At the Apple Store: When the Cynical Me Met the Maker Me

Storyboards
My youngest son is participating in a free “Movie Making Camp” through our local Apple Store. The cynical side of me thinks, This is such a sneaky way to get parents and kids into the Apple Store and get us hooked on Apple products. (not that we aren’t, already). But the kinder, more generous side of me — the Maker/Educator  me — thinks, This is a free and accessible way for any kid to learn how to make movies, and how can that opportunity be anything but a good thing?

Apple Camp. Creative creatures wanted.

It’s a three day camp that goes for about 90 minutes each day, run by three energetic young Apple people, and my son had a blast yesterday as they began learning about the basics of making movies on mobile devices. Now, my son has made movies before and much of what they are telling him he already knows. That didn’t matter. He is still enjoying it.

What the Maker/Educator Me liked about it?

They began with work away the iPads completely, by focusing in on the storyboarding process. It was a neat image, all of these young kids bent over their storyboard papers, mapping out a short movie project that they will be completing in just a few days. Now, parents are required to stay in the store (Keep quiet, Cynical Me!) and the program leaders offered up storyboards to all the parents, too. (See, Maker/Educator Me?)

I was on the only parent to accept a storyboard and as the kids were drawing and planning, I began working out my own movie idea, too. I guess no other adults wanted to play. But I sure as heck did.

After the storyboarding, they (we) moved into learning how to use the Garageband App to create their own original music that will become the soundtrack for the movie itself. Making original music? (Well, as original as it is when it is constructed out of loops). I’m down with that. I always have fun with the GB app.

Their homework assignment was to shoot about four minutes of video, based on their storyboard. The final version will be about 2 minutes long, or less. My son is working on this neat idea, inspired by the Fruit Ninja game, that involves fruit, a large knife, and a blender. Let’s just say, it does not end well for the fruit. We spent about 45 minutes shooting his raw video, and then I bribed him to be the star of my movie called Bottom of the Ninth, which is based on him playing whiffle ball in the backyard. We spent another 30 minutes shooting that raw video, which I shot and then edited entirely on the iPad last night. I was curious if I could do it all on the iPad. Yes, I could, and did.

Storyboards

For a free camp, the Movie Camp is pretty nifty. I’ll keep the Cynical Me at bay here so that the creative spirit can be open to possibilities, particularly when it embraces a shared ethos of allowing kids to be creators, not just consumers, of movies. On Friday, all the kids will be sharing their short movies, so that should be a hoot. I’ll share out mine here later this week.

Peace (at camp),
Kevin

 

My Son’s Short: Chase Your Dreams

Video award (my son)
My eldest son and high school friends recently won an award from an Electronic Media Festival that took place at a local community college. He submitted a short film that he and his friends shot in the high school category, and their movie came in second place. We had a scheduling conflict, so we could not go the event itself, but apparently, they showed the winning movies on a massive screen, which is pretty neat.

And he got a neat engraved Laser Disc as an award.

Here is their movie short (the ending is a bit too violent for my tastes and the whole thing has an purposefully creepy feel to it — right down to the soundtrack). You’ll notice at the very end a reference to a larger movie project that has been in the works (and might be on hold right now for all I know) for a full-scale zombie movie that they have written together collaboratively.
Chase Your Dreams.

Peace (in the flick),
Kevin

Writing in Reverse

The Daily Create yesterday was a video create, telling a story backwards. Pressed for time, I used writing as my means for digital editing play. I had this idea of filming the writing of a sentence that could read forward and reverse, and then reversing the video so that it read reverse and forward. Or something like that. It didn’t come out exactly as I envisioned it but it’s pretty cool anyway.
And short. It’s wicked short.

Peace (in the vid),
Kevin

More Video Composition: Learning Walkabouts

I am still playing around with a new video app — PicPlayPost — that allows you to mix and stitch multiple videos together into one. It’s pretty nifty. The other day, I tried it for a short poem just to experiment with different angles and how to arrange the sequence of videos (with the app, you can have them run all at once or one after another).

Then, after some snow yesterday, I went out and used the Learning Walk/Walkabout idea to capture my yard for the #walkmyworld project. I’ve done this periodically with still images, but it was interesting to see it as a video montage.

When my friend, Molly, saw the Learning Walk, she took some video of where she lives in Florida and emailed me the videos. I then worked them into the montage as a collaborative effort — with her Florida videos mixed in with my Massachusetts video. I’m always up for a collaborative idea.

Peace (in the screens within screens),
Kevin

Vine: Crafting a Video Poem That Eats Itself

Way back in June, when I first started to use the Vine app (with its six seconds of video limit) with the Making Learning Connnected MOOC, I pondered how one might conceive of it as more than a documentation of life. I wondered if there were ways to tell a story in just six seconds. I played around with Vine and created this “story” of a letter to the future. It sort of worked. I guess.

I’m still pondering Vine, it turns out, and the #walkmyworld project (of documenting our world in social media) has brought the video app back into focus because organizer Ian O’Byrne has suggested that folks use Vine as a way to do that documenting. I’ve since shared a few Vines, particularly of my house as I wander through my day. And I have kept an eye out for pieces about Vine to help me think about its possibilities. (Check out this post of Six Second Movies and there is even a Tribeca Six Second Film Fest.)

But my friend Molly Shields has been openly mulling over  how to use Vine as digital storytelling platform. Me, too. And with the expected future shift of #walkmyworld into digital poetry (in my previous post, I stumbled on the term of “video haiku” to define Vine, and I still like that way of imagining it), I had a few Twitter-based conversations with Molly about how to go about doing that.

You have to think of the limitations: six seconds does not allow for a lot of lines of poetry. The looping effect of Vine is intriguing because it brings the end of the poem right back to the start of the poem. If you don’t consider that effect, the poem could have a jarring effect — stopping suddenly and restarting.

During the afternoon, as I was at my son’s basketball game, a poem came to me. I didn’t have paper, so I had to jot it down in the back cover of the book I was reading. I tinkered with words, trying to make it fit within the limitations and trying to make it resemble a snake eating itself — an MC Escher of a poem that wraps back on itself. I didn’t have my ipad with me, so the writing was the heart of what I was doing, even as I had a mental stopwatch in my head. The people next to me probably though I was a lunatic, mouthing the words and watching my son’s game clock to keep track of seconds. (ha)

Here is the poem:

I think in ink –
I burrow thoughts that shrink
down to the screen
when …

It turns out the writing was the easy part. Shooting the video was much more difficult , and I tried a few different ways to get at it until I decided on taking three angled shots, reading parts of the poem as I looked off into the distance. I’m not sure I like it, though. Not because of the way the video came out but because the visual lacks an important element: metaphor. I realize now that I should have lifted a small screen (iPod or something) in the last frames.

Ack.

We write. We play. We experiment. We learn.

Peace (along the vines of creativity),
Kevin

PS — In 2012, at NCTE, I gave an Ignite Talk about short-form writing. I wonder how it might be different now with Vine and other media apps in the mix.

 

 

Reading Video: What We See When We Watch

I am bit behind in my DS106 assignments (I know, that’s OK) and this week’s theme is all about “reading movies” by having us analyze video clips from films. I love that they shared out Roger Ebert’s classic “How to Read a Movie” piece, which really digs deep into the contextual and compositional art of filmmaking.

One of our assignments is to find three clips of scenes from movies and turn a critical eye on what we see. Here are the three that I chose and my analysis:

I have the sound off. I don’t think I need it. All of the emotion is in his face, or the lack of emotion, right? I turn the sound up and I hear him typing. Notice the long pauses? There are fewer and fewer of those in movies these days. But here, as the camera moves in closer, it has an impact. And normally, a shot of a computer? Frigging boring. But the decision around friending is a key part of this movie, and the shuttling back and forth of the lens is very effective. Music kicks in around 40 seconds, just as he leans back to reconsider what to do. Nice touch.  This is the final scene, so we get an update on how it all turned out. But is he happy?

Use of white space here. To represent emptiness inside of the Matrix. Lens spins, giving us and him the feeling of being disorientated.  The use of lens here is important. I know a lot has been written about his sunglasses here, but as a visual symbol, they are important. The viewer leans in, half expecting to see themselves in the glasses, right? I find it interesting that the props are furniture. And notice how the television is “old school” — showing the dichotomy between the ideas and the scene, and the plot that is emerging in the movie.

Short clip, mostly showing Ted Night’s arching eyebrows and wide mouth. Perfectly in tune to character. Turn off the sound, and you can still guess the tone of his language. The sarcasm drips. Not much in terms of filmmaking style but casting actors who can inhabit a character is critical for a film like Caddyshack. Not just Ted Night. Can you imagine this movie without Bill Murray? No way!

Peace (in the composition),
Kevin

Playing with MixBit as Video Remixer

The founders of YouTube have put out a new video tool called MixBit, which is sort of like Vine and the Instagram video tool but with the twist of remixing. I’m still figuring it out, but here is a video of my dog on the floor.

What the site does is divide up your video into segments, and allows you to remix the video in other ways (or use segments from other people’s videos, which is interesting and worth investigating).
Here, I remixed some of my dog with some other dogs and cats on the site.

You know when something is new and you are still figuring out the possibilities? That’s where I’m at with MixBit right now.
Peace (in the mixing of bits),
Kevin
PS — Firefox does not yet play nice but Chrome works fine.

 

Considering Twine as Video Haiku: Letter to the Future

Yesterday, a colleague in the National Writing Project’s Making Learning Connected MOOC made an observation about the Twine video app that brought something into focus for me. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl observed that while the six second limit on the video is short, one could almost imagine using twine as “haiku” and that reminded me of an interview that I read in Wired Magazine with the creators of Twine about how they envision folks having just enough time to film 2 second beginnings, 2 second middles, and 2 second endings to create a short narrative.

At first, I was thinking: yeah right.

Two seconds to set a story in motion and four seconds to complete it? It seems almost impossible to do so. But then Elyse’s comment about video haiku kept coming into my mind — what we did see the video in three parts. I wondered if it would be possible to tell a story in six seconds. How could you film something and leave much of it out? What would you expect the audience to infer?

A story began to form in my head … of writing to your future self. The story would begin with an envelope, addressed from the present self to the future self (in clear lettering, easy for viewer to read quickly); the next part would be crumpled up papers, showing frustration about what to write — and these would be mostly negative starts; and then ending would be a letter about love, being stuffed into the envelope to the future self. It would capture in six seconds the idea of what we want to pass on to ourselves in the years down the road. Hopefully, that would be love, and not worries, fears, and negative energy.

Thus, the short film:

What do you think? Although I shot the video in three short takes, I thought about the “story” for hours yesterday, visualizing how I would film it. Six seconds? Not a lot of time. But if you think of it like video haiku — three parts, looping over and over, hinting at something larger– Vine as a venue for storytelling starts to have possibilities.

See what you can make and share it out. Let’s inspire each other to push the technology in creative directions. Tell a story. You have just six seconds. Make each second count.

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

 

 

 

Using Vine: Coffee and the #CLMOOC in the Morning

 

I’ve had the Vine video app (6 seconds and that’s it) on my iPad for some time now, trying to figure out how to use it. I am a fan of the concept of “short” (see my Ignite presentation from NCTE) so this seems like it would be a natural fit for me to try out. But I remain a bit at a loss of how to shoot a meaningful six second video. I mean, six seconds … that’s not just short — that’s wicked short (as they say here in New England.)

But with other friends in the Making Learning Connected MOOC starting to share their own vines, and looking for others to become part of the experience, I dug out the app again this morning, and decided to capture how important coffee is to my morning reading and writing experience. I sequenced it out in my head with four short scenes, and … it’s not bad, I guess.

Still, I continue to wonder … how might we tell a story in six seconds. A plot. A character or two. Dialogue? Still thinking that one over …

Peace (in the shortie shorts),
Kevin