Re: Media Lab Quote

From: Dinorah de Jesús Rodriguez (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Mar 18 2009 - 19:37:04 PDT

i teach groups of 8-12 students aged 13-21 using only two laptops and
one video camera, a scanner, two portable digital sound recorders, a
printer and one digital still camera. i agree that it would be best
to invest in more computers versus cameras, and the story of the
girls standing around texting their friends while the boys learn to
edit is all too familiar, so watch out for that and plan strategies
to cover it.

and i too think that FCP is like teaching them to maneuver an
airplane before they learn to drive a car. how about iMovie? i have
occasionally singled out one or two older kids and taught them a few
FCP tricks, but iMovie is totally instinctive and you can spend a lot
less time teaching software and more time mentoring art projects.
plus, it'll save on software expenses, which might free up some more
bucks for laptops and maybe one or two digital still cameras (and a
scanner, yes!)

a lot depends on the length of the program, how many total sessions,
how long each session. i work with inner city kids and there is no
check=out of equipment allowed, so they have to finish their projects
during our workshop sessions. again, plan strategies. a group
project comprised of scenes created by individuals or smaller groups
is a good idea.

a lot will also depend on their ages and how they got there - do they
sign up for this program or are they there by default? are they
paying for it?
for students who are not really driven by the moving image but find
themselves sitting in your workshop somehow (or those who aren't
quite up to speed on computer literacy), it's nice to have some
cheaper alternative programs available as an aside. i like to get
them working in Corel Painter with a drawing pad, drawing on their
photos and later cutting these in to the video. I agree that you
might want to have PhotoShop on hand, but not stress it. Leave it
for the gifted ones and stick to one or two simple PS tricks that you
will teach. i also offer lots of free programs like Google
SketchUp, Cosmic Painter, Comic Life, Garage Band, etc. - but again,
not every program is for every kid. Different kids end up doing
different stuff, some do title sequences, others work on sound, etc.
At the end, you tie it all together.

Another great thing i use in my program is a couple of portable
drives to move stuff around between computers. this may or may not
be relevant in your case but in cases where kids work on shared
computers and are not guaranteed the same machine every time, it
becomes essential. my program provides them each with mini flash
drives that they of course use to take home the images that they will
post on mySpace.

and if your program really has a good budget, you might consider a
video projector that you can connect your computer to and demonstrate
techniques on a large screen while they follow along on their laptops.

Make sure you plan plenty of admin time for yourself outside of the
workshops to organize their media (so they can find it), and clean up
any extemporaneous stuff that shows up on the desktops. Never
underestimate the need for preparing lesson plans, however cryptic.
And you should be paid for this time, as it ends up being considerable.

good luck and sorry i don't have a quote for you. i did not purchase
the equipment for this program, as i work out of an art museum, so i
am blessed to just order what i want and they provide it. someone
else fiddles with the budget.

enjoy today...

Dinorah de Jesús Rodríguez
Film/Video Artist and Freelance Writer

On Mar 18, 2009, at 7:27 PM, Flick Harrison wrote:

> I agree 15 cams is too much for 15 kids - unless they're making
> experimental films, ha ha. Group work is essential, for production
> work 3-5 is good per group. Having 15 computers is good, though,
> so they can all be cutting their own scenes or bits or whole other
> versions of the project - nothing lamer than 1 (guy) cutting while
> 4 (girls?) read books and insist they are either helping or not
> needed, but never, never should they take a turn editing because
> "he's better."
> Save the cost of 10 cams, invest in a projector and speakers for
> the teacher computer, so they can group-screen sample vids or one
> another's work.
> Mac has educational rates for computers on their site. Imovie is
> pre-installed, but final cut is great if the kids are older. 6-8
> year olds can barely conceptualize the difference between raw
> footage in the bins of imovie versus the actual movie they're
> creating, the difference between scrubbing through the footage and
> explaining it verbally (what I call kid-benshi) versus showing it
> in a darkened room from beginning to end etc. "It *IS* finished!"
> they scream as you ask why they've left ten minutes of their feet
> in the middle of their magic trick. "It's building up to it!"
> In other words, final cut is too much for youngies, maybe 9-12's
> can get it but do they really need to? Are they going to learn
> more by getting frustrated with erroneous capture settings, reel
> numbers, low-res playback in a small window, complex interface?
> Maybe the answer is yes, but think about it first.
> It would be nice to get cameras with zoom / focus controls instead
> of the stupid menu-driven manual focus I've seen, and mic jacks
> would be useful too so you can teach them sound. Maybe that's all
> high-end nowadays.
> You might also think about sound playback - headphones for private
> editing (so teacher doesn't die of brain explosion) versus speakers
> so teacher can keep an eye on the room. I can never decide which
> is better.
> Also a scanner to incorporate hand-drawn titles, imagery, etc might
> be worthwhile.
> And photoshop, at least at one station, is almost essential, unless
> you can figure out gimp (free via linux). Never tried it myself.
> And lights. If you want them to get really good stuff. China
> balls / 300W bulbs from the hardware store, and cheap stands will
> be ok and improve things considerably.
> On 18-Mar-09, at 1:16 PM, Ken Paul Rosenthal wrote:
>> I've been seeking work through the public school system and have
>> been asked to ballpark what building a media lab would cost for 15
>> students.
>> Apart from sitting down and parceling the cost out item by item, I
>> was hoping someone might have a general figure they could offer me
>> off the of their head as follows:
>> 15 x 1-chip video cameras
>> 15 x computers
>> 1 x Laptop for teacher station
>> Final Cut
>> Thanks, Ken
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