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Case Study: ART 003

Visual Images on the Web

Throughout the semester students focused on storytelling across different digital mediums. Communicating their ideas through image based storytelling was a focus of projects that built on each other over the course of the semester, ending with a final project where they were asked to create a narrative video of 3-6 minutes. To get the students thinking creatively, they had to choose 3 attributes from a given list including: location of a pile of leaves, panning camera angle, and scary background music. The video projects, specifically, were a way for them to critically think about how moving imagery, spoken text, editing techniques, camera angles, and digital effects were all crucial to get their story across to viewers.

Media Commons training included both an earlier (project two – individual narratives) session on digital storytelling and editing and a follow up review and critique session of the films at a nearly complete state. The critique session in particular helped to connect the artistic process, constructive criticism and careful revision basics of Art 003 back to this culminating assignment.

Project in Brief

Course: ART 003
Instructor: Lori Hepner
Number of Students: 17
Semester: Spring 2012
Duration of Assignment: 6 weeks

Key Benefits

Students were able to develop their skills in planning out involved artistic endeavors while also learning more about the creative process first hand in non-studio environment. The class developed skills in recognize strong visual presentation of information as well as a first hand knowledge of the decisions behind the scenes that shape the images with which we are presented. Students also practiced both receiving and sharing constructive criticism with one another during throughout the assignment.

Application to Other Courses

Art 003 students will be able to apply the project planning skills they employed while constructing complex video projects to many other classes where both individual and group projects tasks are required. Studetns will also have a stronger background in the creative process should they pursue other Art courses. Communications students will have experience in another facet of media production to add to their major’s course requirements.

Project Description for Students

Project #4: Elemental Film

This project is a spin off of the Apple Insomnia Film Festival, which is a student film festival that took place over the course of 24 hours. The idea is to create an interesting film, narrative in nature that showcases at least 3 required elements within the finished film. The film should have an interesting story that keeps the viewers engaged over the course of 3 minutes. The content of the film is completely open, but must adhere to the MPAA PG-13 guidelines (posted in the Project #4 Resources folder on ANGEL).

Be creative! Have fun with the assignment! You can help each other out by being actors in one another’s films, but you must shoot and edit your own project. Your creative use of seamlessly incorporating 3 of the elements into the film is very important; the elements should inspire you to come up with an interesting story that can be shown best in video.

Required Elements (Choose at Least 3)

  1. Location: pile of leaves
  2. Prop: pile of many of the same object (stack of chairs, dominoes, etc.)
  3. Character Name: John Smith, esquire
  4. Background Sound: “scary” special effect music
  5. Camera Technique: pan
  6. Narrative Device: voiceover
  7. Editing Technique: slow zoom out
  8. Dialog: “I don’t feel like I have to explain my art to you, Warren.”
  9. Style: black & white

Film Requirements

Your film must be between 3-6 minutes in length, including any credits. It is more important to have a high quality edit that is 3 minutes than a 6 minute badly edited film. You must create all of the media for your project including: video clips, photographs, title screens, etc. You can use creative-commons “Share and Remix” audio as long as you credit the source appropriately in your credits, but you are also free to create your own audio. You can choose to edit in either iMovie or Final Cut Express, but you must use one of these programs so that you are able to work on your project during lab days in class.


  • Written Proposal & Presentation: Due in class at 9am on 3/28/12. You will need to write a 1 page proposal that outlines what elements you are using and what your video will be about. You should talk about any plot ideas, location ideas, character development, etc. as a major part of your proposal. It should convince the class why it is worth being made into a short film. You should have visuals to show in addition to your storyboards. The presentation needs to be 5-7 minutes in length and should convince the class that the film is worth being made.
  • Storyboards: Due 4/4 at 9 am. You will also need to create at least 4 pages of storyboard sketches & shot information on the Storyboarding form that can be found on ANGEL. You should include drawings (by hand or in the computer, stick figures are OK) of each shot, length of shot, and text of what will be happening in the shot.These will be turned in as paper forms or as digital file. You will need to provide details for all 3-6 minutes of your film. It is OK if your video ends up changing as you work on it, but you should plan out the entire film as storyboards for 4/4. Please be sure to write your name on all pages.
  • Edit #1: Due 4/11 at 9 am. Your Edit #1 is due on 4/11 at the start of class, uploaded via the Project #4 Dropbox. Your Edit #1 needs to be at least 75% finished in length (135- 270 seconds of well shot and well edited) and show the direction that you are going in with the style of video, audio, and editing.You should name your file as LastName_P4_E1.m4v and include your name/Edit 1 in the Description box next to the uploader before 9 am.You will be presenting your video to the class and to a guest from the PSU Media Commons, so be prepared to do a 5 minute verbal presentation about your idea and first edit to someone who has zero background on your project.
  • Edit #2: Due 4/18 at 10:30 am. We will have an In-Class Critique of your 2nd Draft on 4/18. Edit #2 should be the full 3-6 minutes in length, but may not contain all of the finishing touches/special effects (ex: titles, background audio, credits, transitions, etc). This draft will allow you to get specific feedback from the class on how to improve and tweak your video. You must be present and actively participate in the critique to receive points on this part of the project.You should name your file as LastName_P4_E2.m4v and include your name/Edit 2 in the Description box next to the uploader before 10:30am.You may need to reshoot portions or significantly re-edit your project based upon the class feedback from 4/18. This is something that happens in almost every video production, so plan on fitting in time to revise your work before we have class on 4/25.
  • Polished Edit #3: Due 4/25 at 10:30 am. You may need to reshoot portions or significantly re-edit your project based upon the class feedback. This draft should be 99% finished! Tweaks may be suggested to improve your video prior to the final submission for 4/30 at noon (Monday of Finals week).You should name your file as LastName_P4_E3.m4v and include your name/Edit 3 in the Description box next to the uploader.1-3 videos may be chosen to be shown at the Absence Reading and Release Party for the entire campus community TONIGHT, 4/25 at 7pm, which is a great opportunity to have your work seen, so do your best polishing for next week!
  • Final Edit: Due Monday, 4/30 by noon. (Finals Week)You should export your video at the Large setting in iMovie. Upload your exported file to the Project #4 Dropbox link.You should name your file as LastName_P4_Final.m4v and include your name/Final in the Description box next to the uploader.Late projects are downgraded by one full letter grade (10%) and will only be accepted until 5/2/12 at noon, after which late projects will not be accepted.
  • Final Edit Write Up: Due Monday, 4/30 by noon. (Finals Week)
Grading Process

Written Proposal – Overall Story Concept: 20%

You have written a 1 page proposal that convinces me that your film is worth creating. You clearly explain which of the 3 Elements you are including in your story and how they important to it. There should be evidence of creative thinking in how you plan to film and edit together your story into an interesting video.

Written Proposal – Concise & Clear Writing: 10%

It is easy to understand your plans for the video. Your proposal must be written to fit within 1 page. There are no grammar or spelling errors in the paper. The paper needs to be typed with correct spelling and grammar. The film should be turned in on ANGEL as a .doc or .docx file.

Presentation: 20%

You must convince the class that your project is worth creating. This grade will be averaged from scores from your classmates after you give your presentation on in class on 4/4, starting at 9am. This cannot be rescheduled or made up on a different date.

Storyboards: 20%

You must have storyboarded for all 3-6 minutes of your video. The pages of storyboards are all drawn on (stick figures are OK) with descriptions of the shot that will be filmed, the timing of the shot, and any dialog or sound effects included. Due on 4/4, at 9 am.

Edit #1: 20%

Rough Draft Edit is due on 4/11, at 9 am. Your Edit #1 needs to be at least 75% finished in length (135- 270 seconds of well shot and well edited) and show the direction that you are going in with the style of video, audio, and editing.

5 Minute Presentation: 10%

Verbal presentation will start on 4/11, at 9:15 am. (We will be in the Ostermayer Room in the SCC, not in the lab.) You must explain your story idea to the group, as if they have no prior knowledge of your project. You should spend 5 minutes (within 1 minute over or under) for your presentation. After your presentation, we will view your film and ask questions for you to respond to.

Part 1 Total: 100%

Edit #2: 15%

You should turn in your exported video by 10:30 am on 4/18. Edit #2 should be the full 3-6 minutes in length, but may not contain all of the finishing touches/special effects (ex: titles, background audio, credits, transitions, etc).

Your file is named in this style: LastName_P4_E2.m4v.

Edit #2 Critique: 15%

You will need to participate in giving feedback to all of your classmates’ projects in addition to answering questions about your project. There is no formal presentation for this critique.

Polished Edit #3: 15%

You should think of this as 99.97% finished project. You will need to participate in giving feedback to all of your classmates’ projects in addition to answering questions about your project. It is named: LastName_P4_E3.m4v.

Polished Edit #3, In-Class Critique: 5%

There is no formal presentation for this critique, but you must be present to hear feedback from the class. Also, you must participate in the Critique by offering feedback to your classmates when their videos are shown.

Final Edit – Concept: 15%

Your idea for the video keeps the viewers’ attention. Is surprising, engaging, and interesting to watch.

Final Edit – Editing: 15%

Choice of 3 required elements are integrated into your Final video in an interesting/surprising manner that work together to create a video that is interesting to watch and keeps the viewer’s attention.

Final Edit – Quality: 15%

Video footage is free from camera shake, audio is clear & correct volume, and the video composition is interesting to watch at (can use the Rule of Thirds as a guide).

Final Edit – Time and Name: 10%

The length of the video falls between 3-6 minutes, which includes any credits. It is also named: LastName_P4_Final.m4v

Final Edit – Write-Up: 5%

Your 2-3 paragraph description is well written and gives us a deeper understanding of how you came to create your projects from the list of required elements.

Part 2 Total: 100%


  • Final Cut Express
  • iMovie
  • Video camera
  • Microphones


  • Creating project plans
  • Storyboarding
  • Working with talent
  • Working with non-class groups
  • Conveying information in multimedia
  • Writing and presenting

Target Skills

  • Storytelling
  • Writing
  • Constructive criticism

(Instructor’s) Lessons Learned

“There was clear progress in their willingness to both give and receive constructive criticism of their work. This ability to give constructive feedback and to take criticism objectively, instead of personally, will benefit them immensely as they work on collaboration in their futures at Penn State and beyond into their careers.”