In response to (I suspect) Portelli’s “What Makes Oral History Different,” Alexa tweeted:
Oral sources of information bring a different type of credibility to a topic that can come from experience instead of hard facts #storyf17
— Alexa Sinatore (@asinatoresju) September 22, 2017
And so, with that idea in mind (as well as the many ideas on oral history and interviewing in our readings), we are going to compose (at least) one oral history video story of an important individual associated with your semester-long investigation using the interview techniques discussed in the book and in the class. So you have a choice of whom to base your digital story on, we are going to conduct interviews with TWO people. You will then select who you want to base your video on.
Our stories will bring together clips from your interviews, historical documents in the form of archival footage, still image (used with Ken Burns effect), and background music. That is, very much what Spike Lee does in When the Levees Broke. As such, your video stories will not only be about the individual, though we will learn about him or her through their interview. Rather, the video stories will explore an issue relating to your investigation as understood by the person you interview. The distinction is subtle, but important. We discuss this in great detail in class as we get closer to the interview drafts.
The fact that we are conducting interviews does not preclude us from engaging in more traditional modes of research. Indeed, oral history presentations depend on it for evidence to support and enhance statements uttered by interview subjects. Interviews also require a substantial amount of traditional research about the particular issue you are investigating, the organizations your subjects might be a part of, and so on. The more prepared we are the better listeners and questioners we will be, and the more effective we will be at helping the subject articulate their memories.
As Kayla tweeted:
— Kayla Lane (@kaylalane_SJU) February 10, 2016
This assignment is informed by the following course objectives:
Objective 1: Storytelling
Students will understand the principles and practices of effective storytelling and be able to create media objects which effectively apply storytelling principles and techniques for desired rhetorical and communication goals.
Objective 2: Research
Students will understand the critical role of research in storytelling, including but not limited to texts and techniques associated with interviewing, observing, and photographing.
Objective 3: Communication Design
Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate audience, purpose, and context and will understand and apply human centered design approaches to communicating through digital media.
Objective 4: Risk-taking
Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and understanding of investigation, design, and digital storytelling.
Objective 5: Reflection
Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and communication process.
To complete the in-person interviews, you must use the COM Vid Kit, which consists of a Canon t5i and accessories, tripod, and lav mic. There are 30 vid kits, but you should reserve yours the day you schedule the interview, even if the interview isn’t for another few weeks. You don’t want to be left without one. You may also want to use professional lighting, in which case you will rent a Cowboy Lighting Kit. We will discuss setting up the interview space as we get closer to the interviews.
More to be added as we get closer.
Instructional, educational, or ephemeral film footage from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, or 70s can be found most readily in the Moving Image Section of the Internet Archives. Some useful places to start are: productions/collections by Coronet Instructional Films, the A/V Geeks, or the Prelinger Archives. It may help you to find a subject area by exploring the massive tag clouds associated with the collections, but I encourage you to look across subject areas to hep complicate your projects. Contemporary footage can come from anywhere.
Other archives that have great material (most of which is easily downloadable) are:
- Documentary Heaven: free documentaries
- adViews: Thousands of (totally freaking awesome) TV commercials from between 1950 – 1980
- Vintage TV Commercials: A YouTube channel with about a hundred public domain commercials organized by category
- The Deena Larsen Collection: archives relating to the early history of electronic literature
- National Jukebox: Historical Recordings from the Library of Congress
- Emergence of Advertizing in America: Over 3,300 advertising items and publications dating from 1850 to 1920
- 4President.tv: Presidential campaign ads from 1960 – 2012
- The Living Room Candidate: Presidential TV commercials from 1952 – 2008
- 92nd Street Y audio recordings archive (so awesome)
For information how to download and convert online video, see How to Download and Convert Online Video.
Blog Post Specifics
For ONE of your interview subjects, compose TWO blog posts
- one that discusses the preparation for the interview
- one that reflects on how the interview went
The preparation post should be posted before the interview takes place and the reflection post should be posted after the interview takes place.
For the preparation post, discuss at least the following:
- the interview specifics: who you’ll be interviewing (first names are just fine), where, when, and why you are interviewing this particular person
- how you plan to use oral history interview techniques to approach the interview (cite the texts)
- the main topics you hope to cover in the interview (no questions; topics)
For the reflection post, discuss at least the following:
- how the interview was similar and/or different from your expectations
- what you learned, what questions you still have, and where you hope to go next
- what was successful about the way the interview ran and what you might have done differently
Video Draft Specifics
For this draft, I’d like you to narrow down your interview with your subject(s) to 2 – 4 minutes, highlighting a key component to the story this part of your project will be telling. Your draft should make clear that your video is not just about the person you have interviewed; rather, through them we will be learning about an important issue, place, activity, etc.
Toward that end, I’d like you to include recent and archival clips that illustrate the issue the person is addressing, as well as clips from videos you took of the areas surrounding the location where the person works. As one possible way to include that kind of material, look to how Spike Lee uses clips of Hurricane Betsy when New Orleans residents discuss Betsy. You should also have a montage at the beginning that visually introduces the viewer to the issue(s) your video will address.
Make sure to bookmark the videos you are using so you can make a works cited page in the future. The videos in your montage do not need to be Creative Commons or Public Domain. If you are having trouble downloading video from the web, be sure to see How to Download and Convert Online Video. You may use whatever video editor you prefer to complete the draft.
Upload your video to the #storyf17 YouTube Channel. Add video to the Rough Draft 1 playlist.
Specifics for Rough Draft 2 and Final Draft
Your video final draft must:
- be 5 – 8 minutes long (plus credits)
- include historical/archival footage, as described in the rough draft
- include a list of closing credits that includes
- for each video used: title, date, and URL
- for audio used: artist, date, title, and creative commons license that was originally applied to it
- contain a Creative Commons license (see the link to download a Creative Commons license image to include as the last thing in your video)
- contain a title slide at the end that provides a clickable URL for users to go to find the larger story
Specifics when Uploading Rough Draft 2 and the Final Video to YouTube
- Upload the video to the #storyf17 YouTube Channel and add to the Rough Draft 2 or Final Video playlist.
- Place a complete meaningful title of your video in the form field when uploading the video.
- In the Description form field, add the following (copy and paste from a Word doc so that you have spell-checked it):
- start with a clearly written and well-edited one-two sentence description of the the video and the larger story the video is a part of
- a link to the full transmedia story, including the title
- include a complete list of credits and sources
- Please use paragraphs and complete sentences
- Do not mention the video was created for a class
- Add at least five meaningful tags.
- For the category, select Education (it could fall under “Entertainment” but Education suits our purposes).
- Make the video public and allow embedding and comments
Assignment Due Dates
The due dates are:
- 10/6: Must know the TWO people you will be interviewing and have the interviews scheduled
- 10/9 – 10/29: Interviews must be conducted during this window; do not complete them before
- 11/3: Interview blog posts must be completed by this time
- 11/20: Video rough draft 1 due online
- 12/4: Video rough draft 2 due as part of completed transmediated story draft
To Go Significantly Beyond the Required Coursework
As part of the Grading Criteria, to obtain an A in the course, you must “demonstrate activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course objectives.”
Here are a few ways you might be able to demonstrate going beyond the required coursework through the use of video work in addition to the main video assignment:
- create an additional 2 – 3 minute video based on your second interview
- create one or more short videos (no more than 45 seconds) clipped from your interviews that can be used as certain parts in your transmedia story (just as videos were used in Snow Fall)
- create a series of Instagram videos that, in 15 second bits, tell a story over time
- create a 1 – 2 minute video mashup on an important issue relating to your investigation area
- something else you come up with :-)