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A short film about Research 2.0

October 28, 2013

A recent university project entailed each student making a short film using only our mobile phones and available apps. My previous film-making experience was pretty much zero, with most of it being accidental, i.e. my phone being set to the ‘video’ mode when I wanted photos. We’ve all been there…

What initially seemed a daunting task in the end turned out to be a fun and creative process, as I developed an initial idea, got to grips with phone functions and apps, taught myself how to edit with iMovie and sourced freely available and Creative Commons (CC) music to provide a suitable soundtrack. The size of smartphones make them ideal for quick and easy film-making, and I wanted to get a mix of shaky hand-held and ‘Point of View’ (PoV) shots along with more detailed static HD shots captured using improvised tripods.

For the film subject I decided to follow up on an earlier post and continue the theme of Open Education and ‘Research 2.0’ and try to highlight in just over a minute how the internet has changed the way we learn, research, teach and share knowledge. It’s a big subject, but using different apps and music for each ‘half’ of the film I was able to create a distinct contrast… a kind of ‘before and after’ scenario highlighting the huge difference the internet has made in the way we educate and are educated.

I wanted to exaggerate the fact that before the internet – perhaps with the exception of class/tutor contact time – research was a somewhat lonely pursuit, with age-old practices of isolated reading and note-taking, hours lost in libraries studying papers and books, and perhaps a phone call or two if you were lucky. To convey this outdated approach I went for very dated look and made use of the ‘1920s’ setting on the ‘8mm Vintage Camera’ app (Nexvio, 2012). This same app was used by Malik Bendjelloul to complete his 2012 Oscar-winning film “Searching for Sugarman” (IMDb, 2012). Period-correct music to suit the black and white grainy footage was freely obtained from the ‘Internet Archive’, founded to build an internet library and “offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format” (Internet Archive, 2001). The shaky silent movie style text ‘cards’ were created by simply typing into MS word and then filming my computer screen with the 8mm app on an iPhone. You can see the cursor flashing on some of the shots!

This contrasts with static, crisp red lettering of ‘EVERYTHING’ as a post-internet take on research unfolds, with a musical transition to more contemporary electronic dance music courtesy of the ‘Free Music Archive’ (FMA) whose page title informs us, “Creative Commons: Share, Remix, Reuse” (FMA, 2013). The HD footage of this sequence is in stark contrast to the low-resoluation footage that which precedes it, with the pace of the film mirroring the increased speed at which research may take place as we are provided with more flexible tools at our disposal. The time-lapsed video sequences were created using the OSnap! app (Cegnar, 2013) and accelerate everything. A lot like the internet. I wanted to create an exaggerated feeling of speed and activity which was mainly happening in front of a computer screen, as google, twitter, blogs, blackboard, email, online libraries, music software and films were all opened in multiple windows. This is an attempt to communicate the fact that learning now operates this way: books and papers can now be accessed online; we can communicate using email or applications like Skype and FaceTime; we can blog about our research and follow others with similar interests; we can tweet about what we’re doing and tailor our twitter feeds enabling us to streamline our ‘news’ based around our own interests; Google can lead us to places never before possible, with Google Scholar a useful extension for the academically inclined browsers out there.

Please feel free to share, remix and reuse.

References:

Cegnar, J. 2013. OSnap! Time-Lapse and Stop Motion. (IPhone application). Vers. 2.9.2. Available from Apple Application Store : < https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/osnap!-time-lapse-stop-motion/id457402095?mt=8 >.

Free Music Archive. 2013. Creative Commons: Share, Remix, Reuse. Retrieved 26th October 2013, from http://freemusicarchive.org/curator/creative_commons

IMDb. 2012. Searching for Sugarman. Retrieved 27th October 2013, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125608/

Nexvio Inc. 2012. 8mm Vintage Camera. (IPhone application). Vers. 1.8. Available from Apple Application Store : < https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/8mm-vintage-camera/id406541444 >.

The Internet Archive. 2001. About the Internet Archive. Retrieved 26th October 2013, from https://archive.org/about/

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