Tag Archives: YouTube

Adventures in eci831

This film was made as a summative reflection on my experiences in the University of Regina course eci831 (Social Media and Open Education) with Dr. Alec Couros. The music stings at the beginning and end are from Blind_Lemon_Jefferson_One_Dime_Blues (public domain from archive.org).


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!).

The Big Picture

cc licensed flickr photo shared by the1secondfilm

I recently approached the administration in my school district about creating a YouTube channel for my media and film production high school students. The purpose of the channel would be twofold – firstly, to showcase student work, and secondly (and more importantly), to allow my students to learn from each other. I’ve always had class sharing of all media or film projects, but they tended to be a “too short class viewing” followed by a quick critical discussion of the work (all within a 70 minute block). While this has worked, it didn’t allow for (easy) repeat viewings that are needed when checking out certain techniques or searching for deeper meaning. Students would now have both the opportunity and the time to see each others films and think about them beyond the walls of the classroom and the minutes of the typical school day.

The idea of a YouTube channel emerged because my students had been requesting it and it was clear to me their voices needed to be heard. It is something that has relevance to their world, but extends to an educational application. Some students even suggested they would be able to link their work to their resumes or post-secondary applications, while others wanted to be able to show their parents our work. Clearly we were heading in the right direction. The good news is the school district has supported this initiative.

When I approached the school district I provided some clear parameters for how we would use this high school channel. I would be in charge of uploading so care would be taken regarding security and privacy issues, and there would be clear quality control – it isn’t simply a matter of every project being posted. Students must use copyright free, or cleared material only (I’ll cross the mash-up and re-mix bridge when I get to it!). Students who appear on camera must have their parents sign a letter giving permission for this. We are still sorting out what to do with the credits, but we’ll start by only including students’ first names and last initials. I am hopeful this can be expanded to full names as we get a better sense of the cyber implications. If other issues arise we’ll keep all stakeholders informed and make decisions accordingly. It has been my experience when embracing new technologies that it works well to start slowly and then expand boundaries as understanding grows and the needs change.

One of the first projects we’re going to try on the channel is to experiment with one story told using a variety of web tools. This idea originates with Alan Levine (aka “cogdog”) who explored over 50 web tools to tell the story of his dog Dominoe. Not only will students learn the tools, but they will also figure out which ones worked better than others and why. The students have agreed on the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” because the story has a universal theme and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. We are just getting underway on this project so stay tuned for updates.

And now for the big picture!

I have discovered by using social media and web tools myself, that, in turn, my students share their similar interests. Out of this emerges a valuable dialogue that centres on creating a digital identity. Most of my students had never really given much thought to their digital footprint before (other than avoiding posting inappropriate photos on Facebook or elsewhere), and have welcomed the chance to talk about it. This discussion has led them to realize that creating their digital identity and managing their reputation is something they have a lot of control over, and it is both valuable and increasingly necessary in the world. Indeed, they begin to see both the forest and the trees.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Timo Kirkkala

The Story

In the spirit of digital storytelling I decided to create a short film for this post.

The Zen of Filmmaking

Today’s class reminded me of why I love teaching filmmaking so much. I was inspired to forego the usual written post and instead I made a short reflective film. I have to thank my daughter, Willa, for helping me shoot – she was the second unit and was busy shooting her treehouse and the door knobs while I had already started the bulk of the editing. She also composed the original music in Garageband. The entire film was shot using a Flip camera and was edited in iMovie.

I had adventures uploading this ( iMovie +the Flip camera + YouTube = frustration and low quality video). Final Cut Pro came to the rescue and I was able to do better (using H.264 for compression)… I’ve left up both (for now) as a comparison.


FinalCut Pro 

For those of you who were interested in the Spanish filmmaker I talked about in class today his name is Nacho Vigalondo. I particularly like his two films ‘7.35 de la mañana’ and Choque.

•A great place for alternative music or spoken word poetry is http://indiefeed.com/

They all speak video

Like many people I’ve watched viral videos on YouTube. I’ve also stumbled across a range of other types of videos – usually while searching for something else or simply poking around YouTube for a break from some other more pressing work. I watch the videos for their entertainment value, to figure our how they’re made and edited and, to learn things – like fixing my daughter’s iPod after it crashed (it worked!). But Michael Wesch’s words really caught my attention. I’ve always known that filmmaking is like learning another language, but this takes it a whole step further. The idea of the universality of video is, I think, its ability to reflect the common human experience. YouTube does this massively in ways that (I don’t think) we could have predicted. The very distance Wesch talks about gives us the freedom to expose much more of ourselves (depending on the website!) without constraints. I did notice that a number of his examples were people by themselves, looking into a web camera. Making a film is normally a collaborative experience – its just in this case the collaboration comes after the fact, after each filmmaker has shot their raw footage and offered it to the global production house.