Syllabus

American University • School of Communication

COMM-725: In-Depth Broadcast Production



PROFESSOR: Saverio (Sam) Meddis

OFFICE HOURS: MGC 320A: M/W, 4:30-5:30 p.m., and by appointment.

COURSE TIME: M/W 5:30-8:40pm, from May 20-June 27

COURSE LOCATION: MGC 331

 COURSE DESCRIPTION:

In Depth Broadcast Production provides instruction in advanced documentary storytelling. Through exercises, readings, in-class workshops and online training, this course is designed to teach students experientially (as they conceptualize and produce their own documentary video) and theoretically (as they analyze and critique a wide range of documentary video examples).

Students are expected to strive for narrative and technical excellence. Instruction will focus on higher-level editing and shooting techniques, as well as advanced use of various production tools—both hardware (including digital camera, lighting and microphones) and software (including Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro). It is expected that students will have already attained at least basic proficiency in those tools.

COURSE OUTCOME:

The objective of this class is for each student to produce a professional-level documentary—a 5-7 minute video that should serve as the centerpiece of each student’s portfolio. Students have their choice of subject, but the subject should justify a longer piece, be highly visual and have journalistic value.

 TEXT AND ONLINE TUTORIALS REQUIRED FOR COURSE:

  • Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye, 2nd Edition. Available in bookstore.
  • MediaStorm Online Training Videos.  These are a series of advanced training modules obtained through subscription that illustrate the behind-the-scenes production of documentary videos. The instructor will send individual educational discount codes to each student to subscribe (total cost $40 each). Each student is expected to subscribe before the first day of class.
  • Essays, online training modules and other readings in handouts provided by the instructor or available in the library TBA (To Be Announced).

 RECOMMENDED (OPTIONAL) TEXTS:

  • Rabiger, Michael. Directing the Documentary, 4th Edition. On reserve in library
  • Mercado, Gustavo. The Filmmaker’s Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition. On reserve in library

 REQUIRED MATERIALS FOR COURSE:

  • Portable hard drive with FireWire connection.
  • Studio-quality headphones

 RECOMMENDED MATERIALS:

  • Audio-Technica ATR3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone, wired. For backup purposes
  • SD card: 16GB minimum, Class 10.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING:

 Assignments

Assignments are fast-paced and will be given throughout the course. A detailed description will be given to outline the requirements of each assignment. Some assignments will be written and others will be done in conjunction with online training modules. It is imperative that you exercise good time management and strong personal commitment to succeed in this course. You must devote enough of your out-of-class time for training, practice and readings to master the required skills. The expectation is that these assignments will help you advance aesthetically and technically throughout the course.

Grade Breakdown (total 100 points)

  • Participation and Attendance: 10 points
  • Analysis: MediaStorm video The Making of Take Care5 points
  • Analysis: MediaStorm video The Making Of A Thousand More5 points
  • Analysis: MediaStorm video The Making Of The Amazing Amy5 points
  • Pitch document and presentation: 5 points
  • Final Project Proposal: 5 points
  • Treatment: 5 points
  • Shooting Log and Script: 15 points
  • Rough Cut: 15 points
  • Final Project: 30 points

Attendance and Participation

Attendance is taken and your active participation is expected in each class session.  If you are absent during class you are responsible for getting notes and assignments from another student. If you are absent, you must provide a written, acceptable reason for it in order to be excused.

Because in-class participation is essential, a failing grade may be given to a student with MORE THAN TWO unexcused absences.

Because writing skills are essential in all facets of the communication field, written work should be thorough, accurate, grammatically correct and typed as per instructed.  Carefully proofread your work.

A grade-point drop will be incurred for each week that an assignment is late.

Much of our class time will be spent in discussion, presentation and hands-on learning. You should bring your ideas and questions to class and share them with others. We will insist on an atmosphere where every student participates and receives constructive and respectful responses from the instructor and from fellow students. The class will be structured as a newsroom environment, so collaboration and teamwork will be expected from all students. You must come to class with printouts of your completed assignments and your hard drives.

Because late arrivals can result in loss of important instruction and disruption of the class, an arrival after 10 minute of the start of class will incur an automatic one-point drop in the “Participation and Attendance” grade.

The instructor will use a class blog (https://comm725.wordpress.com/) to keep students updated on syllabus or schedule changes. The instructor will also post announcements, class recaps and helpful videos. Students are required to check the blog regularly.

Creative Property Rights:

Copyright for all work created in this class is owned by the individual student.  By enrolling in this course, you grant the university permission to have your work, which you created in conjunction with this course, copied and distributed (in print, electronic, and/or any digital medium) and to incorporate your work in whole, or in part, into derivative works for educational, research, archival, promotional, and other purposes consistent with the mission of American University.

Academic Integrity:

Standards of academic conduct are set forth in the University’s Academic Integrity Code.  By registering for this course, you have acknowledged your awareness of the Code and you are obliged to become familiar with your rights and responsibilities as defined by the Code.   Violations of the Academic Integrity Code will not be treated lightly and disciplinary action will be taken should such violations occur.  Please see me if you have any questions about the Code in general or as they related to the particular requirements for this course.

Computer Imaging Integrity Code:

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to works of all authors and publishers in all media.  It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner and terms of publication and distribution.

Electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced.  Respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasions of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.

STUDENT RESOURCES:

  • Media Production Center. This facility provides students and faculty with state-of-the-art video and audio production facilities, tools, and support. Student can check out still and video cameras, microphones, lighting, tripods and other equipment. It is located on campus at the base of the giant broadcast tower, next to the Beeghly Building. MPC houses a three-camera television studio, the Ed Bliss Broadcast Newsroom, the Production Equipment Room, Final Cut Pro and Avid video editing suites, and radio production suites.
  • New Media Center. The New Media Center (NMC) has long been a resource for multimedia projects at American University. The NMC has relocated to the university library and merged with the Digital Media Studio. The service now includes an instructional space and individual workstations. Technology borrowing (including camera) and a wide range of software and workshops are available. The NMC is a key resource for this course, and you should make sure to take advantage of its offerings.
  • Lynda.com: As AU students you have access to Lynda.com, one of the premiere online training sites. There are Web-based training videos for almost every piece of software used to produce digital media. To access it, go to my.american.edu and under the Technology link look for Web-based Software Training Library. This is another key resource for this course, and you should become very familiar with it.
  • Academic Support Center. If you need assistance with writing or composing the required assignments the Academic Support Center has a Writing Lab for students. The Center also offers study skills workshops, individual instruction, tutor referrals and services for students with learning disabilities.
  • The Writing Center: This center is an additional resource for students in need of writing assistance.
  • Disability Support Services: This office provides technical support and assistance with accommodations for students with physical or psychological disabilities.
  • Counseling Center: If you are experiencing emotional stress or personal problems, which are impeding your ability to function in and/or outside of the room the counseling center, can provide confidential assistance. The Center offers counseling and consultations regarding personal concerns, self-help information, and connections to off-campus mental health resources.
  • Center for Teaching, Research and Learning, Experienced staff can help you train on software related to this course. They offer training sessions and information. They also have a computer lab you may use.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

In the event of a declared pandemic (influenza or other communicable disease) or a weather closing, American University will implement a plan for meeting the needs of all members of the university community. Should the university be required to close for a period of time, we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of our educational programs will be delivered to our students. These may include altering and extending the duration of the traditional term schedule to complete essential instruction in the traditional format and/or use of distance instructional methods. Specific strategies will vary from class to class, depending on the format of the course and the timing of the emergency. Faculty will communicate class-specific information to students via AU e-mail and Blackboard, while students must inform their faculty immediately of any absence due to illness. Students are responsible for checking their AU e-mail regularly and keeping themselves informed of emergencies. In the event of a declared pandemic or other emergency, students should refer to the AU Web site (www. prepared. american.edu) and the AU information line at (202) 885-1100 for general university-wide information, as well as contact their faculty and/or respective dean’s office for course and school/ college-specific information.

GRADING POLICY

Evaluation of a student’s performance is this course as a whole will be guided by the following criteria:

  • The grade of A is awarded for excellence, the very best work in the class. An A student turns in all work on time with consistently very high standards of quality, creativity, and original thinking. This person produces outstanding products and performs exceptionally in presentations and critiques. A final grade of A is earned when there is an average of A on tests and assignments.
  • The grade of B is awarded to students who have turned in all work on time, and consistently completed work in a high quality manner. The work shows creative thinking, extra effort, and care in presentation. This person has demonstrated knowledge that surpasses the basic material and skills of the course. A final grade of B is earned when there is an average of B on tests and assignments.
  • The grade of C is earned when all work is turned in and the student has mastered the basic material and skills of the course. This person participated in and demonstrated knowledge of the basic material and skills. This is the average grade in the class.
  • The D or F grade is given for work that is incomplete, late, and/or does not demonstrate mastery of the basic material and skills of the course.

 GRADING RUBRIC

The following criteria represent the relative value of the different elements of the course’s two main content areas:

Writing

Organization and clarity. Detail Spelling and grammar
60% 20% 20%

Video/Audio

Storytelling: Structure, detail, plot, setting, narration, dialogue. Shooting: Mix of shots, lighting, composition, audio quality. Editing: Coherence, pacing, audio sync, transitions, cuts.
50% 25% 25%

Grade Scale

  • A  95-100%
  • A- 90-94%
  • B+ 86-89%
  • B  83-85%
  • B- 80-82%
  • C+ 76-79%
  • C  73-75%
  • C- 70-72%
  • D  65-69%
  • F  64% and below

 

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