Video Tech

Course Syllabus

Office #: ext. 292
E-mail MS. HELLYER (be sure to include your name!)

In Video Technologies (Digital Storytelling) students learn how to tell stories by combining digitized pictures, video clips, voice-overs, and audio soundtracks. By synthesizing these elements using a non-linear, desktop video application, students are able to communicate about their personal experiences in the most predominant language of the century. As consumers of movies, films, videos, and television, we are receptors of corporate sponsored views of reality. This class provides a voice to the "other reality" that isn't represented in the media; a reality that is specific and unique to each student producer.

This class is dependent, in part, on the exploration of what tools are available using the software application "Adobe Premiere" . There are so many options that it would be impossible to cover in one semester. Students will undoubtedly discover many shortcuts and features simply by working on the assignments. There are three basic steps in the process of creating desktop videos.
They are:

  • Pre-Production: Research, planning, acquisition of materials, writing the script, and mapping out a storyboard.
  • Production: Camera capture and digitizing, scanning images, digitizing sounds.
  • Post-Production: Editing, arranging, composing, combining all the elements in the timeline window, exporting a movie file and printing to video. Through a series of project oriented assignments students will learn the technical aspects of; VTR camera operations, video production, and non-linear digital editing utilizing Adobe Premiere. Students will also examine the concepts surrounding visual storytelling such as script writing, storyboarding, and narrative structure. We will also discuss the historical and cultural impact of this medium.

    Grades will be determined based on the following components:

  • Organization, Preparation and Planning: Includes keeping track of footage, handouts, folders and files on the hard drive, and use of class time. Most of your script, storyboarding, image and sound collection will happen outside of when class meets. This will allow you the time and help you need during class to work on desktop video editing/constructing.

  • Concept and Idea: How do you come up with ideas? Is it the first thing that comes to mind, or do you dig a little deeper? In this class, you'll be expected to think beyond the normal realm of day to day existence. It is expected that you'll go beyond simply mirroring what you've spent years taking in by watching movies and television. This is an opportunity to research, conceptualize, and construct a reality that is uniquely yours... something that has NEVER been done before. Think of the easiest, most obvious idea and then DON'T DO IT! Think again!

  • Collaboration and Cooperation: We share a classroom space and it is important to be conscious and respectful of those around you. Things like keeping your backpack out of the walkway, wearing headphones when working on audio (no sound should ever come from the speakers!) and communicating clearly when working with others on projects.

  • Responsible Use of Time and Resources: The equipment you'll be using is shared as well. We have 4 hi-8 video camcorders to be shared among two sections of video class. This equipment is extremely delicate and you must pay special attention to caring for it when in your possession. While you will be held responsible for replacing anything that becomes damaged or lost, the real thing to remember is that it might not be EASY to do this. Also, when a camera gets damaged, lost or stolen, 1/4 of video students at Lick will feel the impact. In short, if you aren't serious about learning how to use and care for sophisticated equipment, you should consider dropping this course.

  • Completion and Presentation: We want our work to reach a finish and look good. This means paying attention to details, and anticipating that production will take three times as long as we plan for. In other words, when you prepare your projects for presentation, plan on it taking much longer than you think it will. It involves many steps to print to video from a computer, and on the average two or three students per camera / per day can probably accomplish this. More on this later. Just DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE.


  • HEADPHONES with a mini-jack (like on a walkman) If you don't have headphones, don't plan on working on anything sound related (which is half your project!)
  • A pocket folder for handouts, storyboards, scripts, photos, sketches.
  • An external storage device if you want to keep your projects at the end of the year.
  • Think about existing video footage, photos, and recordings that you already have, and even consider going through and creating an index of content. This will save you time when you're in production.
  • Use of a sketchbook is strongly recommended but not required.


  • Ask everyone in your core group any questions about production and the application BEFORE you ask me. There are times when you might miss something and someone can help you, or try for yourself first.
  • If a connector doesn't seem to fit, DON'T FORCE IT! You can bend something beyond repair. Make sure you can see where you're plugging something in, then gently try to make the connection.
  • All cables are to be correctly / loosely wrapped and tied before being returned to Ms. Hellyer or the camera carrying case. Leave things as you'd like to find them, and this will make stuff last much longer.
  • All computers are to be in their original positions at the end of class.
  • Plan to have something to work on while your preview files are rendering. To save space, throw away your preview files every now and then (more later.)
  • Your crisis is your crisis. Do NOT expect me or anyone else to shift their priorities to accomodate your schedule. Plan in advance and you'll have time to recover from any unforseen technical difficulties...
  • Technical difficulties happen. Be sure to pay attention to what your process involves when things go nutty. That way you won't be likely to repeat the conditions.
  • Regarding subject matter - This class is an opportunity for true stories to be told, and basic skills to be developed. This is not the class you'll make a feature length fictional movie in. You will most likely complete two projects; the name introduction piece, and a piece which tells a true story. Examples of previous student projects will help give you an idea of the types of materials that tend to work well given the technical logistics involved.