Video montage workshop

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In this workshop, students will team up and create a video documentary about a local landmark using iMovie on iPhone or Mac or any free video editing software of your choice, and publish it on your web pages. Include a voiceover track.


Your video must...

  • be a documentary about a local landmark
  • be 3-5 minutes long
  • consist of shots that are each at least 10 seconds long
  • consist of still shots only... no pans, zooms, or shaky cameras
  • be entirely filmed in landscape mode on your phone
  • include at least 2 scenes that clearly exhibiting soviet montage techniques
    • inform the graders which scenes exhibit montage, and which montage types are included
    • you are allowed to include individual shots of less than 10 seconds long for these, if desired
  • include a voiceover track and optional sound effects recorded in Audacity
  • be posted to a web page that is linked from your course home pages

Your video may include:

  • interviews with local people for local insights and flavor
  • one or two shots of completely unrelated content (à la Eisenstein's intellectual montage technique)

Soviet montage

Sergei Eisenstein was a Soviet filmmaker who, along with other filmmakers of his era, pioneered the use of montage, which he called 'the nerve of cinema'. Film theorists often attribute several types of montage to Eisenstein:

  • Metric montage - where a sequence of shots are displayed, with each shot lasting exactly the same amount of time, regardless of the content of the shot. Several sequences with different paces can build up an an emotional effect, such as the building of a feeling of urgency, purpose, or expectation.
  • Rhythmic montage - includes cutting based on continuity, creating visual continuity from edit to edit. Rhythmic montage seeks an editorial and compositional relationship in which movement within the shot dictates the tempo of editing. The action within the shot can either take place in a way similar to how the shot is filmed, or in a movement that is contrary to how the shot is filmed, thereby creating a feeling of tension. A classic example is how the soldiers march down the steps on the left side of each shot, while the people run away to the right in the famous Odessa steps scene in Eisenstein's Battleship Potempkin.
  • Tonal montage - where the focus is on the emotional content of the action within the scene, rather than on any given shot's metric timing or rhythm. For example, the pairing of shots of a mother dying interspersed with shots of her baby sitting calmly in a baby carriage in Battleship Potemkin play with the raw emotions of the audience.
  • Associational montage - using combinations of metric, rhythmic, and tonal montage to synthesize an even more abstract and strong overall effect on the audience.
  • Intellectual montage - a technique where shots from the main narrative are juxtaposed next to shots of unrelated scenes rich in cultural, symbolic, and political history from outside the main narrative in order to show an associative meaning between the two. For example, in the film Apocalypse Now, the scene where the character named Klutz is being executed are mixed with shots of water buffalo being slaughtered, thereby suggesting that the solider is like an animal being driven to its own destruction. You can easily find this clip online. Another example of extreme obviousness is this excerpt of a sexually-suggestive scene from the comedy film, Naked Gun 2 and 1/2.
  • Vertical montage - where each shot in a sequence shows the same event or action. For example, a scene of a car driving composed of a shot of a car on a highway followed by a close-up of the car, then a close up on the wheel spinning and then back again to another shot of the full car on the road.

You can easily find examples of each on the World Wide Web.

Shooting and editing tips

How to shoot good quality video on a phone

  • shoot only in landscape mode, holding your phone sideways
  • stay still. Don't walk or move while holding the camera.
  • keep the camera rolling for at least 2 seconds before and 2 seconds after your intended shot to give more editing options
  • make each shot at least 10 seconds long

Post-production editing

  • use a digital audio editing app, like Audacity, to record a voiceover and consider creating a soundtrack that is more interesting than the actual audio recorded in the footage
  • experiment with transitions between shots, such as dissolves, fades and wipes
  • take inspiration from the masters. The montage technique you're doing in this workshop has a long history

How to publish video on the web

What links here