Joining the DV Revolution
Michael A. Russell
This proposal will outline the process required to make movies for the Classroom and the World Wide Web (hereafter "Web"). Digital Video (hereafter "DV") is a set of recent technological breakthroughs that allow home computer owners the opportunity to create movies. Constructing a movie can be divided into three steps: 1) filming the source material; 2) creating the movie; and 3) distribution for the Classroom, Web, CD-ROM, etc. The first step, filming, collects the source material on camera using Digital Video (hereafter "DV"), and techniques for lighting, sound, frame rate, etc. shall be explained. The second step, creating the movie, combines edited material from the filming step with any appropriate transitions, movie titles, still pictures, special effects, external audio, animation, etc. and places all of these elements together in a final project file - the movie. Hints and tricks for each stage shall be given using Final Cut Pro. The movie at this stage will be complete, but it will also be huge - hundreds of megabytes are common - which makes it inaccessible for web or classroom delivery. Hence the third stage, distribution, allows the movie to be compressed into a smaller version accessible to the Web-based learner and normal classroom computers. Media Cleaner Pro and the Sorenson Video Codec will be utilized at this stage, and explanations on their use will be given.
Note that this document may be viewed on the World Wide Web:
Thank you for considering my request. If I can answer any additional questions you might have, please contact me. Thank you for your time,
Michael Russell, Ph.D.
a. What is the "DV Revolution"?
The "DV Revolution" refers to the set of technological advances known collectively as Digital Video (hereafter "DV") which allows the production of movie files on the computer. Creating movies has traditionally been an expensive, tedious process accessible only to those with considerable financial resources behind them.
Four factors contributed to the lack of home movie development. The first factor (and most important!) has been the expense and high maintenance of digital video cameras; this alone prevented all but the wealthiest from enjoying the benefits of the digital age in video production. Digital video does not degrade over time (unlike its traditional analog equivalent), and improved signals result from DV in much the same fashion that music CDs sound clearer than traditional vinyl LPs.
But this was not the only obstacle. The second factor was the sheer size of the movie on the computer. Multimedia of any kind consumes considerable disk space to store and even more RAM (random access memory) to play, and older computers contained neither the processing speed nor the storage capacity to play or save video files effectively.
A third factor which slowed movie development on the home computer was the lack of a movie editing program designed to handle sound, video, still images, special effects, screen text, and more within a single framework. A fourth factor revolved around the delivery of the finished movie. What good is the movie if you cannot deliver it to the intended audience? At traditional modem speeds, a typical five minute movie file could take four hours or more to download. Worse, the quality of the viewed movie could be quite limited.
But no more! The DV Revolution has removed these obstacles, and doors have been opened to making movies at home or work with only a minimal investment of resources. Canon, Sony and others have relatively low cost digital video cameras that require very low maintenance, making digital video accessible to the public. The newest computers (G3 and G4 Macintosh computers as well as the fastest Intel chips) have made intra-computer accessibility difficulties a thing of the past due to increased CPU power, graphic accelerator cards and enhanced bus speeds. Firewire, a new technology, allows for rapid saving and data retrieval from a variety of devices (including hard drives and video camcorders). New computer programs (such as Final Cut Pro and Premier) have brought high-end production techniques for creating videos to the average person; no longer must we rely on George Lucas for all of our special effects! And once the video has been made, one can now submit their data to the Classroom and the Web with high quality using a "codec" (compression / decompression) - a technique of information transmission analogous to the method used to transmit information over a "modem" (modulate / demodulate).
b. How does the DV Revolution impact education?
From an instructional viewpoint, the DV Revolution presents one of the most exciting opportunities for student-centered learning ever. Most of the students at Mt. Hood Community College are from either the "Television generation" (meaning they were brought up on television) or the "Cyber generation" (which means they were brought up on computers, the Internet, video games, etc.) These students learn best when they can see and hear new information simultaneously. Hence, videos that incorporate both visual and audio elements will lend themselves naturally to the student learning process.
In my own classes, I have been limited to using videos created by textbook authors and demonstration files posted on the Internet in my lectures while I have virtually no Web video support at all. To have the ability to create my own videos would empower and enhance my classes beyond measure, and I plan on implementing these possibilities as soon as possible. I foresee a need for video creation both in the classroom and on the Web. In the classroom I could use videos of chemical experiments, important seminars, etc. all of which I could film and process ahead of time, presenting only the relevant portions to my students. For the Web, I could create videos introducing myself to prospective students, letting them know what their instructor was like before the class started. I could also have "chapter summaries" outlining important concepts using the video medium to impress its importance upon my class.
It would also be possible to program interactive Web videos where students would watch a small video file, make a decision and see the result of their decision in a new video. There are virtually limitless possibilities to the realm of video production, and the DV Revolution has instituted the processes necessary to change traditional learning paradigms to the benefit of the student.
c. What are the steps involved in making a movie for the Classroom or the Web?
There are three key steps involved in creating a movie for either the Classroom or the Web. They are:
Capturing the video involves the actual shooting of the film. Filming with quality requires knowledge of proper lighting, sound patterns, microphone usage, and more. If the film is captured on a DV camcorder, the video footage can be effortlessly transferred to a computer.
Processing the video and audio into a movie requires software (such as Final Cut Pro). At this stage the video footage is edited for appropriate content. Still images may be added, and if the audio is of poor quality, an overdubbed narration may be added. Special effects (including scene transitions, pre- and post- titles, additional video footage overdub, etc.) can also be added at this stage. Once the process is complete, a movie has been created. These files are usually quite large and of limited use in the classroom or the Web due to their size.
Distributing the video to an appropriate medium must follow. If the movie is only to be used on the computer it resides on, then no further work is required. However, if you wish to move the movie to the Web or the Classroom, you must use a codec (a technique to compress the file into a smaller version) to facilitate the transfer. The best on the market currently is the Media Cleaner Pro / Sorenson Video Codec combination. It will take a movie of many Megabytes in length and compress it into a file of only 200 kilobytes. Care must be taken to use a compression system which will perform well on many computers and operating systems; hence, the Media Cleaner Pro / Sorenson Video Codec works well since QuickTime (a popular movie viewing platform available free to UNIX, Windows and Macintosh viewers) incorporates these compression systems naturally. Files may then be placed on the Web or on a disk for classroom utilization.
d. What software and hardware will be used to create and distribute movies?
In this proposal I shall be using a Canon Elura DV camcorder to film my work. I can connect the Elura camera to my Apple Macintosh PowerBook G3 500 MHz computer using Firewire to transfer files. For creating movies, I will be using Final Cut Pro to edit the footage and add other resources as appropriate. Once the movie has been created, I shall use Media Cleaner Pro and the Sorenson Video Codec to compress the movie to a format accessible to either the Classroom or the Web, depending on the intended purpose of the movie. Finally, I will be using QuickTime to view the movies on the Web (QuickTime is a plug-in used by both Netscape and Internet Explorer) or in the Classroom (usually through Microsoft PowerPoint.)
The "Joining the DV Revolution" project discussed in Section I fits well into the Teaching and Learning Cooperative's two primary directives.
Directive #1, "Developing and sustaining a system supportive of effective teaching and learning, with the emphasis on student learning", is followed absolutely in each of the project steps listed above. The Web offers student learning in methodologies unparalleled within the history of teaching. Student opportunities for learning can be increased dramatically using video. Both the television generation and the cyber generation have been indoctrinated with video media since a very young age through cable television, prime time sitcoms, arcade video games, renting movies for the VCR or DVD, the Internet, and more. Arguably, there is no better medium for information transmission than video. This grant will maximize this learning opportunity to the furthest point possible by opening the door into the world of video construction.
Directive #2, "Ensuring that effective teaching and learning methods supported by the TLC have broad application and are disseminated throughout the MHCC teaching and learning community", will be followed closely as well. All of my protocols and instructions are available free of charge to any learning community that wishes them, be they from Mt. Hood Community College or elsewhere. I will be sharing my results with my colleagues through a written paper, a web site (http://www.gst-d2l.com/TLC) and a presentation on the MHCC campus during late 2000. I am always available for comment and questions.
During Fall Term of 2000 I will be distributing a Feedback form to my students asking for their comments and opinions on the various video protocols instituted for my web-based classes. In addition, I shall seek the feedback of my colleagues who have utilized these protocols for their own use.
A presentation will be arranged in early Fall Term 2000 for interested faculty and staff regarding the various doctrines explained in the Project Goals section, above. A formal paper outlining the specific details of the project shall be created and distributed to interested parties. A web site for my proposal (http://www.gst-d2l.com/TLC) will contain these documents as well as any other pertinent information. In addition, I can always be reached for personal consultation either through electronic mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (503 491 7348).
All of the plans outlined in Project Goals section will be complete by September of 2000. The results of the project will be available for colleagues at this time.
Utilizing movie-making software (such as Final Cut Pro) and the compression suites which should accompany film production (such as Media Cleaner Pro and the Sorenson Video Codec) require time and effort to master. The programs are quite distinct from "normal" software programs (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Netscape, etc.) and require intensive training and experience to use effectively. All of the resources from this grant will go toward the many hours of acquiring film, making the movies, and developing them for the Web and classroom. A combination of the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) language and programming syntax will be required to fully implement them on the Web.
Making a movie is easier now than it has ever been, and I would like the funds to develop these procedures into a format which every faculty and staff member at Mt. Hood Community College (and beyond?) can enjoy and utilize for any procedure they wish.
I appreciate your time in considering my request. If I can answer any questions that this paper does not address, please feel free to contact me using the information given below. Thank you for your time,
Michael Russell, Ph.D.
Return to the TLC Proposal Homepage.