Digital Media E-5: Exploring Digital Media
Harvard Extension School
Spring 2020
Final Project

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 three components: still photography, digital video, and HTML.

Covid-19

Given the extraordinary circumstances that we find ourselves in with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are changing this final project from the previous specification.  The ability to complete the project safely and at home is paramount.  The steps will largely remain the same.

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.

Collaboration

Every student must work on and submit their own final project, but you are encouraged to collaborate with classmates. Groups can be coordinated on the Discussion Boards.

Grade

Remember that the final project accounts for 35% 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!)

A Meal to Remember

For the final project, we want you to make a cooking video.  From the safety of your home, prepare a meal or a dish with some visual flair.  Given the open-ended nature that the final project for this course takes, we don’t want to fully prescribe the direction you need to go.  Cooking is a very visual art, it lends itself well to a visual medium.  Here are several thoughts as to what we imagine this project could look like:

  • Food Network Style Instructional Video
    • Perhaps the most straight forward version of this project, this idea revolves around a recipe and explains the “HOW TO” prepare the dish/meal with step by step guidance.  Perhaps you or a roommate/family member are the host guiding the viewer through the steps.  Or perhaps if you are working alone there is no person who appears on camera, the instructions are a drive-by a voice-over.
  • Personality Driven Experiential Video
    • Maybe you have a roommate or family member who has a big personality and the video focuses more on them telling a story behind the history of the meal or what it means to them. In this case, it is less about the “HOW TO” and more about the emotional tone and experiencing the meal being made alongside the cook.
  • Other interpretation
    • Lastly, perhaps this idea inspires something entirely different.  A cooking challenge?  A history of food?  Hate cooking and see it as a burdensome task? We’re open to other interpretations of the project so long as they have an appropriate scope.
  • Other Idea
    • We don’t encourage it but the option remains to consider an entirely different project for your final project.  If you had been working on an idea all term, or have a project at work that you think the final project would align well with you can pitch us that idea too.  We expect this to be uncommon.

Summary of Requirements

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

  • Every final project must contain video, still, and HTML elements.
  • 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, and it must be written in HTML. This will satisfy the HTML requirement though you are welcome to expand on HTML beyond just the writeup. 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 your project.  More details in the Final Submission portion of this document.
  • Your final project video does not have a fixed 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 what to name your HTML file and for how to submit your overall project in the Final Submission section of this document.

Considerations

When coming up with your idea and plan, you should have answers to these questions:

  • Which category of video will you use?
  • How will you set up your video?
    • How will you introduce your recipe/ingredients?
    • How will you shoot the steps, what kind of emotional tone do you want to set?  How will you achieve it?
    • What b-roll do you need to shoot (b-roll is content that you can cut-away from your main sequence for.  Having it makes editing much easier.)
  • What do you want the viewer to take away from your video?
  • How will you incorporate your still images?
  • We recommend that you plan to repeat each step a couple of times, possibly making the meal multiple times.  That way you can ensure proper coverage.

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

Checkpoint 0: Proposal (10 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, April 06

Submit via Canvas

You have until April 06 to choose a category and refine 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 it.

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 storyboards, I will also find my ingredients and decide how to shoot my kitchen.  I will finalize my production plan (schedule, equipment) and any remaining logistics.
  • Week 3 (Progress Checkpoint)
    • This week I will make a production plan 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 screenshot of the sequence/timeline I have been editing in Shotcut.
  • 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 direction the project takes 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 04. 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 portion 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:

  • Choose a category and refine your idea for the final project, write an “elevator pitch” for it
  • How will the still, video and HTML 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 specifically week-to-week?

Checkpoint 1: Progress (5 points)

Due 4:00pm ET on Monday, April 20

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 04

Submit via Canvas

There are only two weeks remaining for your final project! Please prove 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 11

Submit via Canvas. No late submissions, no exceptions.

Writeup

The writeup is a short HTML 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 must be written in HTML5 and saved as index.html
  • The writeup and any other pages you submit for a website, must be static HTML, CSS, and (optionally) JavaScript only. You should not submit dynamic server-side code, like PHP or Python! If you’re not sure what this means, you probably will not violate this requirement.  Pages should be hand-written by you, not pulled from a template such as WordPress.

Presentation

Final Project presentations will be posted to Canvas.  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
  • If your final video is longer than 5 minutes, you can provide a link to the full-length video
  • Give context to your classmates in the presentation
    • What was your initial 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

Implementation

Your project should be submitted with the following requirements satisfied:

  • Please embed your final project video into your HTML writeup. When inserting a video, please upload it to YouTube and use the embed feature.
  • By the deadline, submit a ZIP file containing your writeup and any necessary files for your implementation (such as still images, web files, etc) to the course’s submission tool. Your ZIP file 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.

Grading

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. Projects more than 24 hours late incur 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.