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.