Tuesday, 3 March 2015

iPad film-making and "Making a film"

Been thinking this morning about the challenges the group face when using iPads to make a film. We've been thinking that this project would be a really good way to test out the strengths and some of the pitfalls of using this kit out in the field in order to create a film.

Some exciting things: its so easy to get some material filmed, and with a few extra bits of kit, relatively easy to get good quality sound and image.

It's also great that people can use the camera controls and the editing software so quickly (and you've got to remember I remember the days of dust on the tape and drop out, cables not working, the hours spent trying to get material into the edit interface, and the hours introducing groups to an editing interface - not minutes) but now it's just there!

The ability for groups to share media and even their edit projects is very exciting and something we're keen to explore within the project - the way that groups could edit separate scenes of an agreed script/outline plan and bring them together or even work on a single edit like video consequences - by passing the material back and forth between different iPads.

There's also the possibility of tagging or making notes on the material so when it's transferred to a computer for a final edit these notes can be consulted. 

Some challenges: thinking about this - it somehow feels a little harder to create a considered approach within this - yes it does rely on the work you do around this before filming, but there is such a temptation to just shoot and shoot and shoot.

The general robustness is an issue too - could they survive a drop? The screens can get grubby (making operations difficult) and in the sunlight here in Malawi those large reflective screens can be a real challenge to view (draping a black sheet over the opertaor and screen will help but you may feel like a Victorian location photographer - v. cutting edge not!) and the connecting cables are not high grade either so can damage or come loose very easily.

The free editing software is very limited too - iMovie is great but it can be quite rigid - there are a few workarounds but Pinnacle Studio (not free £8.99) functions more like an edit interface and there's definitely more scope to fine-tune the edit. This may sound like a film-maker's gripe but a group last Saturday straight away wanted to do certain things e.g. bring in audio at a specific point, and iMovie doesn't always make that as easy as it should be.

Also care must be taken when downloading apps - some may promise a little more than they deliver or may crash your iPad. So testing is crucial.

STRUCTURE: This morning also been thinking about possible structures, and directions the film might take i.e. it's message/s, after the workshops and all of the discussions my team and the group have been having, and after I spent yesterday looking at all of the notes as well, and talking about next steps for the workshops last night with Chris.

We need to bear in mind so many things and check these all the time  - potential audiences and how they may perceive and find the film challenging/helpful; expectations (the schools want the films to show off their schools and it certainly will and so it should - as they're great schools, but they're not promos - they're about exploring how these dynamic and resilient schools and teachers work). And as always there's TIME (drum roll) and that simple fact that we have a very limited timescale (next Friday we are having a screening of some of the material!) in which to construct a film rather than just a sequence of interviews.

So: themes of Motivation, How the school and teachers encourage, support and teach themselves and their pupils, and How outward-facing schools can co-opt/ work with the community and other agencies.

Mmmmm: thinking of chapters now (and TIME!!!!) and even a 10 TIPS for a successful school/teacher like Grace's successful pupil or her bottle collecting.

The rest I'll mull on - do some more back-brain thinking.

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