Thursday, November 09, 2006

Video Editing from a Digital Camera can be Educational

In our homeschool, sometimes I find the need to be very creative in order to keep my children's interest, as well as to make learning fun. When they were younger we often made buildings or castles out of paper mache, we created large collages to indicate a period in history, or we built scientific DNA models out of pipe cleaners and plastic beads. Most of my ideas have come from other homeschool moms and I am thankful to have such creative resources. Yet, in recent years, my now-teenaged daughters have discovered another method of creativity that I never would have thought up on my own; and I doubt that most of the creative homeschooling moms I know would have thought of it, either. Three years ago, my daughters discovered that we have a music and video editor on our computer. Apparently it had been there all along, but I knew nothing about it. Their discovery came at just about the time we bought our first digital camera, so they began taking small video shots of various activities during their day, and compiling them all into hilarious videos, complete with sound and captions.

The first project was based on the then-popular movie, The Matrix. My daughters dressed all in black and took short video clips of each other jumping on our trampoline, doing "Matrix moves" as they called it. Soon, they got even more creative and brought toy swords and guns into the videos. After watching various clips from the real movie over and over, they began learning some of the moves of the actors on the movie and they assimilated those exact moves. This entertained them for hours, and when it was time to come inside, they sat together at the computer, putting the videos in and typing away. I honestly did not pay attention to whatever they were working on, but then the next day, they asked me to come see something on their computer. I was amazed that they had made their own short movie. It was only about one minute long, but it had captions introducing the theme as well as the characters, and then the movie went on to show my two daughters doing their Matrix thing - but they had added sounds, colors, special effects, and various other things that made the whole thing look completely different from the reality of two little girls jumping around on a trampoline. I was so impressed; and they were only ten and eleven-years-old.

From then on, that began a trend to take short videos with the digital camera, transfer them to the computer, and see what unusual, amazing, or hilarious thing they could make out of it. Soon they began using clip art to add to the fun, as well as still-shot photos which are strategically placed into the video at various intervals. Often, we will view videos with small clips of various family members, some of whom we were not even aware we had such photos; and with the captions and clip art added, the sky is the limit for video fun.

One of the most recent projects is a video based on the Weird Al Yancovic song, "White and Nerdy." They made their own version complete with all the geekiness that goes with it. And just today, my daughter was not feeling well, so she decided to take a short break from her school work. She got on her computer, and only and hour later, I found she had created an entire video of stick figures who have an adventure that includes explosions, ghosts, and elephants. Small clips from the digital camera enhanced her creation, as did music she had downloaded. When I discovered she had not yet finished her math lesson for the day, I informed her that it had to be finished, but I was quite sure she had covered any lessons in creativity. I can only imagine what potential careers this might lead to, especially when such things are being created by a twelve and thirteen-year-old.

I suppose the next time my daughters tell me the batteries are dead in the digital camera, I should not be exasperated; rather, I should realize that what they are doing is educational. Sort of.

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