EMF 225 Production Techniques
Spring 2013

Lecture day: T 8-9:15 COM 119

Dr. Kurt Lancaster, Communication 367, Kurt.Lancaster@nau.edu (970-946-7585)
(place EMF 225 in subject header for ALL emails to the professor)

Email assignments to your respective lab professor/instructor
Office hours: COM 367, T 9:30-12, W 10-12, and by appointment

Danielle Cullum (lab instructor and TA) Contact: dlc226@nau.edu (928-607-7712)

A-Lab T 4-5:15 rm 112; B-Lab T 5:30-6:45 rm 112; F-Lab W 4:10-5:25 rm 110; G-Lab 5:30-6:45 rm 112.
Dr. Lancaster: C-Lab Th 11:10-12:25 rm 109

Course goals
In this introductory, but intensive, digital filmmaking course, you will learn how to craft strong cinematic images for visual storytelling — whether you’re shooting weddings, commercials, promotionals, video journalism, documentaries, or fiction. You will gain an understanding of the basic tools of cinematography, including composition, lighting, lens choices, focal depth of field — and how they relate to telling a story. In addition, you will learn how to use audio tools (digital recorders and microphones) to conduct field interviews, record ambient sound, and shape a sound design for your projects. Furthermore, you will learn how to edit video and audio, and mix audio with Final Cut Pro X.

Learning outcomes
  • All of the exercises and projects revolve around the skills and tools needed to make a professional looking digital film. By the end of the course, you should be comfortable in shooting and editing a short documentary, as well as knowing how to shoot video cinematically in any genre. To this end, you should begin to have a mastery of the following seven elements of filmmaking:
  1. Know how to tell a story through visual storytelling using the tools of basic cinematography (assessed through the production and screening critique of film exercises):
    • Composition
    • Action
    • Camera movement
    • Lighting
    • Lens choices as it relates to:
      • focal depth of field (shallow and deep focus)
      • aperture
      • exposure

  2. Operate a DSLR video camera. Assessed through the production and screening critique of film exercises.

  3. Record clean and strong interview/dialogue and ambient audio in the field. Assessed through the production and screening critique of film exercises.

  4. Utilize audio design to enhance storytelling. Assessed through the production and screening critique of film exercises.

  5. Edit for storytelling, especially as it relates to rhythm and pacing. Assessed through postproduction and screening critique of film exercises.

  6. Interview people and clients in order to tell their story in a cinematic way.Assessed through postproduction and screening critique of film exercises.

  7. Technical skills expectations (assessed through the production and screening critique of film exercises, and if needed, through hands on tests):

    • Camera operation
      Manually set white balance, focus, and aperture; composition through shot sizes (wide, medium, close); changing composition through camera movement (pan, zoom, push-in/pull-out dolly, track).

    • Audio operation
      Get clean sound to the camera and external audio recorder, hold microphones properly, use a boompole, use headphones to monitor sound; know when audio is clipping and how to ride the levels to fix it.

    • Lighting
      Safely set up and strike a 3-point lighting kit (key, fill, back)—using direct and indirect lighting; know how to use a reflector and scrim; use natural light to do a 3-point lighting setup. Learn how to use natural lighting to create 3-point lighting; know how to use one light and a reflector to set up a key and fill light.

    • Editing software
      Using Final Cut Pro, set up project folders, import files, bring files to the timeline and edit them using blade slicing and trim edit dragging, move clips on the timeline, fade from black and fade to black, crossfade images, write titles and lower thirds text on video, create an even and clean audio mix (remove clipping and even out sound), fade from silence and fade to silence; cross-cut visual and audio cues (L-cuts); use basic color correction tools; export a movie for the web.

Assignments and how they relate to the seven learning outcomes listed above (numbers refer to how each assignment engage the different learning outcomes, 1-7): NO LATE QUIZZES OR ASSIGNMENTS--if you fail to attend class you fail the assignment and quiz.
  • Project quizzes (mostly hands-on, project based work)Details provided in weekly assignment section20% total (2 points each) 1, 6
    • Quiz 1 DSLR camera (Week 2 lab)—assessed through a written quiz.
    • Quiz 2 Final Cut tutorial Ch. 1-3 (Week 2 lab)—assessed through the completion of importing and organizing your Film Exercise footage into the Event folder with optimized media.
    • Quiz 3 Rough Cut with Final Cut tutorial Ch. 4-5 (week 3 lab)assessed through the completion of rough cut for Film Exercise 1.
    • Quiz 4 Interview and story map (Week 3 lecture)assessed through notes of interview and KNOW Ch. 9 worksheet.
    • Quiz 5 Storyboard action sequence of interview (Week 4 lecture)assessed through storyboard and shot descriptions.
    • Quiz 6 Light and mic setup (Week 5 lab)assess through setup of microphone and 3-point light kit.
    • Quiz 7 Proposal workshop (Week 6 lecture)assessed through KNOW Ch. 9 template and sample proposal (group participates and receives one grade). 
    • Quiz 8 Pre-interview notes from two different subjects (Week 6 lab)assessed through your notes.
    • Quiz 9 Sound design (Week 7 lecture)assessed through your audio recordings and notes.
    • Quiz 10 Readings (Week 9 lecture)assessed through a written quiz.

    A = 2, B = 1.7, C = 1.5, D = 1.2

  • Film exercise 1 (due week 3)—Document a Location and edit it (composition, focus, exposure, and white balance)—(pass/fail); a pass will earn 7 points; an 8, 9, or 10 may be earned for level creativity)—10% 1, 2, 4, 5, 7

  • Natural sound story?

  • Film exercise 2 (due week 5)—Document an Action using Stillmotion's "3 Over 1 Rule" and edit it into a sequence; record clean ambient audio and mix it into the project (pass/fail; a pass will earn 7 points; an 8, 9, or 10 may be earned for level creativity)—10% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7

  • Film exercise 3 (due week 6)—Light and Mic a Subject for an interview with 3-point or 4-point artificial lighting (key, fill, back, background; clean audio)—10% (pass/fail; a pass will earn 7 points; an 8, 9, or 10 may be earned for level creativity)—10% 1, 2, 3, 6, 7

  • Film exercise 4 (due week 9)—Profile a Person with action shots in natural lighting and create a natural sound design (good composition, lighting, clean audio, and original sound design)—15% 1-7

  • Film exercise 5 (due week 11)—Profile a business with natural sound design (good composition, lighting, and clean audio; clean audio; original sound design; edit for pacing and rhythm)—15% 1-7

  • Film exercise 6 (due week 15)—Multimedia documentary (good composition, lighting, blocking of action, and clean audio; original sound design; edit for pacing and rhythm)—20% 1-7
A = Spot on, a polished feel, maybe one or two minor issues; missed no more than one class; turned in assignment on time
B = Mostly there, looking good, a few minor issues; missed no more than two classes; assignments turned in on time
C = Partly there, somewhat, feels a bit rough; missed more than two classes; turned in a few assignments late
D = Subpar work, not much of the material works; missed too many classes; turned in assignments late

Total points possible: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D

Each assignment will have a technical mastery pass/fail grade, as well as a creative grade.

No late assignments will be accepted, unless there is a proper excuse pre-arranged with the professor, in which case, you have up to one week to complete the assignment.

If you fail to attend class or a planned shoot revolving around these exercises, you fail the assignment.

All assignments require a self-analysis in the style of the analysis; if you fail to turn in an analysis with your shooting assignment, you cannot earn more than a C or D on the assignment.

Each analysis should contain this structure (see "analysis example" PDF attached below):
  • Introduction: A description of your intention of the piece; a summary of the story.
  • Technical: Lens type (50mm prime, 18-55mm zoom, for example), ISO setting, f-stop, and shutter speed for each shot.
  • Still image analysis: Take one of your shots and create a screen grab of it and import it into your document; write an analysis justifying your choices (in the style of The Filmmaker's Eye).
  • Self-critique: What did you learn from this project? What were your mistakes and how will you fix them?
Meaning of grades
There are no grades in the real world. In my classes, grades tend to reflect your creativity and professionalism—your ability to treat your university time as a career, rather than a chore or acting as if you're forced to be hereUpon enrolling in this class, you agree to The Arizona Board of Regents Academic Contact Hour Policy, including devoting a minimum of six hours outside class time (“preparation, homework, and studying”). And you also agree to engage proper time management practices (see "Time management" below).
  • A: Technically perfect with perhaps one or two minor errors; a compelling story and creative shots; it's work of publishable quality.
  • B: Technically sound with perhaps no more than three minor errors; a good story, but not fully compelling and/or lacking highly creative shots; it's nearly publishable.
  • C: Technically flawed with too minor errors or a major error; lacks a compelling story; shots are pedestrian; not publishable quality.
  • D: Major technical errors; lack of story development; shots lack creativity; not publishable quality work.

Required texts
  1. Lancaster, Kurt. Video Journalism for the Web: A Practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling. Routledge, 2013.
  2. Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art. Black Irish Entertainment.
  3. Lynda.com training videos. "Final Cut Essential Training". www.nau.edu/lynda--> Software --> F --> Final Cut Pro --> X. Final Cut Pro X Essential Training.
  4. SMAPP (Stillmotion App): http://stillmotionblog.com/h234hs23dkw21/ (for those with an iPhone).
  5. Recommended: Lancaster, Kurt. DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Large Sensor Video, 2nd edition. Focal Press, 2013.

Required equipment
You have access to DSLR cameras for the duration of the class. If you plan to become a production track major in EMF or a video journalist in the Journalism major, it is highly recommended that you purchase a DSLR kit, especially if you plan on taking additional production courses or engage in multimedia journalism (see the equipment page for a recommended professional Canon 60D kit.).

1. External hard drive (FireWire 800/USB 3.0 hard drive at 7200rpm): G-drive mini 500GB ($135/1T=$190). Slower drives will become a choke point in Final Cut Pro and their failure rate is higher) (see equipment page).

2. Headphones that cup your ears for editing—iPod headphones (earbuds) will NOT be allowed. You need your ears covered. An audience will forgive a little bit of bad video, but they will never forgive bad sound. You can purchase headphones at headphone.com, based on budget.

Checkout Room

The use of NAU equipment is a privilege, not a right. You are responsible for protecting all equipment checked out. Any missing or broken equipment will be assessed a replacement charge (including tax and shipping costs). There is a limited number of equipment used by more than one course. Other people are counting on the use of the equipment for their projects. Any late equipment will be assessed a daily fine and may result in equipment check-out privileges being revoked. It is recommended that you get renters insurance.

Time management
This is a university class. NAU's Board of Regents specify a minimum of six hours of homework time for a 3 credit class (ABOR Handbook, 2-206, Academic Credit; see below). This is not optional. You agree to these terms as soon as you sign up for any course at NAU.

Many students complain that they do not have enough time in the week to do a full load of homework, so I've provided this time management formula. During a M-F schedule, you have 120 hours. Knock off 40 for sleep (some may do less, providing even more time), leaving 80 hours. Most students take 5 classes which equates to 12.5 hours of classroom time per week. Bring it up to 15 hours per week to include travel time. 80-15=65 hours remaining. Three hours per day for meals and socializing=15, leaving 50 hours. Factor in the 6 hour minimum of homework time per class: 6x5=30. 50-30=20. The remaining 20 hours many students leave for work or for extra-curricula activities. This does not include the additional 48 hours over the weekend, which can give you another 20-24 hours of homework time. This means you COULD dedicate 10 hours per week for homework in each class.

In short, if you're not spending the minimum homework time, you're not utilizing proper time management tools. My recommendation: Create a weekly time calendar chart and schedule time in for your class projects, readings, and additional homework.

Since you do have time each week to do all homework, this is my policy: If you come to a class session unprepared, you will be asked to leave and take an F on that assignment and you will be required to fill out a time management sheet each week in order to stay in the class. If you fail to come prepared a second time, you may be asked to drop the course.
  • M-F = 120 hours
  • Sleep = 40 hours (maximum)
  • Eating and socializing = 15 hours (3 hours per day)
  • Class time and travel = 15 hours (12.5 class time per week for five classes)
  • Homework = 30 hours (minimum; 5 classes x 6 hours per class)
  • Work (or extracurricular activities) = 20 hours
  • Weekend = 24 hours of additional homework and/or work time

Resources for Student Success
Successful university students take advantage of services and resources designed to boost learning and achievement. NAU recommends that you begin with:

· MyFoundations- use this online tool to assess and develop required university skills at your own pace (free for first-time freshmen at NAU Flagstaff)
· Supplemental Instruction- attend these course-specific review sessions whenever offered; proven to reduce D’s and F’s
· Student Learning Centers- free drop-in, online, and individual tutoring appointments for math, writing, and over 100 courses; available Monday through Friday
· ResourceConnect- your online central navigation point for all NAU student resources

For a full-listing of University College services visit: http://nau.edu/University-College/

MyFoundations one page fact sheet
Need to fill a gap? Brush up on your skills? Whether you need to get up to speed for your calculus class or brush up on your essay writing skills, the MyFoundations Self-Assessment and Development tool gets you on track for university-level academics.

Free to all incoming first-year NAU Flagstaff students- topics include:
· Math
· Reading
· Writing
· Study Skills

How it works
1. Self-Assess: Complete a path builder assessment in the topic area of your choice, which creates specific modules for your personalized learning path based on your demonstrated needs for improvement or development
2. Self-Develop: Complete the learning paths for mastery

· Instant feedback
· Choose activities that fit your learning style
· Work at your own pace

Where to find it- MyFoundations is in your course list in BbLearn

NAU Policies
Safe Environment Policy
NAU’s Safe Working and Learning Environment Policy seeks to prohibit discrimination and promote the safety of all individuals within the university. The goal of this policy is to prevent the occurrence of discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status and to prevent sexual harassment, sexual assault or retaliation by anyone at this university. You may obtain a copy of this policy from the college dean’s office or from the NAU’s Affirmative Action website http://www4.nau.edu/diversity/swale.asp. If you have concerns about this policy, it is important that you contact the departmental chair, dean’s office, the Office of Student Life (928-523-5181), or NAU’s Office of Affirmative Action (928-523-3312).

Students with Disabilities
If you have a documented disability, you can arrange for accommodations by contacting Disability Resources (DR) at 523-8773 (voice)or 523-6906 (TTY), dr@nau.edu (e-mail)or 928-523-8747 (fax). Students needing academic accommodations are required to register with DR and provide required disability related documentation. Although you may request an accommodation at any time, in order for DR to best meet your individual needs, you are urged to register and submit necessary documentation (www.nau.edu/dr) 8 weeks prior to the time you wish to receive accommodations. DR is strongly committed to the needs of student with disabilities and the promotion of Universal Design. Concerns or questions related to the accessibility of programs and facilities at NAU may be brought to the attention of DR or the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (523-3312).

Academic Integrity
The university takes an extremely serious view of violations of academic integrity. As members of the academic community, NAU’s administration, faculty, staff and students are dedicated to promoting an atmosphere of honesty and are committed to maintaining the academic integrity essential to the education process. Inherent in this commitment is the belief that academic dishonesty in all forms violates the basic principles of integrity and impedes learning. Students “will not allow either to take credit for work not their own, or to be deceitful in any way, or to take unfair advantage of other students or of each other, or to be other than totally truthful and straightforward in all that they do.”· Plagiarism: any attempt to knowingly or deliberately pass off other's work as your own.· Cheating: any attempt to gain an unfair advantage over one's fellow students.· Fabrication: any attempt to present information that is not true when the author knows the information presented is false.· Fraud: any attempt to deceive an instructor or administrative officer of the university.· Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: any attempt to assist an act of academic dishonesty by another individual.Appendix G, NAU’s Student Handbook http://www4.nau.edu/stulife/handbookdishonesty.htm.

Academic Contact Hour Policy
The Arizona Board of Regents Academic Contact Hour Policy (ABOR Handbook, 2-206, Academic Credit) states: “an hour of work is the equivalent of 50 minutes of class time…at least 15 contact hours of recitation, lecture, discussion, testing or evaluation, seminar, or colloquium as well as a minimum of 30 hours of student homework is required for each unit of credit.” The reasonable interpretation of this policy is that for every credit hour, a student should expect, on average, to do a minimum of two additional hours of work per week; e.g., preparation, homework, studying. This means six hours of work outside of class is expected per week. If you miss more than two classes your grade will be lowered and may result in course failure. If you’re consistently late, your grade will be lowered.

Classroom Management
“It is the responsibility of each student to behave in a manner that does not interrupt nor disrupt the delivery of education by faculty members or receipt of education by students, within and/or outside the classroom. The determination of whether such interruption and/or disruption has occurred must be made by the faculty member at the time the behavior occurs.” From NAU’s Student Handbook. http://www4.nau.edu/stulife/handbookmanagement.htm
No texting, IMing, personal email during class. You'll receive a warning. The second offense will require you to leave the class with an absence.

Lab Hours
Final Cut Pro (for editing projects) is available in School of Communication 112 and eventually SMC edit bays. You will need an swipe card for after hours access.

NOTE on university level work

This course is not for the casual student. It is for A players or those striving to be A players, the ones who are driven to excellence, learn from mistakes, and strive to do their best work possible in the face of stress, growing from the pressure rather than fleeing from it and giving up easily or too soon. As a professor, I'm here to coach, guide, critique, and support your learning goals. But students who come in unprepared or express a lackadaisical attitude ("lacking spirit, liveliness, or interest") will become easily frustrated by the demands of this course.

Preparation means that students treat their university time as a professional career, more important than nearly anything else in their lives. Students must do the readings, watch any video assignments and tutorials, practice camera and audio recording, as well as editing, and complete exercises in a timely manner. The classroom learning environment is not the place to begin learning,but the place to reinforce and extend learning done outside the classroom. It is a place where students ask questions about how to improve their work as professionals and a place where students are given tools to become better storytellers. Lab sessions and lecture time become the safe place to ask questions about how to get your work to a professional level so that you receive the foundation to pursue professional work as multimedia journalists, video shooters, editors, and strong visual storytellers. You may discover that digital filmmaking isn't your thing. That's ok, as long as you're striving to do your best and putting in the time needed to begin mastery.

If you feel you MUST be here because it's REQUIRED for your major, and you would rather be elsewhere and wanting to do other things with your time, you are free to go. There's not law requiring you to attend university as there is in high school. Treat your time here as a privilege rather than a requirement, and you'll begin to head down the right path in life.

Kurt Lancaster,
Jan 17, 2012, 2:47 PM
Kurt Lancaster,
Nov 29, 2012, 7:53 AM
Kurt Lancaster,
Oct 30, 2012, 1:23 PM
Kurt Lancaster,
Jan 14, 2013, 5:28 PM
Kurt Lancaster,
Oct 3, 2012, 10:58 AM
Kurt Lancaster,
Dec 20, 2012, 1:27 PM
Kurt Lancaster,
Apr 29, 2013, 8:55 AM
Kurt Lancaster,
Apr 28, 2013, 11:38 AM
Kurt Lancaster,
Nov 19, 2011, 2:54 PM