Final Project

Project Requirements
For your final project, you will be required to produce a video essay (however you choose to define that) on any aspect of film. You can browse the various examples we looked over last week (as well as this week’s supercuts) to gather some inspiration and some successful models.

1. Must engage with film in some capacity
2. Must be a video **
3. Must make use of the skills practiced in class
4. Can take any form of video you like (supercut, video essay, something more creative, etc.)
5. Give a 10-12 minute presentation on it in the last 3 weeks of class (10% of final project grade)
6. Post short blurb about it and link to it on your blog by the time of our last meeting

** You may discuss other digital/multimedia projects with me.

Final Project is worth 40% of your final grade.

Project Proposal
Your proposal should sketch out what you want your project to accomplish. It should answer the following questions and ideally the answer for each question will inform the other ones. Please post your project proposal on your own blog by Tuesday October 28th (5pm) so that we can discuss them in peer review next week.

What do you want your project to focus on? (HOW/WHAT/WHY)
What type of video essay will you create? (VIDEO STRUCTURE)
What raw materials will you need for the project?
Who will be the audience for your project?
What skills/software do you expect to use?
Additionally: which skills and software tools would you like to have a better handle on?
What do you expect to work on in each of the coming weeks? (TIMELINE)
Any help/feedback you’d like from your peers or myself?

Oral Presentation
You will be tasked with offering an oral presentation about your project in the last few weeks of November. You want to walk your classmates through your project as well as your own process of production (what software did you use? what are the greatest challenges you anticipate or have already encountered? what kind of feedback would help make your project better?, etc.)
Sign up sheet is up here.

1. Roughly 10 minutes
2. Preview (or explanation) of your project
3. Explain the What/How/Why
4. You can screen a portion of your project (or all of it if it’s ready)
5. Purpose is to help you critically think about why you’re producing your project…
6. …as well as to PEER REVIEW it; expect feedback!

Final Project Rubric


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Supercuts are probably the most common form of video essay though we may not think of it as one. You can find great examples of supercuts at

Since we’re nearing Halloween, I thought I’d share a spookily-appropriate one:

Here’s an example from Audiovisualcy on “Breaking the 4th Wall”:

Breaking the 4th Wall Movie Supercut from Leigh Singer on Vimeo.

– Check out this one the “Eyes of Hitchcock” (by Kogonada, whose Moonrise Kingdom video essay on symmetry we looked at earlier in the semester):

A couple of more examples:

– Not all supercuts focus on visual aspects of film, this one looks at  “The Sounds of Aronofsky

– Some can focus not on one film or one director but on a specific genre:

– Some can use a more didactic approach:

What makes a good supercut? How do music, editing, pacing and subject matter help you craft a strong supercut? What makes them both creative and critical texts?

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Video Essay Structure

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Video Killed the Essay Star

Examples of Video Essays.

If last week we saw examples of merely composing a video essay by grafting onto a scene a “running commentary” this week we’ll be looking at slightly more elaborate ways of composing and producing a video essay.

Kevin B. Lee on the nature of the “video essay”:

These video essays are a bit more elaborate than the ones we saw last week, mostly because they don’t focus on one scene nor do they focus on merely reading off of a script, but they function along the same lines in terms of wanting to present an argument visually.

– Some are variations on the “voice-over” but with more cuts and edits to highlight what is being argued. Take a look at “Pass the Salt”, an exploration of a short scene in Anatomy of a Murder (1959) by Christian Keathley.

– Some can focus merely on visuals: Here’s one from Audiovisualcy, which defines itself as “an online forum for video essays about films and moving image texts, film and moving image studies, and film theory.” This is an example on the use of the golden ratio and tracking shots in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007):

There Will Be Blood / Through Numbers from Ali Shirazi on Vimeo.

Assignment for Next Week:

Pick one of the video essays listed below (sign up sheet on Google Drive) and write an annotation of it (Discuss its title, its organizational structure [Introduction/Title Card/Background on Film, Credits, etc.], what tools it uses — is it a voice-over? does it use music? is it heavily edited? does it use graphics? — how effective it is, how long it is, etc.) Find information on the composer (if available), tell us where it was posted, what its description is; be as thorough as you can be. Either embed the video essay into your post or link to it, and post an image (screenshot) of it. 500 words or more. 

Next week we’ll be going around the room and you’ll be tasked to give a short oral presentation on it so come prepared to do that (you’re also welcome to watch everyone’s video essay choices though that is not a requirement).

A.I. Artificial Intelligence: A Visual Study (1 of 2)” by Ben Samson (2009)

Substance of Style Part 5: The Royal Tenenbaums’  Prologue by Matt Zoller Seitz (2009) 

Outlaw Vision: Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker” by  Michael Joshua Rowin and Matt Soller Seitz (2010)

The Spielberg Face” by Kevin B. Lee (2011)

Everything is a Remix: Part 2” by Kirby Ferguson (2011)

Chaos Cinema Part 1” by  Matthias Stork (2011)

Establishing Split: Requiem 102 Project #2” by Catherine Brant (2011)

Analysis of Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)” by Steven Benedict (2012)

The Oscars and the Bechdel Test” by Feminist Frequency (2012)

Ebert Presents: Race and the Movies” by Kartina Richardson (2012)

Super: A Brief History of Superhero Films” By Michael Mirasol (2012)

Movies Are For Men” by Studio Little (2013)

WTF Happened to Movie Posters?” by GoodBadFlicks (2013)

Electric Sheep: How Female Power Is Limited By Consumer Culture” by Serena Bramble & Arielle Bernstein (2014)

David Fincher: And the Other Way is Wrong” by Tony Zhou (2014)

Pre-Classical Cinema: A Timeline of Cinema Episode 1” by Bradley Weatherholt (2014)

The History of the Movie Trailer” by Filmmaker IQ (2014)

How Samurai Films are Responsible for Star Wars” by Film School’d (2014)

SHAME ‘Opening Shot’ – Film Analysis” by Must See Films (2014)

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Duet “Commentary” Video Essay Group Work

While in your syllabus the grade breakdown calls for a group Podcast (worth 20% of your grade), I have been so impressed with everyone’s work that I want us to plunge directly into something a bit more advanced.



As a group, you will create a running commentary to play over the short film we saw last week, Duet (2014). For references, look at the “Voice Over/DVD Commentaries” post.

Things to do:

– Write a script that will be read by one (or more) of you as the commentary track over Keane’s short (duration 3:48). This can be thoroughly analytical (explaining frames, giving background on the piece), wholly personal (speaking of your own reactions to the piece) or any combination thereof (you can also go more creative if you want). The main idea is to work on matching image and text.

Bear in mind that, on average, 130 words translates to 1 minute’s worth of talking (so you want to aim for roughly 500 words depending on the speed at which you talk).

– In writing the script, bear in mind that you’ll want your text to match what your viewer will be seeing (use the Duet storyboard for this).

– Download (and/or rip) Duet off of the internet (via the YouTube extensions we discussed in class)

– Record your running commentary using Audacity (or whichever sound recording/mixing software you are more familiar/comfortable with). You want to aim for it to match the running time of Duet perfectly. You’ll have to do this by next Thursday’s class where we’ll be mixing everything together.

– Combine the audio and the video (we will be doing this in class so even if you’re experienced in audiovisual editing, come prepared to do so with your peers in the classroom: part of the assignment is to offer a crash course on how to do this and the hope is those less experienced will be able to learn from those who are more comfortable with these technical aspects).

– Export your video and upload to your blogs (via Vimeo, YouTube, etc.) offering a transcription of the video’s script and a description of your intent (250-500 words); a sort of “Video description.” You also want to give your video a helpful title.

– You will be graded as a group so you want to make sure everyone contributes, making accommodations for various technical skill-sets. The following is the grading rubric I will be using to evaluate each video:

Grading Rubric Duet

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Duet (2014): Visual Index

Borrowing a page from Nat over at The Film Experience and his Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, we each chose our favorite (however we define that) image/shot from Glen Keane’s new animated short film Duet (2014).


[Images link to individual articles on the shot]

" She’s old enough to start dreaming for the future and work for that dream to come true, but not quite old enough to know if this is what she wants to do with her life yet" - Melanie

“She’s old enough to start dreaming for the future and work for that dream to come true, but not quite old enough to know if this is what she wants to do with her life yet” – Melanie

“As she is leaping she is growing into a young lady without a care in the world.” – Lashaun

“In this perspective, it’s like we’re even up there with them” – Jodiann

“The look they’re both giving each another in the trees expresses their liking for one another (not love yet, but it’s getting there).” – Jessica

“She quickly (and elegantly) jumps off of it, which I believe mimics the notion that the pursuit of passion is comprised of several leaps of faith.” – Kim

“Up to that point, there lives were physically and metaphorically intertwined but never parallel until this moment.” – Brad


“At that moment she knew that he was all she ever wanted.” – Joy

“The girl, while spinning her dancing routine, transforms into birds, then into the wind, and then finally into the boy and the girl – forming a duet of sorts – who embrace each other.” – Eurie

“Clinging to a rock with just his fingertips with what looks like an endless pit below him, Keane creates a moment of very, very brief fear.” – Ben S


“Duet is like a sketch, a return to the basis of animation roots. There is no dialogue, just music and lines.” – Lisa

“This moment captures life, romance, and a positive moment in the world.” – Hannah

“this particular one visually represents the purpose of the entire story—that life is a constant cycle of growing up individually and, at some point along the journey, united with another by love” – Greg

“This image implies that no matter how extraordinary this story seems to be to the viewer, it is merely one of many, many more beautiful stories.” – Ben P

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Voice Overs & “DVD commentaries”

Video Essays and the three weeks ahead. 

For the next few weeks we will be looking at Video Essays in detail. To start us off, we will be looking closely at this New York/New York study which examines NYC from the point of view of two contemporaneous films, Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters (1986) and Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver (1976). Please watch it ahead of Thursday’s meeting. We will be screening it, but I want everyone to come prepared to discuss it in detail.

New York / New York from Reverse Shot on Vimeo.

For the next few weeks we’ll be exploring what it means to compose a video essay and the various ways we can do so, following Reverse Shot’s various takes.

NY NY 01 NY NY 02
NY NY 03 NY NY 04
NY NY 05 NY NY 06

Here are some other examples of these “Voice Over/DVD commentary”-style video essays:

– Matt Zoller Seitz: Videos on Wes Anderson. He created an entire collection of videos on the Anderson films which complement his book, The Wes Anderson Collection. Here he is on Moonrise Kingdom, which we looked at earlier in the semester.


– You can also find some more examples on YouTube on WALL-E, The Dark Knight, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

– You can also check out The New York Times’ “Anatomy of a Scene” feature. They get directors to discuss a scene, but the spirit remains the same:

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