DTC 201: Spring 2021: Major Project #3: Mental Movie


In this assignment, you will use video editing software to create a short video about events, thoughts, or emotions over a 24-hour period that demonstrates aspects of film editing. You will also submit an essay that answers specific questions about your work. Final deliverables are due by midnight on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, although various milestones are due on April 13, April 20, and April 27.

See below for:

Detailed Description

Imagine that you have spent one entire 24-hour day of your life connected to a computer that records your thoughts or emotions. This can be any day in your life, from birth to now. Later, when you go back to review the recording, you find that the computer is only able to express your day’s mental activity by piecing together video and audio clips into a short summary video between 1.5 and 2 minutes long.

What might this video look like? Tell the story of that day. You could represent the day as a sequence of key events, or you could use visual metaphors to convey a story or series of emotions that parallel that 24-hour day. It does not have to be realistic; it can be partially or entirely metaphorical. It can be serious, or funny. Consider how this video might best convey (or implant) the overall emotions or impact of that 24-hour period into another viewer’s thoughts.

As reviewed in class, early filmmakers explored the interplay between different scene cuts. Named after the Soviet film pioneer Lev Kuleshov, the “Kuleshov effect” is the psychological interaction of two sequential shots to convey more meaning than a single shot. Sergei Eisenstein also pioneered the five types of film montage. We also reviewed styles of video cuts and transitions, and the effects of music to achieve different responses in the audience.

You will use video editing software — Adobe Premiere Pro or WeVideo — to create a video that conveys thoughts or emotions through the use of various video cuts, the Kuleshov effect, and audio. Follow these guidelines:

  1. The final video length should be between 1.5 and 2 minutes (e.g. 90–120 seconds).
  2. You can use any video or audio clips: clips you record yourself, or clips that are public domain, licensed under Creative Commons, or otherwise legally usable.
    • The list of “Free” Online Sources has several video and audio sites.
    • You cannot use any video or audio clips that are watermarked.
    • You must use at least one video clip that you find online.
    • You can use video clips that you record yourself (or that friends/family record). However, you do not have to.
  3. You must document all your video and audio clips in a spreadsheet, even if you recorded the clip yourself; and you must list credits at the end of the video.
    • Feel free to imitate this sample spreadsheet documentation of the clips for the “Getting the Gift” super rough sample video (shown below).
    • If family or friends help you record the video, you must list them in the credits at the end of the video.
  4. You should use at least 10 cuts that edit together video clips to communicate your intended meanings, and you must document the cuts with a shot list.
  5. The video must have a text title at the beginning (no more than 5 seconds) and text credits at the end (no more than 15 seconds) using whatever fonts and design you choose.
  6. You can use photos or other still images in your video — e.g. slideshows, or Ken Burns-style sequences — but they cannot be more than 25% of the total video time.
  7. The format of your video should be landscape (horizontal) and not portrait (vertical). This is not TikTok. And don’t just embed vertical video into a horizontal format with black or textured background; that is not acceptable.
  8. You will upload your video files (drafts and final) to YouTube, so you will need an account there.
    • On YouTube, mark the video as “unlisted” if you do not want it to be found by the general public.
Prior year example: super rough cut.
Story summary: this is a metaphor about a day at work where everyone was very sluggish and bored and depressed, and then something inexplicable happened over lunch, and for some reason we were all much happier the rest of the day.
Prior year example: super rough cut.
Story summary: this uses metaphors to describe a day in which I was reminded I had to get a birthday gift for someone, and drove all over the place — metaphorically represented in this video — to find the perfect gift.
Rough demo of WeVideo output.
No real story here, but experimentation with WeVideo and using the pace of cuts to increase tension.

Learning Video Editing Software

Adobe Premiere Pro will be introduced in class demos. You should also work through the Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials. The parts on importing and sequencing clips, adjusting audio levels, and exporting video files, may be particularly helpful on this project.

If you are unable to install Adobe Premiere Pro on your computer, one alternative is the WeVideo online editor. The instructor will not provide specific training on WeVideo, but after you go through the tutorials, you can schedule time with the instructor to address any problems you run into.

Final Deliverables

Due to the size of video files, the deliverables on this project are different from printed projects.

  • Vintage Video Output: link (URL) to your edited vintage video on YouTube (see the course calendar)
  • Draft Videos: links (URLs) to your 2 draft videos on YouTube.
  • Final Video: a link (URL) to your final video on YouTube, with all video and audio credits listed in its text description.
  • Written documentation: full citations/attributions for all videos and audio files used in your video, submitted as a shared link to a Google Sheets spreadsheet.
  • Final essay: a well-written essay of 500 words or more that answers two key questions:
    • What is your key story idea?
    • How would you summarize the day you chose, in a few sentences?
    • Why did you choose this particular day?
    • Why did you choose these particular shots/cuts?
    • NOT PART OF THE 500 WORD COUNT: At the end of your essay, include a list of your sources, as well as a “shot list” that notes your video and audio clips, and uses timestamps to mark every cut/transition.
      • For example, if you had a J cut at one minute, thirty-two seconds into the video, your shot list might say: 01:32 – J cut from Clip 7 to Clip 9
  • Link to this project in your online portfolio: a URL to the standalone page that features the embedded final video from this project.

Or, to put it another way:

  • You will upload 1 file to this assignment via Blackboard:
    1. Your essay as a Word or PDF document.
  • You will include 6 links in the assignment text box on Blackboard:
    1. The links/URLs to 4 videos on YouTube (1 vintage, 2 draft, 1 final), and
    1. The “sharing” link/URL to your documentation spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and
    2. The link/URL to this project’s page on your online portfolio.

Note: “sharing” links for cloud storage and Google Sheets are not the same as the page URL when you’re looking at them online. You have to select the “Share” feature in your cloud storage and in Google Sheets to find and copy the sharing link.

Milestones & Deadlines

As noted on the course calendar, the project’s Milestones are:

  • Your edited vintage video should be shared as a YouTube link by class on Tuesday, April 13.
  • Rough drafts of your major project video should be shared as YouTube links for group critiques via Blackboard as follows:
    • Milestone #1: bring to class on Tuesday, April 20, to be posted, and then to critique 2+ classmate’s drafts.
    • Milestone #2: bring to class on Tuesday, April 27, to be posted, and then to critique 2+ classmate’s drafts.

Final deliverables are due by midnight on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 via Blackboard.

Grading Considerations

You will be graded on the following aspects:

  • 50%: Your ability to demonstrate video editing skills reviewed in class and in tutorials, such as: different types of cuts, transitions, timing, audio, use of the Kulashov effect, etc.
  • 20%: Your narrative design: the clarity of your key story idea, and use of one or more of film editing concepts reviewed in class.
  • 10%: The organization of your documentation spreadsheet and your online portfolio page.
  • 10%: The quality of your essay, and the accuracy/detail of your shot list.
  • 10%: The quality of your milestones: the edited vintage video, the draft project videos, and your responses/critiques of classmate’s videos.

A baseline 75% C-level project would only include the minimal number of video clips; only the minimal number of cuts, and only basic cuts; have a mismatched array of visual or audio styles across clips; submit an essay or documentation that are not particularly detailed or thoughtful; post milestone drafts that show minimal effort (especially from draft to draft); and/or write critiques that are not particularly thoughtful.

Your grade would go up by including more video clips and cuts; using more complicated or detailed cuts and sequences; combining audio more skillfully and with more unified style; being more detailed about your documentation and shot list; submitting an essay that is thoughtful and well-written; posting drafts that show thoughtful improvements; and writing thoughtful critiques.