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Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

On Teaching

This summer I have been teaching a 10-class workshop on how to edit video using Final Cut Pro. I took it upon myself to do this because Film Club's weakness has always been post-production. We don't have many students who are comfortable editing video, and although most of them have used iMovie, editing is much more than simply learning how to use a tool.

The class meets twice a week for two hours at a time. There are about fifteen students in the class ranging from 7th grade up to adults. I teach the class during my workday, but I make up the time during nights and weekends, effectively letting me run the class on my own time. I don't get paid for it, nor do I charge the students.

It has been a big experiment basically, seeing how I don't have much experience teaching. I would say this workshop has been more of a learning experience for myself than for any of the students. Not only do I have to learn how to teach, but I have to re-learn everything I thought I knew about Final Cut.

I didn't realize how much I didn't know about Final Cut until I started this class. Most of that comes from being self-taught. I don't normally need to know the name of the small button at the bottom-left of the timeline that toggles lines to show up on the clips. I use it daily and understand its function, but I didn't know what it was called. And Final Cut has a LOT of these types of buttons.

So I've been learning. And I've been teaching. And I think, just maybe, somewhere between sleeping faces and the glazed-over eyes of students in the middle of their summers, I think there might be a small amount of actual learning going on.

The students are all working on their final projects, which is a finished video starring Keil that we shot a few weeks ago. Everyone has the same source footage to start with, but everyone's video will likely be quite different. There are plenty of opportunities for the students to exercise creative freedom. This is one of the things I've been trying to convey -- editing is a very creative process. It's not the color-by-number sort of task that it appears to be at first.

Most of my classes start with a Keynote presentation that I hastily assemble the night before class. The goal with my presentations is to keep things simple and limit each lesson to 3 or 4 key points that are most important for the topic. Tuesday was animation, which could be a full 4-year college course. I compressed it into about 75 minutes.

Sometimes I start a class by opening up Final Cut and showing my computer on the projection screen. I'll walk through some examples and tell them what I'm doing. I try and engage them when possible, but that's something I can work on doing better.

A couple weeks ago, I was asked to teach a session of a summer workshop that several teachers were taking that had something to do with digital storytelling. I didn't have much information going in, but I needed to spend about three hours with the group. I did a mashup of several lessons I had done in the past. An hour and a half into it, Steve said it might be a good time to let people go to the restroom. That's how bad I am at paying attention to the audience, and I was glad he helped me out with that.

Thursday's Final Cut class focuses on color correction. This will be challenging because color correction is a subjective art that deals with subtleties in color variations that go unnoticed by the untrained eye. The projector "screen" we have is really a SmartBoard, which makes a very horrible surface to project onto. The colors are not accurate, and the contrast is all over the place.

Next week is the last week. I am looking forward to seeing their finished videos, some of which I should be able to share online.

I'd like to maybe do this same sort of thing next summer, possibly with a different topic. It could be camera work, screenwriting, audio editing, cinematography, stop-motion... the ideas are limitless.

Anyway, Film Club is starting up in two months (September 7th is tryouts). I'm more excited than ever about a great year with the club, and we should start with a group of students who are comfortable editing their own videos. I just have to teach them how to save and export.

Tags:  Film Club, work
Speaking of Film Club I nominated Even or Odd for the Vimeo Film Festival.
Jacob Bennett   Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I know that you must be a good teacher because you were raised by two good teachers. I wish that distance did not prohibit me from taking your class because I would probably one of your adult students.
BeanCounter37   Thursday, July 8, 2010
Great blog! That sounds like a lot of fun and it's cool that your learning something too. I always find that when I have to teach someone else how to do something, I see the gaps in what I learned about the subject to begin with. So it typically benefits everyone.
Denny Deaton   Thursday, July 8, 2010
I admire you for jumping into teaching. Being self taught on most of my programs, I can relate. I'm always at a loss when somebody asks me how to do something in one of the programs.

Good Luck!
Spike   Thursday, July 8, 2010
I think teaching comes from within, and you are a true teacher, Dave, because you're willing to do it without pay, which most teachers today do anyway. HA! Good blog!!
Angi   Thursday, July 8, 2010
I taught a course on the solar system at Sangamon State University for Charlie Schweighauser a couple times. This was after I took the course for credit and then again sitting through the class for fun and interest. I thought I knew the the planets and sun pretty well - till I taught the class! I learned so much more about things through my class presentations than I thought was possible!
stheinz   Thursday, July 8, 2010
Dave, I've said this before and I'll say it again, you're a natural teacher. Your pleasant, respectful manner puts your students at ease and creates a wonderful learning environment. Your enthusiasm for what you're teaching is contagious, and you care about each person in your class and they know it. And you have just enough whimsy in you to always keep things interesting. I'm so proud of you and what you're doing.
!   Thursday, July 8, 2010
"They" say that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. I bet your own skills will be better off for your teaching. And I am sure your students will have learned something as well.
girlcarew   Thursday, July 8, 2010
I love the idea of another class next summer, definitely
Holden Jones   Thursday, October 14, 2010
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