Mini-MOOC: Film like a Pro

This week in CEP811 we have been learning about MOOCs.  Contrary to your possible first impression, a MOOC is not the sound of a cow with a cough, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.


I have designed my own Mini-MOOC on how to create a professional looking film without all the fancy equipment.

In my Film like a Pro course, my peers will master video filming and editing by creating a simple slide show, filming and editing their own video and viewing and commenting on each other’s work posted on their YouTube channel.

Course Topic: Film and edit a short video.

Course Title: Film like a Pro


The tools of the trade.

By Intel Free Press [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Audience: This course would appeal to anyone who has an interest in creating a more professional looking video or film.  It is geared toward amateurs who do not have fancy filming equipment or editing experience.  While this course focuses on the iMovie software specifically, the lessons learned can be applied to other editing software as well.

Many of the assignments in our MAET courses require us to make videos to show our work.  The inspiration for this course came from a couple of my classmates who expressed they would be interested in making more professional looking videos  In addition, with the growth of the Maker culture and Flipping Instruction, many classroom teachers will find themselves in need of some understanding of the basics of editing.  They can make videos to show their students, as well as have students create videos as a means to demonstrate the understanding they gained while working on a project.

Learning Objectives: Making a professional looking video requires more than just learning the editing software.  I hope the students of this course will gain an understanding of the many layers of filmmaking.  It starts with having a good story.  Through this course students will learn the basics of creating a storyboard to outline their movie and frame the shots they will need to make a successful film. The next step is understanding how to get professional quality footage even with minimalist equipment.  This step requires an understand of lighting and some photography basics.  The final step of editing the movie also has several layers, from choosing the right clips, understanding the pacing, having the right audio and adding text and transition elements to the film.  The ultimate goal is not just creating a film, but being able to understand how and why one film may be better than another.  It is fairly easy to differentiate a good film from a bad one.  However, being able to point out the elements that make one “good” or “bad” show a more true understanding.

Projects: Students will demonstrate their learning in this course by creating a video that they wrote, filmed and edited.  They will also create a slideshow in the first week as a way to introduce the editing program and provide a hook for the rest of the class.

Course Design: This course was designed according to the Understanding by Design Model created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.  This model tasks teachers to start lesson design with the end in mind.  In “backward planning” as Wiggins and McTighe call it, (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) the teacher first determines what they would like the learner to accomplish.  They ask the question, what is the desired outcome?  In my MOOC, Film like a Pro, the desired outcome is for students to understand what key elements make a video look more professional.  The next step in backward planning is to determine how you will measure the learning.  What evidence will the student provide that they have indeed mastered the desired outcome?  In Film like a Pro, the learner will both create their own video and provide feedback for others, demonstrating the knowledge they have gained.  The final step in backward planning is creating the learning experiences that will allow the learner to reach the objective.  The lesson in each week of my MOOC are designed to help students work toward their finished project.  While the initial week of my course could have started with the storyboarding lesson, I chose to start instead with a slideshow project.  As Stephen Yelon frequently mentions in his video “The Secrets to Instructional Design,” it is important to have a hook at the beginning, that will gain students’ interest (Yelon, 2001). The slideshow project gives an introduction to some of the skills the students will need in the later stages of the course, but it allows them to create a very satisfying and professional looking project in the first week.  The goal is to provide inspiration to hook the learner’s attention from the start.  If they see that they can create a project such as this in the first week, they will be more motivated to continue with the more difficult sections.

Peer Interaction: Each week the students in the class will be asked to view at least three other student’s work.  As they watch each other’s projects, they will be learning to identify critical elements to good filmmaking.  As mentioned above, it is fairly easy to pick out a good or bad movie.  However, the peer interaction will require the learner to go deeper than that.  As they give feedback to their peers, the students will begin to be able to more clearly identify and express which elements of a film work and which don’t.  Students will be able to apply that new knowledge to their own filmmaking adventures.

Course Outline:

Week One: iMovie intro: Make a slideshow

LEARN: Read the following article and watch the videos below to learn about how to use iMovie.

Watch these two video tutorials on how to make a slideshow in iMovie.  The first is rather short and focuses on iMovie 11.  The second is much more in-depth and focuses on iMovie 2014.  While the structure of iMovie is different in each version, the same basic principles apply.

The following link provides you with step-by-step instructions, including screen shots.

CREATE: a slideshow from pictures you have or some that you take during the week.  Add audio to make your slideshow more interesting.  Remember to respect copyright when you choose your music.  One of the videos above suggests a couple of websites to get copyright free music.  In addition, iMovie provides some music samples.

SHARE: If you have not already done so, create a YouTube channel and a blog for posting your work for this course.  In your blog, give a little background on the subject of your slideshow. Include a link to your finished slide show and provide a link to your YouTube channel for your peers.

INTERACT: Watch at least 3 of your peers’ slideshows.  Comment on some of the aspects you thought they captured well.

Week Two: Planning for your video:

LEARN: One of the most important parts of making a good video starts before you even pick up your camera.  Having a plan is vital to getting all the shots you need to tell your story well.



Read the following two weblinks about storyboarding.

CREATE:  Plan for and create a storyboard for your final video.

SHARE: Write a blog post detailing why it is important to use storyboards when making even a short film.  Include pictures of your finished storyboard.

INTERACT: Read at least three of your classmates blogs and check out their storyboards. This week is about constructive criticism.  Make suggestions to your peers about any weaknesses in their storyboards.  Provide some suggestions for additional shots or angles that you think may enhance their films.

Week Three: Shooting your footage:

LEARN: I have included links for quite a few video tutorials in this section.  It is key that you have a good understanding of how to capture footage if your final project is going to be successful.  You don’t have to have any expensive equipment.  The first video is how to capture footage on a Smartphone.  If you are going to invest in only one piece of equipment to improve the quality of your movie, I would recommend it be a tripod of some sort.  Having steady images really makes a lot of difference.

Best way to shoot video with a Smartphone:

Understanding camera angles and lighting:

CREATE: Film away!!  This week you should spend the majority of your time filming the footage for your final project.

Now that you are more experienced with filming, film yourself discussing how the work on your project went this week.  Make sure to utilize the techniques you learned about in this weeks’ content. A video of this sort is called a vlog.  You will be recording a journal of sorts, expressing your thoughts out loud for others to watch and learn from.  You should record your vlog from start to finish.  There is no editing for this part, so you may want to plan and practice what you will say before you start filming.  Discuss which of these techniques did you use?  How did they work for you?

SHARE: Upload your “vlog” to your YouTube channel.  Share a link to your vlog on your blog.

INTERACT: Watch at least three of your peers vlogs.  Make a thoughtful comment on their video.

Week Four: Adding/editing video/audio in iMovie

LEARN: This week begins the editing portion of your project. Many of the skills you learned the first week when you made your slideshow will apply here as well.  Go back and review those tutorials if you need a refresher.  In addition review the link and video below for some more information about how to work with the editing features of iMovie.

CREATE: Begin working on your film.  Take all that great footage you shot last week and import it into your movie editing software.  Don’t stress out about a finished product just yet.  This weeks “creation” is just a rough draft.

SHARE: Upload the rough draft of your film to YouTube.  Again, this is just a rough draft.  You will have one more week to take the feedback from your classmates, as well as your own reviews, before you will put your final project out for viewing.  The rough draft you upload this week will be deleted from YouTube after you are finished with your final draft.

INTERACT: Watch at least three of your classmates videos.  Provide them with a constructive critique in the comments section.  Please be specific in your evaluations and remember that you are viewing rough drafts.

Week Five: Review and Improve

LEARN: Take at least one day away from your video.  You need a break to be able to see it again with fresh eyes.  After your break, read the reviews your peers have provided for you.  Review your own video yourself.  Based on the feedback, create a list of any changes or additions you need to make.  Do you want to shoot some additional footage? Do you need to change the order of some of your shots?

CREATE: Back to the drawing board, as they say.  Use this week to finish creating your film.

SHARE: Upload your finished film to YouTube. (Don’t forget to delete your rough draft now.)  Write a blog post describing your experience.  What do you know now, that you didn’t before?  Are there additional things you are now inspired to learn?

INTERACT: Take some time to watch several finished projects.  Make sure to provide some feedback!

References: (n.d.) iMovie Tutorials – Learn How to Edit Videos in Apple iMovie [website]. Retrieved from

Ashby, S. (2014). How to make a photo slideshow in iMovie [blog]. Retrieved from

Burgess, C. (2013) #3 Sure Sign of Amateur Video:The Shakes [blog]. Retrieved from

Burgess, C. (2013) #5 Sure Sign of Amateur Video:Backlighting [blog]. Retrieved from

Burgess, C. (2013) #7 Sure Sign of Amateur Video:Jumpcuts [blog]. Retrieved from

Burgess, C. (2013) #2 Sure Sign of Amateur Video:Firehoseing [blog]. Retrieved from

Cox, D. (2014) The Ken Burns Effect: iMovie. Retrieved from

iphoneographers. (2012). How to Shoot Good iPhone Video. Retrieved from

MacCreateNetwork. (2009) Creating Photo Slideshows in iMovie. Retrieved from

(n.d.) Storyboarding [website]. Retrieved from

Standford University:Academic Computing Services (n.d.) Tutorial: Video Editing in iMovie [website]. Retrieved from

Tufts University. (n.d.) Storyboarding for videos. Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition.  Prentice Hall.

Wikipedia (n.d.) Ken Burns effect [website]. Retrieved from

Yelon, S. L. (2001). Goal-Directed Instructional Design: A Practical Guide to Instructional Planning for Teachers and Trainers. Michigan State University: Self-published, Not in electronic format.

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