Muse: A Video Portrait Workshop

Kat Conte, Video & Art Maker

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9 Videos (1h 12m)
    • Trailer

    • Lesson 1: Connect

    • Lesson 2: Finding a Motif

    • Part 1: Shot Types

    • Part 2: Camera Angles

    • Part 3: Camera Movements

    • Field Trip

    • Tips on Editing

    • Share + Parting Words


Project Description

Create a video portrait of your muse


  1. Break the boundaries of time and space and approach that beloved Muse of yours, whether its the next

    Break the boundaries of time and space and approach that beloved Muse of yours, whether its the next-door neighbor, the baker (or her cakes), your uncle, your professor or co-worker or anyone who has impressed you in deep profound ways, approach them. 

    Talk to them about doing a video portrait of them or their work. Mark a date and time.

  2. Share your Muse: who is it and what's it about?

    Share your progress in your project section to get feedback from other students


  1. Watch video

    Watch the video lesson.

Shoot, Slice and Dice

  1. In this unit I'll share some ideas for shooting your video and chopping it up. My very basic guideli

    In this unit I'll share some ideas for shooting your video and chopping it up. My very basic guidelines:

    1. Shoot with natural light. Not necessarily outdoors but in a well-lighted space like near a window.
    2. If your subject will be speaking, be in a space where they are audible. Therefore nowhere near traffic or underwater. You can ask them to speak louder or if you think that will break the flow, move closer.
    3. With your list of key questions, remember that its more important to be at ease with your subject (and for them to be at ease with you) so carry a conversation and when you feel ready, hit record and ask your questions.
    4. Support your story by shooting parts of the process if it involves some kind of work, or curious little things that make up the space, perhaps a few visual 'clues' that define your subject.
    5. Experiment/play with intimate closeup shots and distant see-all shots.
    6. Be present with your subject. Don't fret too much about your story, the video and how it should be. It will be so much more fulfilling to have a great time - great memory.
    7. Ideally, it's better to keep video portraits short. I suggest keeping it less than 5 minutes in length. That given, you don't have to shoot for hours, or even an hour. So don't. Or at least, don't keep the record button on the whole time.
    8. When transferring your files onto your computer, organize your video files by sorting the interview or audio recordings into one folder, work or process shots into another, and other details into another folder.
    9. Start cutting the interview/audio with your editing program of choice (choose what is available. iMovie or Movie Maker is fine too). Seek to be clear/relevant.
    10. After you've picked out the best from your recorded conversation you can start inserting footage from the process and later other interesting details about the space, items, etc.
    11. Background music can be found at
    12. Please do not forget to credit all your sources!

    Everything else you can find at the Vimeo Video School!

  2. Share your Muse: Video Portrait for feedback

    Final Muse project! YEAH


  1. Watch video

    Watch the video lesson. 

Additional Resources
  • Class notes for Lesson 1 can be found here! Feel free to print out by right-clicking, save, then print. 

  • In this unit we'll cover the what, the why and the wow.... 

    What? Inspired/ artful video of people or their work. 

    Your video can be about art, of any sort:

    ...or artisans:

    It can also be about something like, say, a poster:

    ...about a Process

    ... about a country(ies): 

    ....or about meeting the people in it:

    It can be a Video Portrait (literally!):

    Why? To celebrate people and their genius!

    To celebrate fearlessness and daring: 

    To tell a story nobody would know if you didn't tell it (through video): 

    To share an advocacy:

    To reveal life's secrets: 

    ... and many other things too simple and complex to compile in one unit. Enjoy! 

    And let's proceed. 

  • In this unit we'll cover ideas for storytelling and pre-shoot prep. 

    There are many ways to tell a story, especially through video (involving everything from moving images to sound, and everything in between). There are, however, easy and effective methods you can adapt to make your storytelling less of a difficult process for you and your Muse.

    *NOTE* If you are so inspired to break away from these suggestions, feel free to do so! 

    Here's the process: 

    • Find out what best to talk about with a few key questions. Example: What, why, and how. Write it down.
    • Distill the top 3 most inspiring angles/topics to explore on your Muse. Identify the Motif or 'character'. Keep it simple.
    • Visualize your video (how it feels, looks like) and proceed accordingly.

    For some added inspiration: 

    A few words from Ira Glass on Storytelling

    And for even more inspiration, check out this Vimeo Channel on Portraits.

  • Diana from class shares this iMovie export tip here. Thanks!