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Old September 30th, 2010, 11:46 PM   #31
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Ah, Yoshiko...........

pretty well exactly what I said in post #7.

I know when I did my video course in London as a (very) mature student, I could bring a wealth of previous knowledge of still photography to the party which the "kids" just didn't have, neither did they have the exposure I'd already had in video from doing it in practice and what I'd learn't via DVinfo.

Did it stop them from learning the realities as it existed then, with the equipment available? Not a bloody bit.

Yes, I was able to increase their learning curve dramatically because I had "hands on" practice at a speciality they hadn't had even a chance to touch before, but I was amazed by how those "kids" (mostly early 20's, I was in my early 50's!) soaked up information.

They were "getting" the new stuff a heck of a lot faster than I was (tho' as I knew the "new stuff" was, in effect, "old stuff" I wasn't exactly too bothered).

Forget the analogue/ digital divide.

Movie making is about creativity and discipline, they will not be surplanted by any technology ever created.

Worrying about the technology just obscures the reality - how do you make a product that talks to people?

Lose that and sink into obscurity, whether it be analogue or digital, it's still just dross.

Forget the history unless the individual want to find out themselves, get on with what they NEED to know going forward.

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Old October 1st, 2010, 12:47 AM   #32
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So don't you think people can learn anything from history?
Many painters learnt some useful techniques from previous works of the pioneers.
I guess movie makers should be similar to them.
Few people at the present day know Griffith's techniques, but obviously they made films developt in the 20th century.
If the techchnology of the 20th century didn't exist, the current technology don't exist.
We can learn a lot of things from history.
But we can't force any students to do so.
Maybe some great students will find something from history.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 03:40 AM   #33
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I think people maybe confusing analogue and digital technology, which are the tools, rather than learning what you do with the tools. Unfortunately, a lot of productions seem to be following a template, rather than letting the subject matter lead the form. Although, there's always the element of the production executives just blindly following the buzz words they heard on the latest guru workshop, rather than thinking about it.

Nothing really new about that, John Ford didn't shoot some CUs because he knew that the studios would use them give a chance. Other directors only let the shots run as long as THEY needed before cutting, so the studios didn't have too many alternatives during the editing. Now everything is over covered and the director may not have any involvement in the edit.

Knowing about lighting and having a knowledge of images is something that carries forward regardless of the technology, as does knowing about dramatic timing and story telling skills.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 07:40 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Yoshiko Okada View Post
So don't you think people can learn anything from history?
Absolutely yes, they can. But at the university level, that's usually a separate class altogether. When I went to film school at UT-Austin, film history was a mandatory course, and it was two semesters long (it was also one of my favorite classes). Our introductory production class -- if I recall correctly, it was "Principles of Film & Video Production" or some such -- did not touch upon film history at all since there was a separate course for that already. One day early in the course was spent on the history of the technology, and from there on it did not look back. Our text for most of that course was Photography by Upton. The instructor said, "this text is about still photography but the fundamentals of framing, composition and exposure are exactly the same for the moving image. Read everything in this book except for the part about developing film." It was one of the best pieces of advice, not to mention one of the best text books, I ever experienced in film school.

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Old October 1st, 2010, 10:04 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
...The instructor said, "this text is about still photography but the fundamentals of framing, composition and exposure are exactly the same for the moving image. Read everything in this book except for the part about developing film." It was one of the best pieces of advice, not to mention one of the best text books, I ever experienced in film school.
Most students have learned to read the visual language of film and television. For most, this is, in the main, a subconcious process.

Learning to write in the conventional visual language is of primary concern. As Chris points out above, the conventions of composition have been with us for a long time. Other conventions too, like, "when to cut" between shots. When not to cross the line. How to reflect the changing emotional intimacy of a scene in shot selection.

Here, the long history of art, photography, film, television, graphic design and other graphic arts can inform us in our study of visual language and the creation of new works. Likewise the history of musical exposition, radio, and even carnival hucksters can inform our audio compositions.

I encourage students to not only know, but to add to that pallette of conventions. There's always a new way to cross the line with a camera, a way to make a stronger composition.

How to optically composite in the film printing process is a dead-end, if not a dead art. That now-ancient technology and craft may yet inform an effects designer, but, as Yoshiko Okada points out above, it will be post-university study for that effects designer.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 11:28 AM   #36
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Having read everything above, I find myself agreeing with pretty much everybody. That's because I don't really understand why Ozzie was requiring a midterm essay/paper on comparing analogue and digital.

The fundamental question is what is the analogue-digital comparison supposed to teach the students? That is not a rhetorical question about old and new.

If Ozzie is teaching an academic course, one could well ask a McLuhanesque question about the extent to which media and technical limitations shape perception and technique. A question about comparing analogue and digital could be a focus except that you really would need to teach a lot of history to provide the frame of reference mentioned in Ozzie's title for this thread. One could just as well ask for a discussion of how the limitations of movie film & equipment (and the related economics) shaped the filmic style that productions still emulate and whose look still has very strong partisans.

But is that where Ozzie was aiming? Or, is he running a practical/lab type course about actual production practices for things such as broadcast, movies, multimedia educational packages, etc.? If the latter, then, analogue-digital comparisons do not have a purpose apparent to me. True, there are folks who still deliberately work with Super 8mm film. (I recall reading a recent post in the Wedding and Event forum here about somebody who made a wedding video that he shot with a Super 8 film camera.) But, realistically, nobody coming out of a college level TV production program is going to have to compare and choose between digital and analogue production equipment. Digital won that fight a decade ago.

For hands-on production training, analogue-digital comparisons sound like something to skip much as Chris's instructor said to skip chapter on film development in the Upton book. You do need to learn how to work with depth of field and how choices of lenses, aperture and shutter speed affect the production. You do not need to compare films stocks and Beta video tape to XDCAM and P2.

I remember an experience somewhat like Chris's, except that my college film classes were about ten years before Upton first published his book. (I think we used something that combined chapters excerpted from writings by Ansel Adams and Sergi Eisenstein.) We also had a lecture on the old nitrate film. It was interesting and also was potentially useful for anybody thinking about conservation and museum work. It would not have been a good subject for a midterm paper.

It seems to me that looking at the old work to learn about narrative structure, and techniques of framing and composition is different than comparing, say, kinescopes, 3/4-inch Ampex, Beta, SVHS and Hi8 with DV, HDV and AVCHD.

So, back to where I started this post: what was Ozzie trying to get the students to learn by comparing analogue and digital? Answering that seems fundamental to helping him figure out how to change the midterm so that he can better communicate with his students.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 12:28 PM   #37
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When I first used a Digibeta camera compared to an analogue Betacam SP BVW 400, the only things that I noticed that were different was that the CG was a bit higher and the sound reference tone setting was different, everything else was the same.

Having to switch between 4x3 and 16:9 depending on the production was a bigger deal because some lenses had an build in optical adapter, so that the angle of view could be maintained, while other lenses didn't. This could restrict your wide end on 4x3 on a Digibeta camera.

Now everything is 16:9, so it's not an issue.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 08:46 PM   #38
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Anyone want to wager on whether Chris actually read the part about film developing or not? As I remember college (50th reunion coming in a year or two!) whenever a professor told us to skip something it was the first thing we looked at. Usually we had to agree that it was a waste of time/irrelevant, but occasionally it was the best part of the book. I always thought that the greatest thing about college was that it exposed you to so many things that you had had no intention of studying or even finding out about. Or put another way, I think I often learned more from the "don't bother reading it" parts of the book than from what I was supposed to be reading.

But then again I've wound up in a career that's totally different from what I thought I wanted to do and am eternally glad that I studied at a liberal arts school instead of an engineering oriented school where I would never have been as challenged to think outside the bounds I had originally set for myself.

As someone said, Education is what's left when you've forgotten everything you learned in college.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 10:25 PM   #39
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I wonder if our views can help Ozzie.
I guess he wants to teach his students the value of analogue because of a teacher, but he doesn't know how to teach them.
So I should have thought how we could help him rather than if we had to study hisory or not.
If he can, I'd like him to tell us what he is thinking about it now.
And I found maybe Laurence Janus made a good suggestion in his comment (#11).
But I could hardly understand what he wrote.
So if he doesn't think it bother him, I'd like him to write what he suggested again.

Anyway I want a lot of students to learn various things including history of shooting films.
Nobody knows what is profitable during studying probably.
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 02:53 PM   #40
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It's not all about the market

A very interesting thread especially for me who is also a university lecturer though not in film / video production.

One of the fundamental questions is what is a University education for? To help students get jobs or to help them develop a love of knowledge and the ability to learn and grow autonomously? To me it is the latter because the former is only short term whilst the latter will help them for their whole life (including, importantly, the ever changing demands of the job market). So I'm in the history / context / critical enquiry / understanding camp all the way.

Students often complain of being taught things that are 'irrelevant'. That is because they lack understanding of what is lastingly important and only see the short term. Our job is to try and enlighten them and 'selling out' to the ever decreasing demands of the fickle market will impoverish education and do the fee paying students a disservice.

Rant over, and of course practical / technical skills are very important too!
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 04:08 PM   #41
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Since I'm feeling especially ornery today let me pose an even more complicated meta-question...

Current research shows pretty clearly that when it comes to brain development - MOST people don't reach full brain maturity until 25 or so. So if you're standing in front of a classroom of 20 year olds, and they have diminished reasoning skills relative to where they'll be in another 5 years - what's the point of focusing overly much on ANY of the grave, important discusson processes suggested here that pretty much REQUIRE cognitive reasoning to parse.

Why not just teach PROCESS? At that age, kids can easily learn process and repetition. So drill, drill, drill on the button pushing skills. Push them out in the field and let them watch, and participate in the process of making content. But leave the philosophy stuff until the whole class can participate fairly?

Not my SUGGESTION mind you. Just a point of interest in the discussion.

If you've got 20 students and only 5 of them have the fully developed cognitive skills to learn the esoteric skills YOU want to teach - aren't you doing 15 of them a disservice by concentrating on what YOU find important at YOUR age? Rather than concentrating on what THEY can learn at their age?

Just asking the question.

And yes, I know school (at least in the US) doesn't work like that. I'm posing the question about what it SHOULD look like in order to be most effective.

Discuss amongst yourselves.
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 06:14 PM   #42
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Funny - I thought full maturity (mental at least) didn't arrive until 80 or 90! At least I assumed that's why my wife keeps telling me I'm acting like a child! Now you've got me starting to worry - maybe I've been going downhill all these years and never realized it.

Lots of interesting ideas bouning around here.

First, let me say that I'm not so sure what the OP meant by teaching analog(ue). If he was into teaching how to splice tape with a knife to do editing, maybe is isn't relevant any more (although I find it interesting) but if he was into things like understanding why digital (audio) clipping is so much different than analog (tube) clipping then I think he'd be right on to teach it. After all, tubes seem to be making quite a comeback lately.

Re Bill's comment re age of (mental) maturity for 75% of the college population, then I wonder if maybe 75% of the college population is in the wrong kind of school at their point in time - maybe they'd be better served by studying at a technical/trade school focused on workplace skills and going to university later in life. I think I'm sort of with the comments made by Geoffrey a couple of posts ago. re what exactly the point of a univeristy education really is.

Probably politically incorrect to go down this path but for some reason in the US we seem to have a fear of acknowledging that different people for different reasons have different educational goals and capabilities and everybody shouldn't necessarily be in a university setting.
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 07:10 PM   #43
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Hi All,

Recognizing that there is a continuum of education in a college/university setting that ranges from applied to abstruse, and also recognizing that each college or teaching university or research-based university sets its own objectives, I looked up what and where he teaches. Ozzie himself is a highly qualified professional who has won Emmy Awards for cinematograhy and outstanding directing.

The stated objectives of the program are:
•Training in all relevant production techniques such as camerawork, lighting, editing, sound engineering, tape operation and more
•Intensive classroom instruction detailing the history of television, film production, radio, journalism and web-based media
•Opportunities for hands-on learning in a state-of-the art Television Center, both through classroom instruction and extracurricular participation in WRED-TV
•Courses in management, marketing and business administration as the industry values professionals with strong business skills.

So this is not a research-based university style course, it is a teaching style university and one of its stated objectives is "detailing the history of television, film production, radio, journalism and web-based media." Because it is an entire program and within this program one of the objectives is a detailed history, it makes sense to ask students to do a paper on the subject; perhaps even a big paper. But clearly the paper should focus on history as a way to learn the profession.

Ozzie is facing a challenge and looking for guidance on one part of the historical aspects; the evolution from film to digital. How to talk about the past when most of the students have never heard of the basics of the earlier technology. Presumably he will also teach other important aspects of the history about how to make a good film by examining the great films of the past.

But this remains an interesting question (the evolution of film to digital) that in a detailed history seems logical to ask a student to understand.

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Old October 3rd, 2010, 12:45 AM   #44
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My major was psychology, and I studied how films influenced human minds.
I watched plenty of films including a lot of silent films and some movies made in the Soviet Union for my studying.
The silent films fascnated me very much though they didn't have colours nor sounds.
To be honest I prefer Murnau's or Stroheim's films to recent Hollywood movies.
They made impressive and exciting films in 20s.

I am just an amteur of shooting videos or films.
But I may tell you audience's mind.
At the present day a lot of people have their video cameras.
Even children can have their own cameras, and can post their works on websites.
But most of them are boring.
Though they watched their objects carefully when they shoot videos or films, but few cameramen think about audience.
I think Murnau and some directors in silent era understood what audience wanted to watch.
Their techniques impressed audience, but their camera didn't shoot the outstanding scenes.
The cameras didn't shoot only objects. but also views of cameramen.

I guess most students studying at universities want to be professinal of videos and films.
But instructors can teach them just fundamental and techniques.
I know one famous photographer who could ignored audience.
He was Jaques Henri Lartigue.
His family was very rich, so he didn't need to earn money.
He took plenty of photographs and shot some short films, but they were just his hobbies.
He took those photos for himself ,his family and his friends.
Though he didn't expect to show a lot of people his works, they impress a lot of people now.
He had a gift, but few cameramen are similar to him.

I don't think the latest technology can improve anyone's technique.
Once they post their works on websites, there are a lot of audience.
They can't decide if their works are good or not by themselves.
They should understand minds of audience.

Now I feel frustrated because my English is terrible, so I can hardly tell you my opinion well.
I think the shooting films doesn't mean just handling machines.
But instructors can't teach their students about human minds.
So I'd like a lot of students to watch a lot of films including very old works, and learn what shooting is..
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 12:50 AM   #45
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I think your English has a lovely poetic flow, and you express opinion very well. Don't let anyone tell you your English is terrible.
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