AV Project

Discovering a Field of Research

Your challenge for this project is to interview two or more university faculty members from the same discipline (they can be from Southwestern and/or other schools) and ask them about some aspect of the field in which they specialize. You might, for example, ask them about the most interesting research projects that have been published over the last decade; the major issues that scholars in their field are grappling with at the moment; big questions that remain unanswered in their field; the most important discoveries that have ever been made in their field; or the most influential figures in the history of their field. Whichever line of questioning you end up choosing, make sure you stick to it and that you collect enough information to report on ten figures, research findings, issues, discoveries…etc. Once you have enough data, you will produce a short video with a soundtrack that creatively communicates your findings.

Because you’ll be making this A/V project for people with some level of investment in the field you’ve chosen to research, think carefully about the makeup of your audience. A video focused on influential figures that is aimed at the physics community may look and feel very different from a video on influential figures aimed at the art community. Are you composing a soundtrack for people interested in philosophy? If so, how will you need to adjust your editing choices to make the audio appeal to as many of them as possible? What kind of visuals will help engage members of the math community? What design choices will you implement to help your project appeal to students, faculty, and (if applicable) those working in the private sector? The answers to these questions are not readily apparent, so as you are designing your project, it will be important to get feedback from different kinds of people with different levels of investment in the field. Be sure to document all of your interactions with these potential audience members as you go.

You can by all means use any programs you feel comfortable with to compose your A/V project. iMovie and GarageBand are both excellent products, they’re available for free on all macs, and you’re required to watch tutorials on them for homework; however, they are by no means the only programs that you can use. If you prefer to work on a PC running Windows, Audacity and Movie Maker are free to download and are certainly capable of doing the job. Whichever programs you end up using, much like the image project, the most important thing to remember about your A/V project is that you must make it yourself. Do not import into your deliverable any video clips that extend beyond a few frames or audio samples that extend beyond a single note or beat (creative commons or not). In other words, you can use a sample of a single bass note you find on the Internet, but you can’t import an entire bass line that someone else has put together. Likewise, you can use a few frames from a video clip you find, but you can’t import anything over a second or two. Instead, you need to compose, record and edit the majority of the media you use in this project. Finally, remember to carefully consider all of your design choices ahead of time (you can do this in your Weekly Reports!), since you’ll ultimately need to reflect on why and how you made these choices in your short papers.

© Andrew N. Rechnitz
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