Student Voices Online Resources

After you've read the rules and signed-up for the competition and a workshop session go ahead and get started searching the Visual History Archive and developing your visual narrative. These resources should help you on your way to joining the conversation:

Visual History Archive

The Institute's archive is available from anywhere on campus or with a VPN connection to campus (though you will be limited by available bandwidth) at For general information about searching the archive, consult the USC Library Guide or for any questions or help contact the archive Curator, Crispin Brooks.

Suggested Workflow

Students should follow these steps:

  1. To search for testimonies in the Visual History Archive (available on USC networks only), visit:
  2. After you have identified the testimonies you would like to work with (or time code of the clips), use the testimony download tool in order to download the desired videos. (Access to the download tool URL will be provided to you via email after you sign-up for the contest at
  3. Create a folder for your work on your own external hard drive.
  4. Download your selected MPEG1 video clips to your folder.
  5. Start a new project in Adobe Premiere.
  6. Set scratch disks to your folder.
  7. Sequence Presets should be DV-NTSC Standard 48khz (unless you know you will be integrating original footage with different settings, in which case you may choose to use those settings instead).
  8. Import your MPEG1 clips.
  9. Drag clips, or selected parts of clips, into your timeline.
  10. You may need to adjust their scale so that they fill the frame. To do so, double click on your clip in the timeline, click on the Effects Control tab in the Source window, locate Scale under the Motion category and adjust it accordingly. You can also accomplish this by clicking and dragging on the boxes at the corners of your clip in the Program menu and dragging them out to the desired scale.
  11. Edit your project.
  12. When you are done, make sure the Timeline window is selected, then go to the File menu and choose ‘Export -> Media’
  13. In Export Settings, choose Format - H.264, Preset - Apple TV720p (or the preset of your choice), and make sure to choose a video bitrate of at least 2Mbps.
  14. Set the Output Name so that you know the name of the file you are making and are sure to save it in your folder.
  15. Click OK.
  16. This will launch Adobe Media Encoder where you can see the progress of your encode.
  17. Upload the resulting file.
  18. Save an EDL (Edit Decision List) of your project from within Premiere. Make sure your timeline is selected, then choose ‘Export -> Export to EDL’ from the ‘File Menu.’ Include this file with your Entry Materials.

Note: If you choose to work outside of the Taper Labs be aware that there may be difficulties working with MPEG1 clips in different editing environments. You may need to convert the MPEG1 clips before you can edit with them.

In particular, if you are working in either iMovie or Final Cut Pro on an Apple computer system, follow these general guidelines:

  1. Download the free and open source program MPEG Streamclip from
  2. Open your MPEG1 testimony clip in MPEG Streamclip.
  3. From the File menu, choose Export to Quicktime.
  4. Under compression, choose h.264.
  5. Choose a video bitrate of at least 2Mbps.
  6. Under Quality, choose 100%.
  7. Sounds should be Uncompressed, stereo, 48khz.
  8. Other settings may be left as-is.
  9. Click Make Movie and choose a folder for you clip, keeping its name the same as when downloaded except for the file type extension being changed from .mpg to .mov.
  10. Once the conversion is complete, these files will work in iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and various other editing applications.
  11. Please be aware that these conversions may take a very long time and that the clips may behave idiosyncratically in your editing system. Take heart though that if you experience quirks when you edit with them, those quirks will be smoothed out when you do your final export at the end of the process.

Music Resources

We are very pleased to work with the USC School of Cinematic Arts in order to offer access to the School's Opus1 music library for the short film competition. This will enable you to incorporate music (if you so choose) that is copyright-cleared into your video project. Access to the music for the purposes of this competition is only available at the Taper Hall computer lab (yellow) in room B4. Please refer to the manual (PDF iconOPUS1_Online_Manual_rev5_SHOAH.pdf) for specific instructions.

When thinking about incorporating other music or images into your project, you need to think about protecting copyright. A good resource we recommend for finding music that is available under a Creative Commons license is

More Questions?

Contact and we will do our best to answer questions and offer guidance.