Critical Skills Review II: Fiction

Course Description

Students will be tested and evaluated on their skills developed in the Narrative Project Cycle of the Filmmaking certificate. This module will enable students to demonstrate, reinforce, and increase their proficiency in technical and functional skills. There will be solo and small group exercises to perform, under deadline. Students will be evaluated on how efficiently and effectively they execute. They will also be provided with supportive feedback on how to better employ skills, fill in any needed fundamentals, and how to consider the use of these skills in a fluid and non-dogmatic way in their future work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Camera and sound
  • Camera moves and coverage
  • Set protocol and division of labor
  • Lighting & Grip
  • Editing and presentation
  • Dialog scene, blocking for content changes
  • Cinematic action with clarity
  • Editing for pace and change

Critical Skills Review I: Non-Fiction

Course Description

Students will be tested and evaluated on their skills developed in the Non-Fiction Project Cycle of the Filmmaking certificate. This module will enable students to demonstrate, reinforce, and increase their proficiency in technical and functional skills. There will be solo and small group exercises to perform, under deadline. Students will be evaluated on how efficiently and effectively they execute. They will also be provided with supportive feedback on how to better employ skills, fill in any needed fundamentals, and how to consider the use of these skills in a fluid and non-dogmatic way in their future work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Camera and Sound
  • Camera moves and coverage
  • Lighting & Grip
  • Editing and Presentation
  • Usage/Vocabulary
  • Interviews
  • Verité
  • Division of labor on a shoot
  • Functional shooting to suit an edit
  • Discussion of product at a more demanding level

DM310 + DM320 Independent Project

Course Description

The Filmmaking certificate leads students up to the point where they can make their own independent filmmaking project. The vast majority of students will have an idea in mind from the start of the Program, or one that has evolved as they have learned and perhaps developed during the Story course. These project initiators or authors will employ others within their class, and outside of their class, to execute this project in a structured, multi-module framework. The Guidelines included here will assist project authors in their development process, and outline requirements that must be met.

Some students will choose not to be the project author, but instead will wish to focus on their skills in an area of concentration. This might be producing, cinematography, lighting, sound or editing. Filmmaking is a collaborative discipline, and it is expected that anyone with a legitimate credit can show a project for the purposes of getting the next job. The Guidelines here will outline requirements for those who wish to concentrate on a particular area of skills.

Project authors are strongly encouraged to enlist their fellow students in a fully collaborative way, thus giving the project the greatest chance for success. Everyone is encouraged to provide much needed labor and help on a range of others’ independent projects. Everyone in the industry carries sandbags or coffee at some point in their career.

Learning Outcomes

  • This set of courses will utilize everything learned in the program to this point, and encompasses all of the filmmaking disciplines (screenwriting, pre-production, production and post-production). What specifically each student takes from these courses depends on what they choose to do. Some may choose to write and direct their own project. Others may choose to augment their skills in a particular discipline or department by working on multiple projects.

DM300b Commercial Group Project II

Course Description

This Filmmaking class will be devoted mainly to post production and any production that still needs to be completed. The objective of this week is for the students to finish shooting their project and begin complete post production phase. It is the goal of this week’s class for the students to have a completed commercial video which meets the client’s expectations and which will deliver the message the client needs to communicate.

Learning Outcomes

  • Edit commercial video which achieves the client’s communicated goals.
  • Proper set-up of Final Cut Pro to handle complex editing.
  • Ability to edit a video following an approved script.
  • Ability to tell the agreed story.
  • Creative use of graphics to communicate the client’s goals.
  • Creative use of music (all legal) to enhance the story.
  • Use of monitor/scopes for viewing and assessment.

DM300a Commercial Group Project I

Course Description

Students will experience all phases of commercial production. This includes working with a client to develop a commercial project, creating a treatment, writing a script, all phases of pre production and production. This course will also include some business basics for the independent commercial producer. Students should already have acquired basic productions skills during previous Filmmaking certification modules. While this course will reinforce their production skills, they will also be taught a set of skills which will include how to communicate effectively with a client, the vocabulary of commercial production as well as the business side of producing a commercial project. These new skills will prepare the student to efficiently work as a commercial producer. Emphasis will be placed on speed during the pre-production process, production and post production. It should be emphasized that in order to realize a profit the producer must work efficiently.

Each student will be responsible for pitching their idea to the client based on their chosen project. In this exercise the instructor will play the role of the client and give feedback to the student concerning the video project. It is important to note that the instructor will play two roles during this course. The instructor will also be called upon to role play as the client. Here the student will experience what it is really like in dealing with a client.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss and provide handouts on commercial production concepts and examples of business basics. Hand outs will include basic contracts, invoices, budget forms, explanation of model and location releases and other forms pertinent to commercial. production.
  • Identify which students are ready to begin pre-production and if necessary help any which might need help in developing an idea.
  • Emphasize story telling and the importance of keeping the project on message.
  • Ensure all students have the skills in videography and editing.
  • Emphasize the importance quality sound and video and how poor sound or poor video can doom a project.
  • Prepare examples of outstanding commercial productions. Discuss these examples with the students and determine how they can use these proven methods and practices in their own project.
  • Emphasize that that one of the goals of this class is for students to learn to work quickly during all phases of the production process.

DM290 Picture Finishing

Course Description

Picture lock is an essential stage in the post-production process. It not only signifies that the edit of a project is finalized, but also that it is time for project finishing to begin. During the finishing stage, many post-production departments begin work that they could not have done previously while edit decisions were still being made. These takes include color grading, sound mixing, scoring, and visual effects, among other tasks.

In this Filmmaking class students will be introduced to the finishing technique of color grading, where a captured image is modified to give it the final “look” that it will have in the finished picture. Students will also be prepped on how to prepare their final Filmmaking certificate projects for post-production sound departments.

Learning Outcomes

  • Software/Technical
  • Color Grading
  • AAF Export
  • Contrast
  • Color Casts
  • Vignettes
  • H/S/L Qualifiers
  • Finishing Codecs
  • Image Sequences
  • Spotting Sessions
  • Preparation for Audio
  • Academy Leader

DM280 Lighting and Camera Beyond Basics

Course Description

Students will be introduced to a range of camera & lighting related techniques and skills that will expand their repertoire while they work toward the completion of their Filmmaking certificate. This includes shooting with larger chip formats, procedures for effective testing of camera and lighting options, basic compositing and green screen work. It is intended to solidify and expand student capabilities as they enter the Commercial Project Cycle, and prior to their Independent Project.

Learning Outcomes

  • Camera
  • Lighting & Grip
  • Camera mounts
  • Technical approaches
  • Coverage strategies, including multiple camera
  • Developing an overall look
  • Incorporating movement
  • Planning tests for the Independent Project
  • Making camera and lighting consistent with overall project goals
  • Planning for SFX (green screen)

DM270 Motion Graphics

Course Description

Animation, motion graphics and visual effects have in some cases become as essential an element of the filmmaking process as lighting and cinematography. In non-fiction work, motion graphics are often an integral part of the storytelling, to illustrate concepts, introduce subjects and maintain visual interest. In Fiction, motion graphics are used in title sequences, and visual effects are used to augment real-world locations, remove problem areas, and create sets and/or subjects that do not, or could not exist in real life.

 

In this Filmmaking class, an introduction to motion graphics and visual effects will be given using Apple’s Motion software. Students will create motion graphics title sequences, lower thirds, green screen composites and animated DVD menus.

Learning Outcomes

  • Motion
  • Keyframing
  • Behaviors
  • Filters
  • Green Screen Compositing
  • Particle Emitters
  • Motion Tracking
  • Blend Modes
  • Keyframes
  • Interpolation
  • Plates
  • Compositing

DM260b Narrative Group Project: Post-Production

Course Description

The main objective of this Filmmaking class is to edit together the narrative project. At the beginning of the course emphasis will be placed on organizing and logging each file. Subsequently, students will be encouraged to revisit their initial script and see if the structure an aesthetic approach to the film has changed or is still viable. Before actual editing begins the Instructor will give guidelines on how to organize media and structure a new sequence. The goal is to move beyond simple mechanical edits but to start thinking about structure, time manipulation, rhythm, pace and building tension through the editing process

Learning Outcomes

  • Story Structure
  • Dramatic Elements
  • Scene
  • Montage
  • Ingesting
  • Logging
  • Pacing
  • Assembly Cut
  • Rough Cut
  • Fine Cut
  • Picture Lock
  • Building Tension
  • Cutaways
  • Score/Needle Drops

DM260 Narrative Group Project II

Course Description

This is the Production module of the Narrative Group Project cycle of the Filmmaking certification. Students are now executing the script(s) that have been prepped in prior modules. The emphasis for student goals is the creation of a film that is coherent, with the plot easily followed, with clearly defined characters, and coverage that contributes to the storytelling. The emphasis for Instructor goals is in teaching and supervising proper procedures for shooting narrative, likely both on set and on practical locations. It is also in facilitating clear communication on set, and in assisting with decision making by the student group. In all cases, the prior preparation is the basis for beginning discussions and execution of production.

By the end of the course, students should have all of the raw footage needed to edit their project into a coherent short film. Because of this need to complete shooting in the time allotted, the standard methods and approaches to ensure production efficiency will be put into place, with the help of the Instructor, so that students can “make the day” each and every day.

Learning Outcomes

  • Camera settings overall, and for consistent shot selection
  • Focus pulling, as needed
  • Use of exposure guidelines
  • Use of grey card/grey steps chart for new scenes
  • Use of movement and adjustment of lights for coverage from other angles and turnarounds
  • Dolly protocol and use
  • Use of sound gear, including mixers, boom mics, and lavs
  • Use of lighting and grip equipment in novel settings

DM250 Narrative Group Project I

Course Description

Pre-Production is the backbone of creating a video project. It is the planning phase of the production process by which every detail of the project from start to finish is mapped out. Pre-Production is also the phase when the “elements” that comprise the story or treatment (cast, crew, props, locations, camera blocking, audio needs, equipment, etc.), are detailed, gathered, and made tangible.

Put simply, Pre-Production is when action plans and specific steps are determined and implemented for everything needed to bring a video project from concept to the screen. Tasks include scheduling deadlines and creating to-do lists for prep weeks, principle photography, editing of the footage and other post-production steps, as well as final distribution and marketing of the project. Other decisions that must be determined before shooting the project can include, but are not limited to: deciding on the “look” of the film, choosing characters’ costumes, solidifying casting choices, lighting needs, the color palette of the film, title design, and beyond.

This Filmmaking class will also dissect through a basic video production budget to get an understanding of “real world” financial considerations of filmmaking.

The Pre-Production Filmmaking certificate module is one of the first opportunities for the class to collaborate as a team together on both creative and logistic goals, and as such, tips for navigating on-set group dynamics is also covered in this module. A good amount of time is allocated for the class to determine, assign responsibility for, and to follow through on their action plans.

When executed correctly, pre-production allows the director, producer, cast, crew, and vendors to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. The ultimate goal is to have a cohesive team working together to bring the project’s story to the screen in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible.

Learning Outcomes

  • Planning a video production from script (concept) to screen (distribution)
  • Breaking down a screenplay
  • Creating and adapting a production budget
  • Set Etiquette
  • Location Scouting vs. Tech Scouting techniques
  • Organizing and allocating “to-do” responsibilities within a large group
  • Group “Buy In”/agreement and being “on the same page”
  • Location Agreements/Personal Release/Permits
  • The concept of “Chain of Title”

DM240 Introduction to Narrative Cinematography

Course Description

Students are now learning the vocabulary and practices of shooting narrative, where a detailed and specific script is followed. Cinematography is a primary mechanism of storytelling, in both the theatrical elements relating to performance and dialog, and the cinematic aspects relating to story through visual presentation. The scripts in use for the Narrative Project Cycle are intended to provide both dialog driven scenes and ones that tell story through action and picture.

This Filmmaking certificate course focuses on the fundamental uses of camera to execute the project in a manner that is clear to the audience, by following forms and syntax of narrative cinematography. To do this effectively, students need to understand focal length selection, compositional control of attention, screen direction for action, the use of actor “looks”, functional coverage strategies, and basics of camera motion to incorporate into coverage. By the end of the module, students should have a basic toolset for creating and refining shot lists and strategies for production of the script.

Learning Outcomes

  • Camera settings for off-speed and shutter fx
  • Review of exposure guidelines
  • Review of grey card/grey steps chart for new scenes
  • Review of movement and adjustment of lights for coverage from other angles and turnarounds
  • Selection of focal length for angle of view, independent of camera
  • Difference between angle of view and FL in mm, dependent on camera
  • Relationship of FL in mm to DOF
  • Review of following action
  • Basics of dolly protocol and use

DM230 Directing Performances and Sequences

Course Description

Students will learn the responsibilities of the director and the functional objectives of the director’s job during this Filmmaking class. While the role of the director might vary from project to project, it is the director’s responsibility to lead the production both on an artistic as well as a management level. For narrative projects, storytelling is one of the director’s primary responsibilities. It is essential for a director to be prepared and to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully communicate the story to the audience.

The course will also include how a director prepares and the basic skills and tools needed to effectively tell a story. Emphasis will be placed on storytelling fundamentals, script analysis and breakdown, as well as how to use the camera to cover a sequence. This Filmmaking class will also cover how to effectively get believable performances from actors. Students will also learn the importance of the casting process and how to effectively conduct a casting session. These skills and knowledge will be used during an actual casting session where the students will audition talent for the directing project/deliverable that week.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding the role and responsibilities of the director
  • Working with a creative team to complete and refine the vision of the director
  • The importance in understanding the audience
  • How to analyze the script and translate that into a film or video
  • What are the techniques in getting performances from actors
  • What are the essential ingredients in casting
  • How to cover a scene using the camera and taking sound into account
  • What is a Director’s Binder
  • Casting criteria, and casting for upcoming group project
  • Prepare the students for their own independent projects

DM220 Story Forms and Functions

Course Description

This Filmmaking class is the start of a broad section of the Program on Narrative filmmaking. This module focuses on the script. Standard formatting is introduced, as well as paradigms for story structure. Students will analyze sections of existing scripts to see how storytelling building blocks can be seen within this blueprint for a movie. They will explore how scripts can inform, enact and evoke the audience. As part of this module, students will begin a script for use in their own independent project. All story ideas will be presented to class to see if they meet the criteria for clear and compelling storytelling. Throughout the program, students will work independently to bring this script to a point where it can be produced in the final, Independent Project section of the Filmmaking certificate program, should they choose to do a Narrative Project.

Learning Outcomes

  • Screenplay format
  • Screenplay software
  • Collaborative writing
  • Screenplay language
  • Story Structure
  • Story/scene analysis
  • Pitching Story

DM210 Doc Approaches to Non-Fiction Projects

Course Description

This Filmmaking certificate module links documentary approaches to other non-fiction programming, with plans of action, and with practical, structured exercises. Topics include events, news, life style, performance, and reality. Most people who work in these fields have solid documentary skills that are applied to the particular programming.

Learning Outcomes

  • Equipment/Technical
  • Solid shots for final edit
  • Appropriate camera and lighting for programming style
  • Sensible lighting, exposure, white balance for consistent footage
  • Good sound, with clear and present speaking of subjects
  • Using ambient and “wild” sound to assist with the sense of place
  • Appropriate use of tripod, handheld and even dolly shots
  • Shots incorporating pan/tilt and zoom, as well as single focal length shots
  • Solid focus, except as acceptable, brief “finding” of focus during transitional shots and verité footage
  • Establishing shots
  • Good execution of media management and storage
  • Sensible, timely editing of brief exercises
  • Editing styles appropriate to the programming

DM200 Post-Production for Documentary Group Project

Course Description

The main objective of this Filmmaking class is to edit a five to ten minute short documentary. At the beginning of the module the emphasis should be on organizing and logging each clip. Subsequently, students will be encouraged to revisit their initial treatment and see if the structure and aesthetic approach to the film has changed or is still viable. Before actual editing begins the Instructor will give guidelines on how to organize media and structure a new project. The goal is to move beyond simple mechanical edits and start thinking about structure, time manipulation, rhythm, pace and building tension through the editing process.

Learning Outcomes

  • Story Structure
  • Dramatic Elements
  • Scene
  • Montage
  • Ingesting
  • Logging
  • Assembly Cut
  • Rough Cut
  • Fine Cut
  • Picture Lock
  • Building Tension

DM190 Non-Linear Editing II

Course Description

At this point in the Filmmaking certificate program, Students have gone through DM140 Introduction to Non-Linear editing and have edited projects on their own in the DM150 Guided Project Course. This Filmmaking class aims to build upon editing skills gained from in-class instruction and practice by the student. It reinforces proper organization and editing technique, as well as introducing the student to advanced topics in media management, motion graphics and project finishing.

Learning Outcomes

  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Setting up a project with Libraries, Events and Projects
  • Importing media in an organized fashion
  • Organizing clips using Keyword Collections, Ratings, Folders and Markers
  • Editing clips into the timeline and various techniques for trimming
  • Filters and Effects
  • Exporting
  • Smart Collections
  • Transform controls for resizing clips and other images
  • Keyframing for Light Motion Graphics work
  • Sound Editing and Mixing
  • Light color correction for fixing improper white balance

DM180 Preproduction for Documentary Group Project

Course Description

During this Filmmaking class, students will shoot their short-subject documentary that was planned for in the DM160 course. Students will execute the schedules created in the previous modules to capture enough material to be able to produce a 3-7 minute short documentary film.

Learning Outcomes

  • Shooting on location
  • Interviewing Subjects
  • Executing a shooting schedule
  • Vérité-style shooting
  • Recording field sound

DM170 Lighting for Non-Fiction

Course Description

Students are now in the Documentary Project Cycle of the Filmmaking certification, demanding shooting of formal and informal interviews, and B-roll and verité style footage. This module is devoted to technical instruction and practice on how to shoot and light these types of situations, with more specificity depth than is covered in the introductory lighting and grip course. This will include lighting spaces, using available light to best advantage, and shooting under mixed light conditions. Emphasis will be on consistency of formal set-ups, and practicality in all other situations. Students will be encouraged to see the exercises as preparation for the range of situations they will encounter in the next week of shooting, and attack the problems they anticipate in completing their short doc project.

Learning Outcomes

  • Types of instruments/luminaries in use at school
  • Nature of these instruments, characteristics of their light output
  • Suggested common usage by type
  • 4 primary control characteristics (DairyQueenIceCream)
  • Expansion of how to work with mixed lighting and in-between White Balance values
  • Review of interview lighting
  • Lighting for spaces
  • Analyzing available light
  • Using minimal sources to address deficiencies in available light
  • Practice with exposure settings under time constraint
  • Use of expressed and implied motivated sources
  • Strategies for dealing with multiple camera shoots
  • Movement and adjustment of lights for coverage

DM160 PreProduction for Documentary Group Project

Course Description

This Filmmaking class is an introduction to documentary form, communications objectives, types of shots, and pre-production requirements.
Short clips from a number of documentaries will be analyzed to understand the basic types of shots and content that constitute most non-fiction films. Basics include: interviews, scene-based visuals and verité, B-roll, and archival materials. Other elements include voice-over (narration), graphics and animation, re-enactments, wild sound, and music. These are important considerations, but will have less focus than primary camera-based shooting.

Emphasis is on the ability to identify dramatic arcs and vivid characters who can drive the story. Furthermore, students will be strongly encouraged to produce scene-based visuals for their documentaries and use talking heads and narrations only as a secondary and additive layers. This will provide the greatest future utility in their skill-set.

Learning Outcomes

  • Equipment/Technical/Creative
  • Safe set up of camera, tripod, and monitor
  • Basic photographic controls of camera
  • Basic menu-driven controls of camera
  • Ideas of “proper” exposure
  • Ideas of white balance
  • Control of white balance through white card, presets, forcing, AWB
  • Solid state media recording
  • Sound recording
  • Camera care
  • Functions of bars and tone
  • Standardizing recording approach
  • Selection of formats for recording
  • Framing and composition
  • Subject research
  • Interviewing styles and techniques
  • Client/Talent/Interviewee relationship and etiquette
  • Release form and the right to privacy for non public figures