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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Assignment: Just Chatting

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Just Chatting
Create a chat show in a foreign language.

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Suggested techniques

Pick everyday topics in the style of daytime TV - fashion, household advice, food.

Use a celebrity from the foreign country and interview them (politician, sports star, entertainer).

Have several people chat about current events, such as a recent film or book.

Don’t take it too seriously - this should be fun to watch!

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This helps students develop fluency with colloquial words and phrases.
  • This is a good opportunity to practise humour and small talk.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for groups
  • Languages

 

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, July 29, 2011

Assignment: Business Presentation

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Business Presentation
Create a film about a company or business, explaining what it does.

This is a business analysis of MyYogaOnline.com, a real company, created as part of an educational technology course.

Suggested techniques

Add in on-screen text, stills or graphics to provide additional information.

Do an objective analysis of the company, or do it as a corporate presentation introducing the company to potential customers, partners or investors.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This will help students learn how to present business information effectively using multimedia techniques, and how this differs from pure text presentation.
  • Students learn the different techniques required for different types of presentation.
  • Students have to demonstrate thorough research.
  • Videos can be viewed in class, which leads to classroom discussion.

Suitability

  • Ages 16+
  • Suitable for groups or solo work
  • Business

 

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Assignment: Statistics

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques.  Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Statistics
Create a short film demonstrating the understanding of some element of basic statistics and how they apply to the real world.

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Suggested techniques

Commentate on sports footage, explaining what the different statistics actually mean. (For example, if we say that the Reds beat the Blues 75% of the time when it’s raining, and 60% of the time when it’s not raining, what can we actually predict about the outcome of the next game if there’s a 25% chance of rain?)

Take a statistic such as x% of people in such a demographic exhibit such a trait, and then show how that can be an effect of other factors rather than or as well as the most obvious one. (For example, x% of Latinos go to college, but the wider picture is that y% of people in these socio-economic groups go to college, and z% of Latinos are in that group.)

You could show that a particular activity “doubles your risk of getting cancer”, and show how that actually means your risk is increased from x% to 2x%, which may still be very low.

Intersperse the presentation with still images and video if appropriate. You could do this as a studio presentation or lecture, and display the images on a screen behind the presenter, or else you can make the images go full-screen.

Add extra content on-screen by using text to complement what you’re saying.

Add appropriate background music to create atmosphere, and ensure you have a striking title sequence.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This helps students understand statistics as presented in the media and see how statistics are applied (or misused) in the real world.
  • Visualising statistical information helps students understand what they actually mean.
  • Adding multimedia content enables the student to approach the subject in a richer way than just using written text and still images.
  • Finding images and music to enhance the presentation requires detailed research.
  • Providing narration builds confidence in speaking without needing to do it in front of an audience or camera.
  • Creating a multimedia presentation helps develop presentational skills and requires the student to consider what information is best presented using the different media: spoken, written, or visual.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for solo work
  • Mathematics, media studies

 

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Assignment: History debate

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: History Debate
Create a TV-style discussion on a historical topic or event, highlighting different views about it.

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Suggested techniques

You could do this by having an expert representing one point of view being interviewed, or as a panel discussion representing many different opinions.

This can be done purely as a modern studio debate, or could involve historical figures (e.g. a discussion with an early 20th century scientist on whether eugenics are justified).

Intersperse the presentation with still images and video if appropriate.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This is good for moral arguments, particularly those where historical attitudes conflict strongly with modern attitudes, as it enables the students to put themselves into that historical context.
  • This can be done as a group project where the students have to reflect different points of view. If done as a solo project, the student will demonstrate that they can appreciate all sides of the issue and can present the different arguments and views clearly and accurately.
  • Adding multimedia content enables the student to approach the subject in a richer way than just using written text and still images.
  • Finding images and music to enhance the presentation requires detailed research.
  • Providing narration builds confidence in speaking without needing to do it in front of an audience or camera.
  • Creating a multimedia presentation helps develop presentational skills and requires the student to consider what information is best presented using the different media: spoken, written, or visual.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for groups
  • History

Downloadable resources

Click the link to download a Moviestorm movie template.

cloud.moviestorm.co.uk/Lesson_Plans/Debate.zip

 

Installation instructions:

Download the file and extract the zip folder to this location:

 

Vista, Windows 7, Macs: [Username]/Moviestorm/Movies

 

Windows XP: C:/Documents and Settings/[Username]/Moviestorm/Movies

 

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Assignment: From Our Correspondent

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: From Our Correspondent
Create a travel report from foreign country, in the language of that country.

This was created by Japanese students learning English. They were asked to prepare a one minute talk in the past tense on a trip to a foreign country. This was recorded and then added into MS.

Suggested techniques

Talk through a series of photographs or videos explaining what they show. Add in more personal information such as whether you liked it and why it was interesting - or not!

You could focus on many different aspects, such as social issues, tourist attractions, history, geography, culture, food, or more personal experiences.

Add extra content on-screen by using text to complement what you’re saying.

Add appropriate background music to create atmosphere.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This helps students develop language skills relevant to foreign travel.
  • Students are encouraged to find out something about the country.
  • Adding multimedia content enables the student to approach the subject in a richer way than just using written text and still images.
  • Finding images and music to enhance the presentation requires detailed research.
  • Providing narration builds confidence in speaking without needing to do it in front of an audience or camera.
  • Creating a multimedia presentation helps develop presentational skills and requires the student to consider what information is best presented using the different media: spoken, written, or visual.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for groups
  • Languages

 

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Assignment: Commercial

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Commercial
Make a TV commercial for a real or fictional product. Limit yourself to 30 seconds.

This was produced for a competition run by Doritos in the UK.

Suggested techniques

Make sure the sound and music matches the video.

Watch lots of TV ads and copy the style.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This helps students understand media and promotions.
  • Limiting them to short spots helps them get their message across in a concise way.
  • The student needs to understand sound and graphic design as well as video.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for groups or solo work
  • Business, media and design

 

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, July 18, 2011

Assignment: The Blues

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: The Blues
Create a music video using a 12-bar blues.

This template video was made in collaboration with a school in Oxfordshire. Students import a 12-bar blues to create their own video.

Suggested techniques

Tell a story or use stage footage.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This allows students to understand a specific musical form and get engaged without having to be able to play the music.
  • The same technique can be adapted to other standardised musical forms.

Suitability

  • Ages 10+
  • Suitable for solo work, groups, or can be produced by teachers
  • Music

Downloadable resources

Click the link to download a Moviestorm movie template.

cloud.moviestorm.co.uk/Lesson_Plans/12%20Bar%20Blues.zip

 

Installation instructions:

Download the file and extract the zip folder to this location:

 

Vista, Windows 7, Macs: [Username]/Moviestorm/Movies

 

Windows XP: C:/Documents and Settings/[Username]/Moviestorm/Movies

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, July 15, 2011

Assignment: Interview

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Interview
Create a short film demonstrating interview techniques.

This video was created by a teacher for an English class.

Suggested techniques

Pick one of several kinds of interviews: a TV studio style interview, an on the street interview with a reporter, or a job interview.

Show poor interview techniques as well as good techniques.

Show how to interview someone as well as how to be interviewed.

Add on-screen text to explain what technique is being demonstrated.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • It’s a handy way to demonstrate a range of different techniques.
  • It’s easier to review and discuss video of an interview than recalling an actual event.
  • Students can practice their interview techniques in privacy rather than having to speak in front of a class.
  • It allow students to simulate a wide range of different situations.

Suitability

  • Ages 16+
  • Suitable for groups, or can be produced by teachers
  • English, Media, general career development

 

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Gabriel’s Electronic Cinema

imageGabriel Munoz-Calene is an aspiring filmmaker based in Northern Florida. He’s lived all over the world - Mexico, Japan, Philippines, the Netherlands and Iraq, to name a few of the highlights - and is now back home finishing his law degree. He originally studied film at NYU in New York City, in a small program called the Gallatin School for Individualized Study, blending film production and theory, along with video art, philosophy and politics. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in “Video as a Tool for Social Change”.

Gabriel then enlisted in the Marines for the next 4 years, and on his return took advantage of the G.I. Bill to continue his studies. He describes law school as a “bittersweet experience” and explains why.  “It has proven really insightful regarding the business and intellectual property aspects of filmmaking, but it also has been this massive commitment. After being in artist mode, always pushing the envelope, legal culture is very slow to embrace change. I definitely grew fearful that I was drifting away from my dream of being a filmmaker, but the detour has provided a lot of experience that will hopefully serve me in the future.” He also points to what he learned in the Marines. “Military service actually was really beneficial to my filmmaking: work ethic, team leadership, using technology to accomplish an objective, operating under tough conditions… all that.”

In 2007, Gabriel discovered Moviestorm when flipping through a magazine in Borders, comparing Moviestorm, Antics3D and iClone. “I immediately went home and downloaded Moviestorm. I have been hooked ever since,” he says with a smile. “I have always been interested in the craft of filmmaking not as it is, but as it ought to be. When I was at NYU, digital video was blossoming in such an exciting way. I mean, I started out old school, shooting 16mm and editing on a Steenbeck - literally cutting the film physically and splicing pieces together with tape. Now, this was amazing as a foundation in the craft, but 16mm cost like $30 for a 2 minutes worth of film, with tons of other expenses to get your work seen. That made filmmaking a very exclusive art-form, accessible to only a select few. Then, digital video changed everything. $10 for an hour of tape, and the development of digital nonlinear editing on a personal computer. A total democratization of the medium. I was radically transformed, and meditated on how to take it to the next level.”

“My senior year I backpacked through Mexico, my father’s homeland. I had a digital video camera and laptop with Final Cut Pro in my rucksack. “I ran into a dilemma, however. With video, you need actors who are willing to help you realize your vision. This led to a lot of documentary experimentation, or using me and my friends as actors. But I became uncomfortable with documentary work. All these issues with exploitation of the subject or propaganda pushing this view or that. Then I found Moviestorm, and it was as if the medium was revolutionized again. One person able to create many characters and sets. An individual at a computer making a complete film. It still blows my mind after a few years of contemplating ways to take full advantage of this tool.”

Early experiments

His early experiments with Moviestorm involved some interesting ideas. “Since I am interested in film as it ought to be, I embrace multimedia communication beyond just narrative filmmaking. Film as a tool. The language of juxtaposed sights and sounds. When I found Moviestorm, I entered an extended period of experimentation. My first big project was a digital interactive resume - basically, a character in a suit discussing my credentials. After a short intro, the focus was on having different prongs you could explore by selecting different topics from a menu.” He laughs wryly. “I don’t think the law firms I sent it to knew what to do with it!”

His other experiments were also somewhat unconventional. “My wife is also an artist with a painting background who is focusing on collage work, and collaborating with me on several Moviestorm projects.  We I took dialogue from a public domain Hitchcock movie and made the characters sci-fi aliens. It’s a great learning tool and you don’t need to track down voice actors. I also have always enjoyed engaging in Socratic-type dialogues with professors and mentors. I experimented with recording my conversations and then setting them in Moviestorm environments. A great lesson in trying to communicate the concepts we were discussing through multimedia, it ended up kind of like a cable-news aesthetic.”

 

Some of Gabriel’s early experimental work

Developing the Electronic Cinema

These days, Gabriel isn’t just using Moviestorm to make movies in a conventional way. Influenced by Francis Ford Coppola’s Electronic Cinema concept, he’s developing a unique approach to movie-making, and using Moviestorm to fit in with that. “My dream is narrative films - stories - so I turned to the “master” in search of guidance, George Lucas.  I saw the documentary A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope on the bonus disc of THX 1138.  It’s the best doc on filmmakers I have ever seen. Coppola is famous for his grand, over the top style, but he’s also a true visionary. The stuff he was doing in the 70’s and 80’s provides a blueprint for what I am trying to build today.”

The key to Gabriel’s enlightenment was a book called Droidmaker. “Coppola was developing early pre-viz around 1980. He would first story-board his script and video it. Then he took polaroids of his actors and laid it over the storyboard. Then he shot video and laid it over the stills. The whole time he’s laying down music and voices. The idea is that at any given point in the process you can watch an entire draft of the movie. What really blew my mind was that he commented on how this process took filmmaking away from a painterly method rooted in photography, and worked more like sculpture where you are constantly refining this block of clay into its final form. I immediately realized that Moviestorm was perfectly suited for a method like this and began developing a similar workflow. I feel it is a very powerful method for filmmakers at any level. You can use a free storyboarding program like CELTX to organize your work in a really polished way.” 

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Inspiration image sourced through Google

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Moviestorm representation of the image

Gabriel pulls out some samples to show us how he works.  “I do it like this. First, take the script and develop a stick-figure storyboard. Then I use Google to find images that provide the composition or feel I am looking for. It can be from a painting, another movie, or just a random image. I lay this out in Celtx. Next I take it into Moviestorm; I usually drop a Prism right on my set with the photograph for easy reference, and create my scene using the image for guidance on set design, lighting, camera angle, etc. I take a still image of my Moviestorm project using a screen capture software, or just rendering a short clip of footage. I put that in Celtx, next to the inspiration image. This process works regardless if Moviestorm is the final medium or if you are going to go onto live action. The greatest thing about this is that an individual with an idea can make more progress in creating a film than ever before. An individual can make a movie and that is amazing.”

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Celtx storyboard using inspiration images and Moviestorm

He hasn’t posted much of his work so far, but we can expect to see something from him soon. “I have several projects I have been developing for a while now and I am just going to go for it. The exciting thing is that I have the tools available to me right now to do it. My projects fall into 2 major categories, original work and adaptations of public domain work. My plan is to develop my adaptations first, because popular works have greater potential to draw in an audience. I mean, that’s basically what Disney did. I also like the idea of taking a cultural legend and contributing my interpretation of it. I am working mostly in Sci-Fi, using works by folks like Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe.”

Gabriel is definite about one thing: his commitment to quality. He wants to be a professional film-maker, and wants to be sure he’s putting out the best work he can manage. “Of course I dream big,” he grins, “but I am focusing on one project at a time. I have a short I should finish this year, and then a full feature.  My focus right now is on quality. I want to produce the most polished piece I can and see where that takes me.”

 

 

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Assignment: Sporting Personalities

This is part of a series suggesting different ways to use Moviestorm in schools or other educational environments. They also make useful exercises for film-makers wanting to develop and practice different film-making techniques. Many more lesson plans and ideas, with free downloadable resources, can be found on the Moviestorm Web site.

Assignment: Sporting Personalities
Create a short film about a famous sporting personality. Tell the story of their life, and their role in their sport.

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Suggested techniques
You can do this using an on-screen presenter, or completely with voice-over, or even have the sports star narrate their own life. You could interview the subject in the style of a chat show.

Intersperse the presentation with still images and video if appropriate. You could do this as a studio presentation or lecture, and display the images on a screen behind the presenter, or else you can make the images go full-screen.

Add extra content on-screen by using text to complement what you’re saying.

Add appropriate background music to create atmosphere, and ensure you have a striking title sequence.

For teachers: benefits to students

  • This is likely to be a subject students are passionate about, and will engage well with.
  • It gives students a perspective on history in sport, particularly if they choose an older person like Babe Ruth or Roger Bannister.
  • Adding multimedia content enables the student to approach the subject in a richer way than just using written text and still images.
  • Finding images and music to enhance the presentation requires detailed research.
  • Providing narration builds confidence in speaking without needing to do it in front of an audience or camera.
  • Creating a multimedia presentation helps develop presentational skills and requires the student to consider what information is best presented using the different media: spoken, written, or visual.

Suitability

  • Ages 14+
  • Suitable for groups
  • Literature

 

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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