“As moving images become easier to create, easier to store, easier to annotate and easier to combine into complex narratives, they also become easier to be remanipulated by the audience. “-Kevin Kelly from the article Becoming Screen Literate
When I was in high school, one of my best Rob and I would try to convince our teachers to allow us to make videos for pretty much any project assigned. All told, we were only allowed to do this on a handful of occasions, but we had a lot of fun doing it. We used his camcorder to get footage and a pair of VCRs to shoddily edit the clips together. We weren’t very ‘skilled’ but we got the job done. I’m sure we spent much more time on our homemade film version of Beowulf than other kids in our class spent writing their essays. I know for a fact that our classmates got a much bigger kick out of watching our short film than I did proofreading their papers.
It has been a long time since graduation day and Rob and I don’t spend nearly enough time together these days. I haven’t tried much video editing since digital cameras and computer editing has taken over. A few times, I made an effort, but the wide range of options and variables threw me off. I thought it was too complicated and gave up. While I wasn’t paying attention, video was actually getting much easier to manipulate. I mean, a lot of the folks posting hundreds of videos on Youtube.com aren’t exactly film experts. Why did I give up on the tech so easily?
Recently, I (almost accidentally) made a little film that reminded me how fun it is to play with moving pictures and share them with others. A colleague at school had captured a lot of images from a middle school play-day activity and asked me to share it at an assembly. After looking at it, I didn’t really see how I could string the shots together. There were a lot of clips of kids milling around, some dodge ball and tug-o-war footage, and a hodge-podge of running and jumping. The only thing really entertaining bits were shots of the middle school principal goofing off with the kids, but that total footage was limited. What could I do with this?
iMovie to the rescue! I opened I movie and started poking around. I noticed that a lot of their movie trailer templates only take clips of ten to twenty seconds. Quickly, I dropped tiny bits of the footage into an action trailer template and modified the displayed text. What I created is not fine art. However, what I created poked fun (good-natured fun) at the principal and elicited big laughs and applause from the students and faculty. It might not have been a classroom teaching tool, but I believe that my small piece of digital storytelling played a tiny part in building our middle school community, all in under 60 seconds.
What do you think? (The title of the film makes sense only if you know that our principal’s name is Mr.Phan.)
This little experiment has renewed my interest in amateur movie making. I hope to continue playing with movie-making technology and incorporate digital storytelling in my classroom sometime in the near future. Coming soon to a classroom near you…