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COURSE NAME: "Foundations of Digital Video Production"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T 9:00 AM 11:45 AM

This course introduces students to the technical, conceptual, and aesthetic skills involved in video production through the single camera mode of production. Still the most dominant mode of film and video production, the single camera mode places an emphasis on using the camera to fullest capacity of artistic expression. In addition to the multiple skills and concepts involved with the camera, the course also introduces students to the principles and technologies of lighting, audio recording and mixing, and non-linear digital video editing. Special focus is given to producing content for successful web distribution.
The course will introduce you to film language and will help you identify the building blocks of filmmaking as you begin to study them and put them in practice. You will learn how to collect ideas and put them on paper and into practice and eventually on screen – a process that will unleash your creativity and make your vision a reality. This intensive course will provide you with an overview of the entire filmmaking process as you work with a production unit to produce a short narrative film.

As students work to create their own films they will learn how to make a short film from conception to distribution. By the end of the course, students should be able to:


    • Understand the basic elements of storytelling and know how to turn an idea into a story 
    • Write a screenplay following the industry standard format
    • Select shots and camera movements to create a strong visual strategy to tell the story
    • Understand how to use principles and technologies of the camera and lighting 
    • Record optimal sound using principles and technologies of audio recording
    • Effectively work as group on set by assigning clear roles and following set procedures
    • Cast, rehearse & work with actors
    • Understand the basic principles of editing & sound design
    • Use non-linear digital video editing software 
    • Understand technical and aesthetic role of sound mixing & color correction 
    • Deliver for the web & create a promotional package


Please note: This is a workshop intensive lab, which is why a great deal of emphasis is placed on student participation and attendance.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Film directing shot by shot: visualizing from concept to screenSteven D KatzMichael Wiese Productions941188108     
A swim in a pond in the rain : in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and lifeGeorge SaundersBloomsbury Publishing9781526624284     
Producer to producer : a step-by-step guide to low-budget independent film producingMaureen RyanMichael Wiese Productions9781615932665     
In the blink of an eye : a perspective on film editingWalter MurchSilman-James Press1879505622     

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Directing actors : creating memorable performances for film and televisionJudith WestonMichael Wiese Productions941188248  
Participation and AttendanceGiven that you will be learning how to make a film in just a few months, it is absolutely essential that you attend each and every class. You must provide feedback in class and you are required to help on each other’s productions. You will be expected to do assigned readings and watch assigned films.25%
ExercisesEach student will write and direct 3 exercises and will present each exercise in class.45%
Film PackageA film package for your short film must contain: director’s notebook, production binder, promo material (poster and press kit with tagline, logline, and brief synopsis)10%
Final ProjectComplete and screen a short narrative film.20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.



This course requires an extraordinary amount of work to be completed outside of class hours. Students who expect to travel frequently during weekends are strongly advised against registering for this course. 

Tardiness will not be tolerated, as managing time is one of the most crucial components of being a filmmaker, so you will all be expected to arrive promptly unless you are delayed for a valid reason. Notify me in advance.

Two unexcused absences will result in a full letter drop in the final grade and three unexcused absences will result in failure. Due to the once-a-week meeting schedule for the course, missing one class can mean missing out on a major technical or conceptual lesson plan, which can affect the quality of your projects and those of your fellow students. In the case of excused absences due to documented illness or family emergencies, please present a Dean's note as soon as possible. 

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.



Equipment: Different digital recording equipment will be used for each project and these will be available from the Digital Media Lab. You all have access to the digital equipment JCU has on reserve for the course. You can check out gear from Thursday afternoon with gear needing to be returned Monday morning. 

Out of Pocket Materials: Students enrolled in this course should provide their own external USB hard drive (500GB-4TB) to store and archive captured material and video projects. These drives must be Mac-formatted. 

Office Hours: I am available to discuss any concerns or questions outside of class time. Please do not hesitate to email me to schedule a meeting.

Final Project: Since this is a creative environment, what matters most is your effort and commitment. You will be graded on execution of filmmaking techniques, not your style or taste.

Submissions: Every late submission may not be screened/read and will receive one letter grade deduction for each class day it is late.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Please note that this schedule is subject to change. The course Moodle site will be the best place to get current course information. 

Week 01: Introduction to Film Language

Week 02: Story

Week 03: Director's Craft

Week 04: Editing, Sound & Music

Week 05: Screenwriting Principles

Week 06: Composition/Framing

Week 07: Lighting & Sound

Week 08: Editing Workshop

Week 09: Character, Dialogue & Endings

Week 10: Producing & Pitching

Week 11: Film Prep & Pre-production

Week 12: Working with Actors

Week 13: Post Production - Color Correction, Sound Design, Graphics/Effects

Week 14: Rough Cut screening

Exam Week: Final Narrative Film Screenings