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I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.

6 Comments

  1. wow, dan, thanks for passing this along!!! just spent such an amazing 30 minutes looking at these videos.

    now i want to figure out a way to pass these along to as many of my friends as possible.

    my favorite: “new me”. that thing made my brain dizzy, but i loved it.

  2. Yeah. A lot went in on the pre-production of that thing. A lot of gridding and choreography.

    Something strange is happening here, I think. For now, it’s cool that we get to turn kids onto low-budget video making. But (soon?) that won’t be enough. Content is easy to create and publish but quality isn’t keeping pace with quantity.

    I’m not about to recommend that every teacher should know how to edit video or take photos or create quality presentation slides. I do wonder, though, how many teachers could explain a) exactly why “New Me,” for example, is a good video and b) how students can draw their videos closer to that standard.

    Can you? Just outta curiosity.

  3. hmm…here’s my attempt at explaining what’s good about that video, after just one viewing.

    while watching it, my brain kept on loving the fact that it seemed like the main character was some kind of superhuman. whatever was creating all the noise and static in the rest of the video was not affecting this white robed creature.

    so while there is a lot of noise going on in the other squares, people half visible, disappearing at the edge of a frame, it is not too distracting because 1) you have the superwoman to focus on, and 2) the frame is consistent. the overall image always has some sense of cohesion, because the camera never moves, but at the same time there is a swirling effect created when the squares mash up against each other.

    so…to try to summarize why it’s good…i’d say it’s how the “vaguely synthesized messiness” (that made my brain dizzy) makes the main character stand out, in fact, almost seem to walk on water. the one wouldn’t work without the other. without the main character, it’d just be annoying/seizure-inducing. and who would want to see some random person waving their arms in a city square?

    part b. jeez i have no idea. i guess you can get students closer to that student by unpacking the film together. first go through the principles of why it’s good, then talk about the specifics of HOW it was made.

    showing them that what happened in postproduction is not that difficult is a key part of helping them to see that they too can do something like this. the hard work went into the choreography. i reckon a keyboard monkey like myself could take the raw footage and hack it into a similar final product.

    so to arrive at an answer to part b…first deconstruct this film, then see what your students can do if asked to make their own film using the same restriction: all their footage must come from one long shot with a stationary camera. (but i don’t like this idea, really.)

  4. I think you cracked it over the head with that last bit: have them make their own film using the same restriction.

    Simple appearance aside, this restriction happens to be devilishly difficult but others — using a single shot, using only two colors, using only one subject, etc. — aren’t.

    Good deconstruction. I think it’s really important that we can rationalize why a particular creative work makes us feel the way it does — even if we ourselves couldn’t have created that same work.

  5. What? No love for this one?

    ;-)

    Don’t hate me. You’ll get it out of your head in a week. Or two…

    Seriously – thanks for sharing these, Dan! As a music fanatic I am very impressed by what some folks are able to do on a minimal budget and the implications for what our kids now have the power to produce.

    Now if only my new school district would un-block YouTube…