Personal Video Essay


Create a two to three-minute personal video essay. You may approach this in various ways: a visual essay on a topic of interest or a self-portrait, or take a different approach, as long as the form and style of your work are personal and idiosyncratic. The objective is to experiment and become familiar with basic camera operation and location sound recording. The project should include a variety of shots that demonstrate your ability to compose, frame, focus, set white balance, produce stable camera shots without excessive shaking (or move the camera gracefully in the case of movement), and record a clean soundtrack. The project will be evaluated primarily on technical craft. All video and audio elements used in this video must be created specifically for this project; you may not incorporate any third-party materials in this work.


The homework, archive assignments, and in-class activities provide the foundation for completing this project. It is essential to do some practice shooting before returning the camera you checked-out for use during the Camera Workshop in order to be prepared to complete this assignment.

You should complete this assignment using the Sony a7iii camera that is available in the “Sony Video Kit” you can reserve and check out from the CAMD Media Center. Plan ahead, the CAMD Media Center requires advance reservations.

Becoming familiar with the camera's operation is important, so spend some time practicing and reviewing the Camera Workshop slides.

You may supplement footage shot with the Sony a7iii with footage shot with your iPhone or another camera.


Look at the assigned video playlists for examples from which to draw inspiration. Examples include works in various genres and by creators ranging from students to practicing artists. Do not consider these works as templates; instead, draw inspiration from them and trust your gut and seek to express yourself in your voice.


  • The use of video effects, compositing, or non-diegetic sound is prohibited; you may, however, record your own voiceover, as you could argue that your narration is a sound from within the story world and, therefore, considered diegetic sound. 
  • Sync sound or post-sync narration must be free of excessive background noise or wind noise.
  • Do not use sounds and music from library sources; I want you to record all of the sounds you use in the work, either with the camera's built-in microphone or one of the external microphones included in the kit.
  • Use minimal (cuts-only) editing without dissolves or other transition effects. 
  • Carefully produced stable or moving camerawork is expected. Hand-held work is acceptable, but you still need to keep the camera steady even though the Sony a7iii has IBIS (in-body image stabilization) that smooths out hand-held shots. Whatever you do, shots should be carefully produced without excessive or sloppy camera movement. Warp-stabilized images that exhibit tell-tale warp-stabilized artifacts can not be used.
  • Do not zoom within a shot; move the camera instead when you want to reframe while filming.
  • It is acceptable to mix footage shot with your smartphone with footage shot with Sony a7iii Camera Kits or a comparable camera if you have your own camera; it's good to understand how smartphones and video cameras differ.
  • The footage you use in your sequence must meet technical standards for good focus, proper exposure, appropriate white balance, good composition as described in the readings, etc.
  • You may use auto-focus, but take advantage of touch focus or tracking features to guide the auto-focus since out-of-focus shots or shots with autofocus hunting are unacceptable.
  • Give yourself time to do some initial shooting, reflect on your work by creating and viewing a rough assembly, and do additional shooting before completing the final version of your video.
  • From a theme and content perspective, this is intended to be an open-ended project that encourages experimentation and exploration; the theme, approach, and genre are totally up to you.

Deliverable specifications

  1. The video follows the guidelines and specifications outlined in this document, including aspect ratio and running time.
  2. All video materials are recorded at 24p (HD or 4K) with a 16:9 aspect ratio and the video is edited using a 24p HD timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro.
  3. The exported video meets the layout, export format, aspect ratio, frame rate, codec and file name specifications outlined in the Video Deliverable Specs handout.
  4. This project must be submitted prior to the deadline to receive credit, even if incomplete, since you can request a rework following the procedures outlined in the syllabus.
    • Note: From a pedagogical standpoint, it's better to deliver the video on time, even if it does not meet the criteria for completion, as you'll have plenty of feedback from peers and your instructor to help you complete the project. Remember what Yoda told Luke Skywalker, “There is no try, only do,” so take time to prepare, plan ahead, ask for help if needed, and submit your work on time.

How to submit

Follow these steps to submit your project:

  1. Export your finished video from Adobe Premiere Pro and double-check the work meets the layout, export format, and file name specifications.
  2. Watch the video through to ensure there are no video or audio or other issues that need to be addressed before submitting the project.
  3. Upload your video file to the designated folder in our shared drive.


This project will be assessed on a complete/incomplete basis. The work must meet all of the following criteria to be considered complete:

  1. The work demonstrates good visual storytelling in terms of framing, composition, and editing and takes a personal approach in terms of content and style.
  2. The work conforms to the guidelines and specifications outlined in the Video Deliverable Specs handout.
  3. All visual and sound elements were produced specifically for this assignment. No third-party materials were used in the work.
  4. The work demonstrates good technical craft regarding proper focus, exposure, and white balance. The sequence has no shots with focus, exposure, or serious color balance problems and all shots are free of excessively shaky camerawork.
  5. The work is submitted ahead of the deadline listed in the syllabus.


If the project is assessed as incomplete, you may request a rework following the procedures described in the syllabus. If the rework is submitted before the rework deadline and meets all of the assessment criteria listed above, the assessment will be changed from incomplete to complete.