.
- Redub a Movie: Write a script and record audio for this assignment.
- Or choose any other video assignment
Bookmark and model the criteria for blogging assignments like a champ (you get a rubric too if you are In It For a Grade).
Ongoing: Storified and Non Storified Content and Commenting
You have done this a few times. If you are tired of looking for new ideas, take some time to review the ones by at least three other students. Give them some feedback on the way a story element could be introduced for their idea. This will count for your class participating.
Find ones to comment on:
This will be the project you complete in Week 8.
Weekly Summary Checklist
Your summary blog post for this week should include and link to the following required ite,s. Remember, I am also looking for more that a list of what you did; take some time to reflect on what you learned or discovered this week. Write what you struggled with. I expect that you will continue to give feedback to the other blogs in your comment group; include in your weekly summary again a sense of what kind of feedback you are getting on your blog and how you are giving feedback to others.
- Reading Movies Write a blog post that includes your response to the methods suggested by Ebert- why might they work (or not)? Summarize what you learned from the two videos you watched about cinema techniques.
- Look. Listen. Analyze. Write up a blog post that includes the embedded clip for the scene you reviewed, and the notes you made in the three views of the scene. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?
- Chaplin Edit Write up a blog post embedding your new version of the story. Explain where the idea came from, and include reference URLs for all media you used. Also include a screen shot of your video editing interface.
- Assignments: You should link to and discuss the posts for the two ds106 video assignments completed. Each post should be put in categories that you made for your site, and should also include the tags specific to each assignment. Be sure that your assignment blog posts contain the elements out line in the ds106 Handbook.
- To Be Storified Commenting Write another blog post summarizing what you saw in other students’ project ideas or what suggestions you made that focused on adding the story element[