After the intensity of Python video game development we thought the Wednesday gang could use a mental break and decided to end the year with Digital Video Editing.
Most people don’t know this, but the MakerBox team actually studied film and video production at university, not digital technology. It was exciting to get back to our roots and show the younger generation how to manipulate time and space through the art of editing.
Over eight sessions we viewed various short films and scenes from 1895 to today. Students were shocked at how far filmmaking had come just between Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory in 1895 to Life of an American Fireman in 1903.
We even had our own “Psycho Shower Scene” moment. (If you recall audiences in 1960 were shocked by the shower scene which implies violence through editing, even though the knife never pierces the actresses skin and is quite tame by today’s standards.) In viewing Dexter’s Morning Routine the students had very strong reactions of shock. Shea even commented “Everything is gruesome!” In the scene itself we watch a man going about his morning routine, shaving, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. But through clever close ups and skillful editing these mundane tasks are given a more sinister feel. That’s the power of editing! To make audiences feel something or believe something happened without ever showing it.
After the history lesson we got hands-on editing three videos using DaVinci Resolve. A quick poll showed everyone had some prior experience of video editing, whether through Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Luka was very excited to learn how to make more precise in and out points using keyboard shortcuts, a trick that is applicable to most editing software, including iMovie.
Classic editing pose.
For our first project we re-edited Life of an American Fireman to suit modern tastes. Each student chose what this meant to them. Some used colour filters to alter the black and white footage, while others cut down shots that went on too long. Afterwards, Zach noted that “by moving around and cutting clips, you can create an entirely different story.”
With a bit of editing under their belt, we moved on to filming a short script. The students learned a lot about how to use the camera and watch for continuity. Some pain points were making sure the camera was in focus, watching for continuity in the scene, and getting enough footage so you have options when editing.
The planning process
Students also learned to adjust shots to either react to an actor or to influence how the audience might feel about a character. For instance, when Shea “noticed in the storyboard, this character was kind of slouched”, he chose a high-angle to emphasize the character’s feeling of dejection and defeat.
When it came time to edit, everyone had their own unique interpretation of the same footage. No two videos are exactly alike. Finn in particular was more interested in manipulating the footage than cutting it. He wanted to superimpose memes onto his footage, but many memes use copyrighted material. After failing to find creative commons licensed images he wanted to use, Finn took matters into his own hands and created his own images in Krita. It was awesome to see him using a tool he learnt back in Term 1 to problem solve in Term 4.
Some other students decided they wanted to add titles to their films, but didn’t know how. Many decided to create their desired titles in Paint, then import the files into Resolve. Others were able to find the title feature within Resolve, then share that knowledge with their peers.
Out of everything we did this term, I was most excited to see how easily students shared knowledge, worked together, and problem-solved without any adult intervention. It’s clear they are all growing up and ready to take on whatever high school throws at them.