Intro to Visual Journalism Fall 2016

Course Overview

This course serves as your introduction to video journalism. There is no question that the modern journalist requires a platform-agnostic mindset, along with a broad set of multi-platform news-gathering skills and fluency in the current tools while also upholding the timeless journalistic standards of news judgment, accuracy, fairness and truth.

In this course , you will build upon the basic skills presented in the New Media Bootcamp and walk away with a solid proficiency in what it takes to create high-quality, video stories that utilize core journalistic values that, even in a changing media landscape, remain the industry’s bedrock professional standards.

This fall semester class meets twice a week as a required course for all first-year students. The course is structured around 3 modules:

  • Proficiency in several technical production skills that are critical to the editorial process of video storytelling.
  • Pitching, reporting, producing, writing and structuring the 2-minute video story.
  • Production, on deadline, of a short video story

Modules at a glance:

  • Module 1 — Technical Sessions: Proficiency in Adobe Premiere editing software and camera/sound/lighting skills
  • Module 2 — Story telling skills: pitching, field producing, story structure
  • Module 3 — Story production based on approved pitches and with faculty guidance as senior producers.

Course Objective

This course serves as your introduction to video journalism. There is no question that the modern journalist requires a platform-agnostic mindset, along with a broad set of multi-platform news-gathering skills and fluency in the current tools while also upholding the timeless journalistic standards of news judgment, accuracy, fairness and truth.

In this course, you will learn the basic skills of producing compelling visual stories and walk away with a solid proficiency in what it takes to create high-quality, video and photo stories that utilize core journalistic values that, even in a changing media landscape, remain the industry’s bedrock professional standards.

Learning Outcomes

Students will explore the topic of video journalism both critically and practically through readings, critical thought, and practical, hands-on exercises with tools and technologies of video making.

Students will conclude the course with a focused base of visual journalism knowledge that they can use as a foundation for other courses at the J-School, as well as the basis for effective and informed ‘newsroom’ discourse.


  • Explain the value of telling stories with video.
  • Identify style differences in storytelling for video.
  • Recognize industry standard story structures.
  • Produce a compelling, portfolio worthy short video narrative.


Readings will be assigned each week for individual class sessions. All readings will be available online via the Bcourses website. Required Text: The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video by Tom Scroeppel.


Two absences are allowed in this class. Unexcused absence will drop you 2 percent of your final grade. Consistent tardiness also will lower a grade. Excused absences will only be permitted in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of the reasons for absence or tardiness, students will be responsible for any assignments due and for learning material covered in class. According to UC Berkeley guidelines on absences:

Students are responsible for material covered during missed classes whether or not they have been formally excused; therefore it is the student’s responsibility to inform themselves about the material missed….it is not the instructor’s or the Fellow’s responsibility to tutor students in missed material. For this reason it is recommended that students absent from class for any reason make timely contact with several other students in the class to arrange for thorough briefing on the material they missed.


  • 50% class attendance & participation
  • 20% final project
  • 10% pitching/producing
  • 10% meeting deadlines
  • 10% editing proficiency


Richard Koci Hernandez, Assistant Professor

Classroom Decorum Policy

Students must turn off the ringers on their cellphones before class begins. Students may not check e-mail, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or other websites during the lecture portions of the class. In the words of David Carr:

“If you text or email during class, I will ignore you as you ignore me. It won’t go well. I expect you to behave as an adult and will treat you like one. I don’t want to parent you—I want to teach you. Excuses: Don’t make them — they won’t work. Stories are supposed to be on the page, and while a spoken-word performance might explain everything, it will excuse nothing.”

Weekly Schedule

This syllabus is subject to change; any changes will be sent out to your university email address, announced in class, and posted to our bCourses website.

01 Camera Basics/Editing

Wednesday Aug 31

Introduction to Visual Journalism & Camera Operations

  • Review and sign insurance form & equipment policies.
  • Student Introductions & Class Expectations
  • Fellows review edit suite and sign up for checkout processes
  • Show students how to upload links to assignments to bCourses and explain how to upload videos to bCourses make sure to explain YouTube accounts.

Basic Camera Operation

  • Sony NX70 and Sony X70 - Basic camera operation.
  • What is focus, white balance and exposure and how to execute these using this camera. (‘hands-on’)
  • Review Menus
  • Explain basic ‘tech terms’
  • Intro to Kinds of Shots (WS, MS, CU etc) and ‘6 shots of success’ for a basic sequence
  • Intro to Tripods (pan, tilt, drag, leveling)

Assignment 01 Due Tuesday Sep 6


(These examples will be best for an upcoming assignment on the one minute character profile, but works here as a sample of the kinds of shots you will need.)

  • In groups of 2 students shoot a coherent series BETWEEN 5 - 10 shots that could be edited into a logical sequence: such as someone eating lunch, locking up a bike, using a computer, mailing a letter, etc. INCLUDE AN ESTABLISHING SHOT
  • Fellows available to assist, Sat & Sun Sep 3rd & 4th: 10a-3p. Sign up required.
  • Each person should import footage & create a new editing project called J282_Assn1_CO (only with YOUR initials at end).
  • Save the project to your Projects folder. (Make sure to follow the file setup protocol learned in Premiere class.
  • Using the footage edit a 30 second (max) SEQUENCE
  • Edited B-roll shots should be 3-6 seconds long.
  • When shooting in the field b-roll shots should be at least twice as long (usually 10sec).
  • Export your finished sequence with the file name: J282Assn1(YourInitials)
  • Upload your clip to your Youtube site; copy the Youtube link to bCourses

Reading: The Bare Bones Camera book.

  • Chapter 2, pp 21-26, interview composition.
  • Chapter 3, pp 43-55, basic sequence
  • Chapter 4, pp 56-66, screen direction.

Friday Sept. 2

Premiere Pro CC Editing Session #1 (Dual Class)

(Instructor: Laura Green)

  • Intro setup for Adobe Premiere CC 2016
  • Naming conventions, file structures, project saving
  • Importing footage and creating sequence
  • Basic Export
  • Basic Editing Functions in Premiere
  • Review weekend assignment & questions

02 Composition/Editing

Wednesday Sept 7

Premiere Editing Session #2 (Dual Class)

(Instructor: Laura Green)

  • End of class review assignment details (10min)
  • Three and four point editing
  • Working with B-roll and track control
  • Versioning Sequences
  • Effects and Transitions
  • Advanced Editing Tools

Assignment 02 Due Tue Sept. 13th

Shoot & Edit a 1min visual story

  • In groups of 2 students, Create a coherent audio/video sequence THIS TIME ADD EITHER narration or INTERVIEW SOUND and ambient sounds in 1 min. Music is OK.
  • Tripod is suggested for the majority of shots.
  • Show action & reaction
  • have an establishing shot; create a ‘sense of place’
  • should show ‘process’ (something being made or accomplished)
  • use different angles and focal lengths (close, medium, wide shots, high and low angles, sense of place).
  • Create a new editing project called j282assn2 (YOUR initials at end)
  • Edit a 1 min (max) sequence from your shoots.
  • Duplicate your sequence and rename it.
  • In the new sequence, change either the position or the length of each shot using the timeline skills learned in Editing Session #2
  • Export your two finished sequences named — j282assn2(YourInitials)
  • Export your finished sequence and upload to youtube and share the link to bcourses.
  • Fellows available to assist, Sat & Sun Sep 10th & 11th: 10a-3p. Sign up required.

Friday Sept 9

Shooting & Composition

Review: Assignment #1

  • Brief review of readings from “The Bare Bones Camera Book”
  • Review Basic composition, framing and shooting a sequence and interview framing options
  • Shot Glossary - Review WS, MS, CU, Cutaway, OTS, Tracking, Rack Focus, POV, Pan, Tilt, Motivated Pan, 2-shot,
  • Quick review of tripods (pan, tilt, drag, balance, bubble)
  • Camera strategy - Preparing for a shoot - ie Storyboard, Shooting Plan, Shot List
  • Purpose of Scene in the Story
  • How to Shoot a Scene: basic coverage, opening and closing shots, action, reaction, temporality and pace, varied angles etc, (video example of scenes).

03 Audio

Wednesday Sept 14

Audio Fundamentals

  • 60min: Audio review/intro
  • 60min: Sound workshop/shoot in field
  • 60min: Review shooting
  • 30 mins to Review Assignment #2, selected sequences.
  • Show News piece & character profile (and the difference between them)
  • 1hr 30mins - Production Sound w/ Chris: camera, boom, stick and lavalier (lav) microphones (Dual Class)
  • Audio Fundamentals w/ Chris: over amplifying, headphones, dBs
  • If you’re shooting a Character Profile: use this example

Friday Sept 16

  • The Art of the Photographic Essay and Portrait
  • Photography Fundamentals and it’s relation/similarities to video
  • Art of the Audio Slide Show: Are they still relevant? Their Purpose and form.
  • In Class assignment: Editing the Photo Essay.
  • Shot variation and sequencing

Assignment 03 Due Wed Sept 21

  • Making the greatest portrait of your photographic career— so far. (You can photograph anyone, show that you used two different types/styles of light) Don’t be boring or lazy! Upload at minimum 2 images as JPGS to the bCourses assignment page

04 Editing/Scenes

Wednesday Sept 21

Editing Workshop

  • Chris & Fellows lead workshop with shot footage, editing goals & delivery
  • In Class editing practice

Friday Sept 23

Advanced Shooting & Sequences

  • Best practices for Editing, what’s a good edit, aesthetics
  • How to shoot a scene - Show raw footage & edited sequences

05 Editing/A day in the Life

Wednesday Sept 28

Premiere Editing Session #3 (Dual Class)

(Instructor: Laura Green)

  • Audio tools and techniques in Premiere
  • L and J cuts
  • Layering sound and working with levels
  • Round tripping/dynamic linking with Adobe Audition
  • Interview Editing

Friday Oct 7

  • Day in the Life of a Student Simulation
  • Review Assignment #3, selected sequences.
  • Day in the life simulation exercise

06 Editing/Alternative Forms

Wednesday October 5

Premier Editing Session #4 (Dual Class)

(Instructor: Laura Green)

  • Premiere Title and Text Tools
  • Keyframing and animation
  • Basic Color Correction
  • Dynamic Link Workflows
  • Exports

Friday October 7

  • Alternative Visual Journalism Forms and how to create them
  • Basic introduction to design
  • Animated explainers, data visualization, etc .
  • Sign up for Premiere testing

07 Story Structure/Pitching

Wednesday October 12

  • The 2-minute story – Basic storytelling/ CANONICAL STORY STRUCTURE ‘TRADITIONAL’ STORY FORMS
  • Review Assignment #4
  • Story lecture; premise; story arc; characters in action; Levels of energy; talking heads.
  • Action in front of the camera
  • Interviews, logistics, practicalities and access
  • Wireless mics introduction w/ Chris (last hour)

Friday October 14

  • Practical Problems in the Field
  • Exploring common problems in the field and how to overcome them
  • Defining the Pitch!

Assignment 04:

  • Develop 2 workable story pitches for Oct 19th class.
  • Pitch has premise & news value, AND it’s possible (access and some sort of plan.)

08 Pitching/Lighting

Wednesday Oct 19


  • Present Pitches and The Art of the Pitch II Lecture
  • How to Cover a Scene with Dialogue with Wireless Mics
  • Conversation sequence in a public setting (you can’t control) (60min)
  • Practice with wireless mics in class (60min)

Friday Oct 21

  • Intro Lighting Equipment (Dual Class- Repeated)
  • Lowel lights, Fotodiox LED, bounce, micro lights & kits w/ Chris

09 Lighting/Scripting

Wednesday Oct 26

  • Master Class / Lighting 4 hr class (Dual Class)
  • UNR & LNR & Library (lighting set ups)
  • NEWS/DOC STYLE INTERVIEW LIGHTING Lighting for TV News & Interview lighting

Assignment: Due Nov 1st

  • In the J-School Library: In groups of 5 students, shoot basic indoor interview set up using lights until you get it right. No longer than one minute. Shoot a picture or video the set up of the lights around the interviewee. Upload a portion of the raw footage (< 30sec) of your best lighting to your Youtube page. Copy the link to bCourses.

Friday Oct 28

The Short News Story


  • Story assignments made
  • “Writing” the story: structuring the short piece, with or without narration
  • Field production begins once pitches are approved.

10 Production

Wednesday November 2

  • Finalize Stories
  • Review & finalize story assignments.
  • Field production begins.

Friday November 4

Guest (Dual Class)

  • Guest visit to class / TBA
  • Structuring your story
  • Assembly, Rough Cut, Fine Cut: Definitions

11 Production/Screenings

Wednesday November 9

  • Story Updates

Friday November 11


  • Screen rushes and first cuts; crafting scripts.
  • Scripts due.

12 Aesthetics

Wednesday Nov 16

  • Editing Workflows: (Audition / Photoshop)
  • Voice over (narration, scratch track)
  • Audition: clean up audio hiss on voice track
  • Photoshop: resize picture & color grade for re-import
  • Aesthetics of editing

Friday Nov 18

  • I. Structuring & Writing the 2-minute News Story
  • Screening rushes and first cuts; crafting scripts
  • All scripts finalized.

13 Holiday

  • WED Nov 23 Pre-holiday, optional one-one meetings or in-field Production
  • FRI Nov 25 Thanksgiving Break (NO CLASS) THUR NOV 24- NOV 27 : THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

14 Editing/Screenings

Wednesday Nov 30

  • Story Review & Rough/Fine Screening & next semester info (1hr)
  • Guests TBA (1hr) (Dual Class)
  • Laura Green 1-on-1 Editing meetings (sign ups required)

Friday Dec 2

Required Edit Appointments (Fine Cuts)

  • Spring semester preview.
  • One-on-one with Laura Green


Mon Dec 5

  • Laura Green 1-on-1 Editing meetings (sign ups required)

Tue Dec 6

  • Final segment submission: Midnight

Wed Dec 7

  • Final screenings / Workshop

Thu Dec 8

  • Final Deadline for uploading to web platform. Midnight deadline!

Fri Dec 9

  • Final Selected Short Presentation (Time TBA)