In the French nouvelle vague, Alexandre Astruc coined the term camera stylo to refer to his generation of film critics’ elevation of cinema (particularly auteur directors) to a similar level of artistic and cultural importance as literature and literary authors. Perhaps today we have to appreciate the value of contemporary media and the attendant modes of communication they foster. Video is one such medium. The thought of encouraging students to make videos may be a bit daunting to some teachers, as they fear they have neither the technology or technological knowhow to venture into this otherwise attractive option to essay writing. However, today most mobile devices, from cell phones to mp3 players have the capacity to shoot video. Moreover, video hosting sites such as Youtube, Vimeo and Google Videos are a treasure trove of stock footage for B-roll and mock-up videos. All one needs are the following:
• paper and pen (or computer of course). You’ll want to script and create shot lists. Often documentaries start best from a short essay.
• editing software: (iMovie, free on the Mac; Windows MovieMaker, free on PC; Adobe Premier Elements is an inexpensive alternative that is cross platform and a little more robust)
• Zamzar.com: a an excellent resource for downloading Youtube and Vimeo videos
• Vimeo or Youtube: free hosting sites for students to post their videos
• WordPress: a free blogging service into which students can easily incorporate their videos
With video, teachers can explore many of the narrative and rhetorical devices they do in writing. In addition to examining the use of conflict and resolution in short narrative videos, documentaries invite process, comparison, definition, cause/effect and persuasive argument patterns of development.
In addition to video, blogging and microblogging have real value for getting students to take ownership of their work and to consider their audience, and social networking invites students to examine are ideas developed and explored collaboratively.
Examples of video production students’ wordpress blogs:
Examples of an essays and class notes in WordPress from my students in History of Film Production (for 3D animation students):
Example of the social media site created by students in CinemaVideo and Communications: