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Video Assignment

The proliferation of inexpensive ways to shoot video has resulted in an explosion of new media using video clips. From YouTube to CNN's iReporting, it has become easy to publish a video. Some devices, like the Flip video recorder and certain cellphones, will even upload a video onto a media site for you; consider this informal and interesting video made by Dr. Bird at a Mark Twain conference this summer (. The trick, however, is to make an effective video, which isn't as easy. You need to translate what you know about print rhetoric into visual form for this assignment.


The purpose of creating a video is multiple:

(1) to give you exposure to new forms of digital media and software;

(2) to have first-hand experience with copyright issues;

(3) to learn more about a topic of interest to you and to show how that topic relates to what we've been discussing in class; and (4) to have fun and be creative.

For this assignment, you should script and produce a - to 6-minute video that you edit, add credits to, and post on a video sharing site. The question should be about some aspect of new media--for instance, you might ask people "Is Google making us stupid?" or "Do people spend too much time on Facebook?" or "Are books going to disappear in the electronic age?" Your video must be suitable for class presentation, so please avoid obscene language and meaningless sexual, offensive, or vile components

The materials you will complete for this project will

1. Making Your Video

It's helpful to tackle a creative project in stages, such as

  1. Conceptualize your video;
  2. Begin researching the topic and outlining the script
  3. Begin collecting your samples and clear copyright;
  4. Record the voice portion of the video
  5. Mix your samples into a final video.

A. Concept
Start by brainstorming to help give your project focus. Write out a few notes to yourself describing your overall concept. Be sure to hit all angles (sense of purpose, audience, context, statement of purpose, strategies, medium, arrangement, production and testing). It may help to create an imagined list of questions and answers between your intended listeners and you (For example: Q Is Google making us stupid? A In my video, I will have a short summary of the original argument and then bring in various users' viewpoints....) It's not to soon to start thinking about the video samples you would like to collect.

B. Begin researching the topic and outlining the script
Like most written documents, initial planning is essential--you'll want to do an outline, storyboard, or some kind of design plan to lay out how you will arrange material to achieve your purpose. Your written script does NOT need to be word-for-word, but rather an idea of each topic covered and how long it takes on the video. You should also include notes on any background music or noises you will incorporate in each section. Any music or sounds you include must be copyright safe (
http://www.podsafemusicnetwork.com  for some options) or you must have the rights to them.

C. Samples, Copyright
Your project must have at least three video samples that you will manipulate or mix; at least one must be material that you did not record or create. You will need to consider the copyright concerns of each sample.

D. Record Voice
You'll need to have a script for this portion of the project -- the amount of detail in the script is up to you. It can be an outline, or it can be a word-for-word script. We'll talk about the difference between writing for the ear and writing for the eye, if you think you want a fully-scripted recording. Just know that it's an art to make a recording like this sound "natural."

E. Mix!
Now's the fun (creative!) and challenging (time!) of the project. Continue to work the script, and put your video clips together to form a whole. Note on the script which video files you've used and the relevant copyright information associated with each. Use your samples and your concept to create a video that reflects your communication goals. Use the hardware and software of your choice. Have friends (or fellow classmates) listen to your samples and give you feedback. Be sure to save your work often -- and give each version a different file name, so that you can easily "revert" if you don't like a change.

2. Creative Resources

1. Tools, Equipment, Software. Inexpensive video recording tools are all around--if not on your cellphone or on a Flip camera, then in inexpensive disposable video cameras you can get at Walmart or the drugstore. Your family or friends may have a video cam you can use. Somebody you know may have an iPhone. You can try to check one out from the College of Education's Instructional Technology Center, though they're not often available--COE classes have first call.

Microsoft Movie Maker is in all the campus computer labs and is an easy video editing program to use. Here is a very clear Windows Movie Maker Handout, courtesy of Dr. Marshall Jones.

There are a number of good online "help" sites for making videos. Some I have consulted are "How To Make Better Videos for YouTube," E-how's "How to Make a Better Video," YouTube MovieMaker how-tos, YouTube MovieMaker video editing tutorial, mightycoach.com's MovieMaker site, and of course, Microsoft's MovieMaker help site.

Copyright Guidelines

One of the goals of this project is to consider issues regarding copyright and new technology. Winthrop's copyright policy is available at www.winthrop.edu/copyright. Especially when you're importing published sound files, you'll want to consider these issues:

  1. Public Domain - Music and lyrics written prior to 1922 in the United States are considered Public Domain.  No one can claim ownership and therefore you can arrange, reproduce, perform, record or publish it. If you use work created in other countries you should refer to that particular country's copyright laws concerning public domain.
  2. Royalty Free - Royalty Free music is music you can use in any creative project after paying a one-time license fee. Often, these fees are very small. There are a number of web sites offering royalty free music such as Shockwave-Sound.com, Royalty Free Music.com (which also offers a selection of free music on their web site), and The Music Bakery.
  3. Creative Common Licenses - Creative Commons Licenses are designed for musicians (digital and otherwise) to offer their work to the public but under particular conditions. Often these works can be used for free, as long as the original author of a sample of music is noted where the work is published. A great resource for learning more about Creative Commons Licenses is the Creative Commons web site and in particular, their list describing the types of licenses you will encounter when searching for audio samples at ccMixter (a community music site featuring thousands of samples licensed under Creative Commons).
  4. US Copyright - General US Copyright Law requires that you ask for permission from an author to record, copy, alter, reproduce, arrange or publish any part of their work in your own creative project. Often one must pay the musician or their record label (or both) for the rights to use their work. 

Be aware of the various types of licensing and laws when collecting your samples. This will not only make you aware of copyright issues but will also give you food for thought about the Creative Commons license you decide to use with your video.

You cannot use music from CDs you own (copyrighted) as background music unless it is made available under a license for such use! It is not fair use. You can, however, use clips from radio, TV or CDs to illustrate points you are making in your video since this is a graded assignment for a class.

WRIT 501 Fall 2009