iMovie: learning backwards

Making your own film – a very common activity these days. Getting children interested can provide hours of fun and learning. It is also a great way to discover more about how to communicate effectively – surely one of the most important skills that can be taught?

The idea:

Father and son (he is 10) project to make an alternative film of one day over the Christmas holidays – backwards.

The tech:

1. iPhone 5s: great camera built in with slo-mo video recording at an incredible 120 fps (frames per second). Normal video is recorded at around 24 to 30 fps. It means that if you slow it down, everything starts stuttering. At 120 fps, if you slow to a 1/4 speed you are still playing at 30 fps which is a perfectly normal, crisp display. This was great for slow motion reply of striking a match. 2. iPad: sometimes it is just easier for children to hold more steadily. The perfect solution is probably an iPad mini. 3. iMovie: stitching everything together could be done on iPad or iPhone, both of which are more than capable of running iMovie. However, we were reversing the direction of the clips and this requires the full version (in this case it is version 10 with Mavericks on a MacBook Pro). 4. GarageBand – iPad version is the more tactile and almost certainly the better choice for children rather than the full version that runs on iMac / MacBook. Great opportunities for addition of sound effects and also for a self-composed soundtrack. In the end, a mix of an built-in iMovie soundtrack and Garage Band was used. Put it all together and this is what you get:

What we learnt?

1. How to use the technology – iMovie 10 seems far more tricky to use in terms of its editing capabilities than its predecessor. Getting the clips to play in reverse took a while to figure out (that is, if you are over 40 it took a while!). 2. Multi-media often involves multiple items of technology – composing on iPad in GarageBand and exporting the mp3 by email or via Google Drive, to be collected on the MacBook and inserted into iMovie. Also, choosing to use iPhone camera for some extracts and the iPad for others. 3. How to finish an edit – fading in the audio clips, splitting the video clips and audio tracks, ‘ducking the audio’ (lowering the sound level to allow another item to be heard more clearly), adding titles. It’s all in there. 4. Choosing the best bits – we’re not so good at that and know that most people will probably not want to watch the full length, even if they know there is a clip of a cat eating in reverse in the middle!

The outcome

1. A lot of fun. 2. A chance to look at everyday things in a lot of detail – you do get a different perspective by watching so closely. 3. Pride to know that it can be shared with friends and family, as well as the rest of the world!

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