FREE ONLINE COURSE:

Video Production

for Journalists in the Digital Age



Instructor: Bill Gentile

Oct. 22 - Nov. 25, 2018


With support from:



Welcome to the massive open online course (MOOC) “Video Production for Journalists in the Digital Age” from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin.


Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the “Video Production for Journalists in the Digital Age” course.
  • 4. A button will appear. Click “Enroll” to enroll yourself in the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  • 5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu and ryansagare@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

This course introduces you to the creation and production of video content for the digital age. At the end of the course, you will be able to produce professional quality videos for television or the internet -- and to release the videos to viewers around the world.

Students will learn the nuances of video production from conception, to pre-production, production, script and treatment writing, narration and editing, to post-production and promotion.

Introduction Module: A Ticket and Tool

Introduction to video production and the essentials to getting started.

Module 1: Pre-Production

In this week you will learn to:

  • Conceptualize the final project
  • Articulate the Controlling Idea
  • Prepare the written proposal
  • Define the visual language
  • Apply ABCs of the visual language
  • Generate story ideas
  • Write proposals
  • Sharpen the Controlling Idea
  • Create the title

Module 2: Production

In this week you will learn to:

  • Execute the Controlling Idea
  • Acquire the raw materials to build the final project, i.e., images and sound
  • Select and use the equipment appropriate for each project or assignment
  • Select characters – the vehicles that will deliver your message
  • Use your smartphone as the primary media acquisition tool
  • Identify the progression from clips to story
  • Practice the Six-Shot System

Module 3: Production, continued

In this week you will learn to:

  • Use your camera like a brush to “paint” images
  • Shoot video appropriate to subject matter
  • Apply the concept of participatory observation with formal and informal interviews
  • Identify quality sound – the heartbeat of our craft
  • Identify how to see what’s behind the screen
  • Understand how to build dramatic arcs

Module 4: Post-Production

In this week you will learn to:

  • Write the script -- to pictures
  • Identify the importance of narration – Your voice is a tool
  • Write a treatment

Module 5: Post-Post-Production

In this week you will learn to:

  • Identify the tools for marketing your video
  • Assemble a sizzle reel
  • Build a pitch deck
  • Prepare a promo card
  • Understand the importance of a story bible when producing a series

This course is for newcomers to the craft as well as experienced practitioners seeking to sharpen and broaden their current skill set.

This course requires that you have a computer with an Internet browser. All work is done online. No camera equipment is necessary to complete this course. Students are welcome to use camera equipment if they so wish to.

First of all, note that this is an asynchronous course. That means there are no live events scheduled at specific times. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.

Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course. The material is organized into five weekly modules. Each module will be taught by Bill Gentile and will cover a different topic through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a certificate of participation at the end of the course.

This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We do recommend you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings

Bill Gentile is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker teaching at American University in Washington, DC. His career spans four decades, five continents and nearly every facet of journalism and mass communication, most especially visual communication, or visual storytelling. He is the founder and director of American University's Backpack Journalism Project. He is a pioneer of “backpack video journalism” and one of the craft’s most noted practitioners. He is the author of the highly acclaimed “Essential Video Journalism Field Manual.” He engineered the School of Communication’s 2015 partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and is the driving force behind that initiative.

Gentile’s recent work includes “When the Forest Weeps,” a short film that examines how Ecuador’s Kichwa Indians struggle as their deep spiritual relationship with the Amazonian rain forest diminishes in a clash with the forces of so-called modernity. His work also includes the 2015 documentary, “Afghan Dreams,” which he shot, produced and wrote, about four Afghan law students – all female – who defy all odds to compete in the world’s most important competition of international commercial law. In 2013, he shot, produced, wrote and narrated a three-part film series on religion and gangs in Guatemala. The three films, “I. The Gangs,” “II. The Researcher,” and “III. The Pastor.” He is currently working on a series of documentaries about freelance foreign correspondents.

Bill Gentile began in 1977 as reporter for the Mexico City News and correspondent for United Press International (UPI) based in Mexico City. He covered the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. He spent two years as editor on UPI’s Foreign Desk in New York, then moved to Nicaragua and became Newsweek Magazine’s Contract Photographer for Latin America and the Caribbean.

His book of photographs, “Nicaragua,” won the Overseas Press Club Award for Excellence. He covered the U.S.-backed Contra War in Nicaragua and the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s; the U.S. invasion of Panama; the 1994 invasion of Haiti, the ongoing conflict with Cuba, the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also worked in Ivory Coast, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Rwanda and Burundi.

A certificate of completion is available for those who meet all of the course requirements and pay online an administrative fee of $30 (thirty U.S. dollars) using a credit card.

No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to participation in the online course.

To be eligible for the certificate of completion, you must:

  • Listen to the weekly video classes and read the weekly readings.
  • Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% minimum score. (You can retake the quizzes as many times as needed. Only the highest score will be recorded)
  • Create OR reply to at least one discussion forum each week

Please add the email addresses ryansagare@utexas.edu and knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.




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