Kinetic Text Assignment

English 213: Kinetic Text Assignment

(Worth 15% of your grade; due on November 15)


For centuries, poets have read their work aloud to audiences both small (a coffeehouse reading) and large (a presidential inaugural). With the advent of digital media for recording and distributing sound, a poet’s audience no longer needs to be physically present to enjoy the text. In fact, given the right tools, audiences can build on the work of great poets and orators by producing new multimedia texts that blend sounds, still images, and video. For this assignment, you will do just that: create a short video that animates (kinetic: “of, relating to, or resulting from motion”) a written text.

Completing the Assignment

Getting started: Your first task will be to choose a poem, a political speech, a short story, etc. Selecting the right piece of text is important, since some texts lend themselves to animation better than others. As you read or listen to your text, pay attention to the images in the text; you will need to animate these literary or rhetorical images with actual images, typography, animation, and/or video clips. The scope of this project is somewhat limited, so try to avoid choosing a text that is too long. Generally speaking, your text should be between thirty seconds and three minutes long. If possible, you should select a text for which you can locate an audio file of the original author reading the piece. (We’ll look at online audio archives in class.) However, if this is not possible, you can read the text yourself or convince someone else to read it for you.

Tools: In class, we will be experimenting with iMovie, but most of your work on this project will occur outside of class, so you can choose to use another program if you’re more comfortable with it. Acceptable programs for this assignment include Final Cut, Premiere, Windows Movie Maker, Flash, After Effects, and PowerPoint. If you would like to use a program not on this list, please check with me.

Final product: Your finished video should include the title of the text, as well as a brief “credits” section at the end. When your video is complete, you will upload it to YouTube (or another video sharing site, if you prefer). As with your social networking assignment, you can choose to use a pseudonym to protect your identity when you upload your video.

Memo of transmission: When your video is complete, you will write a 1-2 memo (single spaced, using memo format) describing the process you used to create the video and justifying the choices you made about text selection, use of images, sounds, colors, typography, etc. You should also address any problems you encountered during this project and discuss what you might do differently if you had more time, different software, greater expertise, etc.

Assignment Details

Your final video and memo are due on November 15. Because the video files will be too large to upload to the class website, you should bring your video to class on a flash drive or store it in your ISU documents folder. Upload your memo using the space below. On the 15th, we will watch all of the videos created by members of the class.

Evaluation Criteria

This project will be evaluated based on how well:
  • the images, typography, and video clips used in the video align with the text you have chosen to animate.
  • the video blends text, audio, and images to create a coherent whole.
  • the video employs the technical skills we have learned in class this semester.
  • the memo explains the process you used to create the video and justify the choices you made as you did so.
  • the memo adheres to the conventions of standard written English (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.)