Your Midterm

Hi everyone,

I’ve received some emails and questions regarding your midterm project, the “reading” I’ve asked you to to conceive of, edit, and upload to Youtube.

First off, some of you don’t have any idea what I have in mind, so here’s a short explanation:

  1. First, choose a film. The film should be a film made in English, but it doesn’t need to be a Hollywood film, or American, or even British. It can be any feature film (not a short film) made in English.
  2. Watch the film. I don’t mean just watch it once. Watch it a bunch of times. Watch it with subtitles on. Watch it with subtitles off. Take notes. Ask yourself questions as you watch it. Think about it as you watch it. Maybe even watch other films in the same genre, or other films by the same director, or other films by the same actor(s).
  3. Read about the film. You might find some useful comments online, but I recommend you also have a look at what academics have said about it. Drop in on Google Scholar and see if any academic work has been done on the film (For example, check out all the academic work that’s been done on Forrest Gump).
  4. Think up your own ideas about the film. For example, if you remember how I talked about the film 괴물,  at the beginning of semester — those ideas about how it relates to the “Miracle on the Han” are mine. Lots of people noticed the film was political, but my unique, original idea is that the film is about a return to Minjung-movement political idealism and that it is about the history of the “Miracle on the Han.”  Maybe you’ll feel like your idea isn’t so unique, but what I’m saying is: think hard, and try to see something in it yourself, creatively — don’t just rely on your research. One popular technique is to find some research that is smart, but wrong, and disagree with it. See what disagreeing with a scholar might do for you. (It’s one of my favorite ways to write an essay or perform a reading of a film or text.)
  5. Formulate your thesis and supporting arguments. This would take a lot more explanation than I have time to write here, but you might find the Presentation Contest preparation package useful in terms of formulating a thesis, and developing supporting arguments. (And, indeed, in terms of making your speech effectively on the video.)
  6. Select your images and clips. Choose which images and which clips from the film you want to use in your video. You can use still images, or moving video clips. However, most of the moving video clips will be silent — so that you can talk while the action is onscreen. Don’t use any single clip with audio for more than 20 or 30 seconds: the focus of this video is not the film you’re talking about, but rather the words you have to say about it. One program that can help to in grabbing screenshots is the free program VLC Player. I don’t know if GOM player does this, but VLC is great for screen captures of films. For moving video clips, you’re on your on: I never use them, so I don’t know how to sample them. (Though I know it is possible!)
  7. Record your explanation, and then add the video. It makes more sense to record your verbal explanation first, and then to synchronize the images and video clips to the explanation. This way, you can make sure the video and images are connected to what you are saying. You shouldn’t just show any old video onscreen while talking about something else: use clips and images that help to demonstrate what you’re talking about. For example, when I discussed how dangerous life was for young women during the Miracle on the Han, I showed images of a poor girl, as well as a famous image of prostitution in Korea. Try your hardest to make the images and your discussion work together, supporting one another.  For software, I highly recommend Audacity for audio editing — you can record a high-quality audio file if you have a decent microphone, using this program. As many students have had a lot of success making videos using the free Windows Movie Maker software.  As usual, it’s up to you to choose your software: I’m just suggesting possibilities you can explore, if you have never used this kind of software before.
  8. Upload your video to Youtube. You will upload this to a Youtube channel shared by your classmates, not your own Youtube channel. However, you can also upload it elsewhere if you want.  I will give you the channel name and password for the week during which the project is due.


  1. Quality. Make sure your audio is clear and high-quality. If I cannot hear you, I cannot understand you. If I cannot understand you, it will hurt your grade.  I know you might be tempted to hurry or just submit inferior audio: don’t. Spend a little time getting the right equipment, and testing the recording, and making sure things come out right. It’s worth it.
  2. Practice. Normally, for audio narration, I have to read a text four or five times to get it right. You will likely not get your audio speech perfect the first time. Don’t hesitate to try it again a few times, until you feel proud and confident about your results.
  3. Master your tools. If you’ve never done audio editing before, practice with that too! If you have not created a video before, I suggest you create a few short ones first. Don’t bother with frills — the fancy introduction and conclusion aren’t important, because what I am interested in is your thesis and supporting arguments. But you still need to know how to cut a video, how to record your voice, how to put the two together. So practice a little, now, while you have time!
  4. Creativity. Be creative! Don’t explain the obvious! I am looking for you to demonstrate that you can look at a film and see things that someone else might not see, whether it’s a political angle, an issue related to society, age, gender, race, or whatever. This requires some research, but also a lot of thinking. So don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time thinking over the subject of your reading.
  5. Cite your sources. If you are using sources, it’s important that you cite them. See here for more on the issue of plagiarism. If you plagiarize, you will get an F in the class, period. No explanations, no apologies, no tears or begging will change my mind. So be warned: cite your sources, tell me where you got someone else’s ideas from, and try to focus on your own ideas.
  6. Do it your way. If you think appearing onscreen yourself will help, do it. But you don’t have to, and in fact you shouldn’t appear onscreen for more than a minute or two.
  7. Remember your time limit. Your video must be between 9’40” (9 minutes, 40 seconds) and 10″ (ten minutes) long.

Finally, so that you have some idea what I’m talking about, I found a pretty good example on Youtube. It’s in French, but that’s fine: the guy is simply explaining his ideas about the film. The use of still photos is simple but effective.

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