ARTC 3440 Fall 2015
Digital Video Art
Heather Elliott-Famularo

Project #3:
Direct or Observational Cinema: Dramatizing a Location

DUE: Monday, November 9 (.mov exported to HW folder before class)

Using tripod camera work and ambient lighting and sound, shoot materials for a 4-5 minute video that compresses and captures the feel and mood of the location over a time span of at least 4 hours (can be longer!).

Possible Subjects: Choose a location! Could be, but not limited to this list: restaurant or cafeteria, a train or bus station, a workplace, a construction site, a park, a street market, a plaza, a tattoo shop, a hair salon, a busy family home, a park, a smoking patio, a classroom, a dormitory, a studio, a gallery, a bar, etc.

cy-cle n.
  1. An interval of time during which a characteristic, often regularly repeated event or sequence of events occurs: Sunspots increase and decrease in intensity in an 11-year cycle.
    1. A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon: A year constitutes a cycle of the seasons.
    2. A periodically repeated sequence of events: the cycle of birth, growth, and death; a cycle of reprisal and retaliation.
  2. The orbit of a celestial body.
  3. A long period of time; an age.
    1. The aggregate of traditional poems or stories organized around a central theme or hero: the Arthurian cycle.
    2. A series of poems or songs on the same theme: Schubert's song cycles.


1. RESEARCH: Choose a visually interesting public (or private) location with a strong cyclical “life.” Bring your sketchpad and spend time observing, listening, and sketching. Come ready to truly OBSERVE – turn off your phone, focus on examining the actions within the space. Take at least two hours, or return several times during the day for 15-20 minutes each visit. You might want to zero in on a single character associated with the place or observe several. Make notes of everything that you notice, paying special attention to expository detail (that is, what you must show to establish essentials of the location for your audience - where, when, why, who, what, how). Also pay careful attention to the sound in the location, and note which sounds you will record. Find one person in the space that you would like to interview.

Proposal (due Monday 10/26): Do the above research, then write a proposal with FIVE descriptive paragraphs: (submit via CANVAS)

  1. Describe the place, and why you chose it - what is interesting about it? (refer to your research observation notes)
  2. What character(s) / person you would like to interview in the space and why?
  3. List specific sounds and visuals you noticed when you observed the space that you would like to include. Show evidence of Reading #5 in your writing (types of sound, etc.).
  4. What is your overall arching concept? (What do you want to say / represent about the space, leave the audience with?)
  5. Which of the six documentary modes (from Reading #6) are you most closely representing, and how so?

2. PLANNING: Look over your research notes and select the best visuals, actions, and sounds to show the life, people, and spirit of your location. From these, create a shot list or “script” that implies a structure and dramatic curve. Sketch out a storyboard of the shots. Pay special attention to depicting the beginning, middle and end of each cycle in the location. Also begin to think about questions you would like to ask an interview subject, if applicable.

Assignment (due Wednesday 10/28): (submit via CANVAS):

  1. a storyboard AND
  2. script or shot list (whichever is appropriate) that guides us through the space/video. It should include details about specific shots, sounds, and voice.
  3. Write a list of 10 interview questions for your subject.

3.SHOOTING: Return to the location and shoot storyboarded shots, conduct your interview, record sounds, and capture any “gifts” that come your way. Make sure you pay attention to capturing long takes of unique sound. You will want to add these in post-production to create a soundtrack. You will probably use a limited amount of “sync” sound. Also you can add music to the soundtrack (copyright free only!). You may want to return at different times depending on your concept.

For this project, you must use the HD camcorders or DSLR cameras. Use the information gained in the Lighting/DSLR workshop to capture gorgeous shots. Use the Digital Audio Recorder and mics to record audio.

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Monday, October 19:

Reading #5 & Canvas QUIZ Due! (What Types of Documentary Are There? from Introduction to Documentary by Bill Nichols)

Monday, October 26: Project #3 Initial Research & Proposal Due! (5 paragraphs)
Final Project 2 video due (on vimeo and HW folder).
Wednesday, October 28: Project #3 - Storyboard + Script / Shot List + interview questions Due!
Monday, November 2: Progress Check Point - 75% finished, rough edited in PP (grade received)
Thursday, November 5: John Waters' This Filthy World, 8pm in Kobacher Hall (get ticket from Prof. Elliott-Famularo
Friday, November 6: John Waters' special class visit, 10:30-11:30am, Eva Marie Saint Theater (MANDATORY)
Wednesday, November 18: Final revised Project #3 videos due on Vimeo
Monday, November 9: Project #3 Critique - Videos due copied to HW folder prior to start of class.

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