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Skidmore College
MDOCs title

Documentary Studies Fall 2018 Courses

2018 Fall MDOCS CoursesDocumentary Fundamentals

Storytelling Toolkit (1 or 2 credit courses)

Topics Courses

NOTE: All courses listed as DS count towards Skidmore College's Media and Film Studies Minor


Documentary Fundamentals

DS-251C 001 - Documentary Storytelling
Instructor: TBD
Tu/Th, 12:40-2 pm

The present rearranges the past through the art of documentary storytelling. Every moment of a documentary has already happened. It's through the process of discovery in editing that documentarians determine how to arrange that material into a story. This course will focus on some of the basic concepts and issues that guide documentary storytelling. We will use one of the largest video archives, YouTube, as the material from which we’ll create original documentary stories.
From concept through presentation, topics covered will include:
- Discussing what makes for good story subjects
- Learning how to pitch our ideas through loglines, treatments, and public pitches
- Figuring out how to best search for material in an archive
- Addressing problems of representation, assumptions, and differences of background or culture, choices of modes and models, ethics, narrative structure, rhetorical affect, events that have come and gone
- Determining what form our stories should take. Is this story best told as a short? Podcast? Feature? Interactive project? Does it require narration or additional interviews?
- Deciding how to craft our stories through the art of editing.
Students will be learning basic editing skills in Adobe Premiere and will be encouraged to develop a personal voice and style, while learning practical skills that are applicable to a multitude of forms. Assignments will be both creative and critical; all will be aimed at sharpening your voice as it fits within the documentary tradition. 

DS210 001 - Intro to Audio Documentary
Instructor: Adam Tinkle
W, 12:20-1:40pm & F 12:20-2pm

In this course, students will learn the technologies, tools, and skills to create audio documentaries. Working individually and in small production teams, we will produce original sound works for radio broadcast and podcast. Closely linked to the development of our studio and field practice as audio recordists, editors, and producers, we will also listen to and critically analyze examples in the medium, ranging from classics of international radio art to today's most innovative podcasts. Analyzing the aesthetics, extrapolating techniques and getting inspiration from these exemplars, we will try our hands at varied ways of sculpting an audio experience, telling stories, and representing reality. The course assumes no prior knowledge of audio technologies, and should interest budding documentarians, writers, performers, and digital artists regardless of primary medium. Through a partnership with WSPN, students may have the opportunity to appear live on the radio to introduce, air and engage in a discussion about their projects.

DS-251C 003 - Screenwriting: Documentary and Narrative
Instructor: Nicole Coady
Tu/Th, 11:10am-12:30pm

The craft of storytelling for the screen will be honed through examining landmark films, documentaries, television shows and an assortment of new media. We will put what we learn into practice through writing our own visual stories and class discussion. Over the course of the semester, students will learn the classic three act structure for telling a visual story. They will develop skills in how to craft a compelling log line, as well as learn to create a skeleton treatment from which to build a story. They will develop a documentary project and a final treatment, narrative or documentary, which can be shared with other participants in the often collaborative work of telling stories through the various visual mediums available to 21st century storytellers.

DS251C 004 - Storytelling: Game Development
Instructor: Paul Hembree
T/Th, 2:10-3:30pm

In this course students will learn interactive media design in the Unity game engine, basic programming skills, and basic visual and audio asset creation. One major project will include creating an experience for virtual reality.


Storytelling Toolkit

DS110B 001 - Storytelling: Video
Instructor: Vickie Riley
T, 4:30-6:30pm

Students will learn the basics of video storytelling through this two-credit video production course. Over the course of the semester, you will move from concept to completion of a single video project (3-4 minutes), which you will shoot, edit and present. Skills developed may include storyboarding, DSLR camera workflow, setting up video interviews and how to tell a visual story. Students will present a project on the first day of class. Project stories and approaches are open based on student interest; they may range from documentary and narrative to experimental and creative. They may be drawn from a previous or current course or your expertise and interests. This is a skills-based visual course that has been designed for students at any level of experience.

DS116A 001 - Storytelling: Map Design and Spatial Visualization
Instructor: Thomas Hart
W, 2:30-3:50pm

Presentation of geographic spatial information begins with maps made following good design. What makes a good map design in terms of color composition, scale, and density of information? How does one present multiple scales and time series? Good design is only the beginning. Once content is mapped, how and with what media can the visual information be best presented? This course will explore map design and appropriate use of increasingly complex presentation strategies starting with powerpoint, followed by Google map engines and embedded internet applications and culminating with ArcGIS Online driven story mapping. Students with prior GIS experience will be able to create their own map data, while those uninitiated in GIS will be able to use existing data sets to achieve powerful and appropriate visualizations. The seven week course design allows for those with significant presentations at the end of the semester, such as capstone projects, to apply visualization and presentation methods gained in this course in those projects. The course would be offered under  Documentary Studies with Environmental Studies and Science cross-listing to appeal to a broad range of students.

DS 113B - Storytelling: Interviewing
Julie Casper Roth
M, 2:30-3:50, 2 credits

Students will learn the basics of oral history interview practices, ethics and techniques, including how to digitally record and transcribe an interview.  We will begin by working on stories with Saratoga Springs residents.  Each student will record, log and transcribe two interviews, one from a pre-selected pool of interviewees and another of their own choosing.  Completed oral histories may become part of the Skidmore-Saratoga Memory Project

Topics Courses

DS-251C 002 - Festival Curation
Instructor: TBD
Tu/Th, 3:40-5pm

What is the importance of film, performance and other festivals in the context of culture at large? Curators and programmers are gatekeepers who serve an important function in the larger cultural ecology. Without their tireless efforts, most works of art would never see the light of day. This course introduces students to the practice of festival curation by examining the complexity and myriad of creative, logistical, conceptual, cultural and practical considerations necessary for the production of any cultural event. Through conversations and writings by film and other exhibitors/presenters, festival organizers, programmers, distributors/bookers, national cultural foundations, and artists, we will learn about the multiplicity of exhibition spaces and modes of presentation, while considering the practical issues facing curators. Students will gain hands-on experience by planning, programming, and executing a short festival involving Skidmore student works in the second half of the semester.  (Counts towards the Arts Administration minor)


AHDS-324 001 - The Artist Interview
Instructor: Ian Berry
F, 12:20-2:10pm

An exploration of the artist interview as a form of original art historical research. Students will learn how oral histories can function in a museum collection archive. Working in teams, students will closely examine and research artworks in the Tang Museum collection, prepare questions for the artists, and create videotaped interviews. Students will learn different methodological approaches to the interview and consider such questions as: how does editing play a role in making meaning; who defines the meaning of an artwork; and is the artist always the best source about his or her own work? Prerequisite: one art history course.



and related campus offerings in: (TBD)

  • AM 361 - American Material Culture
  • AA 351C - Engaging Arts Audiences
  • EN 219 - Nonfiction Writing
  • EN 228 - Writing about Songs/Songwriters
  • EN 280 - Intro to Non Fiction Writing
  • ID 210 - Intro to GIS (Digital Mapping/Data Visualization)