Category Archives: Module I

agenda :: 2/24

motif screenings: time to show your final projects of module 1! as usual, we’ll give everyone a chance to show their work, and we will respond accordingly with polite and insightful feedback.

introduce module 2:

  • next week we’re moving forward into module 2, the art of the real. you’ll be taking everything you’ve learned so far and using it to create a longer, more sophisticated piece about someone or something you do not know much about already. this is a fun project that will involve a lot of freedom, but also will require you to work more independently over a longer period of time. in this module, we’ll be looking at the artist’s process of inquiry more closely and following four phases of production: pre-production, production, post-production, and reflection.


  • on your blog, respond to your experience in module 1 in writing (~250 words). write in as much detail as possible about 3 things you learned in the first three projects and how you came to this understanding. for starters, was it something that happened in class, in discussion with your groups, or out on your own while working? why was this important to learn, and will it be useful moving forward? due on your blog on wednesday by 11:59pm
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agenda :: 2/19

reading warm-up: take a few minutes as you settle in to pull up and read through this link, which explains a number of motifs used not just in one film, but all the films of the director Wes Anderson.

motif screenings:

  • student examples :: jill; jordan; ruby; nicole; kelley;
  • coffee and cigarettes (2003) :: somewhere in california; delirium
  • Wes Anderson is one of my favorite, most stylized directors. He is known for using strong visual and conceptual motifs to create an cohesive and unique world for the viewer all of his movies (maybe too obviously, his style is very distinctive and some have criticized his movies for looking too similar – i personally love it). Pay attention to how he frames the subjects, the colors he uses, camera movements, etc. As we watch these clips from a few of his movies, we’re going to play Wes Anderson Bingo. You have my permission to keep your computer open for this, but only to mark off the tiles as you notice them! Avoid the urge to check email/chat.
    • The Royal Tenenbaums (opening excerpt, 15min)
    • Rushmore (opening excerpt, 7min)
    • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (“the belafonte” excerpt, 3min)
    • Moonrise Kingdom (opening excerpt, 21min)

group meetings: get together with a few people near you, and as a group talk together about the course you’ve taken for the motif project. share any footage, sketches, or your brainstorming activities in order to offer each other feedback. is the motif clear? does it help reinforce any kind of mood, feeling, or message of the piece? what other audio/video motifs might relate to this big idea?


  • finish video exercise iii: motif – these will be screened in class on tuesday, as we have done with the last two projects. make sure they are uploaded and posted to your blog so we can move quickly through them.
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agenda :: 2/17

writing warm-up: describe for me in detail, from beginning to end, how to make your favorite meal. try your best to include all the necessary ingredients and steps, so that someone reading would be able to follow your recipe.

recap: module 1: just a reminder that we are now beginning the last project of module 1. this will be the last project before your module grade is returned, so be sure to check the grading rubric if you want a reminder of what i’m looking for.

motifs are patterns, repetitions, or other recurring elements that are used in film and video. motifs can be visual (colors, camera techniques, specific subjects, etc.) or conceptual (the ideas being presented). they are often used by the director tell tell a story visually, reinforce a prominent idea, and ultimately to help the big message get across to the viewer

a few motif examples:

  •  man with a movie camera (1929, excerpt) :: this russian silent film by dzhiga vertov was a big step for early cinema. because film as an art form was relatively new, vertov provides a manifesto at the beginning of this film about his beliefs regarding the language of film and attempts to demonstrate it through various scenes. motif plays a big part in showing daily life, contrasting and comparing various subjects, and propelling the narrative. what does the manifesto say at the beginning? how would you say he explores film as an artistic form?
  • journeys (excerpt) :: slightly more modern, but simple in its approach to story telling. this is a good example of how you can use motif to make the viewer feel as though they are part of the scene. pay attention to how the filmmaker uses sound, image framing, and shot sequences to convey a crowded train ride.
  • tree of life (2011, excerpt) :: this film by terrance malick came out a couple years ago. it is somewhat autobiographical, but also really strange and beautiful. malick gave his cameramen very specific directions for shooting this movie and adhering to a specific aesthetic or look. this sequence, to me, seems to be a nostalgic and dreamy attempt to depict childhood, nature, and the process growing up. what techniques do you think he used to reinforce these ideas?

introducing video project iii: motif :: due 1 week from today, february 24


  • spend 30 minutes brainstorming for your motif video project – draw in a sketchbook, make a list, speak freely into an audio record, interview others – this can take pretty much any shape, but i want you to post evidence of this brainstorm to your blog in some way.
  • come to a final decision about the subject of your motif piece, and come to class on thursday with some rough footage to share in group meetings
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agenda :: 2/12

warm-up: check one last time to make sure your video project ii is uploaded to youtube and available on your blog!

screenings: let’s show what we’ve come up with for video project ii! at this time, we will take turns coming to the front of the class and pulling your video up for everyone to watch. we will only watch each project once to make sure things keep moving along. i’ve added a little structure to our feedback session today, though. after a person has shown, the people seated on either side of him or her will be responsible for offering their feedback first before we open the dialogue up to the rest of the group. remember to be specific if your feedback, paying attention to the relationship between the form and the content of the piece.


  • in 250 words, reflect on your process from video project ii. what things were different about this process than in the first project? was it easier or more difficult for you? how do you feel your piece turned out, and what was some of the helpful feedback you received during critique?
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agenda :: 2/10

writing warm-up: use this warm-up time to write a bit about your project and fill me on on how it’s going. can you describe your idea in a sentence or two? how are you paying attention to the use of sound specifically in your piece? is it a focus on diegetic, in-scene audio? or are you paying more attention to non-diegetic sounds like narration, score, etc.? what have you gotten accomplished so far in the shooting/editing, and what remains to be done for thursday?


  • 2001: a space odyssey (1968) ::  opening credits; from earth to the moon; cut loose – my mind is going :: each of these sequences has its own strengths – the opening credits are perhaps one of the most recognizable themes in cinema; the ballet of space flight; crafting the sounds of space and working with silence
  • eraserhead (1977) :: opening sequence :: a DIY approach to interesting soundscapes on a budget. david lynch used a variety of sources to create the soundtrack and droning ambient noises that make up henry’s world. later, sound plays an increasingly important role as he is drawn to a song coming from his radiator and is tormented by the shrill cries of his mutated offspring.
  • there will be blood (2007) :: explosion sequence :: a good example here of building a soundtrack that mirrors a scene. the driving percussion of the score blends easily in with the diagetic sounds of the oil well, and creates a fast-paced tempo for the sequence
  • the artist :: opening sequence; sound nightmare :: this is a film from 2011 that is designed to look and feel like a movie from the silent film era of the 1930s. the opening sequence sets the stage and shows us how major the role of the film score was in this era – films were never truly silent, but almost always accompanied by a score of some kind, sometimes played live by an orchestra – sometimes this score attempted to imitate the diagetic sound of events on screen, other times it helped set the mood of the sequence. the lead character in this story is a silent film actor who becomes frightened of the shift from silent movies into “talkies”. the “sound nightmare” sequence is another great example of when characters on screen interact with sound in ways that break the established pattern.
  • stranger than fiction :: harold hears the narrator :: what happens when non-diagetic sound like narration becomes diagetic? this movie as a whole explores this idea, but we’ll watch just the first part when the trick is revealed.

audacity demo: audacity is a free audio editing and multitracking software available for both mac and pc. if you need a more robust way to manipulate or build an audio soundtrack, this might be a good option. you might also find some interesting resources online, such as which allows users to share and download free audio files of all kinds. some very basic things you can do with audacity:

  1. import and edit audio (cut down a selection)
  2. multitrack and layer audio tracks
  3. other effects and audio treatment

group work: get back together with the groups you met with last time and share the audio recordings you were asked to bring to class today. you can either tell everyone what it is and why you found it interesting, or have them guess where it came from if you like. discuss whether any of these sounds have inspired your upcoming project, or if another idea has come to mind. if you’ve settled on an idea, explain it in as much detail as you can to your group members and gather feedback about any questions you may have. by the time you leave today, you should have decided on your concept for video project ii and be ready to begin shooting. if a group member is stuck for ideas, help them come to a solution. remember, this completed project will be screened in class on thursday!

independent work time: now that you’ve got the idea, grab a camera and get to work! if you’d like to stick around and talk to me about your project, you’re more than welcome.


  • finish video project ii: sound interpretation. these should be uploaded to youtube or vimeo and posted to your blog by the beginning of class on thursday. since we’ll need time to watch everyone’s work, our discussion will be much longer than for video project i, so be on time and ready to go at the beginning of class.
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agenda :: 2/5

writing warm-up: listen to the music playing over the classroom speakers. the songs will be short, but try to come up with a short but descriptive title for each. listen closely, and pay attention to the various qualities of the music that evoke a certain image or word. is it a faced paced song that suggests a busy sidewalk full of people and vehicles whirring by? does the use of major (happy) or minor (sad) keys bring to mind a specific scene or feeling? what about the instruments that are used? close your eyes if necessary. number your titles for each song, and when the song changes move on to titling that one.

project extension: i want you to spend a fair amount of time and effort on your video work, and i’m seeing that my original schedule might be a little rushed. instead of having video project ii due on tuesday as i had planned, let’s move the screening date to next thursday, february 12.

a recap of key terms:  diegetic sound – sound taking place in the environment of the scene, what the character is hearing. this includes dialogue. non-diegetic sound – anything that is not diegetic, such as score music, voice-over, etc.
screening: some examples of audio/video working together – some these are fairly complicated, so you likely will not be doing anything this sophisticated yet. however, i think they all show good attention to the use of the soundtrack in different ways, and will hopefully give you some fresh ideas when approaching your own project.

group meetings: brainstorming time! every artistic process starts with the thinking/researching/questioning phase. we’re going to start today but simply meeting in groups to talk about what initial ideas are in your head regarding the project. even though you’re going this one along, having feedback in all stages from others is important for artists. is there a particular piece of music you are attached to? a spoken piece of poetry or speech? what about a certain kind of “diegetic” sound that you’ve noticed lately? use this time to simply talk with others about what interests you, share examples if you can find them online, and offer feedback about what a video interpretation of this piece might look like.


  • listen to this episode of the podcast 99% invisible titled “the sound of sport” – no writing response to this, just enjoy.
  • read “practical DV filmmaking: post production tools: 4. editing with sound” by russel evans :: respond by writing a brief summary of some of his advice that is especially relevant to you and your upcoming project. what does he say that will be useful? is there something you learned that you previously would not have understood about sound and film? due on your blog at the end of monday, 2/10 at midnight.
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agenda :: 2/3

video warm-up: blu, “big bang big boom”

group work: get back together with your groups and finish up video project i. all footage should be shot, and you should ideally have pieced together a few things. use the next hour to put the rest together as a group. once you are finished, export and upload to youtube or vimeo, and post a link on your blog. if your group is done with editing and ready to screen, take the time to work on your demo reel for the project.

group screenings: let’s watch everyone’s group project and offer some quick feedback! don’t pay so much attention to the storyline, but rather the technical issues at hand. how is the quality of the shots? did they seem to get the idea of when and how to use different shot types and sequences? what could be improved upon? during critiques we keep the dialogue friendly, but constructive. it’s all part of the process for making better work!

brief discussion: your creative DNA

  • zoe vs. bios – different ways of seeing the world

introduction to video project ii: due february 10 in class!

Summary :: Create a 20-35 second (no longer!) video using a pre-existing or custom soundtrack. In this project, you should demonstrate a continued exploration of how to use the language of film to express your interpretation of the sound score chosen, as well as explore the creative process of making your ideas into a tangible work of video art.

More information here!

a few terms you should know:

diegetic sound – sound taking place in the environment of the scene, what the character is hearing. this includes dialogue.

non-diegetic sound – anything that is not diegetic, such as score music, voice-over, etc.

A few student examples :: kelley, susie, edwin


  • finish up the demo reel of your own individual work. please have this uploaded to youtube or vimeo and post a link to your blog by the end of the day on wednesday at midnight. since we’re likely letting out a bit early, it would be wise to use this time to finish this requirement for video project i if you haven’t.
  • written reflection :: in 7-10 sentences reflect on the shooting process. some ideas to get you started are: what was your favorite part of the process (organizing, acting, working with the camera, brain storming) and what part of the process did you feel was a challenge. how did the groups story change or evolve during the process of shooting. what was your role in the group and how would you describe the group dynamic. anything else that is of note.

agenda :: 1/29

Photo by Grace Jang

Photo by Grace Jang

writing warm-up: write for 10 minutes about your daily habits, patterns, or rituals. what kinds of routines are common in your daily life?

imovie demo: 

  • event library vs. project panel
  • importing material
  • trimming/adjusting time
  • ken burns effect
  • titles, effects, transitions
  • audio tracks
  • exporting or sharing directly to youtube

screening: film riot, camera techniques for better filmmaking(7 min) he talks really fast, so let’s go over this stuff in more detail. shot types are defined by:

  • distance :: long shot, medium shot, medium close-up, close-up, extreme close-up
  • angle :: low angle, high angle, birds eye view, oblique (dutch) angle
  • camera movement :: pan, tilt, dolly shot, crane shot, handheld
  • other techniques :: masking (framing), focal length, depth of field

group work: because you’ve got your first video project deadline coming up on tuesday, i’m going to give you the rest of the class period to work here with your groups. think about putting the project together in four steps:

  • pre-production: first, check back in with your group. pull up any footage you shot for today on your computer and share it with your group members. offer each other feedback on how it captured the desired shot type or sequence.
  • map out which shots from the group’s idea have been shot and which still need to be completed. if there are gaps that need to be filled before starting editing, take a camera and work as a group to
  • production: complete all missing shots – make sure the person responsible for the shot is doing the framing and camera operation. you may go outside or around the area to shoot. if your shot requires you to go far from the art building, check with me before going.
  • post-production: when shooting is done, return back to the classroom to check in with me.
  • choose someone in your group to be the master editor on their computer, or you may go upstairs to work together on one of the lab computers if you wish. make sure everyone’s footage is uploaded to whatever computer you are using, and start to piece it together in iMovie or the editor you chose!
  • reflection/distribution: once everyone’s footage is put together, watch the piece and discuss what still might need to be fixed. pay attention to the pacing of shots and cuts, continuity of sequences, and the overall narrative of the piece. spend more time cleaning up some of the problems.
  • when everyone in the group is satisfied with the results, export your project as an .mp4 or .mov file, upload to youtube and post a link on your blog. it should automatically embed the video. check back in with me and show me what you’ve gotten done before you leave. if your group hasn’t finished by the end of the day, make plans to finish together sometime before tuesday.


  1. read “Your Creative DNA” by Twyla Tharp, available on library e-reserveswrite a 250 word minimum response to this reading that reflects on Tharp’s distinction between the terms “zoe” and “bios”. she uses these terms to explain different ways of seeing the world and creating art. what do you take to be the differences between these two perspectives? would you describe yourself as fitting into either category? write in detail, be specific, and use examples if possible to demonstrate your point. you should attempt to access it today, it sometimes takes time to allow you access to the readings. otherwise, if you wait until the last minute, you may be out of luck.
  2. continue work on video project i with your group. remember that everyone should share in the effort to edit it together. by tuesday, you should have all of your footage shot, imported to your computer, and ideally have it edited together. there will be a brief amount of time at the beginning to make final adjustments before screening at the end of class.
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agenda :: 1/27

Photo by Xianhao Sun

Photo by Xianhao Sun

video warm-up:  a vertical video psa

  • this is one of the most common mistakes i see from students early on that can make your project seem a lot less polished and professional. make sure if you shoot footage with your phone, hold it sideways! you and i both will be a lot happier with the results. but if you happen to become afflicted with vvs, the good news is there’s a cure.

q&a: any blog difficulties? or any questions in general 

show and tell: just like in grade school, we’re going to go around the table and every gets a chance to show one or two of the photos you have taken for the “10 things I saw today” exercise over the past few days. take a few minutes to look through your shots and pick one that you really like, whether it is for the composition or content in the picture. be ready to explain what the photo is of, how you encountered it, and why you thought it was important to document.

recapping module 1: amended outline and video projectsschedulegrading rubric

discussion: language of film” :: let’s talk a bit about the major points of this article and how they will relate to your group video project.

introducing video project i: “the language of film” group project and demo reels – this will be your first chance to work with video during this class. it’s a pretty open ended assignment that you should have fun with, but also explore the mechanics of the different shooting and editing techniques you read about in the article assigned last week. you’re going to be working with a group, so it will be necessary for you to cooperate with your partners to plan and complete this project. however, it will also have an individual component to the assignment (your personal demo reel) that will demonstrate your specific contributions to the bigger project. let’s look again at the info for video project i.

group work time: we’re going to divide you into groups at random and give you plenty of time today to start mapping out your ideas for the larger project and how you will satisfy your individual requirements in the piece. take some time to talk, delegate someone to take notes or draw out some pictures or diagrams to guide your planning. don’t leave today until you’ve settled upon an idea and a clear plan of what everyone is responsible for producing.

screening: this american life, “pandora’s box”


  1. 10 Things I Saw Today (continued) all 7 days are due on your blog by wednesday 1/28 at midnight
  2. start collecting footage for video project i (can combine w/ #1 above, as long as it is video); come to class on thursday with some of your footage collected and ready to be edited into the larger group piece during class time.
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10 Things I Saw Today (Day 1)

Kubrick Exhibit at LACMA

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