Re-Envisioning the Failed Digital Composition

All hail the fail. So said my friend Terry the other day as part of his response to my post about a digital composition that I attempted that just did not work for me. But part of failing can also perseverance (a theme which we did a whole lesson around in the classroom the other day) and as I took in Terry’s comments via Vialogues (see below) and then read some reactions from another friend, Molly, I began to rethink how the piece might yet come together.

Here’s Terry’s comments on the composition and some of my responses:

Here is Molly’s tweet:

It was a combination of both of their voices, plus my own doubts, that stuck with me, and as I was out shoveling last night (for the fifth time that day), it dawned on me how I could maybe “fix” the failure, and it required moving away from the video app that had inspired the composition to begin with. I realized that the PicPlayPost app was one of my problems. It was Molly’s comment about finding a way to cut and connect that made me realize that I could use Popcorn Maker, perhaps, to re-engineer the video sequences, and cut out the Tellegami ads at the end of the videos, too. (which Terry agreed gave the composition a very halting effect).

So, here it is.

What’s interesting is that my original intention was to try to avoid a sequential left-to-right kind of video message and that is what I went back to. But with Popcorn, I could add another layer of music, and the project is now remixable by anyone who wants to give it a whirl. That was something that Molly could not do with PicPlayPost, although that was her first instinct (which I applauded). Popcorn can still act quirky at times, and is periodically laggy. But, if not completely at ease with how it came out, at least it better matches my vision.

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin

Warts and All: This Digital Composition Failed


This past weekend, I had this concept in my head about trying to make a statement about how the technology we use hems us in as much as it broadens our possibilities. I could see the pieces unfolding, as a series of videos told in a combination of contained tech-generated pieces that slowly move into a video piece with just me speaking in my own voice.

It looked great in my head.

I went into Tellegami and used the text option to create the first videos. I wanted that computerized voice to speak the lines about constraints (although this is no reflection on Tellegami, which I enjoy). Then, as the third piece unfolded, I would add my real voice to the mix, ending on the fourth video without Tellegami.

It doesn’t look so great on the screen.

In fact, I almost killed the whole thing after I published it because the effect for me is a big “yawn.” Instead, I figured might be valuable to figure out why it didn’t work. I’m so used to only sharing the pieces that I like and the ones that came together, but just like in the classroom where there should be a “warts and all” reality around solid writing (it doesn’t appear magically), I figured it might make sense to think about where this digital piece went off the rails for me.

First of all, I admit: I winged the writing. Normally, I would have spent more time writing what I wanted to say. Oh, I knew the “Message” of the piece but I forgot a crucial element: the rhythm of words as a whole piece so that each part is like a stanza of the poem so that each piece works off the other in a rather organic way. I was sort of rushed for time and decided to forgo writing down the “script” and the playing with words, as I so often do. So, instead, with each segment, I was inventing the lines in my head on the spot and each time I recorded (I had to do each a few times), it came out a little different. The result is something less than cohesive to me, to my ear. It doesn’t sound right. The words are not complementary to the whole.

Second, while I do like Tellegami, I was struck by some of the automated voice limitations and by the limitations of what the character looks like (I know, this is ironic, given the theme of the piece). I struggled to keep perspective on how these limitations could help the message, but I never bought it on the creative side. This push/pull nature of creating with digital tools can make for the frustrating experience of “settling for the results” as opposed to making it work the way your creative mind wants it to work. This is the tension around agency.

Third, I didn’t realize until later (or rather, I forgot) that Tellegami adds a little Tellegami tag at the end of each video. That’s what you get with a free app. Normally, it’s not a big deal. But here, where the piece is built around a hand-off of ideas from one video segment to another, that delay for advertising is jolting. Any cohesion immediately gets lost as we wait around for the ad to finish. That drives me crazy.

Finally, I used my latest favorite app (PicPlayPost) to pull the videos together into one media collage but tinkering with settings and playing with the layout never got me to where I wanted to be. I can’t explain what I was aiming for, really, except to say that the way the video “looks” is not how I “saw” it in my head, and that disconnect with the vision of the piece is why the entire composition fails for me. (And the audio levels drive me nutty, too, even though I did some tweaking with it. That has to do with my iPad, which is an older version and has some microphone difficulties).

I’d love to know what you, the outside observer, think about the piece. Be critical. I can take it.

:)

Peace (in the piece),
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

Screens Collide: A MultiMedia Collage Idea

My friend, Molly, shared out a new video app tool that is pretty nifty and cool.  PicPlayPost (costs $1.99) is a collage-style app, that allows you to do a Brady Brunch-style video with smaller videos embedded in the final product. I’m still working and playing with it but my brain is working out and wondering about how to use it more creatively. Is there a way to connect videos as a poem?

For now, I am just playing with some Vine videos from the #walkmyworld project.

My first attempt with the app was a version of a poem that I wrote and shared yesterday about walking my dog and thinking about teaching.

Here is the full poem as podcast and a link to the poem on Notegraphy.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The #Nerdlution Ends (for now)

(This is a piece for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers).
Untitled

As soon as I hit the submit button with a comment for Maureen’s blog post about deep learning, I sat back and thought, Fifty Days. If anyone else were in the room, I would have high-fived them. As it was, the dog was looking at me funny, with a tilted head, but he just wanted to get fed. He didn’t realize that the Nerdlution project, which began back in early December, was officially over. I had spent 50 days visiting 50 blogs, leaving 50 comments (one comment per day, although the reality was that once I started the routine, the habit took over and I tried to leave more here and there).

I’m one of those people who can’t quite let go of a project, so even though I know more than a few friends were not able to stick with it for a full 50 days (which seemed like a lot at the start and still seems like a lot at the end), I kept at it. It became a part of how I started my morning, looking for blog posts (ideally, via the #nerdlution hashtag but those started to run out on me, so I turned to related projects as blogs to read).

My aim was to visit blogs that I don’t normally visit, and engage in a conversation with other teachers. I did leave comments but I have not had time to go back and see where those breadcrumbs of words have gone. In fact, early on, I began to worry about this — how would I backtrack? So, I began with a Diigo bookmarking group, and then started to think about how to visually capture my 50 paths to 50 blogs.

I’ve always wanted to give Symbaloo a try, so that’s what I did. I set up a site, and began adding tiles every day as I left a comment.

Check it out:

My goal now is to begin a trail backwards through the blogs that I visited through the Nerdlution, and see what happened to my words and maybe keep the conversations going and flowing. I’d rather it not be a one-shot deal. I’d like to have conversations, and for all the hoopla over the power of blogging, that’s more difficult than it seems because keeping track of comments it not seamless, no matter how you do it (email updates, etc.)

I’m happy the Nerdlution took place and I am a little relieved that it is over, as I move into a few other projects.

Peace (in the goal),
Kevin

ReComposition: Variations on a Digital Poem

I got a bit obsessed yesterday with making variations of my poem, I Think in Ink, that I shared out as a looping Vine piece yesterday. I played around with some image apps and then, taking a cue from Terry, began to explore a site called Zeega, which is another media-combining site that is interesting to use.

Here’s how the poem came out:

I also turned on my audio recorder, taking notes as I went. These may or may not be of any interest to you. I paused in between things. It was more of a way to get me “thinking out loud.”

And here are two of the image renditions of the poem.
The first one uses an app that is a poetry wordcloud generator. I noticed that you could import an image as your background, so I did, taking a shot of my computer screen with the original poem in the center focus point.

Think in ink

The second one uses an app that takes an image and reconfigures it as another kind of word cloud. I took a shot of me, holding an ipod, and then tinkered with the main words from the poem, and spent quite some time toying around the with settings to get the design that I wanted.

Think in Ink 2

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Flocabulary Gets It Right: Civil Rights Hip-Hop Resource

MLK Day Dream

Flocabulary has a great musical resource available for remember Martin Luther King Jr. and honoring the Civil Rights movement. Along with the hip hop song that brings in words and imagery into the flow, the group provides a set of lyrics you can print out. Whenever I use Flocabulary and their mad rhymes, my students pay attention. The site even has a classroom view, allowing the video to come into center focus. You can’t embed the video in other sites because Flocabulary sells subscriptions (and periodically, makes resources like this one free).

Check it out.

And remember and honor the man whose voice continues to ring out and resonate with much of the country.

Peace (on this day),
Kevin

Book Review: Attack of the Killer Video Book

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61N7st80-cL.jpg

How’s that for a title, eh? Attack of the Killer Video Book. Along with a new video camera under our Christmas tree, my younget son received this fantastic book resource on how to make movies on the cheap. Written by Mark Shulman and Hazlitt Krog, with great illustrations from Martha Newbigging, this book is a perfect fit for any 9-year-old filmmaker. (I have the revised edition — Take 2 — but I am not sure what has been revised from the first edition.)

Told with a sense of humor and various illustrations and diagrams and cartoons, this book really gets at the heart of shooting a movie, from the initial storytelling, planning, technical aspects of setting up the camera and microphones, right through to editing software on the computer and publishing, and kicking back to enjoy the fruits of the labor. Plus, the book reminds you to bring along snacks for any friends who join you in making the movie. Snacks are important.

The writers even provide a sample script at the end of the book, as both a model and inspiration. I was very happy to see how much time is spent on the “good story” aspect of the moviemaking, which can be the most difficult element. For many young people, the whiz and bang of the shooting of video (bloopers anyone?) overtakes the desire to spend time on a good story to tell, but here, the writers push home the idea that a good story is at the heart of every good movie.

This book would be a good addition to any classroom, as I suspect there are budding filmmakers in our rooms, probably even students we would never suspect of it.

Peace (in the flick),
Kevin

 

Curating Flipboard: Interesting Education and Game Design/Learning


I’ve long used the Flipboard “magazine” app on the iPad to read article collections, around news, sports, music, humor and even some teaching.  I love the visual feel of the app, and how images, videos and words come together so nicely. It’s a great reading experience.

But this week, I remembered that anyone in Flipboard can also create and share their own flippable visual magazines. So I am diving in, with two magazines: Interesting Education (where I will curate articles about learning and technology that seem interesting .. to me, anyway) and Game Design and Learning (which is where we can learn more about how game design engages students as tinkerers, writers, and engineers and more). More magazines might come later …

My aim is to keep the magazines as fresh as I can, but I am still learning about the various ways to keep adding in new content, so if you subscribe to my magazines — thank you and be patient with me. I’m no Tina Brown or David Remnick.

Curation in the 21st Century World is an interesting thing. We bring in articles and media through our own lens of understanding, and yet we are limited too by the media we have at hand. Unless you are lucky, curating our content is not a full-time job, so going deep is not always an option. This is going to be an issue for me, as I read and save a lot of cool ideas via RSS (yes, I am still reading RSS feeds) but have not yet figured out the best way to bring those articles into Flipboard. I suspect there is a way. I just haven’t found it yet (if you have, please let me know). For now, it seems that my Flipboard content will come from within other Flipboard magazines, which is fine as long as it doesn’t become an echo chamber or rehashing of ideas.

I am also working to frame the articles and pieces better, adding some ideas to center the media in the magazines. This part of curation — the voice of the curator making the decisions — is something I am often weak at. I zip through, see something cool, add it and move on. I don’t think I am alone with that, either. I’ll be doing more diving into Flipboard to see where I can add my own personality to my magazines.

I invite you to subscribe and come along on my journey, too. You can view Flipboards on the web but it’s not the same reading experience as with the free app. Just so you know. And when you subscribe, it puts the magazine right into your Flipboard dashboard, which makes the content easily accessible.

I’d also love to try at my hand at a collaborative magazine, where more than one person is curating and collecting and share. But choosing a solid and interesting theme is the key part. I might just be inviting YOU to join ME in creating a new magazine. You ready?

Peace (in the mag),
Kevin

The Ooohs and Ahhs of Augmented Reality

The past few days, for morning work, I have had my students coloring. I made it a sort of mystery about why we were doing coloring instead of our usual morning work routines (critical thinking puzzles, math and writing work, etc.). Yesterday, I brought my iPad into the classroom and hooked it up to the Interactive Board, called up my ColAR app (free, with some premium features) and asked kids to bring their colored pages up to me.

I then pointed the iPad to their pictures … and the oohs and ahhs began.
Using colar

The app brings to life the colored pages, and it led us to talk about the wave of Augmented Reality apps that are now coming out, and what AR even is (most had never heard of the phrase before). They were really jazzed about the app, and I suspect more than a few dashed home to download it.

I still want to find a way to hack the coloring pages to make them my own. But I haven’t yet had a chance to experiment with it.

Peace (in the AR),
Kevin