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StudentCam 2015 Competition Rules

What should my video include? Who can I interview?
How many students may enter together as a team? How do I access a video camera or editing equipment?
How long will it take to make my documentary? How will the videos be judged?
How can I find C-SPAN footage? When is the deadline?
What should I do if I cannot download C-SPAN video? How do I submit my video?
How much C-SPAN video do I have to use? Do I need to provide prior notice of my intent to enter?
Is C-SPAN’s video copyright protected? How can I obtain answers to questions I still have about the contest?
How do I present more than one point of view? When will the winners be announced?


WHAT SHOULD MY VIDEO INCLUDE?


Your documentary may focus on any branch of the Federal Government and should address how a policy, law, or action has affected you or your community.

Your documentary MUST include the following five elements:
  • A complete exploration of your documentary's issue
  • Inclusion of C-SPAN programming relating to your documentary's issue
  • Various opinions about your issue
  • Adherence to the time limit of 5 to 7 minutes. (End credits may run longer but your actual documentary must end by the 7 minute mark)
  • Credits at the end of your documentary or a works cited list
Your documentary MAY include, but is not required to include:
  • Interviews
  • Video pertaining to your topic (B-roll footage)
  • Music (preferably copyright free music)
  • Graphics
  • Diagrams
  • Still images
  • Narration (Note: If you narrate your documentary, you must write your own script to avoid plagiarism. You can use online or print sources, but you have to put any information you use in your own words.)

HOW MANY STUDENTS MAY ENTER TOGETHER AS A TEAM?


Students may enter the competition individually, or work in teams of either 2 or 3 students. If an entry is awarded a prize in the competition, the money will be split evenly among team members.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE MY DOCUMENTARY?


You should give yourself at least one month to create your documentary. See our How to Get Started page for tips on creating your documentary, but below is a suggested time frame:

  • Researching and choosing a topic: 1 week
  • Planning elements (including C-SPAN programming) in your documentary and setting up interviews: 1-2 weeks
  • Recording interviews and additional video footage: 2-3 weeks
  • Editing final documentary: 1-2 weeks

HOW CAN I FIND C-SPAN FOOTAGE?


Click here for a variety of downloadable C-SPAN programs that you may use in your documentary. C-SPAN will upload and make available new programs on a variety of topics until the competition deadline on January 20, 2015. All videos are available in standard definition .AVI and .MOV formats which will work with the vast majority of Windows and Mac based video editing programs. Some of the more recent video clips are also made available in High Definition .MP4 format. Please note that not all software will accept this file format. Make sure that your video editing software is compatible with High Definition .MP4 files before downloading.

If none of the provided videos are related to your chosen topic, you may search for additional clips on C-SPAN's Video Library. Not all C-SPAN programs are downloadable but we can provide clips from our House/Senate floor coverage, White House events, our morning Washington Journal program, and more. You will know if a program can be downloaded as it will offer the MP4 video format for download. If you only see DVD and MP3 audio offered, that means that we cannot provide any clips from that specific program. Once you have found a short clip (1-2 minute max time length), email us the link and your desired format to educate@c-span.org and we will make it available to you for free.

If your movie making software accepts MP4 files, you can find additional C-SPAN programs on our YouTube channel. Use a free download site like http://keepvid.com or http://savemedia.com to save an .MP4 video file of these programs.

Need to convert a video file to another format like AVI or MOV? Try using http://www.online-convert.com which allows for online conversion of a wide variety of file formats.

Another option worth exploring is using screen capture software. Many Mac computers have screen capture software included in their pre-packaged software bundles. Other screen capture programs, like Camtasia, offer free trial periods lasting up to 30 days. Use your screen capture software in conjunction with C-SPAN's streaming Video Library to capture your chosen C-SPAN footage.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CANNOT DOWNLOAD C-SPAN VIDEO?


If you are unable to download C-SPAN video and if using screen capture software is not an option, try streaming the video online at C-SPAN's Video Library, point your video camera at your computer screen, and record the program. This may not result in the highest quality video, but it is always an option if you are having difficulty finding downloadable C-SPAN footage that is relevant to your chosen topic.

Remember to keep your camera steady (consider using a tripod if available), adjust the lighting, and check your volume levels if you choose to record footage this way. This will ensure that you get the best quality footage possible.

You may also record audio from a C-SPAN program to use in your documentary. If you choose to do this, please make sure to identify the audio source and the person(s) speaking.

HOW MUCH C-SPAN VIDEO DO I HAVE TO USE?


There is no time requirement for your C-SPAN programming. However, do not allow the C-SPAN programming to dominate your documentary. Rather, the inclusion of C-SPAN programming should be used to support your documentary and complement your presentation. Preview some of our past winning videos to get an idea of how you too can use short clips to provide additional perspective and enhance your documentary.

IS C-SPAN’S VIDEO COPYRIGHT PROTECTED?


C-SPAN produced programming is copyright cleared for use in educational applications like StudentCam.

HOW DO I PRESENT MORE THAN ONE POINT OF VIEW?


C-SPAN's philosophy is to show multiple sides of an issue. Students should treat their documentary in a similar fashion, providing comprehensive treatment of their topic with different points of view. However, students' personal opinions are welcomed. We want to hear your personal views about your chosen issue, and if your views have changed or solidified while researching your documentary.

In order to present varying opinions about your documentary's issue, you may want to interview several people who have different points of view. You can also discuss how your issue affects people differently.

You may also consider using several juxtaposing short clips from multiple C-SPAN programs throughout your documentary to show varying viewpoints.

WHO CAN I INTERVIEW?


There are no requirements for who should be interviewed. Students may use their peers, teachers, and family as interview subjects. However, we strongly encourage entrants to consider interviewing experts on their chosen topic as well as local and national political leaders. Try contacting them at their office via phone or email. You may also consider using social media to request an interview. It never hurts to ask and you may be surprised by who is willing to sit down with you for an interview!

Click here for C-SPAN's Congressional Chronicle website, a site which archives the proceedings of the United States Congress and its members, including the biography and website of each elected official.

HOW DO I ACCESS A VIDEO CAMERA OR EDITING EQUIPMENT?


Ask your teacher if there are video cameras or editing equipment available. If you are unable to use school equipment, try contacting libraries in your area to see if they may have equipment to lend to students. You may also try your local cable affiliate, local television stations or local public access channel. Finally, many cell phones and digital cameras are able to record video of increasingly high quality.

For editing you will find that most new computers will already be loaded with movie making software like MOvie Maker or iMovie. If you don't have movie making software on your computer, try searching Download.com which has many free software programs including video editing software.

HOW WILL THE VIDEOS BE JUDGED?


The judges’ strongest critiques will center most on the content, research, and presentation. While the technical quality of the video is important, we realize that some students may have limited access to technology and encourage all students to apply.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Success in capturing the contest's topic
  • Quality of expression and creativity
  • Inclusion of C-SPAN programming
  • Inclusion of varying points of view

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE?


Entries must be uploaded by midnight at the end of the day on January 20, 2015.

HOW DO I SUBMIT MY VIDEO?


The Entry Form and Upload page will be available froom November 2014 through the deadline on January 20, 2015. Once you have completed your documentary and you are ready to upload, click here to complete the required Entry Form for you, any teammates, and your faculty advisor (if applicable). Once you have completed your Entry Form, you will then be prompted to upload your video file. Video files must be in one of the approved video file formats listed below.

Accepted Video Formats and Codecs

MP4, M4V (Video codecs:H.264 - Audio Codec:AAC)
AVI (Video codecs:Xvid, DivX - Audio Codec:MP3)
FLV (Video codecs:H.264,VP6 - Audio Codec:AAC,ADPCM)
MOV* (Video codecs:H.264 - Audio Codec:AAC, MP3)
WMV, WMV9 (Video codecs:VC-1, WMV9 - Audio Codec:WMA**)
MPG, MPEG, M2V (Video codecs:MPEG-1, MPEG-2 - Audio Codec:MP2, MP3)
MKV (Video codecs: H.264 - Audio Codec:WAV-PCM, MP3, AAC)

*We do not support most extensions to the QuickTime MOV format, such as multiple video streams, image streams, or other interactive content.
**We currently do not support the WMA Professional or Lossless formats.

Videos must be less than 1.5GB in size - for reference, an average 7 minute video in MP4 format of around 300mb will typically look very clean and crisp once it is uploaded and has encoded on our video host site. Files larger than 2GB may not upload. Please note that the larger the file size, the longer your upload will take to complete. Depending on your internet connection speed, a 100mb video may take anywhere from 10 - 30 minutes to upload. If you are having difficulty uploading your video, contact us at educate@c-span.org or call us at 1-800-523-7586 on weekdays between 9:00am-5:00pm ET.

DO I NEED TO PROVIDE PRIOR NOTICE OF MY INTENT TO ENTER?


You DO NOT need to provide any prior notice of your intention to enter. The only requirement is that your Entry Form and documentary video file are submitted online by the deadline, which is midnight Pacific Standard Time at the end of the day on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

HOW CAN I OBTAIN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I STILL HAVE ABOUT THE CONTEST?


Review the Competition Rules and How to Get Started pages. If you have further questions, please contact C-SPAN Classroom at educate@c-span.org or call 1-800-523-7586 between 9:00am-5:00pm ET.

WHEN WILL THE WINNERS BE ANNOUNCED?


The 150 winning videos will be announced on the StudentCam website in March 2015. Winning students will be notified via phone or email.