Last week I conducted the second Video Boot Camp at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton – as part of Kids College. Well…no longer Video Boot Camp. Now called Digtial Video Camp because the name last year apparently scared some prospective students away – they thought they’d be yelled at in real boot camp style.
In four days, from 9am through 1pm daily, seven twelve to sixteen year olds learned how to shoot, edit, storyboard, and edit video. The class ranged from a few students who knew a bit about video, one returning student from last year’s class, and several who knew nothing but really wanted to learn.
The first day we did a half hour of introductions and then went over their cameras (looking for similarities). Then we were out on campus shooting the basic shots assignment. With this age you have to keep them busy and hands-on, so we went right back to the classroom and they learned basic editing and titling using iMovie. I gave them a quick break for snacks and then it was on to the animation assignment. This one they did in teams of two (I teamed with one student). By the end of the day they had two assignments to show off to parents. They also had homework: bring photos for their autobiography the next day.
This day was a bit slower paced – summer vacation and the teacher actually expected them to write a paragraph!! Oh horrors! They managed to squeeze something out and each read part of their script in front of the camera. Then, as they worked, I moved around the room showing each of them how to extract audio, lay photos over narration, pot music up and down. It was pretty intense and they began to see possibilities as they worked. One young man (a repeat student from last year) did a very creative biography of his dog.
We ended day two with a discussion and storyboarding our script for the movie we would shoot and edit over the two remaining days. They decided on an action cops & robbers format. Of course they wanted to use pretend guns…and I made the call to the campus police knowing they would say no, so we decided on bananas and balloons as weapons.
Wednesday morning our first stop was the campus police station – and they were very cooperative and let one of our actors sit in a police car and pretend to send out a radio call – and they even drove the car off with the siren on (boy were the kids impressed with that).
It took nearly three hours to shoot twenty minutes of tape using two cameras – getting varying angles. I had to keep on them about the basic shots (wide, medium, close up, extreme close up) and pans, tilts and low and high angles…but by the end of the day they knew enough to position themselves properly without hints. We screened the video and captured to computer before they went home.
The final day was all editing…almost. Each student created a DVD menu using iDVD on my laptop (I will be burning those this week). Students edited alone or in pairs, referring to the storyboard on the white board in the front of the classroom. We ended up with four very unique movies – all using the same video and plot line. They discovered the effects and sound effects in iMovie and started experimenting. They were so proud of their work that as they edited, they kept calling each other over to look at edits. We did a walk-around screening at the end of the day and then showed off the final products to parents as they came in to pick students up.
All in all, a very intense week – and the class became so close that they were signing each others workbooks (like yearbooks) the last day. They really bonded. And they reminded me that teaching can be fun and you can learn a lot while you’re enjoying yourself. They also learned that if you plan and shoot properly, the editing is easy and lots of fun.
I think the lesson here for all of your grown-ups out there is that you CAN learn video. If a group of kids can pick it up in four days – think about what you can do over a month of weekends. It ain’t hard. Humans are, by nature, storytellers. And video is the perfect medium for a storyteller.