Archive for the ‘multimedia in education’ Category

Interwebs and Arts: in praise of “Ghost in the Shell”

March 1, 2011

I have sometimes linked to particular sites which caught my attention for non-professional artistic skills, but recently I’ve been considering the commercial side.

For example, the ability to purchase movie videos not available even in the speciality rental stores – like “The Muppet Frog Prince”, or “Bell Book and Candle” (that is the predecessor of “Bewitched”, and shows that Jimmy Stewart really could act,) or “Separate Tables” (not flashy, but brilliant acting.)

More interesting is the finding of videos not commonly known, and the art they include. I have been struck by the quality of some of these, and particularly the start and end credits of the animé series “Ghost in the Shell”

(Aside:  End credits have great music and some important details, including who was that actor I thought I recognised — which is part of why I promote a revolt against those TV stations which shrink end credits and put ad visuals and sounds over  them.  Media and Arts Alliance take note.)

I was impressed by all the opening and closing versions, but I want to focus on “Inner Universe”.

The lyrics from Yoko Kanno/Origa’s “Inner Universe” have a fascinating net-presence.  There is argument on who wrote what and what the lyrics mean, and argument on what the lyrics are (sorry about the advert links on that site!).   The subtitled versions on the DVD set,  alternating between Japanese and English subtitles per episode, are worth seeing:

A follower of such things told me (I omit ver name for privacy preference) that the animation was devised with the music and subtitle placement in mind.  I am inclined to believe that, as the subtitled  sequence calls me to view it from time to time (in both forms) without watching the episodes.

On this basis I feel the video is an artwork in its own right.

Go on, get hold of a copy.  All you need to know is that the female character is a law operative in an artificial, internet/computer/brain linked, almost indestructible body.  Now, try to analyse what the video does and how.  Maybe discuss it with visual arts and music specialists.   There you have a major multimedia education experience, unavailable but for the internet allowing oddballs to chase up overseas interests, with totally fair financial rewards to the DVD company which made it available internationally.

Appreciating excellence is a joyful activity.

So I got that video onto Youtube

May 26, 2010

Recently I reported on my efforts to get a video uploaded.  It was suggested that the Uni security might have blocked the upload.  Nope.  The .avi would not load at home either.

It turns out there is more than one form of .avi, so I tried a more compact one – my friend’s elderly a/v program doesn’t do mpeg-2 etc.

That worked – but it uploaded very slowly.  Knowing how temperamental the browser has become since the  last upgrade of its sourcecode,  well, more mental really, I didn’t dare do anything else on the machine, and feared that if I went to bed  it would send a message demanding “action in set time or default options would apply” (I’ve had that happen …)  Heigh-ho.   Heigh-ho. Ho-hum.

Was it worth it?  Well, here it is.

A YouTube video for young ones with slower perception speeds:  they get so lost in a busy classroom.

seeing sounds – not synaesthesia

May 25, 2010

While editing sound files, I realised that I take the wave-forms of speech for granted. Primary students – and non-sound-editing older people – probably won’t know about them.  I think that could be a very useful tool.  I know it from its use in linguistics, but had not considered its use in the classroom.

I’m not thinking so much about the LOTE classes, though it would be useful there – have the language expert record some words, and the students try to match the wave forms – as I am about oral skills.

It could be fun, trying to match each others wave-forms.  Cunningly, it would also involve learning about the way the vocal apparatus makes the sounds, and getting immediate feedback bout one’s enunciation.  Very interesting if one student uses the velar /r/ (that gargled European form) and one uses the dental trill. has some interesting (older) freeware listed,
as has University College, London.

Portal: entry to useful skills

May 25, 2010

Watching a player [who has worked (without cheats) through the game] playing “Portal” creatively was an experience of fascination and awe for me.  ( If you want to see how the game looks,  I Twittered a link to a page with an advertising video for it a while back.)

The game involoves aiming a “gun” at certain classes of surfaces.   Left /right mouseclicks give access to make the blue /orange portal.  The player can have only one of each open at a time.  If ve enters a portal ve exits at the other with the same velocity relative to the surface of the portal, so falling two stories into one on the floor can hurtle ver out of one on the wall.

The playing space is, of  course, filled with delightful ways to die, and has a charming AI talking to the player  as ve is “tested”.   Watch it too long and you start talking like her … and it is terribly easy to watch too long.

At one point, the player has to set up a portal high on a wall, and its partner on a floor in a distant room to which ve can dive from a height.  Ver acceleration must be enough and the wall  portal at the right height for the ballistic curve to carry ver to a small walkway high over a pit of acid.  Oh, I didn’t mention the acid?  I’m thinking like the AI …

At least it’s high enough for the player to meditate on the value of good spatial skills as ve falls to (yet another) death dissolve.  (And you can’t get me for that pun, I’m far away now … love the net.)

Just fun?  It certainly isn’t anything the educational system assesses.
And it ties in strangely to what I was reading on “Subjectivity, choice and virtual death in digital media”.


Throughout the game the player uses mental mapping, vector recognition and ballistics prediction skills, and scans the environment for useful / dangerous things.  The mapping gets very complex in the large “training facility”.

These are the skills for things like  military and emergency services’ remotes’s operators,  laparoscopic surgeons,  and resistance to confusion in strange cities.  They also will be useful for an activity not yet here:

With knowledge stores represented as virtual space, the links between areas of knowledge, theories, and individual authors will be complex architecture like this, with distant places having “portal” links.  These players will find navigation easy.  How will you go?

Making a video for YouTube

May 25, 2010

So, as a person whose previous use of digital cameras was using someone else’s to “point and click” I borrowed a digital camera (less than $300 worth, “just a camera” in the shops, but it can record sound to images) on a tripod, and made a wee video.

A script, storyboard, props and spare props, a hand with the stagework …

Then there was learning to edit a low quality sound-track, boosting some sounds, deleting others, getting a microphone to work (the preferred computer still despises it) ,  recording voice to pc and dubbing the new sound over where  the original had a really bad bit.

The art of making scene divisions and fade effects was another new game.  Interesting how different people find different effects make them feel anxious or unwell – material for a class activity there.

Making the video was interesting, but getting it to load on youtube was a pain.  I had, in the past, made a login in Google but abandoned it part-way through, so when I tried to start again it wouldn’t let me – very messy, eventually I wimped out and used another email ID.  That leaves the other ID to tidy later.

Then the DVD wouldn’t load to the web, although it plays on the Uni pc.  So I copied it to the PC, and tried from that file.  Still no joy : “Upload failed due to unknown error.”

(Thinks …)

Well, maybe it doesn’t like .avi files (of course, they are so common, naturally it hates them.)

So now I must learn how to change formats …

I bet that, if I do get it to work, there’ll be similar dramas linking it to my blog and wiki.  DAMN THESE LEARNING CURVES.  (yes, i know, it’s rude to shout, but really …)

Masterclasses in vodcasting

April 21, 2010

I like the way many craft teachers show a completed article, show its use, show the needed skill at full speed, then break down the skill into small, slow-motion steps.  We do something similar in teaching literacy:  read to pre-verbal children as well as to primary classes;  introduce very well written texts and use them in class exercises (well, yes, I have seen terrible trash used in class exercises …);  while the students are learning the basics write for the class then write with the class.  Very Vygotsky.

So why do so many teachers talk as though they go straight to making podcasts and vodcasts?  I expect that they have used internet resources with the students, and used offline resources in similar ways.  I am not so sure that they have explicitly analysed for (or with) their students the good and bad points of these resources as products, or examined the mechanics of making them.

This may lead to a division in understandings: between those whose families discuss the techniques used in multimedia, who watch “The Chaser” (link to their video “say no to ads”)and “Hungry Beast” (link to their video report on google) and time-shift them (record or iView) for their kids to see – and those who just watch.  I wonder whether one could get permission to make an “extracts “ DVD, for school use, of the Chaser’s series on the film techniques of current affairs programmes?  Maybe they have / can make one – well, I’ve emailed them to ask, since it’s not listed in their DVD list.