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VID 04 W — Making Short Videos: The Art of Storytelling

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Jul 15—Aug 30
Drop Deadline: Jul 18
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $365
Instructor(s): Jonathan Crow
Limit: 40
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is July 18 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 23 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Jul 15—Aug 30
7 weeks
Drop By
Jul 18
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Jonathan Crow
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is July 18 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 23 at 5:00 pm (PT).
The tools of filmmaking have never been more accessible. Artists and entrepreneurs alike can now easily create compelling video advertisements or short films, even when on a tight budget. All they need is an iPhone, a clear idea, and a strong grasp of visual storytelling. This course will focus on the basics of visual storytelling—from composing a shot for the maximum impact to creating a story that can elicit a strong emotional response. We will begin the course by learning the basics of composition and story structure, and will proceed into planning, shooting, and editing a two- to three-minute video. Students will define their own projects. Aspiring filmmakers may choose to create a very short drama or comedy piece, while others may wish to develop a video blog, public service announcement, book promo, or advertisement for a product or service. Though the course will cover some technical aspects of video production and post-production, our primary focus will be on how to communicate a message in a compelling way. All those who wish to learn new ways of communicating visually—from marketers, teachers, journalists, and historians to those simply looking to explore a new medium for self-expression—are welcome.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

No prior experience with filmmaking is required. The instructor will use Adobe Premiere to teach video editing but students are free to use whatever program they are comfortable with. The course also includes instructional videos, interactive exercises, and discussion with fellow students, as well as optional online videoconferencing sessions.

Jonathan Crow, Writer; Filmmaker

Jonathan Crow received an MFA in filmmaking from the California Institute of the Arts and an MA in Japanese studies from the University of Michigan. During his dozen years in the Hollywood industry as a writer and editor, he wrote, researched, and produced for Declassified, a documentary series on the History Channel. Later, as an editor for Yahoo Movies, he interviewed numerous filmmakers and covered cinema from around the world. He also has shot TV commercials in Japan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Steven D. Katz, Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen (Michael Wiese Productions) (ISBN 0941188108)
(Recommended) Molly Bang, Picture This: How Pictures Work (ISBN 9781452151991)
(Recommended) Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (ISBN 006097625X)