Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Project: Documentary Short

Hello Students,
Documentaries are a great way to inform and delight the viewer. It can be a view into worlds that we rarely see. If you have access to someone unique, a place people don’t normally get to see or if you want to share a unique perspective than this is a great opportunity to share those things with the world. When shooting your documentary the idea is to shoot as much footage as you can, and weave it into something informative and entertaining through editing and timing. The goal should be a good story that is factual, informative and entertaining all at the same time. 

Video Production Documentary Project
Project Details and Requirements:
  • This is a team based project, teams may be no larger than two
  • Final run time must be 5-7 minutes minimum
  • Each project must have a creative animated title sequence, this animation may be created in After Effects as motion graphics or created by hand as animation or stop motion.
  • Must have titles and tails at beginning and end: 3 seconds of padding, show production logos, title logos and credits at the end, followed by 3 seconds of padding at the end.
  • Each team must produce and use a production logo int eh beginning of their documentary
  • Each team must produce a 1 page film proposal for approval. Upon approval a script or treatment must be written along with a storyboard or shot list. Guidelines for each are provided in a packet. Read the entire project info packet before proceeding. 
  • Each team must screen a rough cut and a fine cut for feedback. 
  • Each team must produce a press kit to document and promote your video project. Guidelines for the press kit are contained in the packet. Details are listed below
  • Each team must produce a website to document and promote your video project, details are listed below
Treatments for Documentaries: 
Since most documentaries and experimental films do not have scripts, they frequently use the treatment to summarize their project. The treatment for an experimental film should express what the audience is going to see, hear and feel – it should be clear and descriptive. The treatment for a documentary may be less descriptive because much of the information (the interview, for example) may not have been filmed yet: documentary treatments typically spend more time establishing the conditions of filming and the questions the filmmaker intends to address. Nonetheless, a documentary treatment should also establish what the film is going to look like and sound like to best of the director’s knowledge. It should present the issues and information to be investigated and what new perspectives the viewers may experience through the documentary film.

New Line Cinema Production Logo

Biographies,Press Kits and Logos: 
Each filmmaking team is responsible for assembling a press kit and writing the biography for their film. These materials are used to distribute the project to film festivals and for publicity.

A biography is a brief, third-person description of the filmmaker(s). Information that is typically included in a biography includes: place of birth, place of residence, educational background, past projects, current projects, areas of interest.

A sample biography:
Jason Jakaitis is a filmmaking student at San Francisco State University and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Master of Arts program in Communications Studies. Born and raised in San Diego, he currently lives in the Upper Haight area of San Francisco. In 2007, Jason was awarded a Murphy Fellowship from the San Francisco Foundation, as well as a Personal Works grant from Film Arts Foundation and a New Filmmaker grant from Panavision. Jason's previous film, minutiae, is a 16mm narrative short that was awarded Special Jury Prize at the Portland International Short Short Film Festival, and screened at the 2007 Mill Valley, Humboldt and Santa Cruz film festivals.

Your team must produce a logo for your “production company”. This can be drawn by hand, created in photoshop or illustrator. It could be a still image, or even animated.

Press Kit:
Depending on the project, press kits can be composed of a variety of different kinds of information, but the overall goal of the kit is always the same: to provide the individual with as much relevant information about the film as possible. This information can then be used in articles, in film festival schedules, online “blurbs” and any other way that a festival would choose to promote the film.

Download and read a real press kit: Press Kit for  the film Some Kind Of Wonderful
Check out this press kit: Watchmen Promo Press Kit

Press Kits require the following: 
  • Two or more still images from the film itself 
  • Two behind the scenes production stills taken with a camera, cell phone cam, ipod camera, point and shoot, etc 
  • One “headshot” photo of the director or filmmakers 
  • A one paragraph (3-4 sentence) synopsis of the film 
  • You can assemble your press kit using google docs, pages or word, indesign, photoshop or illustrator 
Behind the Scenes Production Still from Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
Production Still from Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"

Original Press Kit from the film "Blade Runner"

Your blog has the same goal as the press kit, to provide a potential audience member about details regarding your film. People love seeing behind the scenes images, information and watching the creative process. Update your blog throughout the process of creating your project, and show your video on it when complete.

Check out a blog: Click this link to check out This is the blog of my friend Byron Aihara, a documentary film maker.

Blogs should show:
  • Two or more still images from the film itself 
  • Two production stills taken with a camera, cell phone cam, ipod camera, point and shoot, etc 
  • One “headshot” photo of the director or filmmakers 
  • A one paragraph (3-4 sentence) synopsis of the film 
  • Behind the scenes information and photos
  • A trailer of your film embedded on the page, use vimeo to host the video
  • A final edit of your project embedded on the page, use vimeo to host the video
Good luck Filmmakers!

- Mr.W

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Surely you can't be serious (yes I am, and don't call me Shirley)

Hello Students,
Your newest class project is to produce a comedy/variety sketch show. Students will break into teams and produce comedy shorts, bumper animations and cut scenes and the shorts will be spun into a full show. We will attempt to air the show on community television.

Unusual TV Skit Show Assignment:

  • Students will work in teams of 4
  • Each team is responsible for shooting 1-3 short sketches or skits
  • Each skit should be 1 to 3 minutes in length, not to exceed 5 minutes for any sketch
  • Each team is responsible for shooting a show bumper or transition. This can be animated, done with video or use your own creativity. Bumpers must be 5 seconds long minimum, 10 seconds maximum and must display the title of our show at the end of the bumper, "Unusual TV" or "U TV"
  • Each team must provide a storyboard with dialogue and scene direction for approval before shooting can begin.
  • Teams will turn final edits into the team of producers for inclusion in final show version
  • Any sketch or bumper may be rejected, so put your best effort into your projects
Schedule will be posted ASAP

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Assignment: Kinetic Type Animation Tutorial

Hello Students,
Your newest assignment is to complete one of the two animated type tutorials listed below. You will be using After Effects to reinforce your motion graphic skills. You will need to follow the steps in the video tutorials very carefully, if you get stuck ask questions but don't give up!

Kinetic Type Animation Tutorials:

Awesome Vintage 80's Title Creation:
This tutorial shows you how to create a radical vintage style title animation and shows many cool tips and tricks with Adobe After Effects. You will be totally stoked to the max if you can complete this intermediate tutorial.

Rhythmic Motion Typography Animation:
In this tutorial you will learn how to make animated text that moves to the music, you will create dynamic action and use motion blur to create a bold stylized type animation. The skills taught in this tutorial are highly sought in the motion graphics industry.

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Assignment: Stop Motion Short

Hello Students,
Your next assignment is to create a stop motion animation. You can use a point-and-shoot digital camera, cell phone camera (as long as you can copy off the images) or a video camera that uses a still-image shooting mode.

Stop Motion Animation Project:

  • This is an individual project, no teams. Students may assist each other during the animation process.
  • Come up with a simple animation idea, stop motion with people, objects, clay, drawings etc...
  • Use a digital camera to shoot the frames of your stop motion animation
  • Image sequences can be compiled with Final Cut or After Effects and turned into an animated sequence. You could turn a sequential series of photographs into an animation by importing the the folder of images into Final Cut, and adjusting the timing afterwards
  • Animation should run between 30-60 seconds
  • Check out the samples below for some ideas
  • Project is due on Monday the 7th

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting Familiar with After Effects Exercise: 20 Effects

Hello Students,
Today we will learn how to bring video clips into Adobe After Effects to apply effects to them. Follow the steps outlined below to get started...

20 Different AE Effects Assignment Details:
  • Find a short clip from one of your previous projects, output a 3-5 second clip of video from Final Cut. Use the Export > Quicktime function for best results.
  • Launch Adobe After Effects
  • Go to File > Import > Files and navigate to your clip
  • Drag your clip into the timeline and set up a composition
  • Explore the Effects menu, pick one while your clip is selected in the timeline to apply that effect
  • You can use Command-D to duplicate a clip, you can also Option-ClickDrag to make a copy.
  • Use the Text Tool to create a text object and type in the name of the Effect, shorten the Text Objects Layer in the Timeline so it only appears for that specific clip. Repeat for each clip.
  • Apply 20 different Effects to 20 different clips... explore the effects palette to modify the Effect's parameters. 
  • When done, set up your in/out markers and use Command-Control-M to "Make" a movie. You will see the Render Que... hit the Render button to save your movie.
  • Transfer your movie to my laptop via thumbdrive to turn it in
  • Files are due before end of class monday
Grading for a total of 10 points:
2.5 Points - All 20 clips created with effects
2.5 Points - Effects have labels
2.5 Points - File turned in is in H.264 format
2.5 Points - File turned in on time

AE Effects Samples:

Have Fun!

 - Mr.W

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get Started with Motion Graphics: After Effects for Beginners

Hello Students,
Motion Graphics is a technique that is used to bring graphics, animation and 3D content to life. It is used in commercials, production, movies, animation and more. From the most complicated animated feature film to a simple logo animation, motion graphics makes it happen.

Tutorials - After Effects for Beginners:
Read and work through these tutorials to gain an in-depth understanding of the After Effects workflow. Don't skip any steps or skim over the material, read each and every paragraph and try out the steps yourself. Write a 1 paragraph summary of each tutorial and discuss the methods you discovered and techniques that the tutorials demonstrate. Be thorough, you will be calling on these skills for the next assignment, working through an intermediate to advanced AE tutorial.

Motion Graphics can blur the line between video, art and animation

Monday, September 23, 2013

Music Video Post Project Write Up

Hello Students,

Your music video scavenger hunt projects are due today.

For all team members, your next assignment is to write a 1 page review of your video project to answer these questions:
  1. List your team member names and the names of any other class participants.
  2. What were the major difficulties with your project?
  3. What technical issues did you encounter, and how did you work around or fix them?
  4. How much of your original vision ended up in your final video, and how difficult was it to adhere to your storyboard? What hurdles if any did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
  5. If you were to shoot and edit the same project again, what would you do differently?
  6. Did this project give you any cool ideas for a future project?
  7. What part of  your project took up the most time? Filming, editing, writing? Why?

Please type up your overview and print and turn in or email it to me at

- Mr. W

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Art of The Storyboard

Shot Lists:
A shot list is like a storyboard but without visuals. You simply describe the action, lighting, setting, dialogue and camera angle. 

For instance: 
  • Fade up on football field, eye level camera
  • Low camera level, player runs onto field
  • Cut to side shot, track with player

The basic idea is to create a recipe that you can follow when you go out to shoot your project...

The Art Of The Storyboard:
After a concept is established for a film, a script can then be created and storyboards can be executed to visualize the film. A storyboard is meant to represent the framing, action and elements in each shot in a sequence. It is a valuable tool to draw from when actual shooting begins.

Your storyboard should convey essential information:
  • What characters are in the frame, are they moving? Seated? Standing?
  • What are the characters saying, seeing or experiencing
  • How much time is passing, is it a long panning shot? Or a quick succession of shots?
  • Where is the camera? High, low? Over the shoulder? Birds-eye view? Is the camera moving or still?

After storyboard creation do not be afraid to change camera angles, dialogue etc... this is all part of the creative process.

Draw your storyboard in pencil so that some shots or text can be reworked. Your artwork does not need to be fancy, use basic shapes, stick figures and simple backgrounds.

Use language to describe camera angles and shot styles:
CLOSE-UP SHOT:   A close range of distance between the camera and the subject.
DISSOVLE: A transition between two shots, where one shot fades away and simultaneously another shot fades in. 
FADE: A transition from a shot to black where the image gradually becomes darker is a Fade Out; or from black where the image gradually becomes brighter is a Fade In. 
HIGH CAMERA ANGLE:  A camera angle which looks down on its subject making it look small, weak or unimportant. 
JUMP CUT: A rapid, jerky transition from one frame to the next, either disrupting the flow of time or movement within a scene or making an abrupt transition from one scene to another. 
LEVEL CAMERA ANGLE:  A camera angle which is even with the subject; it may be used as a neutral shot. 
LONG SHOT:  A long range of distance between the camera and the subject, often providing a broader range of the setting. 
LOW CAMERA ANGLE:  A camera angle which looks up at its subject; it makes the subject seem important and powerful. 
PAN:  A steady, sweeping movement from one point in a scene to another. 
POV (point of view shot): A shot which is understood to be seen from the point of view of a character within the scene. 
REACTION SHOT: A shot of someone looking off screen. 2.: A reaction shot can also be a shot of someone in a conversation where they are not given a line of dialogue but are just listening to the other person speak. 
TILT:  Using a camera on a tripod, the camera moves up or down to follow the action. 
ZOOM:  Use of the camera lens to move closely towards the subject.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Project: Music Video Scavenger Hunt

Hello Students,
Your next assignment will be graded on your ability to accomplish 20 specific technical shots or techniques and how creative you can be within those constraints while creating a music video. Minimum video length 2 minute, 4-5 minutes max. We will discuss all these techniques and how to accomplish them in class. You will also be graded on time management, working in teams effectively and ability to meet the deadlines.

Teams will be chosen by picking numbers. Teamwork is crucial on this project, every one must participate and contribute to the final project. You will work in teams of 4.

Teams will shoot footage and share, each team member will produce their own final edit of the project for grading.

20 Video Production Techniques
Music Video Project Specifications:
1 Page proposal/pitch must be approved before production can begin.

Production Schedule:
Sept 6th - Proposal Due
Sept  9th - Script, Storyboard or Shot List Due
Sept 12th - Preliminary Shooting Complete
Sept 17th - Rough Cut Edit Complete
Sept 19th - Editing Complete

Format: The final format of your video project will be a music video. Music is the choice of the editor but must be classroom safe in lyrical content.

Grading: For full credit your video project must contain one example of the 20 shots listed below. Camera work should be smooth and steady. Editing should be well timed and without edit glitches or gaps. Must have titles and tails. All deadlines listed above must be met on time.

Note: Each team member must take turns shooting and acting. Outside actors or camera operators allowed. Teams may help each other for difficult shots. All project storyboard/scripts/shot lists must be approved by me before production can begin.

Each team member is responsible for editing their own final version of the video, no group efforts with editing.

A shotlist and storyboard must be created and the final video must contain 1 example each of the shots or effects listed below:

1. Silhouette Shot - actor or actors must be silhouetted against a background

2. Green Screen Shot - actor or actors shot against green screen, background must be keyed out and replaced with background still image or video

3. Single Source LighCloseup - actor or actors shot closeup with single light source for high contrast

4. Shadow Shot - camera shows shadow only, can pan up to actor after, or show interaction between two characters through shadow only

5. Twins - use static camera and split screen effect to show actor and a "double"

6. Window Illusion - overlay semi-transparent video over actor or actors to simulate window reflection

7. Frame Within A Frame - look for environments or architecture that "frames" your actor or actors

8. Background Slide - use a sideways camera movement to give the impression that the background is moving behind your actor or actors

9. Handheld Dolly Shot - follow the action with a handheld shot, must use a tripod as a counterweight to reduce camera shake, change camera height during shot

10. Fall Away - camera walks backwards from actor or actors

11. Walk In - shot begins on actor 1, in the foreground or background actor 2 steps into frame

12. Camera Flow - shot begins with Handheld Dolly Shot following actor 1 walking to the right, actor 2 passes in foreground going in opposite direction and camera changes direction to follow actor 2. This change in direction can happen 2-3 times

13. Spin Shot - camera spins around actor or actors 360 degrees

14. Motionless Camera - camera is tripod mounted, focus on motion in scene, all actor or actors must be moving. extras can help add energy to a scene

15. Whip Cut - camera quickly sweeps away from scene, edit is made to seem like camera ends on a second scene, also called a sweep cut

16. Slow Motion - Video source is slowed down by 75%. slowing down any more can be done but render time is increased. Ask me how to do extreme slow motion with Adobe After Effects.

17. Pass Through Wall - Camera moves up to wall, fades to second shot inside moving towards center of room. Can also be pass through window, pass through keyhole etc...

18. Extreme Angle - camera angle has extreme foreshortening or perspective

19. Saturated Color Background - actor or actors are shot against a background of mostly a single vivid color, such as a brightly colored wall, green grass, etc...

20. Textured Background - actor or actors shot against textured background, brick wall, fence posts, tree bark, ivy etc...

Extra information about these shots can be researched online... have fun!

- Mr. W

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Introduction to Editing Video

Hello Students,
Today we will set up your workstations and begin our introduction to video editing with Adobe Premiere. You will be editing pre-shot footage to create a fun and compelling promotional tourism spot for the city of San Francisco.

Part 1 - Learning Adobe Premiere:
  • Launch Adobe Premiere
  • Watch videos 1 through 13 in the "Learning Premiere Pro" section of the Adobe TV website
  • Practice the steps that you can as you watch the videos
  • Find a sample video file to practice editing, color correction, outputting, etc...
  • If you can watch all 13 videos you are on your way to being a video editing pro! When complete watch the other videos in that section to learn how to process and distribute your movie files

Part 2 - Editing a Promotional Tourism Video for the City of San Francisco

Project Concept: The City of San Francisco has hired you to edit a promotional tourism video. They have provided you pre-shot footage and your job is to make it sing! Your commercial will play on local television stations coast to coast, so it should have universal appeal. Your commercial should promote the unique sights that the city has to offer.
  • Your final video file should be exactly 30 seconds long
  • Use music that fits the energy of your video
  • Edit your video cuts to be timed with the music
  • Use color correction to enhance the footage
  • Use video transitions to keep the video compelling and interesting, but be careful not to overuse them or repeat them too many times
  • Create text titles to create a "call to action" at the end of your video, something like "Visit beautiful San Francisco today!"
  • Add 3 seconds of blank video to the beginning and end of the video before exporting with your in and out markers
  • Have fun!

- Mr.Wilson