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StudentCam 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 supporting C-SPAN video? 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 MUST include the following five elements:
  • A complete exploration of your chosen topic
  • Inclusion of C-SPAN programming relating to your documentary's topic (we recommend using several short clips)
  • A balanced presentation of varying viewpoints (we recommend that you interview experts and elected officials about your chosen topic)
  • Adherence to the time limit of 5 to 6 minutes. (End credits, if applicable, must begin after the 5-minute mark but are permitted to run longer than the allotted 6-minute time frame)
  • Credits at the end of your documentary or a works cited list
Your documentary MAY include, but is not required to include:
  • Additional 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 to two months to create your documentary. Below is a suggested time frame. Please keep in mind that many of these steps will overlap as you go through the process.

  • Topic Selection and Initial Research: (1 week)
     
  • Research and Scheduling Interviews: (2 weeks)
     
  • Conducting Interviews & Shooting B-Roll: (2 weeks)
     
  • Write your script: (1 week)
     
  • Build your Rough Cut: (1 week)
    - Edit interview
    - Find & download relevant C-SPAN clips
    - Record Narration
    - Add in music, transitions, text and title slides and credits
     
  • Polish Final Film & Submit to StudentCam: (1 week)

HOW CAN I FIND SUPPORTING C-SPAN VIDEO?


Clips from many of the programs in C-SPAN's extensive archives are available as downloads in MP4 format - FREE - for participating StudentCam teachers and students. In order to download clips you will need to register a free MyC-SPAN account. Follow the video tutorial on our C-SPAN Downloads page. We recommend that you look for clips of C-SPAN programming that both support and oppose your own viewpoints.

If you scroll down the Downloads page you'll also see that we continue to make available a variety of ready-made C-SPAN clips that may be used in your documentary. We recommend however that you first explore the full C-SPAN archives using your My-C-SPAN account. By doing so you'll discover your own unique clips that are related specifically to your chosen topic. In addition to finding clips that no one else is likely using in their documentaries, you'll also learn how to navigate and use this free archive for research outside of the competition, in both your personal and academic life. If you need assistance downloading clips, please email us at educate@c-span.org

Please note that not all C-SPAN programs are downloadable due to copyright restrictions for programs that we may not own the full rights to. However, many programs are downloadable, including clips from our morning Washington Journal programs, White House events, House and Senate floor and committee coverage, and many more. You will know if a program can be downloaded as it will offer the MP4 video format for download when you click on "Purchase a DVD or Download". If you only see DVD and MP3 audio offered, that means that clips from that specific program are not downloadable.

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 video.

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 portion of the program that you would like to use. This may not result in the highest quality video, but it is always an option if you are pressed for time and unable to download other C-SPAN video 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 video this way. This will ensure that you get the best quality video possible using this method.

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


There is no set time requirement for your C-SPAN programming but the inclusion of C-SPAN programming should be used to support your documentary and complement your overall presentation. Preview some of our past winning videos to get an idea of how you too can use short C-SPAN clips to provide additional perspective and enhance your documentary. We recommend that you use multiple short clips but each individual C-SPAN clip used should be no longer than 30 seconds. If using multiple C-SPAN clips you may choose to stagger them intermittently throughout your documentary, or have several short clips play consecutively in a row.

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 always show the multiple sides of any issue that we feature. Students should treat their documentary in a similar fashion, providing comprehensive treatment of their topic with thorough exploration of the differing points of view, including those that you may personally disagree with. You personal opinions are also welcomed so consider sharing your personal views about your chosen issue (if you are comfortable sharing them), and relay if your views have changed or solidified during the process of 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 on your chosen issue. You may also choose to explore how your issue affects groups of people differently.

You may also consider using several short clips from C-SPAN of officials and experts with juxtaposing viewpoints on your chosen topic.

WHO CAN I INTERVIEW?


There are no requirements for who should be interviewed in your documentary but we strongly encourage students 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 sites like Twitter 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! Cast a wide net and be persistent.

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 Twitter handle and a short biography of each Representative and Senator.

When contacting potential interview subjects, consider sharing this document with them which provides an overview of the competition, as well as some examples of people who have been interviewed in past StudentCam documentaries:
StudentCam Competition Overview for Interview Subjects (Google Doc)

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. Many cell phones and digital cameras are able to record video of increasingly high quality. There are also many video editing apps available for smartphones that are worth checking out.

HOW WILL THE VIDEOS BE JUDGED?


Judging will take place in C-SPAN's offices in Washington, DC from January through March. Each video will be viewed by multiple judges with the judges’ strongest critiques centering most on the content, research, and presentation of each documentary. We are most interested in your original work and the presentation of information within your documentary. Secondary consideration is given to the technical aspects like editing and video quality. While the technical quality of your video is important, we also realize that this may be the first time many of you have created a video, and that your access to technology may be limited. We encourage all students to apply regardless of past filmmaking experience and it is important to note that numerous top prize winning videos have been made by students with no prior video editing experience.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Complete exploration of the chosen topic, and its relation to the contest's theme
  • Quality of expression and creativity
  • Inclusion of topically relevant C-SPAN programming
  • Thorough exploration of the varying points related to your chosen topic (inlcuding opposing viewpoints, where applicable)

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE?


Entries must be uploaded by midnight at the end of the day on January 20, 2019.

HOW DO I SUBMIT MY VIDEO?


The Entry Form and Upload page is available from November 2018 through the deadline on January 20, 2019.

Accepted Video Formats and Codecs

MP4, M4V (Video codecs:H.264 - Audio Codec:AAC) ***RECOMMENDED FORMAT FOR THE BEST QUALITY WITH THE MOST REASONABLE FILE SIZE***
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)

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 Sunday, January 20, 2019.

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's Education team at educate@c-span.org or call 1-800-523-7586 between 9:00am-4:00pm ET.

WHEN WILL THE WINNERS BE ANNOUNCED?


The 150 winning videos will be announced on the StudentCam website in March 2019. Winning students will be notified via phone or email.

Click here for a printable Student Checklist (Google Doc)