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Shooting and Editing Music Videos

Wow, this was a tough one. This project ended up ok, but didn’t happen as I originally intended. Let me explain.

The whole point of getting students to shoot and edit their own music videos, was to teach them the technique of “multicam editing”. This is the technique where multiple cameras are used to shoot a scene (let’s say, a close up, medium shot and wide shot) and the editors in Premiere Pro would sync each clip together (usually with a clapperboard sound or hand clapping) and then simply choose which clip to place in their video one at a time.

Here is a good video that explains the process.

I thought – and this shows my lack of education in this area – that i could adapt this by having the students in groups to have 3-4 different versions of them performing a song. Let’s say . . .

  • Version 1: Kids singing the song
  • Version 2: Other kids singing the song
  • Version 3: Kids dancing to the song
  • Version 4: Kids “acting” parts of the song.

They would need to play their song from an iPad off camera on a count of 1,2,3 – Go. That word GO is what would sync all the clips in Premiere.

Make sense? Well, sort of. What I came to realise is that’s not really what multicam editing is meant to be for. It only really works if mutliple cameras are shooting the same scene, as the name implies. Also, the kids would need to record each version for the entire length of the song. Most groups did not do that.

So, I had to backtrack a bit, after seeing what the kids filmed. We had to look at editing it in a more traditional way.

So, to set up this project, I got each group to nominate which song they wanted to do. I said that it had to be a song that the singers in the group knew very well. I assured them that we would take out the sound in editing, and sync the real song in it’s place – so, no need to feel self conscious. I also made it clear that they couldn’t lipsync the song. Lip syncing always looks incredibly fake. Obviously I had to vett the songs to make sure they were appropriate. Although the kids knew that meant no swearing or inappropriate content like sex, drugs and violence, they often would miss some of the more subtle innuendos in the song, in which case I told them they had to choose again.

musicvideo

I then put all the songs on iPads 1-6. These were the “audio” iPads. iPads 7-12 were my “video” iPads – the ones that the kids would use for filming. Again, the idea is that the audio iPad would be close to the video iPad, but off camera, with a countdown.

In explaining all of this, I showed them a cut down version of what I did. I always say to the kids that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I would not do myself. So, on my own, I did do a (deliberately embarrassing) version of Pharell Williams “Happy”. I filmed the song four times, in this way.

  • Version 1: Singing standing up in one location
  • Version 2: Singing sitting down in another location
  • Version 3: Dancing to the song in yet another location
  • Version 4: Snapping my fingers to the song in yet another location

When I filmed, edited and explained this, it was still my intention to go the multicam route. If I had known that we would be editing this traditionally, I wouldn’t have bothered to film the entire song for Version 3 and 4. It wouldn’t be necessary. These two I call wild tracks, because it doesn’t matter where in the video you put them, it still works. Obviously the singing has to be in the right point in the song.

To my chagrin, here is my (cutdown) version of Happy.

So, after laughing hard for about 10 minutes, each class went out to do the filming. One group even went to the effort of bringing costumes for the shoot, which I loved!

It was once I reviewed what they had done that I realised that the multicam workflow was not going to work. Especially since most students had not recorded full song videos for each clip.

So, for the next session, once all their videos were transferred to our school server, we could begin looking at how to edit this music video traditionally.

The first step was to sync the song to the video. This required students to listen out for that 1,2,3,go intro and put the song right at that point, muting the video audio at the same time. Then they had to look at other clips they had, and choose subclips at different points.

Here’s a video I made to explain the proceess. Please note, because I used the Pharell Williams song “Happy” I didn’t play the sound in the video below for copyright reasons

The whole project took 3 sessions, with the first being the shoot, and the last two being the edit. Although the students did save the projects and export them as movies, we could not upload them to YouTube for their portfolios because of copyright issues with the songs themselves. This was the perfect opportunity to explain why copyright exists and the permissions needed to include other people’s songs on projects. We did save them and share them, though.

All in all, a challenging project that did need to be reworked, but the students had a lot of fun doing it.

Adding Subtitles to Star Wars

It was about this time last year when I found out I was going to take on the Media Arts specialist role. So many ideas were running through my head. What tools, what equipment and mostly – what projects should I do?

This one is the first one I thought of. I’m not saying it’s necessarily the best project we’ve done all year, but it was a lot of fun.

Essentially, I wanted to teach the students how to add subtitles to a video project. So there’s your learning outcome. My way to engage them was to use Star Wars. I remembered years ago seeing a clip online where someone put their subtitles on a sequence featuring R2D2. So, simply – what is R2D2 really saying? A fun idea – yes. But one that takes a lot of planning, both from the teacher and the students.

The clip I used, which I found on YouTube and downloaded, was the start of Revenge of the Sith where Obi Wan and Anakin are flying around, trying to get in the command ship to free Chancellor Palpatine. Yes, I knew all of that without looking it up! There are some moments where R2 says somethings, but in the history of Star Wars cannon, the movies never subtitle R2. Other characters sometimes know what he’s saying, but you as the viewer do not. So, I had a think and came up with this video.

I’m not claiming it’s all that funny, but that was fine because I challenged the kids to do better. I gave them, in the first session, a planning sheet where I had transcribed the whole sequence, added timecodes to each line of dialogue, and left a blank space everytime R2D2 beeped and whistled. I even left a space for the enemy droid ship who said something mechinical before firing his missiles.

So, after watching the sequence a couple of times, the kids had to basically fill in the blanks as to what R2D2 was saying at each point. Of course, as you’d expect, there were some students that I had to temper their enthusiasm a little as what they suggested was borderline inappropriate, but for the most part, the kids got into the spirit of it. Even those who had no real interest in Star Wars.

The second and third session was the real challenge. The process of adding subtitles (or captions, as Premiere Pro calls it) is fairly simple, but easy to mess up. Below is a video of me explaining how I added subtitles to my Star Wars clip.

I was strict with the kids on using proper capitalisation and punctuation. I helped out when it came to spelling. I also made them check, and re-check their timecodes so that they matched what I had on the sheet.

The results were mixed. I’m not a comedy critic, but I do think my version was better than some of the kids, but most did a very reasonable job. And all students, at the end, had a much greater understanding of subtitles, their various purposes, and the technicalities of where and how they are placed in a video clip.

This was the last project I did with the Gr 3-4s. I will post a reflection on the Gr 3-4 curriculum over the summer break.

Shots On Film – Part 3

In this final part of the project, students learned how to nest a composition inside another one, add titles (including a rolling crawl) and music to finish it off.

You can find the last tutorial here below.

Shots On Film – Part 2

In part two on this unit of editing their Shots on Film project, students were asked to import their Photoshop file into Premiere Pro as individual layers and match them up in the sequence with their corresponding clip. Once that was done, they had to add transition effects. The second part of the tutorial is here below.

As always, please leave a comment!

Shots On Film – A New Project for Premiere Pro

The week prior to this one, the Grade 5-6s learned about shot composition and different camera angles. They then had to go outside and film short 4 second examples of each one. You can read more about it and the lesson at my other blog Confessions of a Media Arts Teacher.

This week, the students were shown how to create Lower Thirds in Photoshop and then import them as well as their clips into Premiere Pro to set up their project.

This is part one of three in the unit where I go through various editing techniques to achieve the final product – a movie they cut together called Shots On Film.

Below is the first part in that series. Leave a comment below if you have any suggestions or if this is something you think you can use in your classroom.

Creating a Simple Trailer in Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is a seriously robust and powerful program for video production. In introducing basic video editing to students, I thought that making a 20 second trailer out of a screencast might be the way to do it.

The students in my class used Screencast-o-Matic to make screencast videos to teach the world something. This two-part tutorial, then, is about selecting clips within that video, and adding music, transitions and a basic static title.

I would love to know if this is something you would want to try with your students. Leave me a comment below!