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!).