iBook Production – Camera Composition

I mentioned that I worked on an iBook, a few weeks ago.  I promised to share a copy.  I created a form to download a PDF copy.  Here is the download link:

A few weeks later, I discovered iBook Creator and created a similar book in the EPUB format.

Email me if you have any suggestions holcomb.ca@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter and subscribe to my blog for more upcoming ideas for your media classroom.

Film and Technology in the classroom



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The New Way to Teach Camera Composition: the scavenger hunt revisited

By: C. Holcomb

Photo by C. Bundy

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).

Photo by K Cochran

 

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!

Photo by C. Gill

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.

 

Students drawing the shots on a computer.

Here is a list of the pictures I have been using for the assignment:

 

  1. XCU of an object
  2. XCU of a person
  3. MS of someone wearing a green or gold shirt
  4. MS of someone near the vending machines/ someone in the stands
  5. LS of someone walking (lead room)
  6. MCU of someone in front the media center/ someone near the gym entrance/ football gates
  7. MCU of someone in the cafeteria/ MCU of someone cheering
  8. XLS of a group of students
  9.  2 shot   
  10. a shot with a canted angle
  11. CU shot of someone in profile
  12. a shot that shows great depth of field
  13. a shot that shows shallow depth of field
  14. a eagle eye shot
  15. a low angle shot

I hope this helps and email me if you have any suggestions holcomb.ca@gmail.com.  If you would like to see how I define the shots above, you can download this short ebook to your favorite reader.

Follow me on twitter and subscribe to my blog for more upcoming ideas for your media classroom.

 

The best camera is the one you have in your hand.

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.  Image

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. 

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Now the C……

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Status Update

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.

So here it is.  Summer 13 Projects

Bring Your Own Technology Update

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.

My first experiences with bring your own technology

My school district started a BYOT policy this year. At first everyone thought this meant that we were going to install Wifi and that everyone would have access immediately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Essentially, we just said that we are going to officially allow something that students have been doing for a while. Since it was official, that we could allow technology in our rooms, I decided to take advantage of this. For years I have told the students that use of certain types of technology were officially against the rules. At the same time the students were telling me that were using technology (camera and phones) in front of officials with no consequences. Apparently, I was the only one who read the rule book and I had the most to lose by following the rules.

My first trial was by allowing students to use Google Docs turn in an assignments in class. Only a few of the students experimented with this option. Instead they chose not to turn it in at all by not printing it out.

My second trial was to have the students do a exam review sheet collaboratively. I did this in class. This is usually something the students dread doing. I thought by adding the technology aspect that my student would participate more. It was kind of novelty approach, but I had the students log in from school laptops to work on this document together. I thought it was such a neat idea that I invited others to come watch the review and my success or failure live. I would like to say that everyone came to watch but instead no one even commented on the idea. I was hoping that the students would then in turn work on the notes outside of class and use them to study. I am happy to say that several of the students did just that.

photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

I kicked it up a notch this semester by incorporating smart phones and devices into the mix. When I am teaching my students camera shots, I have them do a scavenger hunt by taking pictures around the school and putting them into a powerpoint. This project takes forever since I have only 5 still cameras so we do it 5 at a time. So this year I wrote new directions for this assignment that involved my students all taking pictures at the same time. I also created a Google doc that explained how to upload, rename and share the photos with me. By doing this assignment the BYOT way it would take less time. They could even turn in the assignment while riding on the bus to school. Then I took the students out of my classroom for 2 days to take the pictures. Not everyone had a device or turned in the BYOT paperwork for the assignment. Those students had to use my cameras. This is the only reason that it took 2 days to take the pictures. The assignment was due a couple weeks ago and I am in the process of grading them. Don’t judge, we had a lot of students out of class for sickness or other activities and I was waiting until most of them were turned in. The students who got the idea behind the assignment did great. I used these students to help the others turn in the assignment. It wasn’t that I hadn’t given them time to do the assignment, but they were having trouble using their smart device as tool and not a toy. Some of the students were missing part of the assignment and did not go back and do these outside of class. For instance, taking a picture of someone at their locker. This does not require me to take them on a special class trip because they see that several times a day. After speaking with these students they were really reluctant to try anything new on their device. Most had not downloaded the recommended app or viewed the directions online. They were comfortable posting pictures on Facebook, but not uploading the pictures to Google doc. These students are only going to go forward with technology when they see it socially beneficial. They were all very bright students but did not want to geek out.

Based on my last project, I don’t know that my students are ready for BYOT. I don’t mean it was not successful in my classroom. I believe that the students do not see the benefit of the technology that is sitting right in their own hands. They are too excited to be able to say I own an iPhone and buying a pretty case, but not in using them for anything else. I think it is was a lot more exciting to use them when they were hiding them underneath their desk to text their friends.

I spend a lot of time trying to teach people how to use their iPhone with my videos. I wish people would not purchase these devices, if they are not going to take the time learn how to use them. Why spend several hundred dollars on a device that does everything, if you are just going to use it for texting, tweeting and Facebooking. I am just mad I can’t do more with my technology.

Best iPad Apps for Classroom Video Production part 2

In my previous blog, I posted that I was going to make a video about the different apps I recommended. At the time, I did not realize how work was going to be interrupted for the next couple weeks. I have started several blogs in the last 2 weeks, but sadly none of them are finished. So I decided to do something different. I have created a video playlist on my personal YouTube site. To be honest I was playing around with this first on my school site. I wanted to put have a place for my students to go to learn about or get help with an app. I have included some tutorials and examples made from the apps I include in my list. I like YouTube playlists since I am free to add more videos at a later date.

After finishing the previous blog, I thought about a few other related apps that I should have included on my list. I was also impressed at the people had shared my blog with others so I felt it was my duty to do something else. BTW as someone who is new to blogging that is quite a thrill. Thanks.

So here are a few other apps I recommend:

Google Drive – free – When you finish your videos you are going to need to store the finished product. Uploading to YouTube may not be an option at your school or you may not want to share the product with the world. After the video is uploaded, it can be shared with the teacher for archiving and grading and deleted from the device.

iMotion HD This app allows you to make time-lapse videos. The app allows you set how often a photo is taken. After you are finished you can set the playback speed for how many frames per second. Included on the playlist, is a project I made while on vacation at the beach. In the video I posted I recorded the sunrise. It was difficult because I could not tell what was going to be in the shot when I started. If you look carefully you can see me taking photos on the beach.
I also started a playlist for the best photo apps and tutorials. I will write a blog on this shortly. For now here is a playlist.