Week 6 – Bringing Out the Gear

Time, finally, to bring out the gear! I’m sure the class has been waiting for this moment where they get to shoot video.

We went bare bones for our pilot project. The school already had some camcorders, some of which were (funnily enough) alien to me. Where would one get a mini DVD to put into the camcorder? Or what about those cassette tape style camcorders? Fortunately, the rest were hard drive based and they work. With the funding from Awesome Calgary and the Calgary Foundation we also purchased Olympus VN-8100pc audio recorders with a long wired microphone for ten teams. These devices worked surprisingly well.

Taking ten teams through camera framing, audio syncing, proper lighting, and interview techniques was chaotically rushed… especially when some of the cameras didn’t work as expected. But they figured it out.

Three people to a team is perfect. One sound person, one camera person, and one interviewer… each with a critical responsibility. It’s a treat to watch them help each other and correct (or not) each other’s mistakes. Overall no one seemed to overtly avoid the technology. It does make me wonder however whether this course would be approached differently by a classroom full of boys.

As I review some of the practice interviews they did, I was also impressed by the expression of their hopes for the projects. Everyone took turns. There were some mistakes as expected (hitting the record button again, awkward framing, forgetting to sync), but I’m hoping that providing some critiques in the next class will take their game even higher. Like I told the class, it’s better to fail in the classroom than out on the official shoot.

The ideas are even closer to being tested in the real world. Will they be able to access their subject? Find a focused storyline? Work together as a team to manage the different aspects of the project? Are they still interested in their topic and will they now do the work to make it happen? We’ll find out soon!