Promotional Videos: For/Against Development In Downtown Brooklyn
Josh A. Kapusinski
Communication Design Department
COMD 2320 Introduction to Film/Video Production Design
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
Promotional Videos: For/Against Development In Downtown Brooklyn is a place-based learning assignment where students are divided into groups and play the roles of an advertising agency and a local community organization who are tasked to create a video promoting future development or a video trying to stop future development in aim to preserve the history and integrity of downtown Brooklyn.
Prior to the actual place-based component of this assignment, students are introduced (via a mini-lesson) to the concept of ethical reasoning, and are given a clear explanation of expectations, objectives, and purposed outcomes for this assignment. Students are also required to write a brief reflection on OpenLab about their current beliefs regarding the topic.
The assignment: Students are divided into four groups (3-4 students per group). Two of the four groups play the role of an advertising agency who has been hired by a developer selling commercial and residential space in downtown Brooklyn. The developer is paying the agency to create a 30-second video to play on their website, and social platforms promoting why businesses and people should invest in their properties in downtown Brooklyn. Each student group will explore the downtown area during a class period on foot, and take photos with their cell phones to document what they believe will be the contents of an effective video advertisement. Interpretations and approaches may vary between the two groups. One group may choose to take photos that represent a modern style of living which caters toward the middle-to-upper class – such as City Point, Citi Bike stations, or chic high-rise luxury apartments, while the other group may want to focus on capturing derelict and closed-down businesses or “eye-sores” and are reason to tear down and build something new and fancy.
The other two groups are playing the role of a local business and community organization – made up of local business owners and local residents. Their goal is to make a video ad that builds consensus with enough people (city council members, government officials, and local residents) so that new development doesn’t happen. Their video aims to help preserve the integrity of downtown Brooklyn. Each of these two groups is to explore the downtown area during a class period on foot and take photos with their cell phones to document what they believe will be the contents of an effective advertisement. Interpretations may vary between these two groups. One group may choose to take photos of construction sites and “evil” machinery in action smashing the crumbled remains of a once historic structure to play off of the emotional side of a viewer. The other group may capture old historic landmarks or buildings, such as churches – of which has been a controversial topic recently – as some churches throughout the city have been selling off their land/buildings for new development.
Following the place-based component, students are to edit the photos together using video editing software, while also adding music and/or text – "live, work, play all in one place", "save downtown, preserve our history", and so on. This should consume 1-2 additional class periods. Once the videos are completed, each group will present their finished work, and then discuss reasons why they chose certain subject matter, and their approach to framing shots based on ethical reasoning.
Students finally write a brief reflection on OpenLab about their current beliefs regarding this topic; if those beliefs have changed as a result of this assignment; and their overall experience in working towards a goal that may have gone against their own bias or belief system – the topic of new development in any area.
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
I aim to introduce the concept of ethical reasoning to students in context to video production and a future job they may have where they are asked to perform a task, such as to make a video that goes against their bias or belief system. How they should approach this, and navigate through this is good practice for potential opportunities and situations they may encounter in the future. Should they try their best for the sake of the company (i.e. their employer)? Or should they tell their boss that they disagree with the message and objective of the project? Secondly, students gain an awareness for detail in their surroundings – which is important in being a camera operator. Thirdly, students get practice at framing and composing shots, as well as the entire act of telling a story, approaching how to tell that story and the technical execution of the editing that story – video editing. Through their reflections – one at the beginning and one at the end, students also gain insight on themselves which should encourage open-mindedness.
Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?
Due to the fact that this assignment is based outside – walking around downtown Brooklyn, it has to be done during months other than those in the winter. Approximately three class periods will be spent on this assignment. The act of just taking photos is ok, but to compile those photos into an order that tells a specific story and has a message makes this assignment much more engaging and worthwhile for students.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
Prior to the actual place-based component of this assignment, students are introduced (via a mini-lesson) to the concept of ethical reasoning, and are given a clear explanation of expectations, objectives, and purposed outcomes for this assignment. Sample photos that I have taken are shown to help illustrate points. Students are also required to write a brief reflection on OpenLab about their current beliefs regarding the topic, and therefore I will need to ensure that students sign up or have an OpenLab account. Setup of the reflection forms needs to be created as well – learning how to do this has to be taken into account since I do not use OpenLab.
Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?
I would assess this assignment based on a value rubric. Points are assigned to each of the two reflection entries; the quantity of photos taken on location – minimum requirement needs to be met; the application of certain editing techniques such as adding motion to still images; the final edited piece; and the final presentation during the screening.
Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?
Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.
Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLabPrint this page