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.