Assignment 8: Video Commentary

For this assignment I am going to ask each of you to select several scenes from your favorite films (or one of your favorites), and edit them together and comment on some of the filmic elements of the scenes? Why do you like these scenes? What strikes you about them? What makes them good cinema? Is there a subtext at work in this film? In short, I want you to comment on the scenes as a narrator explaining to your audience explaining what you find important about the scene, and why.

If you want more specific example of what I m talking about, here is a commentary of the 1978 zombie films Dawn of the Dead I did a couple of years ago.

I’ll also be working on a new version for the The Shining over the next few days as well.

And now, how do you do this? Take the jump for some recommendations.

First and foremost, remember to consult the unbelievably useful resource for all things video provided us by the great Andy Rush: http://video.umwblogs.org

Getting the digital video
Now, chances are you’ll probably be able to find a good number of the scenes you need one video sharing sites like YouTube, etc. This would probably be the easiest solution, and the following tools should be a great help in downloading them:
Fastest YouTube Downloader (PC/Mac) – Seriously, it’s fast!
Video Download Helper – Download YouTube videos in the browser
1-click YouTube Video Downloader

Alternatively, Andy Rush also blogged about using VLC to record segmets of a DVD straight to your hard drive on a Mac or PC. This could be an easy and useful alternative for those of you who still own DVDs, like me 🙂

If YouTube is not your answer, you can also rip scenes right from a DVD:
DVD Fab (PC) –
MacTheRipper (Mac) –
Mac DVDRipper Pro ($10)

And finally, if you already have your film in some digital video format on your computer (mp4, avi, divx, etc.), then jump to the next part.

Getting the specific clips you need
Onc you have gotten digital video of the film you will be commenting on, you will need to get the specific clips you want to talk about. This is where I would recommend a tool like MPEG Streamclip (PC/Mac), though there are others. Important: When using a Mac and working with video editing/conversion tools like MPEG Streamclip (or even Quicktime, Evom (Mac), and Handbrake (PC/Mac)) I highly recommend that you make sure to install Perian, which is a free utility that adds a series of codecs recognition tools across various video compression tools on your computer.

What MPEG Streamclip will allow you to do is select and trim exactly the clips you want to discuss from the longer scenes. Doing this in MPEG Streamclip will save you time and energy before importing it into a video editor like Moviemaker or iMovie, both of which bloat video unnecessarily and take a lot more time. Not that you may have to cut a longer scene up into various clips, that you will then edit together in your final version. Also, when converting the clips, make sure they are the same aspect ratio, and that you are saving them in the proper codec for your video editing software.

Editing your video, and adding the audio
Most of you will have on of two basic video editing tools: Moviemaker and iMovie. I will expect you have some basic competence in either of these. If not, there is this thing called Google…. What you will need to do here is import your clips, organize them accordingly to the logic of your commentary, and then record your commentary on top of the clips (which can be done in either of these applications).

Also, if you don;t have either of these tools and are lookingfor an online editor, check out Jaycut, it is free but there are alos some real limitations. Also, Videospin might be a good alternatives for you PC users.

Upload it to you Video Hosting Service of choice
Finally, upload your finished video to you video service of choice. Here are some recommendations if you don’t have one already:
* YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/
* Blip.tv – http://blip.tv/
* Vimeo (HD) – http://www.vimeo.com/

This assignment is due by this Thursday, October 28th.

3 Responses to “Assignment 8: Video Commentary”

  1. […] I’m cross-posting this here as well as on the ds106 course blog for two reasons. 1) It pulls widely from Andy Rush’s unbelievable Digital Video resource […]

  2. Reverend says:

    Antonio,

    That is brilliant, and I have to say seeing this takes the possibilities of this assignment to a whole different level. I really wish every one had a decent video editing program and some basic understanding walking in. In fact, this makes me want to teach a whole separate class just on digital video.

    As usual, you rule!!

  3. I just came through this amazing video montage and needed to share it with you all. It is a commentary in a way, not annotated with spoken words but with fast editing choices. Enjoy Tarantino vs Coen Brothers from Leandro Copperfield. I know what side will Jim take!