Video Documentary Project

You may work in groups of up to three on this project.

Documentary film has become enormously popular in recent years, partly due to the development of inexpensive video production equipment and the rise of a new generation of visually attuned young people. Outlets like allow aspiring film makers to share their work with others and get feedback as they hone their skills. This project will give you the opportunity to make a short non-fiction film (2-4 minutes) on a topic that you think would be interesting to others on campus.

Your first step will be to identify a topic of interest to all the members of your group. We will be brainstorming ideas in class, and it is likely groups will form naturally around interest areas.

Once your group has a topic, you will need to develop a "treatment." This is a written document that explains what you are going to do, the sorts of images you will need, what questions you will ask of interviewees, and your editing approach. You will also note a working title, any music you know you will need (use only original music or music from copyright free sites like, and decisions about other aesthetic or content issues.

Before shooting, make sure you have printed out release forms for all your interviewees. You will need to turn these in with your project.

After shooting and logging your footage, your group will get together to edit your piece using software on the Edwin Duncan Media Lab computers (Final Cut Pro). After adding music and completing title and credit sequences, you'll save the final product as a Quicktime file at full quality (for me to include on the class DVD) and at "web quality" for you to use on your website. Click here for saving instructions.

Your webpage will include your treatment, as well as a link to your video. In addition, you will be responsible for posting your final project to


Grading Rubric

Please note: This rubric is set up mathematically so that if you hand in the complete assignment on time and get a 1 (Meets Standard) on all other items, you will end up with a 1.6 out of 2. This translates into a score of 160/200 or a low B. A low A or above is achieved with an average score on each item of 1.5 or above.

0 Does Not Meet Standard
1 Meets Standard
2 Goal
Your Score
Timeliness/ Posting
The piece is finished very late and/or it is not posted on the web with treatment and photo. Releases are missing.

The piece is on time, and it is posted on youtube and embedded in the student's website. The webpage is organized, with the treatment/ background information, photograph (with photographer's name), and title all present. If the piece was done with a partner, each partner has submitted a worklog of his or her contribution.

Video Content
The message of the video is unclear and/or it does not do a good job expressing the ideas.
The message of the video is clear and expresses a variety of ideas.
The video as a whole is a clear and evocative expression of the variety of issues.
Video Visuals
Visuals are carelessly shot and do not communicate the content of the program.
Acceptable visuals (steady camera and proper lighting) are used throughout to communicate. Visuals are carefully composed, lit and shot. Visuals are carefully chosen to compliment the ideas in the piece and relate throughout to the audio.
Video Sound
Audio is difficult to hear and understand.
Audio is acceptable throughout (little background noise and acceptable volume). Audio is used to communicate content and emotion in the program.
Audio is clear, loud enough, and contributes to the piece. Music and/or sound effects are used to communicate emotion and content in the program and are at a proper volume.

Titles/ Releases
Titles/ credits or releases are missing.
Titles and credits are present. Copyright laws are adhered to. Releases are submitted to your instructor.
Titles/credits are professional and all sources are cited. Titles are large enough to be able to be read on-line. Releases are submitted to your instructor.

Video Editing
Editing is sloppy and confusing. The message of the piece is lost. The piece is far too long or short.
Editing is used to create a meaningful, clean-looking piece. The length of the piece falls approximately within the time range for the project.
The piece flows particularly well, and editing contributes to the message. Cutaways are used throughout to illustrate points. The length of the piece falls approximately within the time range for the project.