143 posts categorized "Film & Animation"

December 09, 2013

Ira Glass on Storytelling - and key creative lessons for schools

Originally posted on NoTosh's fabulous Facebook page.

Ira Glass' words on storytelling and creativity have been doing the rounds this weekend, adapted from a Current.tv documentary from a while back. The key point in this clip is incredibly close to what we bring to educators when we talk about ideation and prototyping:

You can't just do ONE or TWO drafts of thinking; you have to make it double-digit drafting, prototyping thinking, gaining feedback and doing better next time.

What Ira Glass touches on is how, no matter how hard we try, we are never happy with our earlier pieces of work. As a result, there is only one tactic we can employ to guarantee that we get better: produce a LOT of work. The more we practice our craft, the better we get. 

Simple powerful advice with which no-one in their right mind would disagree, and many who create for a living recognise, but one piece schools are quick to forget under the pressures of time, "the test" and any other number of excuses not to give young people the chance to prototype thinking many, many times:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through." —Ira Glass

Other lessons in the documentary are also compelling, and tie in beautifully to NoTosh's Design Thinking School work. He stresses the importance of having a process through which to work, the building blocks of one's trade. This equates to the thinking skills and knowing when to use which ones where in the process within a school environment.

In a second clip, Glass points to the longer-than-you-ever-think-it-will-be period of immersion as you seek out the problem to solve, or story to tell, and the wonderfully releasing moment of synthesis as you "kill" the stories not worth telling:


In a final clip, he concludes with the challenge facing all young people, too: how do you create something within a medium, without just copying what you've heard before? The answer: be yourself, talk like you, write and speak about what you know best. The more you are yourself, the better off you are. But how many kids are trying to be someone else, or play someone else's game at school, instead of finding their own way forward?

Challenging stuff.

November 08, 2011

QUIZ: What are all the plot devices in Plot Device?

I'm running a workshop on digital storytelling this next two days at Taipei European School, Taiwan, and Tom introduced me to Plot Device, the ultimate vid featuring, I think, every plot device you could ever come across in a film clip.

So, here's my challenge. Can my audience of occasionally faithful readers help decipher each and every one of the plot devices in this clip? Answers in the comments, below (and try to write the time of the device beforehand: e.g. 06:09 Sci-fi, Independence-Day-like invasion with flared video.

November 13, 2010

Do I Have Your Attention? II

This is one of my favourite moments in the film, The Social Network, that has been remixed as a beautifully produced Kinetic Typography project, in Adobe After Effects, set against the dialogue from the film.

While we're thinking about attention, how often do schools and teachers assume the attention of youngsters, of parents, of our colleagues? My gut feel: nearly all the time.

  • We assume that learners want to learn because they chose subjects.
  • We assume that learners will want to learn because we like the way we do something.
  • We assume parents care about their child's education.
  • We assume that our colleagues want to learn how to do their jobs better/differently.
  • We assume that adults know how to learn on their own.
  • We assume that chuldren don't know how to learn on their own.
  • ...

We need to work consistently at gaining attention, retaining attention and turning that attention into value, much in the same way as a tech startup like Facebook would do (check out Dave McClure's busy but genius presentation on attention and metrics if you want to delve more into how). I'm fairly convinced that somewhere in these tech startup metrics are the assessment tools for the new forms of learning that are emerging, but fighting against assessment structures of old that don't fit anymore.

And in using new metrics to measure success, we can engage in new learning with more confidence, new learning that is almost certainly more likely to get the attention of those around us.

I'm grateful for a constructive formative feedback that took place on this blog and led to the incredibly talented Angel, who made it, changing some minor errors to bring even more impact back to its message.

November 09, 2010

Do I Have Your Attention?

This is one of my favourite moments in the film, The Social Network, that has been remixed as a beautifully produced piece of Prezi, filmed, and set against the dialogue from the film. It's let down by an apostrophe that doesn't belong and a lack of dictionary or spellcheck use, infuriating since the rest of it is rather clever.

Update: a corrected version and the backstory published now on this blog.

While we're thinking about attention, how often do schools and teachers assume the attention of youngsters, of parents, of our colleagues? My gut feel: nearly all the time.

  • We assume that learners want to learn because they chose subjects.
  • We assume that learners will want to learn because we like the way we do something.
  • We assume parents care about their child's education.
  • We assume that our colleagues want to learn how to do their jobs better/differently.
  • We assume that adults know how to learn on their own.
  • We assume that chuldren don't know how to learn on their own.
  • ...

We need to work consistently at gaining attention, retaining attention and turning that attention into value, much in the same way as a tech startup like Facebook would do (check out Dave McClure's busy but genius presentation on attention and metrics if you want to delve more into how). I'm fairly convinced that somewhere in these tech startup metrics are the assessment tools for the new forms of learning that are emerging, but fighting against assessment structures of old that don't fit anymore.

And in using new metrics to measure success, we can engage in new learning with more confidence, new learning that is almost certainly more likely to get the attention of those around us.

September 02, 2010

Technology is not an 'either/or'

Ever want a compelling reasoned argument for those we meet who'd rather "young people learnt how to play outdoors in the sun and get away from all this technology"?

John Connell vents some mild frustration at the Luddite brigade who proclaim that all this technology is good and well, but…:

"Call me a grumpy old man, but I want my students to engage with ‘old’ technology – books, journals, articles, conference proceedings. face-to-face discussions in real time, learning to think on their feet…too often ‘new’ technologies get reduced to gimmicks and Wikipedia – I want students who can operate the tool between their ears (another piece of pretty old technology)…"

The eloquence of Stephen Fry in this BBC Virtual Revolution rush, above, provides some common sense to even out the 'grumpy old men' and women who proclaim the computer between our ears is what needs played more often.

The bit I particularly appreciate when dealing with grumpy olds is this:

"Where people make their fundamental error and criticise all this I think it's a danger and it's reducing our capacity to act as proper human beings is they think it's all this. Either sit in front of a screen of some kind tapping away all your life, going lol and, and, and being childish and not writing in proper English sentences or, you sit in an old fashioned study with books and you read properly and you engage property and you go for walks. Well I do both! And most people do both, it is not one or the other.  "

You can download more rushes from the BBC Virtual Revolution programme and make your own version of the documentary. In fact, what a great exercise for students learning how the media can alter the outcome of a set of interviews purely by editing.

June 22, 2010

Can your students make a viral sports video reply to Andy Murray?

Andy Murray, Scotland's greatest tennis player and the only Brit who stands a chance of winning Wimbledon this year, takes to the streets of London to warm up his skills in this great viral for his sponsor. It almost makes me want to take up the challenge to try and beat him, but I'm pretty poor at tennis.

It got me thinking, though, that we all have incredibly talented sportsmen and sportswomen of the future in our schools: why not see if you can post a video response this week to Andy's video with your own sports virals?

Don't forget to get parents to sign a permission form (why not adapt the ones that East Lothian Council have used if your school doesn't have them already: under 16s, over 16s)?

June 05, 2010

Games really are taking over the world

Animation by Patrick Jean

March 21, 2010

The learning capital in analogue

The T-Shirt War from Ibrahim Nergiz on Vimeo.

From Tim, the above film is indeed a triumph of preparation. For a 3-minute film, two days, 222 t-shirts and a fire extinguisher are required (along with, arguably, one of the most relentless editing sessions going). As Tim says, the exercise of simply reverse-engineering the clip is superb for understanding filmmaking and animation. However, for an increasingly burgeoning merry band of us (I know Davitt joins us in this camp) it's the joy of mixing analogue skill with digital, the t-shirt art and screen printing with the digital video stop-frame animation and traditional film.

Another example of grown men oohing and aahing on analogue are our chums at BERG. I met Matt Jones, BERG's Director, Design, on Thursday and felt a warm satisfaction as he showed the video, below, about four minutes in. It's an advert this, ten minutes long, for a Polaroid camera. But hidden in here is a lesson in angles and the physics of light even Mr Meyer would have been proud of (except the 1972 hair styling and music is more retro than either of us would ever manage).

But the craft of the actual camera makes me long for one more than any compact digital oblong that I might find on sale these days. I also have the feeling it has a lot more to teach me about stuff than a digital camera ever could. Like "aspheric".

January 31, 2010

Tips For Better Ideas


A pop-up book guide to (un)structuring your thinking to have better ideas. The one I have to think about more: think first, execute later. You?

January 12, 2010

A Perfect Palindrome: The Lost Generation

Thanks to SwissMiss for the link to this lovely video palindrome, showing how some scrolling text on iMovie can make the difference in explaining, understanding, passing on meaning.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

Ewan’s education keynotes & MasterClasses

Module Masterclass

Do you worry that your school or district could better harness its people, digital technology or physical space? Do you want some actionable inspiration, a mentor for a learning journey with your staff?

In a keynote or masterclass we can give them concrete ideas based on experience, enthusiasm fired by a vision of what can be, and backup before and after to make it happen for them.

Recent Posts

    Archives

    More...