Section 3:
Fundamentals of Digital Filmmaking

 

FUNDAMENTALS OF DIGITAL FILMMAKING
SCMC 3201

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, TWIN CITIES
FALL 2010

CLASS INFO

 

Professor: Hisham Bizri

Course hours: T 2:30-5:15

Voice: (612) 625-8460

Course location: Nicholson Hall 315

Email: hbizri@umn.edu

hishambizri.com/teaching/umn/fall10/digitalfilmmaking1/

Office hours: T&TH 1-2 (146A Nicholson Hall)

CSCL office: 235 Nicholson Hall

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

This course is an introduction to the practice of digital filmmaking. The main focus of the course will be practical, affording students ample time to write, direct, shoot, and edit (including post-production) original works of fiction using digital and optical means. In doing so, students will begin to master the use of digital and optical tools such as the camera, optics, light, color, and the computer to tell stories. We will inform this practical focus by attending to how films are made is terms of space, light, action, dramatic structure, montage, and the overall visual vision of master filmmakers. Our productions will also be shaped by our own life experiences as well as other art forms such as music, painting, theater, photography, sculpture, and poetry.

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES

To teach the fundamentals of digital filmmaking. Our goals would here be to:

 

    1.    Study the technical aspects of digital and optical filmmaking.
    2.   
Analyze filmmaking techniques.
    3.   
Learn how to construct narrative and non-narrative strategies.
    4.   
Discover formal aspects of filmmaking.
    5.   
Study the relationship between filmmaking and other forms of art making: painting, music, and literature.
    6.    Expand and sharpen our viewing and interpretive skills.
    7.   
Make short films
.

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

 

         Mandatory class attendance and participation. Students are not allowed to arrive late or leave early.

         Technical workshops: various workshops dealing with technical and aesthetic aspects of film. There will be in-class demonstrations, viewings, and discussions.

         Readings (average of 50 pages per week). The technical and aesthetic aspects of film are vast. It is up to you to decide what to master. However, you are required to acquire all basic concepts and technical know-how of filmmaking.

         Filmmaker's journal: this includes your notes on the technical and aesthetic aspects of the course, your stories, treatments, scripts, shooting scripts, production notes, sketches, and daily dreams and reveries. You are required to review it with me at the end of each month.

         Filmmaker's creative reference book: you are to collect in this book a vast data of your favorite poems, photos, paintings, music, newspaper stories, etc. You are required to review this with me as well at the end of each month.

         One 3-minute film (groups of two, developing one's own creative voice): a self portrait (silent) and a sound film inspired by a story from the current Minnesota newspapers.

         One 5-minute final film (individual creative vision): must be a fiction and not a documentary

         All films must be accompanied by a written report discussing the technical, aesthetic, and overall concept behind the film and why it was made; two pages long

 

You will have access to equipment at: http://studiob.cla.umn.edu. A handout will be given out on the first day of classes on where and how to check out equipment. However, you need to buy your own external hard drive. We recommend that you buy a 1TB of Western Digital MyBook Essential or My Book Studio Edition. You also need to buy your own DV tapes; please buy three Sony PR (DVM-60). They are all available at the U bookstore.

 

REQUIRED READING

(Available at the U bookstore; additional handouts in class)

 

         Blain Brown, CINEMATOGRAPHY: THEORY AND PRACTICE (Focal Press, 2002)

         Blain Brown, MOTION PICTURE AND VIDEO LIGHTING, Second Edition (Focal Press, 2007)

 

There will be several handouts throughout the semester on the craft and method conceived by master filmmakers, cinematographers, editors, set designers, and music composers.

 

SCREENINGS

(Time permitting)

 

NARRATIVE FILMS

 

         INTOLERANCE (D.W.Griffith, 163 minutes, 1916)

         STAGECOACH (John Ford, 96 minutes, 1939)

         CITIZEN KANE (Orson Welles, 119 minutes,1941)

         ROME, OPEN CITY (Roberto Rossellini, 100 minutes, 1945)

         HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Howard Hawks, 92 minutes, 1940)

 

AVANT-GARDE FILMS

 

         LA GLACE A TROIS FACES, aka THE THREE-SIDED MIRROR (Jean Epstein, 33 minutes, 1927)

         FABLE FO FOUNTAIN (Joseph Cornell, 6 minutes, 1957)

         THE END (Christopher MacLaine, 35 minutes, 1953)

         KISS, (Andy Warhol, 50 minutes, 1963)

         THE DEAD (Stan Brakhage, 11 minutes, 1960)

 

ASSIGNMENTS & GRADING

(Assignments must be completed on time; late work will not be permitted)

 

    1.    Filmmaker's journal and reference book (30%)
    2.    Two film (40%)
    3.   
Final film (30%)

 

Grading Scale
A+ = 97-100%; A = 93%; A- = 90%
B+ = 87%; B = 83% ; B- = 80%
C+ = 77%; C = 73% ; C- = 70%
D+ = 67% ; D = 63%; D- = 60%
F = 59%

 

If you don't attend regularly, doing so for the entire duration of each class, you will get an F even if you complete all assignments. This is a production course and missing any workshop will prevent you from completing your films properly.

 

COURSE SCHEDULE AND OUTLINE

 

WEEK 1
September 7 [Introduction to the course]

 

Discussion topics:
What is the course about; what is my teaching approach to filmmaking in this course; what is expected of you.

 

Studio topics:
Overview of equipment

 

Creative Exercise:
Filmmaker's journal and reference book

 

Readings:
Bordwell and Thompson, FILM ART, "The Significance of Film Form
" (available at: http://lingo.uib.no:8000/1646)

 

WEEK 2
September 14 [The frame #1]

 

Discussion topics:
Schools of visual space

 

Studio topics:
Camera

 

Creative Exercise:
Self-Portrait

 

Readings:
Cinematography, "Filmspace" (pp. 1-28)
Cinematography, "Visual Language" (pp. 29-44)

Screenings:


LA GLACE A TROIS FACES, aka THE THREE-SIDED MIRROR (Jean Epstein, 33 minutes, 1927)

 

WEEK 3
September 21 [Lighting #1]

 

Discussion topics:
Schools of lighting

 

Studio topics:
Lighting equipment
Final Cut Pro basics

 

Creative Exercise:
Self-Portrait (pre-production)

 

Readings:
Motion Picture and Video Lighting, "Fundamentals of Lighting" (pp. 35-57)
Motion Picture and Video Lighting, "Basic Scene Lighting" (pp. 58-85)
Cinematography, "Lighting as Storytelling" (pp. 157-166)

 

WEEK 4
September 28 [Editing #1]

 

Discussion topics:
Schools of editing

 

Studio topics:
Final Cut Pro revisited

 

Creative Exercise:
Self-Portrait (production)

 

Readings:
Cinematography, "Cinematic Continuity" (pp. 79-102)

 

WEEK 6
October 5 [Writing for the screen #1]

 

Discussion topics:
Schools of writing

 

Studio topics:
From treatment to script

 

Creative Exercise:
In-class treatment
Self-Portrait (post-production)

 

Readings:
Handouts

 

WEEK 6
October 12 [The frame #2]

 

Discussion topics:
Visual function of the frame

 

Studio topics:
Optics and video shooting

 

Creative Exercise:
Self-Portrait (DUE)
Newspaper story (Pre-production)

 

Readings:
Cinematography, "Lens Language" (pp. 45-60)
Cinematography, "Camera Dynamics" (pp. 61-78)
Cinematography, "Optics" (pp.177-192)

 

WEEK 7
October 19 [Lighting #2]

 

Discussion topics:
Visual function of lighting

 

Studio topics:
Exposure and color

 

Creative Exercise:
Newspaper story (Production)

 

Readings:
Cinematography, "Exposure" (pp. 103-126)
Cinematography, "Color Theory" (pp. 127-140)
Motion Picture and Video Lighting, "Lighting HD, DV, and SD Video" (pp. 86-98)

 

WEEK 8
October 26 [Editing #2]

 

Discussion topics:
Visual function of editing
and the construction of space

 

Studio topics:
From Final Cut Pro to DVD Studio Pro

 

Creative Exercise:
Newspaper story (Post-production)

 

Readings:
Cinematography, "Set Operations" (pp. 241-253)

 

WEEK 9
November 2 [Writing for the screen #2]

 

Discussion topics:
Script and shooting script

 

Studio topics:
Visualize word and action

 

Creative Exercise:
Newspaper story (DUE)

 

Readings:
Handouts

 

WEEK 10
November 9 [Sound Design #1]

 

Discussion topics:
Schools of sound design

 

Studio topics:
Capturing sound

 

Creative Exercise:
Final film
(Treatment)

 

Readings:
Handouts

 

WEEK 11
November 16 [Sound Design #2]

 

Discussion topics:
Visual function of sound design in studio and location films

 

Studio topics:
Sound in Final Cut Pro

 

Creative Exercise:
Final film
(Pre-production)

 

Readings:
Handouts

 

WEEK 12
November 23 [Thanksgiving week]

 

Screening:
INTOLERANCE (D.W.Griffith, 163 minutes, 1916)

 

WEEK 13
November 30 [Final Film]

 

View and critique rushes

 

WEEK 14
December 7 [Final Film]

 

View and criqiue final cuts

 

WEEK 15
December 14

 

All films are due.