Digital Media E-5: Exploring Digital Media
Harvard Extension School
Spring 2023
Final Project
🎥 Watch the assignment Walkthrough video 🎥

Note for Spring, 2023: We used to require students to writeup HTML with a portion of the class devoted to basic web development. That lecutre and requirement has been removed this year. Please ignore any reference in the specification or the walkthrough that refers to hand-writing HTML!

The final project is the culmination of the wide breadth of topics that we cover in this class. To that end, every final project will have two main components: digital video and still photograpy. The combination of these elements will be glued together in a simple webpage. You have a large amount of freedom to decide on the final product that you produce.

The topic and exact structure of your final project is up to you! Your project should be a video centric project with elements of still photography. We expect the most common project to be some kind of video with a final project writeup done in a web page with either behind the scenes photos or some still image elements incorporated into your page.

To make sure you are on the right track, the final project requires three intermediate checkpoints:

Each checkpoint is required and the final project will not be accepted unless we have received all three checkpoints. More information on the individual checkpoints is below.

Every student must work on and submit their own final project, but you are encouraged to team up with classmates to work on each other’s projects.

Some ideas we’ve seen in the past:

  • Short Films
  • Websites for businesses or apartment complexes which include video product demos or tours
  • A instructional cooking video
  • Choose your own adventure series of videos using a website for navigation between segments
  • Short documentary on an artist or musician
  • HOWTO tutorials on a technical topic

Remember that the final project accounts for 25% of your overall grade in this course. Please start early, ask questions early, and stay on top of your project (this assignment has been available since the first class!)

Summary of Requirements

To summarize, here are the overall requirements for the final project:

  • Every final project must contain video and still images. A writeup must be done in a webpage (use any plaform you are comfortable with). You do NOT need to write any code or HTML.
  • The scope of the final project should be approximately four assignments for graduate students and three assignments for undergraduate students. In all cases, we prefer quality over quantity.
  • A writeup is a required element for every final project. We discuss the writeup in more detail in the Final Submission portion of this document.
  • No recycling! Most work for this project must be new and original. You might make a photo or video gallery of your previous work from the semester or before, which is fine. You must also include new images and video taken explicitly for this project.
  • A presentation is also required; you will record a screencast type video presenting your project. Recording your presentation does not satisfy the video element of this project, it is merely the vehicle for presenting the your project. More details in the Final Submission portion of this document.
  • Your final project video can be any length, we’d prefer it to be 2-5 minutes.
  • We will not accept a checkpoint unless the previous checkpoint(s) have been turned in. Similarly, We will not accept the final project until all checkpoints are submitted; be sure to complete them all, even if they are late.
  • There are explicit guidelines for how to submit your overall project in the Final Submission section of this document.

Outside of these guidelines, you have a wide range of freedom!

Checkpoint 0: Proposal (10 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, April 03

Submit via Canvas

From the first class, you have until April 03 to come up with an idea and submit it to the staff for review. We want you to give us an “elevator pitch” of your idea. It is fine if, as you work on your project, you decide to change the idea slightly; but keep in mind that your idea must be finalized by the Draft Checkpoint. If there are any major changes to your project after it has been approved, please email us to discuss.

You will also need to create a schedule between now and completion for this checkpoint. After submission of this checkpoint, you will have four weeks to complete the final project, with the Draft checkpoint due in three weeks. Come up with a set of concrete tasks you hope to have accomplished each week after submission of the schedule checkpoint until the final project is due.

Here is a sample schedule based on a fictional project whose focus is on a short film. You should make a similar schedule for yourself, we’ll ask you about it on the submission form.

  • Week 1 (Idea and Schedule Checkpoint)
    • Idea is finished, start pre-production, write script
  • Week 2 (No checkpoint due)
    • This week I will complete my shot list and story boards, I will also find my actors and my location.
  • Week 3 (Progress Checkpoint)
    • This week I will make a production plan (schedule, equipment, logistics, crew) and will begin filming. I will turn in my pre-production materials (shot list and storyboard) to demonstrate progress.
  • Week 4 (Draft Checkpoint)
    • This week I will begin editing and start writing up my web page. For a draft, I plan to edit together a few highlights of footage that I shot and will upload. I will also send a screen shot of the sequence I have been editing.
  • Week 5 (Implementation Due)

Staff will provide you feedback on your proposal in a timely manner. We will let you know if we feel it needs modification. We’re pretty flexible on what a project can be so long as it has the appropriate elements and scope. We’ll try to quickly get back to you with feedback on your project idea.

Notice that the Draft is due on Monday, May 01. Carefully consider what is possible for you to complete by then, because we will expect that you submit documents and work that shows that you are making significant progress based on your idea and self-prescribed schedule. It might be simplest to assume that what you say you will have completed by that date is what you will submit to us for that checkpoint. After the draft checkpoint, there are only two weeks to finish the project. You should have a significant potion of your project done at the draft deadline so that you may focus on your writeup and presentation.

Checkpoint summary

By the deadline for this checkpoint:

  • Come up with an idea for the form of the final project, think about an “elevator pitch” for it
  • How will the video, still photography and writeup components be present in the project?
  • Roughly how big do you expect your project to be (both in scope and final duration)?
  • What is your plan for getting the work done week-to-week?

Checkpoint 1: Progress (5 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, April 17

Submit via Canvas

Let us know how it’s going. What are you stuck on? What is going well? This one’s pretty simple and meant to keep you moving along. See the form for questions.

Checkpoint 2: Draft (15 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, May 01

Submit via Canvas

There is limited remaining for your final project! Please proove to us that you’re made significant progress. There is no hard definition of what we want you to submit to us, as it will depend largely on your idea and your schedule. However, a reasonable assumption is that you will submit to us all of the documents or work you expected to have completed by this date on your proposed schedule. You should submit at least a very rough draft at this point, even if you have content to still shoot. Screenshots of a website, video timelines, etc are helpful too. It’s up to you to prove to us that you’re making significant progress.

Final Submission: Writeup (10 points), Presentation (10 points), and Implementation (50 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, May 08

Submit via Canvas. No late submissions, no exceptions.


The writeup is a short web page that contains text, images, and embedded video that serves as the entry point for us to grade your project and whose text serves as a reflection of your work on the final project. It must contain the following:

  • The text must be the equivalent of a printed page, or less.
  • Summarize your project idea and give an overview of the implementation.
  • Reflect upon your work. Here are some questions that might get your thought process started – but you are not required to answer all of these; you may come up with your own discussion.
    • Did the project come out as you intended? If not, why not? What were major setbacks or what was difficult about the project? What ended up being easier than you anticipated?
  • The writeup should be done on a platform of your choosing. A few popular options are:
  • The writeup can be, but does not need to be, on the public internet. If you do not post it in a public place, please zip up the files and upload them at the submission form.


Final Project presentations will posted to Canvas for other students to view. Details on our last class meeting will follow. Your presentation has these requirements:

  • The presentation should be no longer than 5 minutes, including showing your video
  • You may record with zoom, a phone, webcam (or any other means). The presentation portion does not need to be professionally filmed.
  • If yor final video is longer than 5 minutes, you can provide a link to the full-length video
  • Please either edit together your presentation introducion and final video into a single video file
  • Give context to your classmates as if you were standing up in front of a live class and introducing your project.
    • What was your inital idea
    • Did your idea change
    • What should your classmates expect when they watch your project
    • It does not suffice to simply turn in your final project video as your presentation


Your project should be submitted with the following requirements satisfied:

  • Please embed your final project video into your webpage/writeup. When inserting a video, please upload it to YouTube and use the embed feature.
  • By the deadline, submit a link to your web page or a ZIP file containing the website that we can open locally. ISubmit to the course’s submission tool. If submitting a zip file, it should contain everything (except video - upload that to YouTube and embed it) that we need to evaluate the project: all HTML pages, images, and other supporting files (if applicable). Make sure your images and other media are included in the ZIP file and are relatively (not absolutely) linked.


Each checkpoint is graded on completion. The final project implementation and the writeup are graded based on a combination of several factors: adherence to your idea, meeting the required scope (at least 4 assignments of effort for graduates, 3 assignments of effort for undergraduates), and a subjective measure of quality and effort.

Late Policy

You may not use the late policy that was outlined syllabus for the final project. The final project has its own late policy regardless of whether or not you already used late credits on another assignment.

Any checkpoint submitted after its deadline (up to 24 hours) will receive a 20% penalty on the points for that checkpoint. More than 24 hours late incurs a 100% penalty. The final project itself may not be turned in late; this includes both the writeup and the implementation. These will receive a 100% penalty if late.

Also, please don’t forget that the final project will not be accepted unless you have submitted all checkpoints.

Phew, that’s it! Good luck and please reach out to the staff early if you have any questions.