Summer Cinema #2: Paperclip Challenge

Paperclip Challenge from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

I’ve moved nearly a dozen times since I broke this record in 2004 and the tapes have followed me everywhere: 24 hours of non-stop monotonous paper clipping minus twelve gaps where one of my friends (probably Steve) changed the reels. Five minutes of this footage will make you sorry you ever spoke an unkind word about grass growing or paint drying, which are each several orders of magnitude more exciting than this.

So I compressed those 24 hours into three minutes, which meant transferring the footage from Hi-8 tapes to DV tapes (time cost: 24 hours) and then importing the DV tapes to Final Cut Pro (time cost: 24 hours). There were no shortcuts. The project took weeks.

I have only one creative note worth mentioning here, a footnote to my previous post, Don’t Let Your Students Use Music In Their Video Projects: the soundtrack is entirely ambient noise.

I worry about video teachers who would encourage the student to mute the ambient noise – the chaos, the laughter, the occasional grim silence, all of which is essential documentary detail – and instead apply a thick lacquer of Creative-Commons-licensed pop electronica. Something chosen carefully, no doubt. Something propulsive to match what passes for content here. But I’ll point out, again, that a) controlling ambient noise is its own necessary kind of skill, and b) laying a music track beneath a video track without worrying about how the two tracks play with each other – how the aural ebbs and flows with the visual – will strike certain segments of your audience as, artistically speaking, soulless.

This particular case is easy. If your audio track doesn’t shift gears or climax or do something at exactly one minute and 21 seconds into this video – when the sun rises – you’ve missed the moment and essentially filed for divorce on behalf of your audio and video track, citing irreconcilable differences.

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.