Thursday, May 1, 2008

"The Funniest Video Ever"

It happens every year. There are students that think they know everything about making videos and are going to make the Funniest Video Ever!
Unfortunately this is usually what happens:

Class time to work on scripts and shooting schedules- the FVE group- having a great time discussing story ideas that are only tangentially related to the assignment, some things written down “We’re going to do the shooting at my house after school”.

Class time to shoot and clear up other issues- FVE “Yeah, we are going to do the shooing at home” “The script, that’s at home, don’t worry it is going to the Funniest Video Ever!”

Class time for editing and reshooting- FVE-“Yeah, we’re going to all come over to my house tonight and do the video, don’t worry I can edit, want to see my uTube videos?”

Day before the project is due, most groups finished and projects are burned to DVD- FVE-“Yeah, we are going to shoot and finish it tonight, you want that on DVD? I don’t know, is it OK if we show it from the camera? I don’t know if we can make a DVD, Oh we haven’t shot any video, do you think we need lights to shoot outside at night? What kind of lights? Oh yeah, the camera has night vision, so it’s cool.” “Wait until you see it, it is going to be The Funniest Video Ever.”

Video Show Day- all projects are shown to the class, some very good projects, some OK projects, but all worked hard and met the requirements except- FVE- Umm, can we turn it in tomorrow, we have just a few things left to do, we are going to finish it at my house tonight”

The Next Morning- FVE group brings in the camera to show the video from, or sometimes a CD with a small format movie. The rubric stated the video was to be turned in as a DVD. “Wait until you see it, it is like hilarious, it is the Funniest Video Ever.” The video starts, noise in the background, wind noises in the microphone, laughter in the sound. They left the day/time stamp on the video it was shot over a short period last night. The video is pretty much one take of something, don’t know what because the sound is awful. Lots of video of the group laughing, as they laugh watching it. “We ran out of time, so we did not get all the shots” None of the points on the Rubric are met.

This is actually a good learning experience, hopefully, for the Funniest Video Ever group. Part of what we want to accomplish in a unit like this is time management and planning. To effectively do video planning is necessary. Back from the era of my doing video, I learned that shooting is the shortest part of the production, while you are shooting, you are losing money had over fist. This is not the case with student produced video, but I try to instill in them that planning makes the shooting easier and the clips go together better. Most get this lesson, and the Funniest Video Ever group, learns this better than most.

Which brings me around to the “students know more about computers than we do” argument. I don’t buy it. Some students know some applications real well, such as MySpace or uTube. How much of this knowledge is transferred? They have the tools, but we need to guide and help them use the tools as effectively as possible.

As with anything, tools make the job easier and hopefully better. We can teach writing with pencil and paper or with a word processor. I never really learned to write very well using handwriting. But using the word processing tool, I can write something that people can read, not that many do. Students can make things on the computer, but what is the content? I can use PhotoShop fairly well, but my creativity level is near zero. What good does that do me? We have got to allow for more creativity in the students, and give them the necessary tools. I somewhat like the idea of introducing programs to students as they ask for them to do their work, rather than show the program and then add an assignment.

Tools are important, and the right tool is very helpful. I have a wood shop in my basement; does this make me a Greg Johnson or Wendell Castle? Far from it, I can do a serviceable job. I can shoot photographs, but I am no Ansell Adams or for that matter Sally Sakshaug. Tools are tools, we must work to use them correctly and teach students how to best use them for their education.

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