Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Filmmaking Career

This year, I was asked to do a project with my kids. I chose to have them make films, with the cooperation of MyBlock NYC, which I highly recommend. I made a short video introducing my block as that my school was on, and introduced the students to people in the building I thought could help them. I then told them to make their own videos, and let some of them borrow the ancient flip cameras our school owns.

I thought it would be easy. I edited my video on a Mac using iMovie, never having used it before, and figured it would be a snap for the kids, who are technologically light years ahead of me. However, when I finally managed to swap the trailer for a computer lab, I found nothing but problems. The machines were slower than Michael Bloomberg giving teachers a fair contract. I managed to get one of the tech teachers to help. She suggested we work with stills rather than moving images so as to make things move faster.

I spent a week dealing with technical problems, and didn't even get to actually view a video. I was told there was some program slowing down the computers in this room, and that it would be resolved. Perhaps it has been. I don't know. The next time, I booked the computers in our library, all iMacs, and hoped they would work better. They did, somewhat, but none of them performed like the one in my home.

I decided to tell the kids to edit their videos at home, at a friend's house, in the public library, or wherever. Today I asked them to come in and show them to the class, so we could discuss them. Two kids came up and showed Windows-edited videos, and we gave them suggestions. However, the next kid had a video on an iPod, as did many or most of my students, and we found the Dell computer and projector chained (really!) to the wall of the trailer did not play well with these devices.

My students, who know everything, declared that we needed to download iTunes and all would be well. We tried, in various languages, and got nowhere. When we got to Spanish it looked like it would work, but the Dell laptop demanded an administrative password and we lost a half hour dealing with this.

Tomorrow I'll bring my Macbook in and hope for the best. But the tech expert in our school advises me that the only way we'll be able to play video made on a variety of devices is to place it on thumb drives or DVDs. Despite all the nonsense I've been going through, I'm pretty keen on this project. If we can only view what my kids are doing, discuss it, and have them improve and finish it, it will be a pretty cool project.

Also on the brighter side, if I do it next year, I will have learned from all these mistakes.
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