HAR 321 Video II

Fall 2007 Syllabus

Thursdays, 10 am - 2 pm, Morton 201 (MAC Lab)
Instructor: Prof. Mariam Ghani
Email: Mariam.Ghani@stevens.edu
Office: Morton 204, hours Thursday 2:30-4 pm or by appointment

This course builds on skills and concepts introduced in Video I, giving students the opportunity to explore the theory, history and practice of video as a time-based art medium in more depth and to further develop their technical knowledge by learning the principles of professional non-linear editing in Final Cut Pro while producing individual and collaborative projects. Technical lectures and demos, readings and discussions, and short assignments and screenings will make up the first half of the semester. During the second half of the semester, each student will work on the production and editing of one group and one individual project. Throughout the class, production and post-production techniques will be introduced and/or reviewed, and student work will be presented in class for peer critique. One field trip to Manhattan, with response paper, and attendance at one scheduled screening/lecture/event on campus are required.

Video I, or equivalent technical capabilities as determined by the instructor.

During this course, students will:
- develop both a theoretical and practical knowledge of video. This includes a thorough grounding in production and postproduction techniques and understanding of their formal and conceptual uses, as demonstrated in projects, writing and critiques.
- acquire an understanding of and facility with Final Cut Pro’s non-linear editing capabilities, and the technical skills to take a project through a complete production and post workflow, including editing, export and compression, and authoring in DVD Studio Pro.
- learn to recognize and control video’s formal parameters of image, sound, shot, transition and sequence, and to understand how concepts and compositions can be developed in time as well as space.
- become more critical observers of media and develop the medium-specific vocabulary needed to critique time-based work.

Methods & Assignments:
The objectives will be met through graded projects, critiques, demonstrations, readings, discussions, lectures, and exposure to time-based art. Students will be required to present their own work verbally, as well as constructively comment on the work of their classmates, during class critiques of projects in progress. Remember that participation in critique is the best indicator of your class participation, which is part of your grade. A response paper will be due after your trip to Manhattan, and reading assignments include specific requirements for written responses. All students will be expected to submit a written treatment and/or annotated storyboards for both their group project concept and for their individual final project.

Keep a journal to develop your ideas, to document your experiments and results, and to take notes during lectures and demonstrations. Document all critiques throughout the semester, and pay special attention to keeping a written record of the bugs you encounter and how you resolve them. Your journal will be reviewed as a part of your mid-term and final “portfolios.” When an assignment is produced collaboratively, all group members are expected to contribute equally to the planning, execution, and reporting of the work. You will be asked to submit an evaluation of each group member’s contribution. The instructor will meet individually with each student at mid-term and the end of the semester, and is available during the semester for “in progress” critiques during office hours and by appointment, and for technical help via email or Skype.

Video II is a studio course that meets for four hours once a week. We will split the classes between discussion, screening, critique, technical demos, and lab time, with one fifteen-minute break.

Video courses require students to put in a considerable amount of time outside of class to conceptualize, plan, shoot and edit assigned projects. In addition to fulfilling specific assignments and readings, you should expect to spend a minimum of 2 hours per week working in the Media Arts Lab outside of class, and an additional 2 hours shooting when a project is in production. The lab is open late and on weekends but is not available when another class is in progress. Please refer to the lab schedule posted outside of the lab. EATING AND DRINKING IS NOT PERMITTED IN THE MEDIA ARTS CENTER (MAC) LAB.

Notebook (bound) and pencil/pen (always bring to class and outside trips)
Mini-DV tapes
External hard drive (LaCie or TekServe FireWire drives recommended)

Required texts:
Course reader: articles and web resources distributed via email/in class
“Editing Video in the MAC Lab: A Quick Start Guide” (1 MB PDF download here)
Final Cut Pro Manual (in MAC lab)

Reccomended books/articles (in the Stevens Library):
Please see the course resource page for a list of relevant books in the Stevens Library, as well as other resources for research and further exploration.

Equipment Checkout:
A lab attendant will administer checkout. You will need your student ID and must be registered for this course to use equipment. Equipment is checked out on a 24-hour basis. Please note: Do not keep equipment in your car. Do not keep it in hot or dusty areas. Always check your equipment when checking it out to make sure it works and has all of the parts you are signing for, as you are responsible for everything you sign for. If a piece of equipment is damaged, tell us immediately so that it can be fixed.
There are five production packages available for your use. Each package includes a camera, tripod, and a lavalier microphone. We have two lighting kits and two shotgun mics with a boom (shared among all groups) that can be checked out from the cabinet. You will be responsible for the scheduling and budgeting of your time and equipment usage. Please do not check out any equipment before it has been introduced in class, unless you have received prior authorization from an instructor.
Report any and all malfunctions, damage, problems, etc. with media equipment immediately to the appropriate person in charge.
You will also be penalized if you keep equipment beyond the end of your check-out period. ALL EQUIPMENT MUST BE RETURNED BY THE LAST DAY OF THE SEMESTER. ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS.
Please remember that it is your responsibility to make sure everyone has equal access to functioning equipment. This is part of your grade.


Course criteria:
Quality of ideas, quality of work executed and ability to articulate and explain your thought processes.
Understanding of the historical and theoretical material presented, and ability to relate that material to an overall understanding of digital and experimental media, as built up through other coursework and in your own practice.
Willingness to explore and take genuine risks in your work as an artist.
Amount of time, effort, and thought given to coursework.
Technical skills mastered.
Participation in all levels of course activities.

Department criteria:

AOutstandingInsightful, generous, energeticExcellent form & contentAlways prepared for class, makes intelligent & considered contributionsAlways present, work in on time
BGoodInquisitive, engagedGood form & contentUsually prepared for class, able to make interesting contributionsAlways present, work in on time
CAverageJust sufficientHolds together, but unconvincingNot always prepared, only able to make obligatory contributionsMisses some classes, work sometimes late
DPoorLimited, formulaicWork thrown together just before classOnly makes very limited contributionsExcessive absences, work late & incomplete
FUnsatisfactoryVirtually noneVirtually noneMakes almost no contributionAbsent most of the time

Your grade will be based on: your midterm portfolio, which will include three short projects and two writing assignments; your collaborative project, as evaluated through your edit and production book; your final project; your response paper; and your class participation. You should expect that you will not receive any grades in writing until mid-semester, when you hand in your midterm portfolio, although you may meet with me during office hours if you need feedback on how your work in the course is being received. If you have questions about how your written work is evaluated, you can refer to Strunk & White's The Elements of Style for a classic guide to clean prose style.
Grade allocation is as follows:
midterm portfolio 45%
response paper 5%
group project 15%
class participation 15%
final project 20%
Projects will be graded based on clarity of concept, effectiveness of formal strategies, integration of content and form, and level of technical skill demonstrated. All assignments will be graded on a scale of four. Your final course grade will be determined as follows: 4=A; 3.67=A-; 3.33=B+; 3=B; 2:67=B-; 2.33=C+; 2=C; 1.67=C-; 1.33=D+; 1=D; .67=D-; anything below this is an F. Once issued, all grades are final and will not be changed unless a student hands in a substantially revised project. I reserve the right to determine borderline grades on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about how grades are assigned in this course, please bring them up at the beginning of the semester, not the end.


This schedule is subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances (or more interesting alternatives). I will do my best to notify you of changes a week in advance, either in class or through email. If you do not attend class, it is your responsibility to find out if changes to the schedule were made. When in doubt about an assignment, check your email or the online version of the syllabus for the most recent information. If we have to cancel a class for any reason, we will schedule a make-up session during the following week.

Download this syllabus as a 150K PDF file (last updated April 2007).

Thursday, August 30th
Week 1: Introduction
Overview, expectations, skill level self-assessments
Collect emails and lab user accounts
Introduction to Final Cut Pro: FCP vs. iMovie, new workflows and considerations
Screen & critique student projects from Video I (or outside projects for students coming in without taking Video I) and screen some videos as examples of work that will be covered/expected
Assignment due next week: Read Dmytryk’s rules of editing (download as a 26K Word doc here) and the excerpt on montage from Eisenstein's "Word and Image" (from The Film Sense, translated by Jay Leyda, published by HBJ in English in 1942), as a 4.4 MB PDF download here. You may also want to take a look at these examples of Eisenstein's theories in action. For your written response, answer the following question in 1-2 paragraphs: how does the concept of montage advanced by Eisenstein differ from the classic Hollywood rules of editing outlined by Dmytryk?

Thursday, September 6th
Week 2: The Elements of Editing
Screen Eisenstein excerpts and discuss the concept of montage as developed in his writing and films, and how montage has evolved as editing technology has changed
Screen Vertov (Man with a Movie Camera) excerpts and discuss the basic elements and methods with which an editor works to construct meaning;
Screen Children of Men excerpt and discuss the power of the choice not to cut;
Principles of nonlinear editing: analog vs. digital; timecode signatures; compression and codecs; relationships between media and project files; scrubbing and rendering.
Final Cut Pro: preferences and settings; windows, menus, key commands and layouts; quirks, crashes and help features; planning and preparing media for digitize/import.
Assignment due next week: Read “A Discussion with Gary Hill” (a 696 KB download here) and “Editing Video in the MAC Lab: A Quick Start Guide” (274 KB PDF download here). Write down any questions you have so that we can go over them in class next week.

Thursday, September 13th
Week 3: The Syntax of Editing
Screen Primarily Speaking, Meshes of the Afternoon, Koyaanisqatsi excerpt, Su Friedrich and Alix Pearlstein and discuss the syntax of editing as described by Gary Hill; review Bordwell + Thomson’s narrative + non-narrative formal systems; linguistic, musical, and rule-based syntaxes
Principles of editing: structure from shot to shot, sequence to sequence and scene to scene; relationships between image, sound, and text layers; discourse of a video (narrative or argument) can develop both horizontally and vertically
Final Cut Pro: log + capture; importing; bins; editing with overwrite, insert, slice and trim.
Assignment due next week: Read “Theory of the Film: Sound” by Bela Balazs (a 511K PDF download here) and "A Statement" by Eisenstein, Pudovkin et al, a 569 K PDF download here, and bring in to class an example from film, television, or video of a scene where sound other than dialogue plays an integral role in telling the story, describing the setting, or communicating the emotional tenor of the scene.

Thursday, September 20th
Week 4: Sound & Image
Screen the examples brought into class by students, as well as others from film/video history, with and without their sound. Discuss how music, sound design, and dialogue change the experience of a work. When does sound support the image, when is it an equal partner, and when does it dominate?
Discuss reading: synchronous and asynchronous sound; sound that explains the image; sound that establishes a space as an acoustic world; silence as sound effect.
Screen video art where sound and image-sound relationships are particularly important (Hill, Viola, Silver) and discuss the differences between film and video sound.
Production Review 1: Sync and non-sync sound, recording and workflow into post. Principles of editing: meaning of cut vs. dissolve.
Final Cut Pro: working with multiple tracks; cutting and trimming tools + techniques; transitions; titles; audio controls + filters; simple exports.
Assignment due next week: The Potemkin: Shoot two different activities and edit a 1-3 minute sequence where both activities are given a new (narrative or non-narrative) meaning through your choices as an editor (when to intercut, what to juxtapose, etc.). The idea here is to shoot simple and make your point through your edits. Export your sequences as QuickTime movies and be prepared to show them in class.

Thursday, September 27th
Week 5: Film, Video, Television, YouTube
Screen & critique Potemkin projects
Discuss video as medium/media and how it builds on/differs from the film tradition in form, content, genres and context. Screen examples of experimental film that plays on the physicality of the film negative (Stan Brakhage, Bill Morrison), early video art using analog processors (Nam June Paik, Vasulkas), and more recent work that uses digital / algorithmic processing (Leah Gilliam, Les Leveque). How did the parallel development of TV affect cinema, and vice versa? Where does video fit in? How are new outlets for video (e.g. YouTube) changing modes of production as well as distribution? Screen video art that subverts television codes by appropriating footage (Universal Games, Salloum, Muntadas, Political Advertising) and viral/public domain videos. Discuss Creative Commons licensing and fair use issues for artists.
Final Cut Pro: applying video filters + image processing effects; exporting for different formats + contexts.
Principles of editing: When is image processing conceptually essential, and when is it just a formal flourish? How does processing of appropriated material serve to highlight or subvert particular elements of the original material?
Assignment due next week: Fair Use, part 1: Collect 10-30 clips (from at least two different sources) of appropriated footage that relate to one central theme or issue, digitize or import them into an FCP project, and edit them into a sequence that is structured using one of the non-narrative formal systems or syntaxes discussed in class. Your sources must either be in the public domain, or have an appropriate CC license, or be restructured by your editing in such a way that your appropriation could be argued as fair use. Keep in mind that when using clips imported from multiple sources in one FCP project, it’s usually best to re-size and re-compress them all to one uniform standard with QuickTime Pro or ffmpegX before you import them into FCP (and make sure your FCP project is set to the same standard!) – otherwise you will waste a lot of time rendering and re-rendering your clips. Export your sequence and be prepared to justify each choice you made as an editor when you show it in class.

Thursday, October 4th
Week 6: The Time, Space and Performance of Video
Screen & critique Fair Use projects
Screen examples of video performance and installation, beginning with live television: Kovacs, Campus, Downey, Jonas, Acconci, Abramovic; Scher, Eshkar, LoVid, Sester
Discuss video as performance in time and space; a sculptural act; a resistance and manipulation of media codes
Discussion on experimental approaches to content, form, context and genre
Look at and discuss examples of interdisciplinary collaborations that bring different kinds of time-based performance to video
Visit to Ellen Cornfield's dance company; observation and talk with the dancers about possible modes of colalboration Production Review 2: Camera techniques, framing, lighting
Final Cut Pro: versioned projects; advanced editing; troubleshooting; output.
Assignment due in two weeks: Fair Use, part 2: Duplicate your Fair Use sequence and use the comments from critique to edit a fine cut. Then duplicate your project. Experiment with your sequence and clips to see if you can change the meaning of the footage by processing it – applying a judiciously selected effect, transition, or sequence of effects and transitions. Export both your processed and unprocessed sequences to show in class.

Thursday, October 11th
Week 7: Field Trip – NYC
Assignment due next week: 2-page field trip response paper.

Thursday, October 18th
Week 8: The Impulse and the Plan
Screen & critique Fair Use 2 projects.
Screen examples of experimental videos that work from the documentary impulse but subvert documentary conventions (Kobland, Suleiman, Farocki).
Discuss video as democratizing technology vs. instrument of surveillance, and the use of unreliable narrators and translators.
Discuss work seen during the field trip.
Review treatment, script and storyboard format.
Final Cut Pro: Working with voiceovers and subtitles, mixing for output.
Assignment due next week: Produce a 1-page treatment or annotated storyboard for a 3-5 minute video (narrative, experimental, performance-based, or even documentary) that would make use of our resident dance company and choreographer. Bring enough copies for everyone in class and also be prepared to present your concept orally to the class and company.
Also: Assemble your midterm portfolio (the three projects completed and all your writing in the class so far, TYPED) and hand it in at the beginning of next class.

Thursday, October 25th
Week 9: Collaborative Production, Part 1
Students present their project concepts to the class, company and choreographer, who will choose together at least one idea to be produced. During class, production roles (director, camera, lighting, sound, etc.) are assigned and a production schedule is determined, with help from the instructor if necessary. The crew then works collaboratively to develop the original concept into a shooting script. (Cover script format if necessary.)
Assignment due next week: Work with your crew to shoot your collaborative project and bring your tapes in to class.

Thursday, November 1st
Week 10: Collaborative Production, Part 2
Screen artists’ videos relevant to particular projects
Screen raw footage & discuss how production roles supported or conflicted with each other
Digitize footage and copy media files to class folder on server so each student in a crew can access the footage
Lab: Final Cut clinic – troubleshooting and individual help
Assignment due next week: Each member of a crew works with the same footage to edit a different version of the project. Output your edit and bring it to class.

Thursday, November 8th
Week 11: Advanced Post
Screen & critique edited versions of collaborative projects; discuss relative strengths and weaknesses of different versions
In class: crews work together to create and hand in collaborative production books.
Demo: advanced capabilities of FCP; different approaches for editing for multiple channel installations and/or interactive systems
Look at examples of interactive cinema
Assignment due next week: 1-page treatment and/or annotated storyboard for a 5-10 minute final project; schedule an individual meeting with the instructor. Once you have met with the instructor, use your meeting notes to prepare a production schedule and script (if necessary) for your final project. We will go over production schedules in class next week.

Thursday, November 15th
Week 12: Post-Editing Post-Production
Demo: Compressing with FCP/Compressor/ffmpegX; authoring with DVD Studio Pro; using VLC and QuickTimePro; video codecs and standards for web, multimedia, DVD
Assignment due in two weeks: As soon as your schedule is approved, begin work on your final project, which is due on the last day of class. Use the two weeks between this class and our next class to finish shooting, digitize all your footage, and begin your rough cuts.

Thursday, November 22nd
No class - Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 28th
Week 13: Lab – Work on Final Projects
Anyone with rough cuts completed is welcome to screen them for group crit.
Troubleshooting conceptual and technical issues with final projects as a group and individually, in class with instructor
Screen any other work that might be relevant to individual projects
Final Cut clinic
Assignment due next week: Continue working on your final projects. You should have a fine cut completed and ready to show in class next week.

Thursday, December 6th
Week 14: Fine Cut Critique
Last week of class!
Screen & critique fine cuts of final projects
Individual meetings with students during lab time to discuss grades
Assignment due next week: Authoring final projects. Your final cut should be re-edited, if necessary, and authored to DVD by next week (the end of the first week of final exams). Be prepared to hand in a copy to the instructor.