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:
Your documentary MAY include, but is not required to include:
- 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
- Video pertaining to your topic (B-roll footage)
- Music (preferably copyright free music)
- 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. 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 of the videos are available in .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 will also be availble in High Definition .MP4 format but please make sure that your video editing software is compatible with High Definition 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 a variety of video formats (such as .AVI, .MOV, and .MP4) for download. If you only see .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 at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make it available to you for free.
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 possible.
You may also record audio from a C-SPAN program to use in your documentary. If you choose to do this, make sure you 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. You may be surprised by who is willing to sit down 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.
For editing you will find that most new computers will already have movie making software. Windows computers will typically have Windows Movie Maker and Macs will have iMovie software. 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 more 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?
Between November 2014 and January 20, 2015 you must first complete the required Entry Form and then upload your video in one of the following video formats: .MP4 .AVI .MOV .MPG .MPG2 .MPEG2 or .WMV. Videos must be less than 2GB 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 email@example.com 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 the video documentary and your Entry Form are submitted online by the deadline, which is midnight Pacific Standard Time at the end of the day on 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.