For 2013, instead of writing up the conference by theme or by day, I’m just going to describe some of the highlights – the workshops/panels, etc., that I found particularly informative – and list some of the web links and presentations that the speakers provided.
Before I do so, however, I just want to express how much I have enjoyed the last three conferences. It has been a great joy to meet and speak with my peers in the field of teaching film and video production and studies. Attending UFVA every year exposes me to new ideas and opens my intellectual, artistic and technical horizons. I am profoundly grateful that I made the decision to sign up in 2011.
I arrived early in California, on Saturday, July 27, and headed out to 29 Palms, 2 1/2 hours east of Los Angeles, to hike in Joshua Tree National Park for a few days. Here are my photos of that trip, and of my return to Los Angeles, where I spent one night in Santa Monica with my old film school friend Savvas Paritsis (pictured above, with me, on the final day of the conference). The first photo in the collection is of me and a college buddy of mine, Jason Patent. Upon landing in the Orange County airport, I posted my status on Facebook. Amazingly, Jason, who lives in China, and whom I had not seen in years, had also just landed (his wife’s family lives in the area). He saw my posting, replied, but I had already put my phone away. Not to be deterred, he guessed, correctly, that I might be renting a car, and tracked me down at the Budget desk. His wife Colette showed up, and we ended up having a wonderful conversation for over a half hour. I knew then that this was going to be a good trip.
So what were the highlights of the conference, for me? You can take a look at the full program and see what you might have liked, but here is what I found most interesting, from what I saw, in order by day . . .
Screening 2C, 10:30am-12:15pm:
The University SitCom, Seasons 1 & 2 (F, 90 min., NR)
“The University”, a SitCom produced in the Film/Video Department at Stevenson University, was created in 2011 to bring traffic to the university’s website. Produced by faculty and students working together, it follows the misadventures of bumbling videographer Hank Howard as he makes a promotional video for the school.
While my screening – like so many – was sparsely attended – it was nevertheless a great pleasure to showcase the great work my students have done over the last two years working on this extra-curricular project. You can watch the series on Vimeo.
Panel 4E, 3:30-5:15pm:
Best Practices In Documentary Storytelling – Teaching Beyond Talking Heads and B-Roll
The panel will explore successful techniques and exercises for teaching documentary storytelling at both the undergraduate and graduate level in an effort to elevate students nonfiction films to a place of engaging narrative.
This was a really useful technical workshop where I learned a terrific amount about the file-based workflow systems offered by AJA and supported by Adobe. All photos were taken on my iPad in a dark room, and so are not all that great.
1. Jeff Way
Use Ki Pro Rack as a VTR in a broadcast set-up. Hook up to a broadcast switcher.
Stand-alone device, but can also hook up to a computer or monitor.
Migrating away from PCI Express slots to Thunderbolt
Already, USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 2.0 are on their way.
New Apple Mac Pro will be a Thunderbolt device, with no slots (PCI)
In SpeedGrade, ProRes 4K can be slow, but in Premiere, you can reduce viewing resolution to play back in real time.
In SpeedGrade for CC, you can make color-grading “look files”
LUT = Look-Up Table for color definition of a color space: complete color gamut of space you’re working in.
Issues for students shooting in 4K: hard drive speed and storage
Putting 4K footage into 1080 timeline – you get all that extra frame, and it plays like 1080
CC has audio syncing built in (PluralEyes like capabilities)
PANEL 7E, 1:30-3:15pm:
Anatomy of a Film
Story is told through many prisms in a collaborative endeavor like the production of a feature film. Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,
three members of a production and post-production team (participants to be announced, pending their availability) will discuss how they interact with each other to create a complete and successful story.
AMPAS has lots of resources for students and educators, including the Nicholl Fellowship, which Destin Cretton received in 2010.
Destin Cretton first made short film about the experience of working at center for at-risk teens, also called Short Term 12.
He made 8 shorts, of which the last was Short Term 12, which won a jury prize at Sundance.
Producer Asher Goldstein’s script notes to Destin didn’t try to solve problems, but were vague enough to point out issues and inspire, instead.
• You should never give a note based on what you would do, says Asher.
Destin was having trouble finding investors, even with Sundance win for short and the Nicholl Fellowship, so he made I Am Not a Hipster first, to prove he could do a feature.
These guys were smart and funny, and the clips and trailer from their new film look amazing. Looking forward to it. It was inspiring to hear them talk and tell their stories.
PANEL 9E, 8:30-10:15am:
Interactive Storytelling in the Transmedia Landscape
As interactive digital stories gain more prominence with mainstream audiences, do we, as media makers, need to alter our narrative strategies to accommodate this growing form? In this panel we will explore the effectiveness of audience engagement in online interactive narrative, followed by a robust discussion with attendees.
This was a really well-conceived panel with thoughtful presentations that each gave a different perspective on transmedia storytelling. Since everyone of the presenters uploaded their PowerPoint presentations to the UFVA website, I have linked to them, below, rather than providing my own notes.
1. Jennifer Proctor: The Problems of Interactive Narrative
Interactive Tools for Teaching Production and Film Studies
This workshop will introduce attendees to interactive, online tools to enhance teaching both media production and media studies courses. Tools covered include Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker (video mixing, annotation, and interactivity), Voicethread (video commenting and annotation), and Zeega (interactive authoring).
Again, Jen Proctor came through with a brilliant summary of a fascinating topic. I had actually gone to another panel first – one that didn’t work for me – and I am so happy that I got up and left (sorry, panel presenters!), as Jen’s presentation of the materials, below, will be extremely useful to my teaching this fall.
Here are the four main web links that formed the basis of the workshop:
Allows one to have pop-up windows at specific spots. Jen’s students thought that this made for a good pre-writing exercise.
Media/events columns contain tools for annotation
You could make audio commentary in SoundCloud and then upload it to Popcorn Maker – you can then lower volume of original clip.
You can add maps and logos to the video – work in layers, as in any video editing tool.
Assignment – have students prepare a Popcorn video as a pre-production document.
Popcorn has no privacy settings.
Zeega – less useful than it used to be (they made it more mobile friendly)
You can add animated gifs. You can create animated gifs in Photoshop. You can also find online resources – there is even a gif tool in Zeega.
You control pacing of presentation.
You grab your audio and video from other sources (I believe you create text within the program, however).
PANEL 16E, 3:30-5:15pm:
Creating and Teaching the Web Series
In this panel, we will discuss the benefits of having a web series project in the curriculum, particularly the web series as a good vehicle for teaching students how to create in the short form and how to embrace a larger, serialized structure.
I came late to this panel, as I had, once again, started out in a different panel that did not work for me. My notes, therefore, are brief. As a faculty member who oversaw his own students’ production of a SitCom series (see the beginning of this blog post), I was particularly interested to see how other people do it.
Cal State L.A. is a grad program with many already-working professionals from the local Los Angeles area. They produced the SitCom as part of a structured course.
Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is lead film critic at hammertonail.com, an online magazine devoted to independent cinema; a regular film critic here at filmfestivaltoday.com; the host of Dragon Digital Media’s award-winning "Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed"; a film commentator for the "Roughly Speaking” podcast with Dan Rodricks at "The Baltimore Sun"; and the author of "Film Editing: Theory and Practice." In addition, he is one of three co-creators, along with Summre Garber of Slamdance and Bart Weiss of Dallas VideoFest, of "The Fog of Truth" (fogoftruth.com) – available on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher – a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.
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