Media Studies 82: Fall 2003
Introduction to Video Production

Time/Location: Tuesday, 2:45pm-5:30pm, SC3

Instructor: Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Phone: x74319

Office + Hours:
• Scott 213
• Thursday 2:30-4:00pm
• Tuesday/Wednesday by appt.

Course Description
This is an introductory course in digital video production. This class encourages a critical, creative approach to the medium, non-traditional solutions, and explanation of the history and methodology of independent video and video art. Class session combines hands-on technical training in script writing, storyboarding, camera operation, off-line and non-linear editing, lighting and sound equipment with critical analysis of subject matter, treatment, and modes of address in independent as well as mass media. Prerequisite: Language of Film or Intro to Media Studies.

Course Organization
Class activities include technical demonstrations, group critiques, screening and discussion of video pieces. Both works by students and examples of independent media works are screened in class. Your participation in the class discussions and group critiques do contribute to your final grade. The number of guest speakers (film and video makers, media artists, programmers, etc.) depends on funding and availability. Speakers are invited to class, or to the Media Studies Cinematheque series, which screens videos and films on Wednesday nights.

Please turn off all cell phones and pagers during class. These and other diversions are not acceptable during class time, and will lower your grade. 

Course Requirements
1. Attend all classes
2. Participation in class discussions and group critiques
3. Completion of 3 projects, reading and writing assignments



Attendance and participation of all classes is required. Do not miss class or arrive late! If you miss class 3 times without a proper excuse, (e.g. a doctor's note if you are sick) you fail the class. Absences must be cleared by me before or after (in case of emergencies only) the class you missed in order for it to not affect your final grade. Attendance is determined by when I take roll.

Class Participation
Your active, well-prepared participation in class discussions is essential to creating a dynamic (i.e. not boring!) learning environment. Although you will not receive a letter grade for class participation, it will figure into your final grade based on my observations.

We often study sexually explicit, political, and otherwise challenging material in this course. These are not included for shock value, but are legitimate investigations of controversial subject matters in media. You are certainly encouraged to explore difficult and complex subject matters in your work, and you should be prepared to consider these issues intellectually and emotionally. Our class is a safe space in which students can express their beliefs and opinions. You always have a voice, but please be respectful of others as well. Abusive language and behavior are not be tolerated. Open-mindedness is encouraged!

Video Assignments

Students produce three video projects of their own, or work on (one maximum) collaborative projects in this class. You are encouraged to assist each other with camera, crew, as actors or in other capacities - this is how independent videos are made in the real world! Finished tapes are screened in class, and students participate in discussions of technical as well as critical issues. Both your video project and participation in class discussions are accounted for in grading. The class will have a mandatory (and fun-filled!) public screening at the end of the semester with other Media Studies classes at Pitzer.

1. Videos: one-take/in-camera video— Video Poem (1-3 min.)
2. Video made with appropriated or found footage—Slash Video (5 min.)
3. Final project—you have a choice of re-working either video 1 or 2, or proposing a new project— content/format of your choice (5-10 min.)

I will hand out more specific guidelines when I assign these projects. Unless an extension is approved by myself in advance of the due date, your grade are reduced by one letter grade (i.e. B to C) per class day your project is late. You are encouraged to meet with me individually during my office hours to discuss your assignments, your grades, and your overall performance in class. I am always open to suggestions and feedback!


Reading Assignments

Required readings are drawn from the textbook (see below) and articles I will put on reserve on the class web site. They will pertain to both technical as well as intellectual issues. You should be able to draw from them during class discussions and in your video production.

Required Textbooks:

Lisa Brenneis, Final Cut Pro 4 for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide, Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA, 2003. (Available at the bookstore or on-line at,, etc.)

Additional References (theory and history of video):

Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer, eds., Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art, Aperture/BAVC, 1990.
John Hanhardt, Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, Peregrine Smith Books, NY, 1986.Michael Renov & Erika Suderburg, eds., Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices, University of Minnesota Press, MN, 1995.

Your final grade will be based on the following
Final Project 40%
Project 1+2 40%
Class participation* 20%

* Your general performance in class including participation, attendance, and punctuality, except in the special cases I have listed above, such as if you have more than 3 un-excused absences.

One video (handed in on time) maybe re-done for a better grade.

Generally, outstanding (A) students in this class have good attendance and completed all their assignments on time. They are consistently well prepared for class, and actively participate in and advance our discussions with pertinent information, questions, and observations. Their work demonstrate their awareness of the issues at hand, the historical and theoretical context of their projects and the film and videos they are discussing, as well as their ability to articulate their observations and analyses in a clear and concise manner. Only letter grades are given out in this class.

Academic honesty - all work done for this course must be the original work of the student submitting it, and should have been undertaken exclusively for this course. No work done prior to this class maybe used to fulfill the class assignments.

Extra credit - Students are encouraged to attend screenings, conferences, lectures, exhibitions and web events related to this course. Write a two-page (typed and double-spaced) report of the event or activity. Incorporate the event's relevance to the class as well as your personal responses to it. Proof of attendance is required (keep your ticket stubs, programs, etc.) Students are allowed two extra credit papers. Announcements for events of interest to this class are done in the first 5 mins. of each class.

* I try my best to make my grading criteria as clear as possible, and you are welcome to come and discuss your grades and your class performance with me. However, I only consider legitimate concerns, and be aware that your grade is as likely to go down as it is to go up after I reassess your assignment. I do not tolerate haggling, bribing, threats, and any other pointless arguments. I consider all aspects of your performance before I assign a grade, please respect my assessment as I respect your efforts.

Equipment Check-out

Please review equipment usage policy, posted on the Media Studies web site

Equipment is checked-out/in on Mondays and Thursdays between 9am—10pm at Scott Hall basement. Equipment that is checked-out must be returned by 12 noon the day it is due back.

Editing room access keycodes are given out by myself or Enid Blader (x73889, after in-class demonstrations of the equipment. Sign-up sheets for editing hours are posted in Scott Hall basement.

Videotapes and audiotapes for class projects can be purchased at the bookstore, on-line, or at any good A/V supply store (Ametron, Studio Film & Tape, etc.) If you go to a supply store or buy on-line, it is usually cheaper to buy in bulk, so a group of you may want to organize and purchase tapes together.

* A note on general respect and care: we are all depending on each other to keep our equipment in good working order. If the equipment breaks down, no one can complete his or her work! You are responsible for reading and following rules for equipment usage. Enid Balder or myself may revoke access privileges at any time if the rules are not followed. Use common sense and please be considerate of each other: return the equipment on time.





Course Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction
Tuesday 9/2


Week 2: Camera Demo + Project 1 Assignment
Tuesday 9/9
__ • Discussion: video vs. film, digital video vs. analog
__ Camera demo
__ Project 1 Assignment
__ • One-take videos:
____ (1974)


Week 3: Shooting, Planning, Storyboarding, Lighting
Tuesday 9/16
__ • Reading: Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism by Rosalind Krauss (Peregrine Smith Books, 1986)
__ • More one-take videos:
__ __ UNDERTONE by Vito Acconci (1972) 5 min. excerpt
__ __ VERTICAL ROLL by Joan Jonas (1972) 5 min. excerpt
__ __ TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR... by Jin Han Ko (1998)
__ Storyboarding:
__ __ ALONE ONCE AGAIN by Andrew Becerra (1994)
__ • Videos poems:
__ __ TO BE WITH YOU by Martha Garcia (1994)
__ __ THE ROLE OF MAN by Jesse Farias (1994)
__ • Light-kit demo
__ • If we have time, more video poems!
__ __ NO. 9 by Jason Livingston from VIDKIDCO
__ __ BAKLA BRAT by Juno Salazar Parrenas in OUTLOUD by Cheri Gaulke (1995)
__ __ LOST IN YOUR EYES by Peter John Cord (1994)


Week 4: Project 1 Due, Screening + Group Critique
Tuesday 9/23
__ • In-class screening of video assignment #1


Week 5: Project 1 Critique (Cont.), Assign Project 2, Editing Concepts
Tuesday 9/30
__ • In-class screening of video assignment #1 (cont.)
__ Project #2 assignment
__ Video editing basic concepts
__ • Reading: NASA/TREK by Constance Penley (Verso Books, 1997) pp. 97-145
__ web site about slashing


Week 6: Final Cut Pro Demo 1
Tuesday 10/7
__ • FCP demo:
______-Intro to mac digital environment
______-Intro to FCP inteface
FinalCut Pro 4 Visual Quick Pro Guide, ch. 1 (read) 2 & 3 (skim)


Week 7: Final Cut Pro Demo 2, Appropriation + Found Footage Issues
Tuesday 10/14
__ • FCP demo:
______-Digitizing video
______-Setting up project, scratch disks, bins, clips, etc.
______-The Viewer
______-Reading: FCP4 Visual Quick Pro Guide, ch. 4-6 (read)
__ • Examples of slash videos by Diana Williams + discussion of Penley reading


Week 8: Fall Break
No class meeting on Tuesday 10/21


Week 9: Final Cut Pro Demo 3
Tuesday 10/28
__ • FCP demo:
_____-Editing in FCP4
_____-Final output
_____-Reading: FCP4 Visual Quick Pro Guide, ch. 7-10 & 19 (skim)
__ • Examples of artist videos using found footage
_____-RESPECT IS DUE by Cyrille Phipps (1992)
_____-PICTURING ORIENTAL GIRLS by Valerie Soe (1992)
_____-THE IRAQ CAMPAIGN by Phil Patiris (1992)
_____-IT IS A CRIME by Meena Nanji (1996)


Week 10: Project 2 Due, Screening + Group Critique
Tuesday 11/4
__ • In-class screening of video assignment #2


Week 11:Project 2 Critique (Cont.), Project 3 Proposals Due
Tuesday 11/11
__ • In-class screening of video assignment #2 (cont.)
__ • Project 3 proposals


Week 12: Final Cut Pro Demo 4
Tuesday 11/18
__ • FCP demo:
_____-Image control
_____-Tape speed
__________•Superimpose video tracks
__________•Text generator
_____-Reading: FinalCut Pro 4 Visual Quick Pro Guide, ch. 13-18
__ • Video screening:


Week 13: Project 3 Work-in-Progress Critique
Tuesday 11/25
__ Respondent Groups


Week 14: Trouble-Shooting for Project 3
Tuesday 12/2
__ Individual Meetings


Week 15: Last Class, Final Projects Due
Tuesday 12/9


Friday 12/12: End of Semester Screening

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