So I just wrapped up my commentary on Kubrick’s The Shining. One of my top 3 films of all time, and it feels good because I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. And luckily I gave my digital storytelling class an assignment that provided the opportunity. I’ve pretty much been eating my own dog food all semester, which has been important for the evolution of this class this semester, and taught me a ton.
The actual assignment was simple in concept: provide a commentary track on a scene (or series of scenes) from a favorite film. This assignment was aimed towards getting the students to consider and get familiar with working through digital video, using Andy Rush‘s awesome Digital Video site as a resource. I was hoping this assignment would encompass everything from ripping DVDs to downloading YouTube videos to compressing and converting codecs to editing video and laying down a voice over track. One thing is for sure, those students with Macs in the class probably have a bit of an advantage when it comes to digital video because Moviemaker only imports WMV files, and that is pretty much a huge dead end for web video.
And despite that two semesters running now this has been the most difficult section of the course to teach, I do love setting them loose on digital video even though I know it will be a humbling experience for both them and me. I constantly get my ass kicked in this department, but I still think having a strong sense of how to rip, access, and remix video is important enough that I’m willing to take the time and energy to work through it with them all. That said, getting digital video right is hard. It takes patience, a meticulous sensibility, and some pretty extensive knowledge and understanding of how the proprietary codec market works. I’m somewhat a novice at digital video, but I always have fun with it which is not often enough. But I do think it is vital for some idea of literacy moving forward, and using video to comment on our culture and mashup various clips and resources (our next video project) is becoming the lingua franca of the web and giving them the opportunity to work on it and take it seriously is important, especially using a series of free and/or cheap tools.
What’s interesting is that this course has 27 people, and less than 12 got their video project in on time? Slackers will be tolerated with digital video, I knew it was coming, I even warned them, but nonetheless video beat most of them into submission.