CinemaOwls take flight!

This November the YouTube channel “CinemaOwls” was officially hatched. This channel was created for Kelowna Secondary School’s film and media production classes. Before taking flight, though, there were many details to consider and address. My school administration approved the concept, but with the understanding that a letter and permission form would be discussed with students and given to parents. With the help of my students I created the following letter and form which was sent home. (Parent Letter – YouTube)

The next step was for my students to finish their projects (see The Big Picture post for details about the project). Students were challenged and sometimes frustrated by the web tools, but I assured them that’s part of the process. Our goal was to test drive these tools precisely so we could document the process about what worked or (equally important) what didn’t work. As projects finished we learned together how to move them from point A to B – it wasn’t a matter of only linking or embedding the films because the ultimate goal was to put them on our channel. So we had to figure out how to upload the films to YouTube.

It turns out that saving the films in a YouTube friendly format can be tricky. We were working with material from both Mac and PC platforms with every different format extension imaginable. Together we problem solved how to do this and many students commented on how much they learned along the way. I echoed their sentiments because I was (and still am) learning along with them. This project was a departure from the usual films we make because we had to rely heavily (in some cases entirely) on the web for the resources and support we’ve needed.

The web tool project allowed our school a gradual introduction to using a YouTube channel. The majority of the posted material did not involve students appearing on camera, and with this reduced risk it somehow seemed easier to see the potential of such a channel. This also allowed students more comfort with experimentation –  particularly since the film is really a test of the web tool. In retrospect, I’m glad we did this because is serves as a great foundation on which to build, and we now have more experience with the whole process as we move into upcoming film projects that are more typical of my film production classes.

I must thank my group of Grade 12 filmmakers (Justin, Sheldon, Jessie, Michelle, Anthony, J-Lee, and Sean) who helped get this channel up and running. We look forward to receiving feedback about our films on CinemaOwls. I will also encourage my students to constructively comment on other work they see, and to appreciate the connections they make.  I know all my students look forward to sharing more films in the future (watch for our Film Noir projects in the New Year!).

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5 responses to “CinemaOwls take flight!

  1. I was judging our school’s talent show last week and was blown away at the secret wonders of our school: those students with passions and interests outside the realm of sports or… well, sports. Watching amongst the glow of countless cellphone cameras, I thought it a shame that our school wasn’t doing as much to promote its students as they were – guerrilla style.

    Dean Shareski had a post over the summer, I believe, about the potential the read write web offers to publicize student achievements in the classroom, as well as in areas of performance – or animation, production, or others. The concern is privacy, as if lauding the hoops star on the front of the local paper – with full name published alongside photo and school information – hadn’t been common practice throughout public education’s facination with sports.

    With more and more going on around our school that I think needs to be shared, and will do us well to be shared, a YouTube channel – or another similar means of communication – seems close at hand, though if not for this post, I may not have been so inclined to push for it!

    Thank you for sharing your progress!

  2. What a great idea. I have added Cinema Owls to my list of sites where I will have my students comment on other students’ work as part of the comments4kids effort started by Mr. Chamberlain. The comments should start appearing about Feb 1 since our second semester starts 1/18.

    I will also add you post to my collection of useful tools for teachers.

    Best wishes in your efforts. You are off to a great start.

    My EDM310 Fall 2009 Class Blog will be replaced next semester by a permanent EDM 310 Class Blog not restricted to one semester.
    John Strange

  3. My post recommending your work to my students can be found on my post Cinema Owls in Canada.

  4. This site is great, your students are full of talent and you have found it! You have helped them take their hidden wonders and bring them out for the world to see! It is wonderful that you take the time with your students to learn and try new things. I will visit “CinemaOwls” often, so I can check out the latest production.

  5. Thanks for you support Tabitha! I’ll make sure I pass along your comments to my students.
    Look for 3 new films to be posted by the end of March! One explores lighting and post-production special effects, the other 2 are film noir pieces. The students are just tweaking the final products, and then must submit their rationale for the film (which appears in the Info section on YouTube). The ‘Info’ component has proved very important as students reflect on the reasons why they created the film and the techniques they used.

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