The following blog was written as part of a class I am taking online.
The big problem/ barrier with audio video technology resources is a lack of uniformity. One of the best school programs I have seen in person is GHS TV at Germantown High School. The program at the time incorporated several teachers and ran a community access TV station 12 months a year. This is a great program to follow if you have that kind of financial support. However just a few miles away in Memphis Tennessee, teachers were patching together consumer grade equipment. So when you are researching material it may be hard to find a program that has similar resources. The best thing is to find your information from other programs in your community and state. This makes it easier to sort out this information. I was down the road from GHS at the time so it was easy for me to distinguish the differences in our programs.
It is better now then when I started out. I had a few websites I visited pretty regularly but that was it. Now I participate in list serves and Facebook groups. It is much easier to post a question then to find a source online. You can get answers from across the county from programs that are similar.
Another barrier with online information is some of the information leaves room for discussion. Most media specialists will tell you that it is ok to to use 30 seconds of copyrighted material in your projects. However the Student Press Legal Center will tell you something different. I have seen tons of conflicting information. I have my own interpretations through my experience. I tell my students to rely on their employer or teacher when dealing with sticky information.
The following post is for an online class I participating in.
As part of this assignment I had to collect a list of reputable online resources. I created this webmix using symbaloo to share these resources. The webmix I created is for teachers and students studying audio video and film technology. I included professional organizations, established film and video programs, learning tools and online tutorials. This is a list I have been building on for years. In the process, I learned some of the resources had moved and some were better.
The tools I use the most are the Student Television Network, Rocket Jump Film School and Film Riot. Film and video is a tricky area for students to do research. It is best to give them this list of resources and have them stick to that. I would define what research they should be doing and give them and require them to use these reputable sources to insure they are getting the correct information.
I am not sure if I invented it or saw it somewhere, but I have been teaching camera composition the same way for at least the last twelve years. I know a few others teachers that have a similar lesson to teach camera composition. The students take still photos for a scavenger hunt, then label the photos, and then create a powerpoint. The technology has evolved to a point where this project is getting easier and the pictures are better quality.
To start this assignment, I show the students a short powerpoint on different shots and provide them with different examples. I explain to the students that everyone has a slightly different definition on shot composition. It important for them to understand this because you can find some resources that explain composition slightly different. This might confuse a student who doesn’t pay careful attention. I rely on my professional experience and my textbooks to define what I require on this assignment.
In the past, I had the students take pictures with the still camera or sometimes with a video camera capable of stills. This project would take a while because I only had a few cameras and I would send the students out two at time to take pictures. Thanks to cell phones most of students do not need to use the school cameras to complete this project. So, a few years ago, I changed this from a partner project to an individual project.
Another benefit of using cell phones is that the students are no longer limited by their location. Most of the pictures were taken in locations just outside my classroom, but now students no longer need to be at school to take the pictures. The results of having a larger location base was that I had students turn in some really good looking pictures. Gone are the days of student taking pictures with a cinder block backdrop and florescent lighting (boring).
The next advantage is, I have been able to decrease the time needed to complete this project. Not only can the student upload the photos quickly to the computers, but they can also do their entire project on their phone. I no longer require the students to use powerpoint, and now I ask them to use Google Slides. They can work on their project on their phone, on a computer at home, or at school by logging into a Google Account. This semester I will give the students the option to turn in their project in as a Google Photo Album.
In the past, when they they did this assignment, they only took a few photos and many of them were incorrect. They felt rushed to take the pictures because someone was waiting to get the camera, and they had a limited amount of storage space. To overcome this, they had to delete the photos that were left on the card. My assignment only requires fifteen photos to make sure the students have a good grasp on camera composition, but I recommend taking much more than that.
Today, I had one student take only twenty photos, another take ninety-six and one take over two hundred. Now, they can afford to take more pictures until they get the picture they want. I am challenging students to show me something I haven’t seen before by using angles and lighting to their advantage. I have also made this a contest by telling them I would use the best ones in an article I was posting online. The downfall is not every student has a phone.
I know it is hard to believe. I still have a few who have broken their phone, or they refuse to clear up space on it. Others supposedly get grounded from their phone, or run the battery down before class. I started my lesson this year by explaining how to use Google Photos and letting them know it had unlimited storage. Still, I had to pull out some old still cameras to let them use for the projects. A benefit of this is, students working on their own device are finishing their project faster. The last two semesters I have had some talented students finish the assignment in one day!
Next year, I plan on adding lighting to this assignment. I want the students to experiment with lighting. The students will take photos that are backlit, overexposed, and underexposed. If the student can master this assignment we can make great looking projects all year long! One time, the students caught me experimenting, with lighting, while they were working on their projects, and they began taking their own lighting pictures.
Another thing I am experimenting with, is having the students do this project in a completely different format. When I first started, we were using video cameras with tape. Back then to have the students do this assignment as a video, would take way too long. It would a lot quicker these days. I have one student who is doing drawings on a computer. I would like to see someone, who is interested in animation, doing this as one.
Here is a list of the pictures I have been using for the assignment:
XCU of an object
XCU of a person
MS of someone wearing a green or gold shirt
MS of someone near the vending machines/ someone in the stands
LS of someone walking (lead room)
MCU of someone in front the media center/ someone near the gym entrance/ football gates
MCU of someone in the cafeteria/ MCU of someone cheering
I have heard that the best camera is the one you have in your hand. I couldn’t agree more after my experience this morning. I was letting the dogs outside and realized my hibiscus had bloomed. There was just something about the light at the moment that made be grab my phone and take a couple of pictures.
After looking at my pictures, I decided to get my good camera, put on the 50 mm and take a few. This was a little difficult because I was standing on chair that was shaking, and constantly adjusting the composition, settings and the focus ( some manual and some autofocus) while trying to keep the house out of the shot.
You can take a look at the my 8 best shots from the good camera. There is no such thing as a few pictures with my good camera. They are good but I believe the iPhone was better in terms of convenience and quality. In the my good camera’s defense, the lens fogged up and perhaps the sun had moved by the time I took the second shots. I don’t know you be the judge. First the iPhone.
I was going to post a blog explaining why I was so busy, I have not posted my Bring Your Own Technology Video. However since Hunter has already done it on Curious Intentions site. I guess there is no need too.
I was hoping by now to have a BYOT video to share. I am working on writing the first 12 episodes which I plan on releasing every 2 weeks. This should get me enough videos to last until the Christmas break. I will record all the episodes over several days. Then I will edit them as needed. So far I have 3 scripts close to being finished. They would all be finished but this has been a busy summer.
Last year, we were told to not say we were busy. Apparently, it is better to give people the impression that you are ignoring them then to say you are busy. Actions speak louder than words, but that is a topic for another time. Anyway I have been busy. For someone who works as a teacher 9 months of the year, I would expect to have had more free time in the last month. Nothing could be further from the truth. This isn’t a bad thing. I am enjoying everything I am doing. With that being said something is going to get missed. In this case my BYOT videos.
Since the last day of May, I have sold, recorded, edited and mailed 50 copies of my school’s graduation. This could have been done quicker at my school, but I was trying to finish before my last day of work. For the first time since I began, I didn’t work additional days to complete the task. This was made possible by working all weekend and by chasing down the person for the last video sold to hand them their copy, instead of mailing it.
The very same day, I recorded several episodes of Tap That. This has been our regular routine dedicating one day a week to working on Curious Intentions projects. We have hit a few bumps in the road, but we have kept a good schedule. For an example, we are excited about the new iOS but should we continue to produce videos for the old iOS. So we are going to put out one video a week until iOS 7 is released.
The first day of June, I met with the producers of a children’s film to discuss working with them on a low budget film. So now I am working on it. We have had casting and the shooting begins next weekend.
The 2nd week of June brought the 48 hour film project which I participated in. This was my first time to direct, this type of project. My house served as team headquarters. So in addition to working the film, I had to clean up before and after the event, cook and host. That tacks on another 24. Here is the finished project.
Not long after finishing the film, we were meeting with an Atlanta director who pitched us a project for next summer. Most of this week was a blur because we were recovering from the 48 hour event.
The next week I went to the screening for our 48 hour entry. The other big item was brainstorming for a script for this summer.
So here it is I have been busy. It has been a lot of fun. I hope to have a BYOT video out soon, but it is looking kinda b….. Well I would rather not say.