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Old September 30th, 2010, 11:29 AM   #16
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Hi Perrone - I certainly hope the instructor would have covered silent film - in fact it should still be covered. After all, digital content can still be silent. But I do get your real point - ie how far back do we have to go in teaching production or anything else of a practical nature. And I guess it depends on what it is that we really are trying to teach.

However, I don't think that the digital vs analog issue is quite - well, let's say "analogous" to the nuclear fusion vs rubbing two sticks together to generate heat/flame etc analogy.

Let's face it - digital is a huge abstraction that boils down to the concept of processing in a discrete vs a continuous space as I think was pointed out in another post. Digital isn't ones and zeros - after all a lot of early large scale computers were built that operated in base 10 vs base 2 as do most of todays digital computers. An abacus is a digital device.

Maybe I'm getting too far afield, but at a very fundamental level, the issues we all face relate to how one samples and represents the analog real world in order to map it into discrete computational space, perform abstract discrete computation, and re-map into analog space that can be perceived by our analog senses. And why this is a good thing in the sense of making lower cost and more efficient systems available to us.

How about the isses of audio dithering to avoid the ugliness of quantization (which by the way is just another way of saying conversion of analog (continuous) to/from digital (quantized) space? Sampling into 4.2.2 or other color spaces? In fact, the fundamental act of sampling is another discrete/continuous transformation. Digital clipping anyone?

Everything we do with our digital hardware and NLE's and 3D effects software is in the service of producing/transmitting etc analog content while capturing the efficiency benefits of digital encoding.

Analog will be with us forever so I think people need to understand it and think about it.

Edit - I realized that I confused a couple of things here - ie the real world is continuous but not analog, although our perception of it is via analog sensors like eyes, ears etc.

Last edited by Jim Andrada; September 30th, 2010 at 12:10 PM.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 11:42 AM   #17
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I experienced the a-to-d revolution first-hand as a working pro. I'm not particularly nostalgic, though I still battle with my own gear fetishism. Case in point: I own an ARP 2600, which I never could afford back in the day (analog synthesizer, very fun toy).

I teach video production as an adjunct in a certificate program at a community college. Every term, there are fewer and fewer students who've had experience in 35mm still photography - this term there is 1 out of 20. Average age at this college is 35, most of my students are in their mid-twenties to early thirties. I taught an introductory unit on sound a couple days ago, none of the students had any experience with analog sound recording, eg. not even cassette tapes.

An understanding of analog acquisition and post is purely incidental to our college's mission of preparation for employment, IMO. On the other hand, we do need to establish a foundation of understanding analog-to-digital conversion, and the fundamental characteristics of digital information.

For example, everything in our world outside the camera is analog by nature, to include not only light and sound, but also our perception of light and sound. Understanding of the differences between our perceptions and what the camera or microphone perceives is essential.

Also bear in mind that this information remains analog through preamps and image sensors, until conversion to digital. In that, students do need a solid foundation in analog signals and techniques for dealing with them, but, not to include analog recording technique or media.

I am *so excited* that we now have such amazing tools at such low cost. I see it as the democratization of media. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said "The freedom of the press is only guaranteed to those who own one", now, so many people can! I want to help them do it better - an historical perspective is helpful in that mission, but IMO there is no reason that a student needs to get inside the technology of film or analog tape - it's enough that they see what people did with these technologies.

Edit: Ah, I see Jim made some of these points above while I was typing; appreciate them, they resonate, especially the concept of digital tech as an intermediary between events in an analog world and the eventual display back in analog.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 12:03 PM   #18
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It's important to know!

Art has always been pushed forward by new technologies, each technology has its process that generates its own visual characteristics and those characteristics speaks something of the culture of the time of that technology. The use of photographic technologies from Daguerreotype to black and white film to color to digital to 3D to holograms have unique processes and these processes have become part of an artistic language. An artist that is highly informed of the historic developments of their medium can have a greater command of its language. A Post Modern explanation would be something like 'what does it mean for a digital photographer to create an image that looks as if it was a daguerreotype?' A poet who has a command of language written and/or spoken has greater potential of his/hers art form.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 12:14 PM   #19
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addendum

Sometimes because of time restraints its too much to teach multi processes in 1 class, maybe you can recommend to art history to include these issues in their curriculum.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 12:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Santarromana View Post
Art has always been pushed forward by new technologies, each technology has its process that generates its own visual characteristics and those characteristics speaks something of the culture of the time of that technology. The use of photographic technologies from Daguerreotype to black and white film to color to digital to 3D to holograms have unique processes and these processes have become part of an artistic language. An artist that is highly informed of the historic developments of their medium can have a greater command of its language. A Post Modern explanation would be something like 'what does it mean for a digital photographer to create an image that looks as if it was a daguerreotype?' A poet who has a command of language written and/or spoken has greater potential of his/hers art form.
While I don't disagree with this, I really feel much of this discussion is being played out in the minds of people who are not students, or haven't been around students in a long time. So here's the scenario.

You are a professor. You teach Video Production. It's day 1 of class. Thirty young men and women, most of whom have never seen a box of film are about to walk into your twice a week, 1.5 hour class. You have 13 weeks, or 26 classes to teach them a university level course in producing commercial video. That is a total of 39 hours. Less than a full work week for someone clocking a 9-5 job.

So let's make it pertinent to the folks here. If you were going to shadow a wedding videographer, or a wildlife videographer because that was what you were planning to do with the rest of your life, and you had a SINGLE 40hr week to learn everything you needed to know, how much time would you like that person to spend on the history of video cameras, analog sound techniques, nyquist theorems, A/D converters, and other minutiae, and how much of that 40 hours would you like spent on the things you'd need to either become employable at the end of the week, or to start your own business at the end of the week.

These kids have 5 or 6 classes most likely, and are trying to find their way to their future. Sure, understanding how we go to the point we are at is terrific. And very important. But with a total of 39 hours available, I'd be rather disappointed to spend $5k-$10k of my tuition money on learning it. Time that I'd rather spend learning to edit, light, script, mic, and create broadcast level work.

If we're talking about a high school class, where you can dedicate 120-150 hours or more to the subject, then yes, I think you go into that kind of depth.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 01:22 PM   #21
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Well, I don't think you need to spend two weeks on the subject but I do think it's important to at least talk about it in an introductory class and point at relevant literature. I also think the "analogy" between a 40 hour workweek and a 40 hour total class (although if it's a semester system probably closer to 60 or 70 hours) doesn't really take into consideration the time spent in reading/homework etc on a class - I remember spending 6 hours a week in class and 20 hours a week in lab (I was a Chemistry & Physics combined major and I think I lived in those labs!) all things considered I think I spent more than 40 hours a week on these two subjects (and I had 3 others)
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Old September 30th, 2010, 02:04 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
You have 13 weeks, or 26 classes to teach them a university level course in producing commercial video. That is a total of 39 hours. Less than a full work week for someone clocking a 9-5 job.
Is this really university degree level? It sounds like it falls short of what I would call a degree, no wonder whenever I attend workshops students helping out say they learn more on that workshop than in one year on their course. I assume this is a just one module which makes up the final degree.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 03:00 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Well, I don't think you need to spend two weeks on the subject but I do think it's important to at least talk about it in an introductory class and point at relevant literature. I also think the "analogy" between a 40 hour workweek and a 40 hour total class (although if it's a semester system probably closer to 60 or 70 hours) doesn't really take into consideration the time spent in reading/homework etc on a class - I remember spending 6 hours a week in class and 20 hours a week in lab (I was a Chemistry & Physics combined major and I think I lived in those labs!) all things considered I think I spent more than 40 hours a week on these two subjects (and I had 3 others)
When a paper is assigned on a subject, typically that indicates more than one classroom lecture is spent on the concepts. We can conservatively say 2-3 class periods on it, perhaps to include a discussion after the papers are read and graded.

As for the semester system, my basic courses were 3 credit hours. Which meant either 3 :58 minute class periods or 2 1.5 hour class periods. We had 4 credit our classes with lab (I was an engineering student) and yes, that was 2, 2hr classes and a 3hr lab per week, plus homework. But I wouldn't expect a video production course to run the same as a chemistry lab. I'd expect it to run more like most common classes which are lecture only.

As previously mentioned, I see nothing wrong at all with devoting 1, 2, or even perhaps 3 lectures to the idea of laying the groundwork. Explaining from whence we've come, and how we got to today. And from there on, coursework should focus on present and potentially, future techniques and methods. At least in my view.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 03:05 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Is this really university degree level? It sounds like it falls short of what I would call a degree, no wonder whenever I attend workshops students helping out say they learn more on that workshop than in one year on their course. I assume this is a just one module which makes up the final degree.
Brian,

I think we are misunderstanding one another. This is likely a single course of perhaps 3-4 credit hours of a total 120+ that a student must complete to graduate. That is, assuming it is a traditional 4 year university. However, in the American University system, there is often not a lot of overlap in this kind of field, so each course is designed to stand on it's own somewhat. In that context, learning as much practical information per class is optimal. Whereas taking a more general course in the THEORY of production would seem more suitable to a historical lesson on the craft, and perhaps bringing that up to modern methods.

Coursework is often laid out in a mix of theory, and practical application. Much like in a liberal arts course, you might take "modern literature" to get a synopsis of poetry and prose from the past 100 years, but you'd take "Creative Writing" as your practical application of that knowledge. And the overlap between the two is quite small.

Hopefully, that makes sense.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 03:14 PM   #25
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Personally, I think the issue here has little to do with the state of the industry - OR the state of education. It was started by a teacher confronting the fact that every year, more and more of the knowledge base that allowed him to become a teacher is getting more and more obsolete.

That's difficult to confront.

And it's a BIG problem for the education industry. If everything is changing - and current knowledge is what you read over the last month on-line - what's even the ROLE of formal education?

It's easy to teach the historical basics, because the students can't be expected to pick that up without directed study. But when you have to make an encoding decision TODAY between H-264 and WebM, for example, the ONLY way to make that decision is if you've spent a LOT of time keeping current. And how can you do that - also prepare to teach it - AND live your life?

What makes "school", school anymore? Perhaps that's the real question. And will it look like formal classrooms and lectures much longer. Or will "school" for pragmatic skills like Video Production become more like rolling shoots that demonstrate what's working TODAY.

Interesting time we live in.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post

Coursework is often laid out in a mix of theory, and practical application. Much like in a liberal arts course, you might take "modern literature" to get a synopsis of poetry and prose from the past 100 years, but you'd take "Creative Writing" as your practical application of that knowledge. And the overlap between the two is quite small.

.
I do get the impression that the American system is modular, but for over the overall degree the modules themselves may not totally interconnect.

As for all the changing, there are aspects which change very quickly, but other aspects that haven't really changed at all. There are top DP's who aren't hugely technical, but are extremely creative and/or have excellent people skills. These people survive the technical changes because they have the core skills that have always been in the industry. They also know how to access the required new knowledge and make use of it.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 05:16 PM   #27
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Hi Ozzie,

You ask "How can we understand the present when the past has been erased?"

As you can tell from the responses, the past has definitely not been erased, it has evolved and is built into the digital world in many ways from the technical and mechanical to the continuity of the skill of making fine stories and fine imagery captured and presented with the latest technologies.

Probably from the very beginning of human societies, wisdom (as opposed to information and knowledge) has been passed down by telling stories. I can imagine conjuring images in those long distant past times through firelight, costumes, dancing, song, plays, and mock battles. Along the timeline of human development we have created new ways to engage the mind and heart.

While the relationship of film technology of the past and digital technology of the present are important they are really a means to an end -- passing on wisdom through storytelling and the metaphor of the images we see on the various screens we use to display them. In today's world staying current with the amazingly rapid development of better and better technology is a challenge all by itself. So I agree with the sentiment that while the technical historical past is of interest, especially in the abstract, it is not a critical feature of being able to tell stories using modern digital equipment.

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Old September 30th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #28
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I don't care what students know about film. I care what students know about what people have done with film. I agree with statements from several people above, that a "production" education needs to include practice and study in many genres.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #29
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Aside from the technical factors involved in distinguishing analogue from digital, the practical characteristics can certainly be extrapolated and philosophized upon.

An educational exploratory technique I have always favored would be the elemental core of a parable, but without the surface analogy narrative. To help explore and discuss such distinguishing characteristics, it might serve to start with analogous and communally recognized concepts with which they are most familiar in their own active memory. For these students, such concepts might be the ways that Myspace, and more recently, Facebook have largely replaced campus community billboards, texting has replaced phone calls and emails, and the growing trend many students are now experiencing with PDFs and ebooks are starting to replace the bulky and expensive course text books required for their studies.

Each is, in their own ways, methods to connect the expression and the reception of information. Each also carries their own benefits and limitations - pros and cons, including such factors as ease of use, functionality, accessibility, cost of entry, maintenance, systemic adoption, scalability, and intra-operational compatibility, among a host of others.

The same holds true to analogue / digital media creation. Fundamentally, the information to be conveyed is unchanged - the precise amalgams of light and shadow, sound and silence. What is different is the methods through which these fundamentals are captured, manipulated, and expressed. And these also invite the same opportunities for extrapolation - benefits and limitations - pros and cons.

While some elements of these explorations may not serve to be dwelt upon, in some ways "long view scutiny" can sometimes invite stepping outside of the box, and compel the ambitious to re-think even the most basic tools of the trade that many take for granted, optimizing their potential, and even spurring on the next phase of related technological development. There will come a time that those students discussing this today will be the next generation's perception of those with a blinking "12:00" on their VCR faceplates, or a looping Foghat cartridge stuck in their 8-track player.

-Jon
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Old October 1st, 2010, 12:15 AM   #30
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I also think "Sunrise" is one of the greatset silent films.
But most film makers have forgotten a lot of great films in the silent era.
Few people watch even Griffith's movies at the present day.
But I don't think people should be worried about it.
Because if the students need knowledge of analogue, they will learn about it by themselvs in the future.
But If they don't need it, they won't learn it.
If they don't want to learn about past time, they won't be able to get complete knowledge.
What instructors can teach their students are limited.
The instructors should wait for students finding what they will need.
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