Day 3 Lesson - Messages in Motion Mobile Media Project

 Messages in Motion

(Written by Laura Deutch and Aghigh Ebrahimi Bazaz)


Students work with Messages in Motion mobile media project to learn the language of video composition and to create their own self-expressive video postcards.


Learning Objectives  
Students learn about the relationship between audio and image.

Students learn to create their own personally expressive videos.

Students learn to see videos as a series of shots and can differentiate between close-up, medium shot, and long shot.

Students can discuss the effects that various shots have on a viewing audience.


Time Required 

4 - 5 hours


Materials Required

Messages in Motion van

Flip cameras

Storyboard templates



1) Students are introduced to the Messages in Motion project , its goals, its methods, and its prior work.


2) Students watch videos that speak to the day’s lesson and that will help them to create their own videos later in the day. Students are asked to think about how images are being used to convey meaning and how symbolism works in the videos. After viewing, students and MiM facilitator discuss the videos and techniques used. Our students watched the following video:

One Minute Juniors, "ik ben nanda"

Fared Shafinury’s AriaNaz music video

Project Pushback's "I Am" video, directed by Carolina Roca-Smith

3) Students learn about the various types of shots, shot distances, and shot angles (e.g. CU, MCU, long shot). Students and MiM facilitator discuss how certain shot decisions affect the meaning conveyed through the image.


4)  Students and MiM facilitator re-view one of the videos from before, but this time without audio. (Laura selected Fared Shafinury’s AriaNaz because of the unique shot angles and arrangements in the video). The facilitator pauses the video at each new shot and asks the student to identify the shot distance and angle used. They are also asked to discuss the effect such shots have on the meaning of the video.


5) MiM facilitator introduces students to the “Golden Rules” of documentary filmmaking and image making. These include:  Don't zoom, go closer;  Let the action create movement, not your hand;  The tripod is your friend; Frame first then record; And hold each shot for 10 seconds and not too much more.


5) Students free-write letters to their community. In our case, students could free-write letters to Iran or to Philadelphia. The students chose Philadelphia while I chose to write a letter to Iran.


6) Students are asked to storyboard their stories, to think of images that might help  to elucidate the ideas they are expressing in their letters. Students are encouraged to walk around the space they are in to get ideas for unique, expressive, and creative images.


7) MiM facilitator pulls each student, one-by-one, into a quiet corner to record their letters to serve as their voice-overs for their films.


8) Students are given time to shoot their images, each being about 5 to 10 seconds in length.


9) Students upload their images into a Final Cut timeline with MiM facilitator. Voice-over is brought in to serve as audio track. Student and MiM facilitator work together to edit the piece, including adding credits and titles.


10) Postcards are uploaded to the Messages in Motion website and to our own workshop’s blog, "Stirring Up Identity."