ARTD 2380 Video Basics Syllabus, Sp19

4 SH, Spring 2019, 205 Shillman Hall, Wednesdays, 1:35 to 5:05 P.M.
Instructor: David Tamés,, @cinemakinoeye, 617.216.1096 (mobile)
Office: 329 Ryder Hall; Office Hours: Tuesdays and Fridays 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. or by appointment

See also: ARTD 2380 Video Basics Schedule, Spring 2019

Course description

Offers an introductory exploration into the moving image as an art form. Covers the fundamental technical and aesthetic aspects of contemporary video production with some historical context. Emphasizes personal, experimental works from an individual point of view. Analysis of projects is directed toward the development of a personal voice.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Describe several representative video works and how they reflect technological, political, and critical issues as demonstrated by referring to them in class discussions, critiques, and reflection essays;
  2. Illustrate several trends in contemporary video practice as demonstrated by referring to them in class discussions, critiques, and reflection essays;
  3. Produce short videos that demonstrate fluency with visual storytelling and fundamental video production skills (including camerawork, lighting, sound recording, picture editing, sound editing, time-based effects) as evidenced by completing work on three independent video production projects;
  4. Perform as a productive member of a creative team by participating in a collaborative video project to produce a micro-documentary that profiles a person or organization as evidenced by effective application of visual language and video production skills during the course of the project and evaluation of performance through peer review;
  5. Set, track, and reflect on personal learning goals related to video as demonstrated by self-assessments and reflection essays.

By focusing on these five objectives, you will establish a foundation of video fluency, develop your ability to analyze the moving image, enhance your conceptual thinking skills, and be prepared for subsequent courses and co-op positions that require the ability to conceive, plan, shoot, edit, finish, and distribute short videos.

Prerequisite and co-requisite

Students must have completed ARTF 2220 4D Fundamentals (or obtained the instructor’s permission for a waiver) prior to taking this course.

Enrollment in ARTD 2381 Video Tools is optional.

If you don’t register for Video Tools you are still expected to develop and demonstrate skills covered in this course. Video Tools provides extensive hands-on training in post-production workflow using Adobe Premiere Pro CC editing software, the use of which is required for completing all project work in this course.

Teaching method, classroom activities, and homework

Class meetings consist of demonstrations, hands-on exercises, video screenings, presentations, discussions, and the screening and critique of video production assignments. A significant portion of learning in this course occurs as you work on production assignments and reflect on your work.

Schedule, milestones, and deadlines

The course schedule is available in a separate document. Milestones and deadline for all work are listed in the schedule. The schedule also includes links to all viewing and reading assignments. You will find a link to the online versions of both this document and the schedule on the course index page. Most of the time, your video projects will require more time than anticipated, therefore, plan ahead and stick to the milestones in the schedule as these are designed to make it easier to meet deadlines.

Assignments, and production projects

You’ll find a detailed description of each assignment and production project in an assignment or project description document and links to these documents are embedded in the schedule.


Index page. The index page provides a single starting point for everything you need to read and view for this class.

BlackboardBlackboard will be used for periodic announcements, handing in writing assignments, and posting of grades.

Team driveWe will use a Google Team Drive for sharing documents and notes from screening and critique sessions. In addition, you’ll use a folder on the Team Drive for all of your Micro-Documentary project collaboration.

Shared media server. We will use the Avid Nexis media server in Shillman Hall for media storage, sharing, and submission of video deliverables. If you would like to work remotely, I suggest keeping media assets on artserver and then copy your deliverables to the Media Server prior to the screening and critique session.

Equipment reservations and checkoutReserving and checking out equipment will be handled by Media Studio staff in Shillman 225. Please keep in mind we have a shortage of equipment and therefore reservations are essential to assure you have access to gear when needed to complete assignments.

Readings and viewing

You will find links to required readings and viewings in the schedule document. You are expected to incorporate topics covered in the viewing and readings in class discussions and reflection essays.

 The following are required reading:

  • Visual Storytelling by Nancy Kalow, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, 2011 [pdf]
  • Video Revolutions: On the history of a medium by Michael Z. Newman, Columbia University Press, 2014 [e-book]
  • Making Media: Foundations of Sound and Image Production by Jan Roberts-Breslin, 3rd ed., Focal Press, 2012 [e-book]

In addition to the required readings, you’ll find handouts, reference pages, and online tutorials listed on the index page. These materials cover the video technology and applied media aesthetics relevant to completing projects in this course and you should scan them and/or refer to them as needed.

If you’re new to the fundamental studio practice of the critique, the Critique Guide will be particularly important to read.


You are expected to arrive to class on time. Only one unexcused absence is allowed. A second unexcused absence will result in your participation grade adjusted to 0. A third unexcused absence will result in a final grade of F. The University attendance policy will be followed. If you plan to miss a class, let your instructor know in advance. Excused absences will be granted only as permitted by the policy. Missing a screening and critique session will result in an additional 2 point deduction from your participation grade (in addition to any deductions due to absences) since screening and critique is a critical component of this course. 


The final grade for the course will be based on the following distribution:

  • Active participation in class discussion and workshops, 10%
  • Introduction and Personal Learning Goals, 2%
  • Video: Personal Essay, 10%
    • Personal Essay reflection, 2%
  • Video: Cinematic Metaphor, 10%
    • Cinematic metaphor reflection, 2%
  • Moving Image Artist presentation, 8%
    • Response to Moving Image Artist presentations, 2%
  • Video: Personal Project (5% plan, 15% video), 20%
    • Personal Project reflection, 2%
  • Video: Micro-Documentary (20% video, 5% deliverables package), 25%
    • Micro-Documentary reflection, 2%
  • Final Reflection, 5%

A grading rubric is included with each project and assignment providing you with the criteria used to evaluate your work. Note that your grades on assignments and projects are based on performance, not effort (as measured perhaps by hours you spent completing the work). Effort and performance are quite different.

Your final letter grade for the semester will be based on the following translation of internal numerical grades reported in Blackboard to final letter grades is internal to the course and does not correspond to any external systems):

  • A 95 – 100, A– 92 – 94 (outstanding achievement)
  • B+ 89 – 91, B 86 – 88, B– 83 – 85 (good achievement)
  • C+ 80 – 82, C 77 – 79, C–  74 – 76 (satisfactory achievement)
  • D+  71 -73, D  68 – 70, D– 65 – 67 (Poor achievement)
  • F 0 – 64 (failure to achieve minimal standards)

Grade dispute

If you have a concern over any grade received, you may dispute the grade by submitting via email an essay to your instructor providing cogent evidence for a higher grade vis-à-vis the grading rubric.

Late work

Late work will result in a 30% reduction of the points earned as long as the work is handed in within 48 hours from the time it was due. Late work must be accompanied with a note (sent to your instructor via e-mail prior to the deadline) with a reasonable explanation for why the work will be handed in late. After 48 hours there will be no credit given for the assignment. Missing a class session does not grant an extension of assignment or project deadlines. 

Academic integrity

The University academic integrity policy will be enforced. A commitment to the principles of academic integrity is essential to the mission of Northeastern University. Academic dishonesty violates the most fundamental values of an intellectual community and undermines the achievements of the entire University.

Classroom norms

Meaningful and constructive dialogue is encouraged and a high degree of mutual respect, willingness to listen, and tolerance of opposing points of view is expected. Classroom discussion is meant to allow us to hear a variety of viewpoints. This can only happen if we respect each other and our differences. The concept of mutual respect extends to fully engaging in class instead of diverting attention to electronic devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops) during class unless classroom activities require the use of electronic devices to complete the task.

Students with disabilities

Students who have disabilities may wish to consult the Disability Resource Center for aid with resources and accommodation. Those who wish to receive academic services and accommodations must present the accommodation letters from the DRC to their instructors at the beginning of the semester so that accommodations can be arranged in a timely manner.

Writing center

The Northeastern University Writing Center (part of the Writing Program and Department of English in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities) exists to help writers at any level in their written communication.

Language support for non-native English speakers

Global Student Success (GSS) supports the success of international students at Northeastern University and offers services to students, faculty, and staff. While the Global Student Success office is housed under CPS, its services are available to all students.