This Saturday at Glasgow University I’m hosting a Digital Media class using iPads at Nesta’s One Day Digital event for primary school teachers. The focus will, quite honestly, be my eleven year old self’s wish list of school holiday activities… film-making and editing, animation, audio recording, image manipulation and sharing them.
To do all of this 20-odd years ago – as I did – and to make it mobile would have required a Volvo estate… bulky cameras, VHS machines and clunky TVs, meters of power and connector cables.
Of course things have moved on, but do you realise how much? In 1982, nearly 10 years before I bought my first video camera, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) the emerging digital division of George Lucas’ (creator of Star Wars) movie company Lucas Film, created cinema’s first entirely computer-generated (CG) sequence. It was in Star Trek II: The Warth of Kahn, it lasted 60 seconds and cost a reported $250,000 (total budget of which was only $11M) and required a computer that would have filled several large rooms.
Today, any reasonably high-end laptop has the processing power to generate effects vastly superior in quality at a fraction of the cost.
But we’re not going high-end. Let’s take a step back because while laptops got more powerful other options emerged too.
I have several cameras in the house, but the one I use the most isn’t the best quality, it’s the one that fits easily in my pocket. Equally I love vinyl records too but I mostly listen to music on a device that, yep, fits in my pocket. Coincidentally the same device that I mostly take photos with.
So for me it comes down to convenience. Gary Penn of Dundee video game company Denki has a set of design rules for computer games – but I believe they could be applied to many creative activities. The key one here is ‘convenience‘.
If I can easily take the device with me everywhere I go then there are more opportunities for me to be creative. I don’t have to plan opportunities in the way that I would have with a car full of kit.
Now, we may not be making an Oscar winning movie on our iPhone or iPad just yet (except for this one perhaps) but the experience will be much more immediate, fun and equally as rewarding; not forgetting extremely convenient.
Of course, in this instance the key audience are those who are unlikely to have Final Cut Pro running on a Pro Mac. What’s more likely is that at school or in the home they have access to a phone or tablet that is capable of colour correction and manipulation of images and moving images; film-making, animation, time-lapse and slo-mo video.
And despite the convenience of mobile devices they can’t yet take away the reality that movie making is often very hard work, with extremes of both intense attention to detail and periods of not very much happening. But we wouldn’t want them to. These mini-projects can help young people understand and appreciate the challenges of the processes as well as the satisfaction of the professional film-maker, documentarian or journalist; but in a space that they can relate to.
Hopefully we’ll capture some examples from Saturday’s workshop and get permission to post them here. I look forward to meeting those of you who are coming along – it should be a great day! UPDATE: Read about it here!
For reference here are the list of apps we’ll be using and what for:
Movie making – the trailer (App: iMovie)
Movie making – for fun (Apps: Action Movie + iMovie)
Movie making – the documentary (iMovie)
Audio/AudioBoo (Apps: Instant Rec and AudioBoo)
Frankenstien’s Photo – image manipulation (Apps: Snapseed + Nostalgio)
Stop Motion Animation – (App: iMotionHD)
Time lapse – (App: iMotionHD)
Whether you are coming on Saturday or not please feel free to post any queries or comments below.