Senior exams

Exams are

  • Red 3: Thursday, May 31
  • Blue 2: Tuesday, June 5

Bring laptop with

  • several gigabytes of room,
  • functioning iMovie,
  • the sound skills you learned in Foley assignment, and
  • general editing skills


Make a 2 – 3 minute documentary, using as much or as little of the provided video clips and sound files as you want to make a compelling piece (but not a montage). There is no need to match the voice-overs to the visual – they can just track along separately.


  • title
  • J-cut beginning, either from black or from image/clip
  • unify entire video with ambient sound (quiet wind?)
  • some slo mo
  • cut out all narrative audio from clips
  • use a couple of sound cues of birds to add to “outdoorness”
  • fade sound at end

Custom titles / moving graphics

Basics, hand drawn:

  1. Get image into Preview (sample Ararat here)
  2. Export as PNG
  3. Reopen.
  4. Adjust using “Tools > Adjust Color…”
    1. Increase contrast
    2. Invert image by swapping white point and black point
  5. Use “Instant Alpha” to select and then delete background (easiest if “Preferences > Background” is green)
  6. Re-export as PNG

Basics, typeset in a word processor:

  1. Set type (white text in a green colored text box is easiest).
  2. Export as pdf.
  3. Open in Preview.
  4. Export as PNG.
  5. Reopen.
  6. Adjust using “Tools > Adjust Color…” if type is not white.
    1. Increase contrast
    2. Invert image by swapping white point and black point
  7. Use “Instant Alpha” to select and then delete background (easiest if “Preferences > Background” is green)
  8. Re-export as PNG


Donald Glover – This Is America

Commentary at

“This Is America” is currently being analyzed on Twitter as if it were the Rosetta Stone. The video has already been rapturously described as a powerful rally cry against gun violence, a powerful portrait of black-American existentialism, a powerful indictment of a culture that circulates videos of black children dying as easily as it does videos of black children dancing in parking lots. It is those things, but it also a fundamentally ambiguous document. The truth is that this video, and what it suggests about its artist, is very difficult. A lot of black people hate it. Glover forces us to relive public traumas and barely gives us a second to breathe before he forces us to dance. There is an inescapable disdain sewn into the fabric of “This Is America.” The very fact that the dance scenes are already being chopped into fun little GIFs online, divorcing them from the video’s brutality, only serves to prove his point.



Monday, May 7

Read and watch:

How Scene Transitions Make The Matrix Tight As Heck

Watch (maybe make one of these for your final film – interview somebody, add visuals w/o showing the interviewee):

Watch (so perfectly reductive):

Lindsay Ellis is kind of a god among YouTube filmsters. She has an academic background (MA, USC film school), but usually has a very light touch as she explains/deepens things. I can’t remember if we followed up watching Mad Max: Fury Road with her piece on Planting and Payoff – if not, watch it. (Recently she’s been assaulting The Hobbit, trying to explain why it was soooo bad.)

But for today, finish the period with her very-academic and yet very-true and -needful explanation of 3-act structure in film. It is really the way almost everything is built.



Morpheus: Free your mind.

[Morpheus jumps from one building to another a long distance away]

Neo: Whoa.

Neo: Okey dokey… free my mind. Right, no problem, free my mind, free my mind, no problem, right…