ARTC 3440 Summer 2012
Digital Video Art
Heather Elliott-Famularo

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


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:a train or bus station, a restaurant or cafeteria, a dormitory, 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 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 (Due Thursday 5/24 AM): Choose a visually interesting public (or private) location with a strong cyclical “life.” Bring your sketchpad and spend a few hours observing, listening, and sketching. Come ready to truly observe. You might want to zero in on a single character associated with the place or depict several. Make notes of everything that strikes you, 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 might like to interview.

Assignment: Do the research (BRING SKETCHES & NOTES TO CLASS), then write a proposal with 5 descriptive paragraphs:

  1. Describe the place, and why you chose it - what is interesting about it?
  2. What character / person might you 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.
  4. What is your overarching concept? (What do you want to represent about the space / leave the audience with?)
  5. Which of the six documentary modes (from reading) are you most closely representing, and how so?

2. PLANNING (Due Thursday 5/24 AM): Look over your research notes and select the best images, actions, and sounds to show the life, people, and spirit of your location. From these, write 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 write up ten questions you would like to ask your interview subject (if you choose to have a human subject - not required).

Assignment (due 3/15): Create:

  1. a storyboard AND
  2. a 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 (if needed).

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.

** Remember to get a signed Video Release form for any human subjects and permission for location use if necessary.

This is a compressed course, but we will not meet between Thursday and Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday. However, I will be available via email and vimeo if you want to contact me for any feedback before the final due date!


Thursday May 24th:

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

  Initial Research & Proposal Due! (5 paragraphs); Final Project 2 video due.
  Project #3 - Storyboard + Script / Shot List + interview questions Due!
Tuesday May 29th: FINAL VIDEOS DUE - copied to HW folder prior to start of class. Critique.

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