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Instilling Creativity in Broadcast Media Design Students: Creative Processes in Applied Video Aesthetics Camille C. Baker Lecturer, Broadcast Media Design School of Engineering and Design, Brunel University, London [email protected]
Abstract This article looks at practical methods the author has developed, tested, and employed to instill creativity in broadcast media design students' video production practice. The article cites examples of activities used with undergraduate students in a broadcast design module and focuses on the process of gathering and devising techniques, activities, and exercises to explore with students. The techniques discussed in the article are borrowed and adapted from a variety of sources, including the visual arts, new media, Web and graphic design pedagogy, creativity and idea generation exercises from the business world, and from the author herself. Previous teaching and experimentation led to the development of a set of methods to instill and develop creativity within technology-focused students and their resulting video, advertising, and motion graphics projects. Keywords creative practice, video production, instilling creativity, broadcast students Background When I arrived in the United Kingdom from Canada in 2007, I had five years of experience teaching subjects such as new media, Web design, and video production and was charged with developing a new module called "Design Practice for Broadcast Media." With a background in dance, music, new media, video art practice, and curating, I had been involved in a range of activities that I could share with students. Since my academic career began in 2003, each module and course I have taught has presented a new challenge and learning opportunity.1 Most of my course development has involved collecting materials and trialing new approaches to engaging students and presenting new content. With additional general academic teaching, I seem to have been on the right track. However, within the electronic and media arts, technology and creative techniques are continually emerging. Staying on top of these changes is always important. Thus, I have often had to experiment when teaching materials
were unavailable. I have also had to ensure that technical equipment is readily available and reserved for students.
Teaching the same course or module many times has simplified the preparation and fine-tuning of materials, including assessments, and has helped me to clarify my overall teaching approach. I further refine course content each year or delivery term after observing students' responses, listening to their concerns, reading their feedback, and reflecting on my teaching approach.2 When I arrived at Brunel in 2007, I was assigned several modules, one of which, Design Practice for Broadcast Media, I found especially exciting. At the time, the broadcast media design degree program was still in development. Its first small student cohort was in its first year and was using the first iteration of the syllabus. I saw this as an opportunity to develop a curriculum that would focus on creative process for video and TV practitioners--but in a slightly different way.3 This was a dream module for any lecturer in the creative arts and entertainment industry. The primary focus of Brunel's three-year broadcast media design program is the technical operation of television and video production technology (hardware and software). Rather than merely to train technicians, I was hired to develop an aesthetic sensibility within students, to motivate them to use innovative techniques for their projects, to use hardware and software tools
, and to do so in ways that were more dynamic and artful. These additional goals are necessary for two reasons: 1. Those students who merely wish to learn software do not need to go to university to do so. Many good training providers
, as well as books and online video tutorials are available. Thus, my mandate is to develop more than technicians. 2. The film, television, and advertising creative industries
that students will be entering in the United Kingdom and North America are highly competitive,4 and almost half of those currently entering these fields are self-taught or without a degree ("Who does the film industry need?" [n.d.]). The only way we can offer students more is to help develop their creativity and communication skills
while providing them with the essential design skills to develop their own unique style. To this end, teaching this module has been a challenge and a thrill. Prior to teaching in this program, I had investigated a variety of creative practices beyond media arts and design in order to develop a full set of activities to inspire creative practice with video production students.5 The title of the module, Design Practice for Broadcast Media, initially seemed inappropriate compared to what I was asked to deliver. The lecturer who had conceived and developed the syllabus had left the university. A graphic designer, he was unfamiliar with the nature of the broadcast and film industry and the broad skill requirements needed. He also seemed not to have been aware of how the production process
es differed from graphic and print design (apart from the
cross-over aspect of motion graphics). Thus, the module title has since been interpreted as "Creative Processes for Applied Video Aesthetics" (because of the long bureaucratic process involved, the module has not yet been officially renamed). My first task after reviewing the module syllabus and the course outline was to interview other lecturers teaching broadcast media design and multimedia modules to discover how each module integrated with the overall program. This was the best way to create the pedagogical arc or flow of the module and its links to the other modules. The interviews also helped to clarify the school's overall aims and expectations for students' skill and knowledge development. Design Practice for Broadcast Media focuses on challenging students to use the technical skills they are developing elsewhere in the program; to apply those skills in unique, creative, and informed ways; and to further develop their applied aesthetic abilities. The program's objectives are to prepare students to take on many of the roles in the film and broadcast industries, with an emphasis on the technical and design skills needed in motion graphics, film titling, 2D animation, postproduction effects, and compositing. These roles require not only the ability to operate professional studio camera and lighting equipment and editing and postproduction effects hardware and software tools; they also involve all the skills necessary for freelancing and self-employment, because the industry has an exceedingly high number of freelancers. Thus, students are taught a broad set of skills in planning and preproduction (scheduling, administrative, writing, and marketing skills), cinematography (production techniques and applied aesthetics; i.e., photography, lighting, mise-en-scиne), editing, special effect
s, and graphics/titling. To enable students to specialize in motion graphics, they are also taught the basics of graphic design.6 Much of the curriculum research conducted for the Design Practice for Broadcast Media module involved sourcing appropriate materials, films, and other media (as is the norm in media teaching) to excite students and incite them to explore and develop their own aesthetic and style. A key component is giving students specific tasks to perform to push them out of their comfort zone and inspire them to hone their aesthetic abilities within the video medium. This allows students the freedom to explore, make mistakes, and discuss innovative aesthetic solutions in a safe environment with their peers. Another component is teaching students to deconstruct the various cinematic techniques (e.g., lighting, sound, camera work, mise-en-scиne, framing, and 2D/3D composition) used to make a piece of media and then discussing how these techniques are implemented in television programs and films. Students are challenged to describe how an effect or a particular look, visual style, or aesthetic was achieved. Basics of cinematographic, aesthetic, and technical theory are also taught to provide the foundation and context for students to develop their own ideas and to experiment with techniquessuch as creating their own Steadicam 3
(as one student did this year). Part of the stimulation process is initiated through video examples and by exposing students to a wider variety of moving image productions and artists in film, animation, motion graphics, and visual artists
. Broadcast media design students are not in Brunel's School of Arts, where they would learn more-conventional visual arts and film school practices.7 Instead, because the program is primarily vocational, they are trained in the more practical dimensions and in the aesthetic applications of technology within the television and advertising industry. While the approaches discussed here are typical for film students in art school, they are not so in the engineering school within which this program is situated. The intention is to prepare them for work in motion graphics design and animation for broadcast or film, to become technical camera operators, to hold postproduction roles, or to work in 3D animation houses. Yet, as an offshoot of the multimedia program, which itself was a successful offshoot of the computer programming
degree course, the broadcast media design program has taken a more creative design turn in recent years to address industry needs. Our students are also training more for the role of cinematographer or design director than for the role of film director. They are not taught film direction, writing, acting, film theory, criticism, or history. However, if students are to navigate this cutthroat industry successfully, the program must encourage them to work hard and to be innovative and "bleeding edge" in their creative application of its technical tools.8 When teaching broadcast media design students, the primary concern of the program is how they apply the skills, techniques, software, and hardware (e.g., video cameras, tripods, lighting kits) they are taught. Teaching creativity is more challenging if students do not enter with some natural talent or ability that was fostered elsewhere. Therefore, our department's lecturers are encouraged to recommend for a place in the program only those students with creative potential and art training (as opposed to those with technical training
alone), because the staff have previously observed that technical skill can be taught but creativity cannot. Thus, I am less concerned about students' initial technical prowess, although the more skills they bring when they arrive the more options they have to add to their assignments. In the module I teach, I try to anticipate and fill in the gaps in students' aesthetic development using technology as part of the approved Learning Outcomes
set for the module and course. Those learning outcomes include facilitating and nurturing students' creative processes and research skills and aiding them to develop media projects for newly emerging video distribution platforms. Film and broadcast students have a tough task entering the field, maybe more so than in other highly technical art forms (e.g., photography). That they learn a wide variety of skills--the science of light, color, and the control of shadows; 2D digital photography technique; perspective; motion framing; creating the illusion of 3D space in a 2D plane; using grids; typography for motion graphics
and titling; camera skills; film editing; sound and special effects designis imperative because this breadth is required by the industry (see Skillset.org). Also critical is for students to learn media aesthetics with some historical context
, as well as some of the conceptual techniques of the montage editing that is used so much in modern mainstream films and advertising. The aim is to help students break out of their cursory understanding of media production--an understanding perpetuated by Hollywood and mainstream media and exacerbated by limited exposure to the inner workings of the industry. Instead, the module introduces students to a broader array of currently available media forms and platforms. We try to expose students to a wide spectrum of aesthetic practices and approaches, to broaden their own vision and toolbox. In many art and design disciplines, creative process is considered difficult to teach and often a highly individual quest (Elkins 2001). However, I have explored a variety of sources for exercises to use in the curriculum. Why Art Can't Be Taught (Elkins 2001), Visual Methodologies (Rose 2007), and Sight, Sounds and Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics (Zettl 2005), among others, have all aided my navigation of this pedagogical terrain, providing perspective and strategies for facilitating the creative process and guiding my teaching and assessment. One prominent media educator I also resonate with is Curt Cloninger (2011), whose approach to new media and Web design are closely aligned with my own. Teaching materials for Design Practice for Broadcast Media were borrowed from previous programs and fleshed out with new content and with content redesigned from previous courses. The module attempts to guide students to become more innovative thinkers and creators, using various techniques to stimulate such thinking for applied creativity. Students are also encouraged to take an active role in developing their creative practice. They are first presented with several methods for idea generation, and then they are guided through many exploratory exercises using video production tools as well as mobile phones
with cameras. The goal is to instigate a consistent creative practice and help students develop skills through small activities, often outside the classroom setting. These include capturing or recording specific visual elements quickly, without thinking. Then, when students return to class, they share and discuss outcomes with peers and examine their motivations and inspirations. Activities designed to assist them include video or image sketching, production design
journaling, and sketching storyboards or blogging ideas from early in the module. Students then share their work in workshops throughout the year. The video capture activity asks students to record various imagery based on a designated theme (e.g., "get all things red in five minutes"). The task at first seems unusual or uncomfortable to students, but it helps them to develop or hone their "seeing" or "looking" abilities (Berger 1990; Fletcher 2001), causing them to explore the world and their environment more actively through the 5
video frame. Subsequent creativity activities help students see the wider array of methods and approaches available to stimulate their ideation processes for project development. The value of these activities becomes evident when students plan and discuss their final project
concepts later in the term.9 Some techniques used in idea generation and project development10 require students to · keep a paper sketchbook or an online blog as a repository of their ideas, photos, mobile videos, and found sounds, collected wherever and whenever possible. These are then presented to their peers regularly and ideally are used in future assignments and projects. · record their dreams and sketch their dream imagery (very popular with students), then develop one or more of these scenarios into video concepts, storyboard them, and (potentially) use them for their final projects. · participate in "listening" exercises to enable them to make their own sound effects and soundtracks. Students are then asked, as part of their final project, to make original soundtracks from their found sounds. · make a video piece to accompany a piece of instrumental or experimental music
they have chosen or have been given. This requires not only that they use the music to inspire their visual expressions but that they use its rhythm and mood to do so. · make their projects exclusively for nonstandard video platforms (i.e., not TV, Web, or film) and present or show the work on those platforms; for example, on iPods and mobile phones or large outdoor screens or as an interactive DVD or installation in the school. Fig. 1.An example of a student drawing for class. By Rupal Thakarashi, October 2010.
Fig. 2. An example of a student photo for class. By Kamil Kurylonek, October 2010. Additional techniques, such as Field trip
s to video, animation, and motion graphics festivals, events, and organizations or companies, have been integrated with each iteration of the module. Guest professionals come to lecture and work with students in workshops to expose them to new, emerging approaches to video production techniques and platforms. In the 2011/2012 school year students will curate and produce their own video "festival" or showcase. This will help them learn how to present and exhibit their work for the public and their peers using a variety of platforms such as iPhones/iPads, game consoles, and audiovisual performances. Until now, students have been reticent to produce work in any format beyond HD or streaming/Web video, but the festival will push them to try. New methods continue to be added to the curriculum to instill creative development and practice in students and to better prepare them for the highly competitive and ever-changing industry they will enter. The resources used to inspire students in design, video art, film photography, and animation and to give them context in the field of moving image constructions include works by Bill Viola, Pipilotti Rist, and Rafael LozanoHemmer. The following techniques are used, chronologically, throughout the year: · Exposure to and inspiration from avant-garde film and video makers, as well as seminal cinematographers. · Mind-mapping and idea generation exercises to aid in the formulation and development of ideas. · Creativity activities and exercises to stimulate students' "looking" at and "seeing" their environment more acutely. · Collection of media elements to share--for example, ideas, sketches, images, and video tests for peer critique and to aid students in idea 7
generating practice and artifact collection; developing creative process techniques more deeply. · Researching and performing a close reading of a piece of media to learn to articulate and communicate with appropriate industry terminology. · Hands-on practical assignments to demonstrate students' "learning through doing" abilities. · In-class discussions
determined by project progress and process, storyboards, planning, technique testing, overall development, and so on, for critical review by peers. None of these are new for arts students, but in combination they are slightly different than what is commonly taught to most applied media technology students, especially in video technology courses, which focus mainly on technology. These creative stimulation activities help students meet the learning outcomes of the module by engaging and motivating them through hands-on experience to kindle inspiration and nurture the seeds of ideas for final video or motion design projects. The approach aims to aid students to see the world around them more richly, instead of relying solely on their imaginations (although the program aims to stimulate those as well). The activities also encourage students to respond actively and directly to the task and their environment--to experience the creative process and witness the results of the experience--rather than to analyze, plan, or become mired in paralyzing thought or doubt. Therefore, students operate from intuition and spontaneity, not from mimicry and selfjudgment, increasing the potential for self-discovery and the joy of creating for its own sake. This approach is influenced by creativity workbooks such as The Artist's Way (Cameron and Bryan 1992) and Fearless Creating (Maise 2000), which are full of activities to assist creative professionals to overcome inspiration blocks. Future iterations of the Design Practice for Broadcast Media module will incorporate some of these exercises, activities, and games, both to stimulate students more deeply and consistently and to cultivate their practice as a professional habit. Because the module is intended to enable students to find original aesthetic approaches to using broadcast technologies and emerging video platforms, pushing their levels of exploration and inquisitiveness is critical. Also important is that students participate in their own active learning through research so they develop their own creative process methods and find their own unique style, as well as their artistic influences. Throughout this part of the module, the hope is that the activities will ignite students' own spark of self-knowledge and lead to improvements in self-esteem that can be carried over into their future creative selves and work.
Experimental cinema and video art history
are also taught in a general overview in order to provide the background and context for students' own explorations and experimentation. However, teaching this history also serves to add to their aesthetic and technical development as well as their curiosity. Various film, advertising, video works, and cinematic concepts are shown in order to prompt critical discussion in the classroom on topics in moving image aesthetics and the technical methods to achieve them. Student responses are solicited to evaluate their initial knowledge upon entering the module. They are then guided toward a deeper critical understanding of the media pieces to develop their analysis, to help them to articulate what visual techniques and applied aesthetics they are seeing, and to use industry terminology accurately. This is meant to enable students to truly appreciate the skill and creativity involved in the construction of film and video productions, as well as the innovation that was applied to the medium during earlier times when tools and equipment were less sophisticated. These components are taught in the middle of the term so students can first develop a grasp of the technical and applied aesthetics critical to the production of film and video. These technical dimensions are generally new to this group because most have been exposed only to highly commercial media, and few are familiar with other forms of film, video art, or documentary. Students are, however, exposed to the achievements of commercial forms alongside the more experimental, alternative forms, with many examples shown of how the commercial world borrows from or is influenced by the art world. Students are also shown the importance of being exposed to the medium in as much variety as possible. I believe that creativity cannot be taught; it must be nurtured through exposure to the breadth of aesthetic possibilities, including both the more commercial varieties of media and the full range of art and alternative media. Most creative practices, commercial or not, stem from art and design practice, which are therefore essential to know even if they are not the areas of the creative industries where most people will end up. I consider three films critical for this module: Visions of Light (Glassman, McCarthy, and Samuels 1992), Meshes of the Afternoon (Deren and Hammid 1943), and Five Obstructions (Von Trier and Leth 2003). Visions of Light demonstrates the history of film from a lighting and cinematography perspective, showing the classic technical innovations in cinema and, by extension, television production, video art, and the new media of today. This documentary always impresses students, who would otherwise never know of these technical developments because most students do not study film or television history. Meshes of the Afternoon, the first American experimental art film, demonstrates how a filmmaker can visualize symbolic and abstract concepts through visual techniques of camera, lighting, and editing in film and video. Both of these films never fail to open students' eyes to aesthetic and conceptual approaches to working with technical tools, and they inspire students 9
to learn sophisticated techniques to make their moving image projects. Five Obstructions is another effective film for inspiring creativity through constraint. This documentary shows students how limitations, technical constraints, and obtuse criteria can necessitate inspired solutions to making innovative video and broadcast content
. Even if students are primarily preparing for a commercial and/or technical role in the workforce, ideation and creativity exercises and projects are intended to stimulate technical and aesthetic problem solving and critical thinking using the tools of the trade throughout their careers. This may also be the only time in their studies and work life that they have absolute creative freedom and can make creative choices purely for the sake of exploring their own potential. In addition, the broadcasting, advertising, and film industries are highly competitive fields, with many job contenders lacking university training but having comparable, self-taught, or hands-on technical skills. Therefore, any unique talent or signature skill, technique, or quality students can offer will set them apart from their peers and give them a competitive edge.11 However, the aim of the course is also to nurture students' creativity for its own sake, to trigger self-understanding and confidence so they can find their own way. Thus, students are expected to push themselves during the module and expand their technical/aesthetic skills within a nonnarrative or abstract genre. Such genres are better at developing such skills because students are not distracted trying to construct a sloppy narrative project for which they have not been trained.12 Assessing Creativity The teaching approach used to keep Design Practice for Broadcast Media students motivated involves implementing ways to enhance learning and comprehension. To ensure that students are reading and absorbing the module content that they can implement in their projects and assignments, the assignment of different types of materials is critical. Students are then asked to make presentations on areas of interest to demonstrate their comprehension of the applied aesthetic materials. Ramsden's (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education provides striking examples of an effective teaching-in-action approach. This validates efforts made to encourage students to do assigned readings on applied aesthetics in video and broadcast production. Students are more likely to read and conduct relevant research if they are expected to present for their peers rather than to read for their own benefit or for an upcoming class discussion. This pressure is a powerful incentive, and an assigned reading that prepares students for a presentation will be read, whereas others might not be. Ramsden describes the case of two fine arts teachers who assigned several students different aspects of a work to present. The students "were given [the] entire responsibility for `teaching' the topic to the rest of the group . . ., and . . .
each pair of students prior to the class [was to discuss] how the material could be arranged and the seminar run" (Ramsden 2003, p. 164). This approach has been incorporated in my classes over the last few years. With it one has to prepare and conduct fewer lectures, and it allows for more conversation with students. In this way, students are more actively engaged and are better able to apply the material taught. Yet, the aim of the Design Practice for Broadcast Media module is what Ramsden (2003) calls the "Theory 2 or 3" approach to university teaching, which proposes that teaching is ultimately about making learning possible. Therefore, I try to present activities, tasks, outings, films, readings, and experiences that make learning possible. Because so many aspects of the science, technology, art, history, and conceptualization of moving image making must be learned in such a short timeframe, the fact that the creative process is often left behind in other programs is not surprising. The lecturer has many elements to assess in assignments and in the final project: skill acquisition for camera, lights, sound, and software; comprehension and retention of the aesthetic and conceptual dimensions; and whether each student has grasped the purpose and application of the many techniques. Students must understand (1) the definitions and terminology used in the field and (2) the trends in media production, as well as demonstrate (3) that they can effectively analyze and write about media composition and (4) that they can explore their creativity and employ technical innovation and problem-solving skills while completing their projects. As part of their assessment in the Design Practice for Broadcast Media module, students are required to research a film, motion graphics, or visual artist's work and then submit their own critical review of that work (thus allowing me to assess conceptual comprehension and analysis, as well as research and writing skills
). This assignment evaluates students' acquisition of aesthetic knowledge and their articulation of the many dimensions of video and broadcast, as well as their technical knowledge of the work reviewed. The writing task is also meant to challenge students
to demonstrate their use and comprehension of industry terminology and to communicate effectively in writing. Students must show they can deconstruct and analyze the conceptual and artistic application of cinematic and motion aesthetics within a piece of their choice.13 Another required assessment measure is the production of a final project, which allows me to assess not only students' application of their newly acquired or enhanced technical craft but also their creativity and applied media aesthetics. This project requires a detailed production plan, including a researched and developed conceptual idea, a storyboard, a schedule, a lighting plot, and all other relevant production design and planning documents, as well as details on aesthetic style and the techniques to be used and experimented with, as influenced by the module material. 11
Early in my career, colleagues and mentors shared their knowledge and experience, stressing the importance of viewing students' video projects many times, with a checklist of key techniques, concepts, and skills that students need to demonstrate and master during the module. The checklist also helps one discern whether the core topics and expected outcomes have been implemented in the practical work as required.14 These aesthetic techniques should also be evident and discussed in the students' final projects and in their reflections on the production process. The checklist approach ensures that the marking is fair, consistent, and clear to students. Marking creative projects is often seen as subjective; the checklist makes the assessment more objective and quantitative and is thus a useful addition to the formative or qualitative written and oral feedback students are provided on their video projects. Students are asked to reflect subjectively on their creative process development to show they are aware of what they have learned creatively and what skills they have honed. Students are also asked to evaluate qualitatively their integrated aesthetic and technical development.15 Conclusion This article has discussed how an iterative action-based teaching approach to delivering the Design Practice for Broadcast Media curriculum has provided a unique opportunity for pedagogical research, reflection, and development on the creative process in practice and its success with broadcast media design students. I have discussed the approach of using a combination of exercises and teaching techniques with students, using video production tools. The outcome of this approach is still being determined; however, each year students are more responsive to the activities and become more exploratory in their approaches to creating expressive, nonnarrative broadcast design projects. As a result, each cohort has produced better work in their final projects and modules, and overall student success keeps improving (not only because of this module, though it has played a significant part). I teach levels 1, 2, and 3 broadcast students and thus see their development through each level. From my perspective, the module clearly helps to contextualize other more-technical modules, both by giving students an aesthetic background and rationale for certain practices and by giving them mechanisms to hone their craft, to discover how and for what they are capable of using video production tools. References Alexenberg, M., ed. 2008. Educating artists for the future: Learning at the intersections of art, science, technology and culture. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books.
Berger, J. 1990. Ways of seeing. London: Penguin Books
Cave, C. 2005. Techniques for creative http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/Techniques/ April 2011).
Cameron, J., and M. Bryan. 1992. The artist's way: A spiritual path to higher creativity. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
Clegg, B., and P. Birch. 2007. Creativity and innovation techniques--An A to Z. Mycoted [website]. http://www.mycoted.com/Category:Creativity_Techniques (accessed November 2010).
Cloninger, C. 2011. Creativity and inspiration for Web design [website]. http://www.lab404.com/creativity/00.html (accessed April 2011).
The Creative Process. 2009. Creativity bookshelf. Kansas City
: The Creative
(accessed April 2011).
Deren, M., and A. Hammid (directors). 1943. Meshes of the afternoon. California: Mystic Fire Video.
Elkins, J. 2001. Why art can't be taught: A handbook for art students. Urbana: University of Illinois
Fletcher, A. 2001. Art of looking sideways. London: Phaidon Press Ltd.
Glassman, A., T. McCarthy, and S. Samuels (directors). 1992. Visions of light: The art of cinematography. Japan/United States: Kino International.
Ghiselin, B., ed. 1996. The creative process: Reflections on the invention of art. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Konradsson, M. 1999. The creative process. A List Apart 8. http://www.alistapart.com/articles/creative/ (accessed April 2011).
Maise, E. 2000. Fearless creating: A step-by-step guide to starting and completing your work of art. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
Mellick, J., and M. Woodman. 2001. The art of dreaming: Tools for creative dream work. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press Books.
Migration Advisory Committee
. 2011. Analysis of the points based system: Revised UK shortage occupation list for tier 2 comprising jobs skilled to NQF level 4 and above. Croydon, UK: Migration Advisory Committee. http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/workingwithus/mac/mac -analysis-of-pbs/report.pdf?view=Binary (accessed October 18, 2011).
Ramsden, P. 2003. Learning to teach in higher education. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
Reason, P., and H. Bradbury, eds. 2001. Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rose, G. 2007. Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. "Who does the film industry need?" [n.d.] Skillset [website]. http://www.skillset.org/film/industry/article_6789_1.asp (accessed October 18, 2011). Von Trier, L., and J. Leth (directors). 2003. The five obstructions. Denmark: Zentropa Real ApS and Koch-Lorber Films. Zettl, H. 2005. Sight, sound and motion: Applied media aesthetics. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
1 Courses in Canada are called modules in the United Kingdom, and courses in the United Kingdom are called programs in Canada (which has been endlessly confusing for me and my students during my time in the United Kingdom). Also, the courses I taught at Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in Canada were semester based or 1315 weeks long, whereas modules at Brunel University (but not necessarily all modules in all courses across the United Kingdom) tend to last two terms, a full year.
2 This is called "action research." Action research is a participatory teaching and learning
method that focuses on knowledge generated through action and reflection; it is used in education and other forms of community research. In action research, activities and approaches to teaching--or making changes and improvements in, for, and with communities--are planned and experimented with in the classroom or in the intended community setting to be studied. The observations and outcomes are then analyzed and evaluated, and the activities modified, refined, and reworked for trial again. This participatory approach works to find the best method to inspire learning in students or for the betterment of the group or community (Reason and Bradbury 2002) using trial and error.
3 This is based on research I have conducted online, in journals, and elsewhere. I discovered that only one book specifically addresses the creative process for video creators. Unfortunately, I then lost the reference and have been unable to relocate it.
4 For industry information on breaking into these fields in the United Kingdom, see
http://www.skillset.org/film/jobs/article_3688_1.asp (film and video production),
http://www.skillset.org/animation/careers/article_1747_1.asp (animation). Most entrants to
the industry will start as runners, however: http://www.skillset.org/careers/by_sector/.
5 The student exercises and ideas discussed in this article were inspired by several sources, including Ghiselin (1996), Mellick and Woodman (2001), Cave (2005), Alexenberg (2008), and The Creative Process (2009).
6 The UK Border Agency recently identified motion and computer graphics artists as being in the "shortage" category (Migration Advisory Committee 2011). Such artists need to know all aspects of the technical and creative elements of the industry, including aesthetics and design techniques
for animation, postproduction effects, and graphic design (including, as more video moves online, Web design).
7 Film students at Brunel mainly study theory and film history, and rather than training in the actual production of video and film they focus on writing and directing. This puts those students at a disadvantage when they try to gain work in the industry. The broadcast media design program focuses on finding students industry placements and then employment immediately after obtaining their degrees.
8 These roles are not less creative because they are more technical (just as a more technical painter is no less creative than a more abstract painter). Cinematography is often referred to as painting with light; it requires a deep, expansive knowledge of the tools to create the right aesthetic look. Although story, acting, direction, and content are often considered the main creative elements in modern film and broadcast circles, they cannot be foregrounded if the visuals are not technically well crafted with the "brush" of camera or software.
9 The following is a sample script for one of the activities used to guide students: "Take a video camera or use the video camera feature of your mobile phone and go outside. Try to capture the following visual elements (for each activity you have 5 minutes): points and lines, shapes and forms, color and value, the space between things, patterns, places/environment, light, lines and geometrics, movement/motion (abstracted?), and sounds/noise."
10 Examples of student design practice blogs include Craig Aburrow
(http://shinraishinzou.tumblr.com/page/2 and http://shinraishinzou.tumblr.com/page/3), and
Chi Zhang (http://ohgodwha.tumblr.com/page/8).
11 Recent Brunel broadcast design placement figures indicate that only the most motivated and creative students are able to find placements and jobs. The course is only four years old, so we anticipate the placement numbers will increase as the placement office makes more connections in the industry. However, competency with technology is not enough for a person to be successful in this industry, because anyone can learn the technical skills without a university degree. Thus, only the most creative and motivated will succeed.
12 I discovered this in previous classes in Canada, and peers have confirmed the observation.
Students have a tendency to want to make something similar to mainstream media and films,
wasting much of their project development and production time trying to write scripts and act
(badly)--neither of which are taught in the broadcast design program--rather than using the
skills they are taught in applied technical media aesthetics. Student video "sketch" examples
from 20092010 students include http://www.swampgirl67.net/brunel_student-
13 Cinematic aesthetics includes camerawork, lighting, framing and composition, set design, and editing. Motion aesthetics includes typography/titling, animation, and motion graphics design principles.
14 Core topics include framing and creating the illusion of depth on screen, aesthetic lighting techniques beyond three-point lighting, the psychological aspects of sound, the theory and practice of editing in montage, and continuity styles.
15 CRITERIA (not rank ordered or equivalent in value) PLUS = superior performance
CHECK = adequate performance MINUS = needs improvement Sequencing of images Pacing, timing, rhythm Composition/Framing Mix of images (variety: close-ups, etc.) Technical camera skills (shake, focus, exposure color balance) Use of motion (cut with action? cut vs. action? other) Editing Continuity: Graphic, Spatial, Rhythmic, Temporal Zettl's montage: Metric Analytical /Associative (comparative or collision) Eisenstein's montage: Metric/Rhythmic/Tonal/Overtonal/Intellectual Matching Action Screen direction Changing scale (to avoid awkward cuts) Sound, noise, and music--especially timing/pacing Abstraction or abstract concepts or expression Overall Impact + Creativity Presentation/Packaging, Other