Filmmaking

Online Courses

Rutgers Arts Online offers online courses on your schedule. Our list of Filmmaking courses are taught by working artists who are experts in their field.

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Filmmaking

Online Courses

Rutgers Arts Online offers online courses on your schedule. Our list of Filmmaking courses are taught by working artists who are experts in their field.

Matriculated and non-matriculated students may take courses through Rutgers Arts Online. Non-matriculated students must complete the Rutgers University application before registering for a course.

Available Courses

07:211:130 Video Editing

Video Editing

Course Number: 07:211:130
Course Format: Lecture
Mode of Instruction: Online Asynchronous

This course is an introduction to both the technical and creative elements essential for video editing. In this class through reading and assignments, students will examine the role of video editors in the storytelling process. Students in the class will learn the tools necessary to manipulate existing footage into thoughtful and creative video edits using Adobe Premiere Pro software. Through a series of readings and provided video examples, the students will expand their understanding of editing concepts and storytelling tools. Then they will use that creative knowledge and apply it practically through a series of video editing assignments.

3 credits

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites: None
Learning Goals of Course

Learning Objectives/Outcomes
By the end of the semester:

  • Students will develop proficiency in Adobe Premiere Pro software.
  • Students will learn how to create meaning and story through the juxtaposition of sounds and images.
  • Students will gain a basic understanding of different editing styles and how these styles can be used to influence story.
  • Using film language, students will learn to analyze the video editing styles of existing films and to identify what these creative choices can reveal about a character or world.
  • Students will gain an understanding of the ways in which editing styles have changed in conjunction with editorial software advancements and other new filmmaking technologies.
  • Students will gain a basic understanding of the post production process and the importance of organization and project management.

Required and Recommended Course Materials

Required Reading: Adobe Premiere Pro CC: Classroom In a Book by Maxim Jago / Adobe Creative Team (2021 Version)

(Official training workbook from Adobe Systems)

This book contains footage that will be used to edit throughout the class. It is required that students buy this book and use the footage that is provided with it as a source for the assignments. The printed version of the book comes with a Data DvD inside the back cover that contains the editing work files. If you have a DvD drive on your computer, this is the easiest way to install the footage. The book is also available in a Kindle/ e-Book edition. If you buy the digital version you will need to download the footage online. At the very beginning of the Kindle/ e-Book version there is a page that begins “How to Get Your Lesson Files.” On that page you will find a link and instructions to set up an account and download the files from the Peachpit website. (These downloadable files are also available if you buy the printed book but don't have access to a DvD drive.) Because Adobe is continually making changes and adding features to Premiere Pro CC and to their other programs, I recommend getting the current version of the textbook as well as staying up to date with Premiere Pro CC software program updates.

Note: Because Adobe normally releases major updates to its Creative Cloud Suite of applications twice a year the textbook is often playing catch-up. But this means that if you wish to use an older version of the textbook it may not fully cover newly introduced features. New versions of the textbook are normally released in late February or early March - which means that they are pretty much up-to-date when used in the Fall Semester, but normally released too late for the most recent versions to be used for the Spring Semester. I realize that students may sometimes purchase (or be handed down) older versions of the textbook. If you are using an older version, please be aware that the chapter numbering system changes in different releases -- so pay attention to the topic descriptions to make sure you are reading the appropriate chapters.

Students will also be required to read selected chapters and articles that will be posted online as part of the week's assignments.

Required Computer Software and Hardware:

  • Quizzes will be proctored electronically using Respondus Lock-Down Browser software, which is included with the course. Quizzes must be taken on PC or Mac computers - no phones, tablets or Chromebooks allowed. You will also need to have a functioning webcam camera and microphone on your computer.
  • For this course students will be required to edit on a computer (PC or Mac) with the Adobe Premiere software installed. We will be using the CC version of the software. For computer requirements to run the software, you may view this page: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/system-requirements.html (Links to an external site.)

Please take these minimum hardware requirements seriously. A slow computer that does not meet the requirements and crashes repeatedly is not an excuse for late or missing assignments!

  • A 3-button mouse with scroll wheel, although not required, is highly recommended and will provide an easier and more efficient interface for working with the software.
  • A fast (Thunderbolt or USB3) external hard drive (or SSD drive) is also highly recommended.

Rutgers currently has a licensing arrangement with Adobe that allows students to use the Premiere Pro software as well as the rest of the Creative Cloud software programs for free. To obtain the software you will need to visit https://it.rutgers.edu/adobe/ (Links to an external site.) and follow the instructions for accessing the Creative Cloud and downloading the software you'll need.

Policies for Exams, Assignments, Attendance, and Grading

Type of Assessments:

  • Quizzes (2) 75 points each / 30% total
  • Essay (1) 50 points / 10% total
  • Editing Projects (4) 240 points total / 48% total
  • Discussion forums participation (12) 5 points each / 12% total

Instructor: Dave Sperling, dhs78@mgsa.rutgers.edu

07:211:201 Principles of Cinematography Online

Principles of Cinematography Online

Course Number: 07:211:201
Course Format: Lecture
Mode of Instruction: Online Asynchronous

This course provides an introduction to the art of cinematography. By analyzing selected film clips and reading interviews with the cinematographers who created them, students learn about the process of creating these compelling visuals. Students are also introduced to the language and technical basics that are the cinematographer’s everyday tools and will discover how motion picture photography has transitioned over time, embracing the latest technological developments and adjusting to the changing media sophistication of the viewing audience. The course emphasizes how the aesthetic choices of cinematography bring life to visual storytelling.

3 credits

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites: None
Learning Goals of Course: The course will focus primarily on the artistic and practical aspects of cinematography, emphasizing the creative decisions made as part of the cinematographic process. Special attention will be given to the way the cinematography of a project affects the viewer’s perception of the story.

Students will learn:

  • The differences between our visual perception and the way the camera captures it -- and how the cinematographer provides the bridge between the two.
  • How choices made in frame selection, composition, movement and lighting effect the viewer’s perception of the story being told.
  • How different cinematographers bring their own vision to similar subject matter, producing varied looks and producing different emotional responses.
  • How cinematography has transformed over time by adapting to both technical advancements and changing audiences.
  • The relationships and collaboration between cinematographer and other major creative forces (director, production designer, special effects & editor) on a film.
  • Students will be introduced to and work with a number of online resources and software tools as they learn about the creative process that goes into cinematography. In doing so, they will employ current technologies to access information, conduct research and report findings.
  • Students will also be introduced in a non-technical way to the basic features of cameras and lighting that are utilized as part of the cinematographer’s art, as well as the language of film and video production.
  • As part of the learning process, students will perform exercises to improve their ability to understand cameras and lighting; and will learn to create their own storyboards to help them design compelling ways to tell visual stories. Many of the assignments are designed to hone their problem solving abilities and technical skill set while allowing them to make personal choices and express their creativity.

Required and Recommended Course Materials

Required Reading:

  • Masters of Light: Conversations With Contemporary Cinematographers by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (University of California Press) (also available for Kindle)
  • Students will also be required to read selected articles from American Cinematographer Magazine and from ICG (International Cinematographer’s Guild) Magazine.

Policies for Exams, Assignments, Attendance, and Grading

Type of Assessments:

  • Quizzes (2) 54 points each/ 18% total
  • Final Exam (1) 84 points / 14% total
  • Film Scene Analysis Essay (1) 84 points / 14% total
  • Final Paper (1) 108 points / 18% total
  • Homework Projects 108 points total / 18% total
  • Blog Entries (3) 12 points each / 6% total
  • Discussion forums participation (12) 6 points per unit / 12% total

Instructor: Dave Sperling, dhs78@mgsa.rutgers.edu

07:211:240 The Art of Documentary Filmmaking Online

The Art of Documentary Filmmaking Online

Course Number: 07:211:240
Course Format: Lecture
Mode of Instruction: Online Asynchronous

What are the key tools and techniques you need to know to create engaging and ethical documentary films? In this intensive introduction to the practice of documentary filmmaking, we will explore the cinematic language, aesthetic conventions, and ethical considerations of documentary while learning to use contemporary filmmaking tools to create our own work. To develop our skills as documentary film artists, we will examine and compare key approaches from a number of documentary film frameworks, including: propaganda; social advocacy and investigative film; Direct Cinema; cinéma vérité; found footage filmmaking; essay and diary film; the personal documentary; ethnographic film; and the experiments of avant-garde non-fiction. We will explore the documentary film production process, from proposal to fine cut, and will learn to use the frameworks surveyed to craft documentary sounds and images, culminating in our own short films.

3 credits

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites: None

Learning Goals of Course: Dziga Vertov claimed that film creates a fresh perspective of the world, one known only to the filmmaker but revealed to the audience through the film. Students in this course will learn to craft perspectives of the world using documentary sounds and images. Students will complete technical exercises and will learn to apply tools and techniques gleaned from other documentary film artists to the development of their own projects. This course will provide a foundation in documentary filmmaking and ethics, an understanding of the evolution of documentary film form, and exposure to the documentary production process, including: proposal and treatment writing; recording sounds and images; and editing a rough and fine cut. Students will also learn to assess classmate work and offer constructive feedback.

Course Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding of documentary techniques through short film exercises and a final documentary film project. Students will evidence their understanding of the documentary production and proposal process by developing a proposal, artist statement, treatment, filmography, and one-sheet for their final project. Students will also learn to engage in constructive feedback of peer work through written evaluations of peer proposals, artist statements, treatments, and rough cuts. Through exposure to key documentary films and debates, students will learn to identify and evaluate various formal and ethical approaches to making documentary works. Students will participate in regular discussions, offering written responses to illustrate their understanding of key technical, stylistic, social, and ethical ideas.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the semester, the student should be able to:

  • Execute and master technical and stylistic strategies key to producing a documentary film.
  • Learn tools and strategies for producing and proposing a documentary film.
  • Critically evaluate peer works and offer constructive feedback.
  • Grasp distinctions between various technical and stylistic approaches to documentary film art.
  • Identify and discuss the social and ethical implications of making documentary work.

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

  • Course Materials: Students will be required to purchase two course texts and must have access to a computer and high-speed internet. Students will also need access to a camera, sound recorder, and editing software.
  • Required Texts
    • Introduction to Documentary, 3rd ed., by Bill Nichols (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2017).
    • Directing the Documentary, 6th ed., by Michael Rabiger (Burlington, MA: Tayler & Francis, 2015).
    • Students will be required to read a number of additional articles exploring the practice of documentary film art. All reading assignments, including required text chapters, are listed in the course schedule. Readings not included in the required course texts listed above will be made available as pdf’s on CANVAS.
  • Required Films
    • Each week, students will be required to view and respond to a number of short and feature-length films. All film viewing assignments are listed in the course schedule. Assigned films will be made available on CANVAS whenever possible. However, there may be instances when an assigned film must be rented from a streaming service such as Amazon or Kanopy. Additional film clips will be integrated into weekly lectures.
  • Required Tech
    • Students must have access to a video camera, sound recording device, and video and audio editing software to complete the required film exercises and short documentary film for this course. A subscription to LinkedIn Learning is also required to complete a number of the technical tutorials. To access your LinkedIn Learning subscription as a Rutgers student, please visit: https://it.rutgers.edu/linkedin-learning/knowledgebase/logging-into-linkedin-learning/

Policies for Exams, Assignments, Attendance, and Grading:

This is an intensive introduction to the art and practice of documentary filmmaking. Students will be required to complete a 3-5 minute documentary film in addition to the regular weekly assignments listed in the course schedule (due each week on Tuesday and Friday). Course assignments will include: lectures; readings; film viewings; discussion board posts; technical tutorials; and four short filmmaking exercises.

Students will be responsible for the following assignments:

  • Discussion board posts (12) - Students will post regular 250-word responses to the CANVAS discussion board. Responses in part I of the course will apply ideas from lecture materials and readings to the assigned films. Responses in parts 2 and 3 of the course will offer constructive feedback on classmates’ work, including the proposal, artist statement, treatment, and rough cut. Responses will be threaded, and students will be expected to read and respond to the overall discussion. A total of 12 responses will be due throughout the semester. Deadlines are listed in the course schedule.
  • Film exercises (4) - Students will complete four short film exercises (1-2 minutes each) exploring technical and stylistic approaches to documentary sound and image. These will include: shooting an image-only scene; recording an audio-only interview; editing found footage; and writing and recording voice-over.
  • Final project proposal - Students will draft a 500-word (approximately one-page) proposal for a final 3-5 minute documentary film.
  • Final project artist statement - Students will write a 500-word (approximately one-page) artist statement discussing their stylistic, technical, and ethical approach to the final project.
  • Final project treatment - Students will write a 750-1000 word (approximately two-page) treatment for the final project.
  • Final project filmography - Students will create an annotated filmography of 4-5 films, describing how each film influences their stylistic, technical, or ethical approach to the final project.
  • Final project one-sheet - Students will create a one-sheet for the final project to include: a tagline; a short film description; 1 or 2 stills from the film; and an artist bio that includes an ethical statement or code.
  • Final film - Students will complete a final 3-5 minute documentary film. Students will be expected to finish a rough cut of the final project and to integrate feedback into the fine cut.

Course Grading
Grading is based on the assignments:

  • Discussion board posts-24%
  • Film exercises-20%
  • Proposal-5%
  • Artist statement-5%
  • Treatment 10%
  • Filmography-5%
  • One-sheet-5%
  • Final film-25%.

Instructor: Jennifer Heuson, jen.heuson@rutgers.edu

07:211:250 Creating Movie VFX: History and Techniques Online

Creating Movie VFX: History and Techniques Online

Course Number: 07:211:250
Course Format: Lecture
Mode of Instruction: Online Asynchronous

Special visual effects are increasingly found in films of all types, and understanding their full potential unlocks a world of creative options for filmmakers. Visual effects can not only add excitement and produce amazing new realities, but are often seamlessly integrated with traditional visuals to enhance completely real-looking scenes. This course examines the 100-plus-year history of the role of movie special effects in creating visual stories, paying particular attention to their role in visual problem-solving, while also providing a hands-on introduction to two of the primary visual effect software programs for contemporary films — BlackMagicDesign Resolve/Fusion and Adobe After Effects.

3 credits

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites: None
Learning Goals of Course

Course Objectives: In this course, students will develop an understanding of visual effects in filmmaking and learn how to proficiently use industry standard software to create visual effects composites. Students will trace the historical development of visual effects techniques from early 1900’s to the present day through select readings and viewing of film clips. They will develop an understanding of filmmaking and visual effects terminology and use it to analyze, describe and differentiate the technical concepts required for a wide range of special effects and workflow scenarios. Students will learn to evaluate various special effects crafts to determine why specific methodologies or combinations may be appropriate for a particular task, and how these choices can impact the overall production budget and completion schedule. Students will also develop proficiency in industry-standard BlackMagicDesign Resolve/Fusion and Adobe After Effects software programs, and learn how these can be used to both create designed effects compositions and to remedy problems that may appear in production footage.

Learning Outcomes
After participating in this course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the historical development of visual effect techniques in filmmaking from its origins to present day and how these techniques are linked to technologies available during the historical period when they were created.
  • Use appropriate terminology when analyzing, describing and differentiating the various technical components of visual effects.
  • Analyze technical concepts of special effects, how each is performed, and why specific one(s) may be appropriate for a particular scene, along with their impact on the production budget and completion schedule.
  • Proficiently use BlackMagicDesign Resolve/Fusion and Adobe After Effects software to manipulate video footage and create special effects composites.
  • Analyze and propose appropriate postproduction fixes for technical issues in production footage using BlackMagicDesign Resolve/Fusion or Adobe After Effects visual effects workflows.

Required and Recommended Course Materials

  • The Filmmaker’s Guide to Visual Effects by Eran Dinur (Focal Press)
  • Resolve/Fusion from BlackMagicDesign – Free. Resolve/Fusion offers a free version with most of the capabilities of their full studio version. The course will provide practical source footage and assignments that will interface properly with the free version, so there is no requirement to purchase the full studio version.
  • Adobe AfterEffects – (License) -- Rutgers currently has a licensing arrangement in place with Adobe that allows students to use the Adobe Creative Cloud software programs at no cost. To obtain the software you will need to visit https://it.rutgers.edu/adobe/ (Links to an external site.) and follow the instructions for accessing the Creative Cloud and downloading the software you'll need.

Policies for Exams, Assignments, Attendance, and Grading:

Homework Assignment Projects

  • Project # 1 -- Creating basic photographic image combination effects in the style of the early 20th century using glass or a mirror
  • Project # 2 – Scale and Perspective: Creating multiple versions of a physical cut-out forced perspective photo-realistic collage
  • Project # 3 – Changing mood and emotion by creating a color correction sequence in DaVinci Resolve
  • Project # 4 -- Compositing and outputting with both After Effects and Resolve/ Fusion
  • Project # 5 -- Create and adjust green screen composites in both After Effects and Resolve/ Fusion
  • Project # 6 -- Compositing with variable keyframes (garbage) masks
  • Project # 7 -- Isolating and modifying a specific color in a scene
  • Project # 8 -- Adding text and matching movement & perspective to a moving background
  • Project # 9 – Identifying and replacing problem areas of a shot
  • Project # 10 – Cloning/ replacing areas in motion footage

Essay 1: Historical Perspectives

  • Select a basic visual effect sequence from a modern film (no more than 10 years old). In choosing your visual effects sequence, make sure that It is something that could have been orchestrated using technologies available in the past as well as ones currently available. Research and analyze all the elements that would have gone into creating the effects sequence as seen. Include a reference link to the effect sequence.
  • Re-think the same effect to analyze how it would have been created during two periods in the past – during the 1970’s (40-50 years ago) and during the 1920’s (90-100 years ago.) Be sure that the techniques you are suggesting for each period were available at that time!
  • Finally, describe how the finished effects would be different from each other, and how the resulting differences would affect the storytelling.

Essay 2: Analyzing the Creation of a Complex Effects Sequence

  • Select a complex visual effect sequence from a recent film (no more than 6 years old). Explain why effects were needed for the sequence and how the effects helped tell the story visually. Include specifics about what aspects of the VFX worked best, and any that fell short or got in the way of the story telling.
  • Analyze in detail all the different elements that may have gone into creating the effect, what techniques may have been used, and what personnel, facilities, interactive lighting and software may have been needed.

Final Project: Creating and Compositing a Complex Visual Effect

  • This final project is used to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and capabilities in BlackMagicDesign Resolve/Fusion and/or Adobe After Effects!
  • Students may use their own or course-provided 4k, UHD or HD raw footage and compositing elements to create and composite a complex visual effect. (Complex means an effect that includes numerous elements and requires a combination of multiple technologies to accomplish.)
  • Project proposals should be submitted to the instructor in advance of undertaking the project.
    In addition to creating and posting the final composition, students must write a complete analysis of their process, including details to provide insight into not just the problems being solved and techniques used, but also what did or did not work for them -- essentially creating a diary of the creative journey.

Quizzes

  • Quiz # 1: This quiz will cover content from units 1-4
  • Quiz # 2: This quiz will cover content from units 5-8
  • Quiz # 3: This quiz will cover content from units 9-12

Course Grading: Final Grade Calculation, Assignment Type, Points/Percentage

  • Class Forums (Discussion Boards)
    • One (1) question per each unit for Units #1 - #12 12 % (1% per unit)
  • Quizzes
    • Three (3) Quizzes 21 % (7% per quiz)
  • Essay 1: Historical Perspectives 11 %
  • Essay 2: Analyzing the Creation of a Complex Effects Sequence 12 %
  • Homework Assignments
    • Ten (10) practical homework exercises, primarily emphasizing specific features of Resolve/ Fusion and After Effects 30 % (3% per assignment)
  • Final Project:
      • Creating and Compositing a Complex Visual Effect 14 %
  • TOTAL 100 %

Instructor: Dave Sperling, dhs78@mgsa.rutgers.edu

Faculty

Jennifer Heuson
Instructor
Filmmaking
Arts Online
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Dave Sperling
Instructor
Arts Online
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Joseph Turrin
Instructor
Arts Online
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