February 24, 2016

Posted in

UW Bothell Feb 17th 2016

I recently had the opportunity to present a modified version of the two hour Tabletop Moviemaking workshop. I deconstructed the workflow to see if I could better communicate some foundational skills I found that make movies great.  

Jane Van Galen's class is a wonderful laboratory for digital storytelling and her students are well versed in a number of current digital storytelling methods. More than anything, they have a willingness to try out a new method, make a few mistakes and learn from them. .  

The old workshop model had participants pass through each of these five verbs of the production process as they made their movie. It worked well, however, this model only allows for contact with each verb once. I have found that when learning new concepts it is better to experience them multiple times in short iterative cycles.

I restructured the two hour workshop to have 40 minutes of highly structured station rotations around 3 essential concepts.  Each station lasted about 10-12 minutes.  For each station I modeled the skill, small groups independently practiced, then they shared their practice with me.  In this format each station had a 10-15 seconds video artifact that demonstrated the skill.  

After the 40 minute session all the small groups had made THREE short videos demonstrating an essential skill in: writing, filming and editing. We then transitioned into a longer uninterrupted small group setting where they had 50 minutes to pass through the five verbs again with a class wide goal:

  • PSA theme relevant to education

  • 1 minute (1 page script).
  • 2 - 3 characters.
  • 2 - 3 settings.
  • 1 original prop that is part of the       narrative.
  • At least 3 close-up or medium shots.

The outcomes were fantastic. Jane and I both noted that the final one minutes movies had more polish.  I attribute this to the structured practice the whole group had in the station rotation. I found myself answering a number of technical questions as  I walked around the different stations.  This helped bring to the surface production questions and mistakes in three quick intervals.  By the time they were making their one minute movie,  they had found solutions to a number of the problems they encountered during the station rotation.

Characters are pre-built and ready to go before the workshop

Image 1: Tabletop characters are cut out and ready to go ahead of the workshop to save time.

Students demonstrate some creative problem solving and show of different levels of scale.

Image 2: This group of students demonstrated a creative use staging. The characters in the frame are two different sizes giving the appearance they are further away from the camera.

This group chose to pre load the settings they would use in their story.

Image 3: This group of students has staged all the settings they will use in their film. When they were done with a scene, they simply pulled down that setting to reveal the next location. Great time saver.

Below is a Sway presentation that further explains the Station Rotation model.  Simply scroll through and the content will animate in.  A sample student video from the workshop is embedded at the end.  

January 26, 2016

Posted in

Seattle Art Museum's 2016 New Media Winter Workshop


Tabletop Moviemaking was part of SAM’s New Media: Winter Educator Workshop. Teachers had an opportunity to tour Paradox of Place: Contemporary Korean Art which had a strong focus on the use of mixed-media. This exhibit served as the ideal launching point for a hands on look at various new media practices in the classroom which are also mixed media in nature.

I was part of a panel discussion with other educators. We shared our experiences and insights around using digital media in the classroom.  It was an interesting exchange and set the tone for the break out sessions where teachers could choose a new media method to explore.  Key take aways from the panel included:

  • iPads as tool for mixed media expression, from analog to digital
  • Using a number of apps in combination to create effects on media
  • Troubleshooting takes patience when integrating in the classroom

The Setup:

I had a 3 Tabletop Moviemaking Studios set up for my demonstration. SAM provided an iPad Air loaded with iMovie. I only had about 50 minutes with each small group to give an introduction and have them go through the 5 verbs of the production process (Write, Build, Shoot, Edit and Share).

Because of this 50 minute time frame I significantly modified the normal two hour introductory workshop.  This was done to enable a "Quick Start" to the production process.  Teachers were able to begin drafting stories within minutes of the workshop beginning.

Each group had:
  • 2 characters
  • 3 settings (backgrounds)
  • Tabletop Moviemaking studio to stage the movie
  • iPad air with iMovie
Each group had common rules:
  1. Movie should be less than 30 seconds and use 2 settings and 2 characters.
  2. Create a custom prop that is part of the story.
  3. Use at least one Close Up shot in the their short film.


This highly structured interaction with Tabletop Moviemaking provided some great insights for teachers using the kit in the classroom. This “Quick Start” set-up is ideal for scenarios where teachers can use moviemaking as a tool to explore a writing or grammar concept.  In this scenario the writing artifact may be 1 or 2 paragraphs in length and focused on a single narrative concept like the use of narration for exposition of details.

Pre-selected characters allow teachers to control the access to common narrative elements. One potential application could be cycling small groups through the same set characters and backgrounds and then explore how each group’s story differed or was similar.

June 14, 2015

Posted in

Teacher Training at LACMA's Art + Film Institute

I am super excited to announce another round of teacher training workshops in partnership with LACMA.  I have put together short presentation that highlights some of what we will be covering.


August 04, 2014

Posted in

Yelm Timberland Library Workshop

The Tabletop Moviemaking Studio was recently used in a library context with young adults working in small groups to create some Tabletop Movies.  They were kind enough to share their experience of the workshop.

Continue Reading →

March 10, 2014

Posted in

Triptych workshop at 826 Seattle

826 Seattle played host to another excellent Tabletop Moviemaking workshop several weeks ago.  We were able to change things up a bit for this workshop and extend it by a full hour.  We were able to expand on the building component and students created these amazing 3 panel triptych collage backgrounds.  

Continue Reading →

March 10, 2014

Posted in

Workshop at University of Washington, Bothell

I had the opportunity to lead a Tabletop workshop with a group of teachers at the University of Washington Bothell campus.  It is always a fun day when I get to work with a group of educators.

Continue Reading →

March 09, 2014

Posted in LACMA, museum

LACMA Art + Film Institute Winter 2014

The second iteration of LACMA's Art + Film Institute built on the success of the inaugural workshop while adapting some core parts of the 3 days.  The most exciting change was connecting the Art + Film Institute to a current exhibition of Mexican filmmaker Gabriel Figueroa.

Continue Reading →

1 2 3 Next »