One of the biggest questions I got last summer wasn’t, “How was the Google Teacher Academy?” but rather “How did you make your Google Teacher Academy video?”
If you want to be accepted to the Google Teacher Academy, The Apple Distinguished Educator Program or the DEN Summer Institute you will need to create a short memorable video. Perhaps you are a student looking to create a video for a contest or scholarship. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Godfather Theriault cares about you and is here to help you create a GREAT video. It might be a red carpet entrance or a slip in the kitchen entrance, but either way if you follow this advice you will ACE the “create a video” part of any challenge set before you.
Now I know what you are thinking. Hey, isn’t this David Theriault- the guy who writes really long blog posts? What does he know about making something short and memorable. Well I’ll show you. This was the Google Teacher Academy video that I created with my “team” so that i could get into the 2013 Google Teacher Academy Chicago.
best watched in HD
Now I’m not going to tell you how great that video is, I’ll let Science Teacher- Misty White from Texas tell you. If you want to read her whole blog post on how she dealt with her personal adversity I recommend reading Misty White’s entire blog post, but here’s a snippet:
“I could not have done any of this without a little inspiration and encouragement. I remembered watching a video on YouTube of tweep @davidtedu, who had applied and was accepted to the Chicago Google Certified Teacher Academy. I searched for David Theriault’s video and watched it over and over. I knew in that moment that it did not matter who was “peeking” in that day. I needed to be their (my students) champion.”
Wow. Thanks Misty. BTW my “team” was pretty awesome. I’ll talk about them more later.
So I’m going to share with you how I made it, and some personal advice. I’m also going to share with you some of my other favorite short videos with quotes and advice from the creators of those videos. Grab a drink and a blanket, curl up on the couch or in bed and relax a bit.
For weeks Chris Long and JR Ginex-Orinion (a past graduate of GTA-NY) asked me to apply to the 2013 GTA. I told them that there was no way I could afford to go so I wasn’t going to do it. About two weeks before the application was due Chris told me “I will figure out a way to get you the money to go, just do it.” I told this to my wife, on a walk, but we both understood how we still might be on the hook for the travel and hotel, after walking some more my wife said:
“just go for it, we’ll figure it out.”
So in the middle of the last two weeks of school I had one week to plan, record, and edit a video. It was ON.
I instantly turned to my students for brainstorming. Every day in class they got an update, peek at the storyboard, went over the dialogue- my students were involved in every step of the process. I knew I wanted to create a story, a simple narrative with a good guy/bad guy approach. I thought of doing something with Pokemon “Got to catch ‘em all” but the costumes would be a problem in this time frame. I also thought about doing a Batman/Bane thing, but I hadn’t hit the gym in a while and looked more like the Penguin.
Then it hit me: Luche Libre. I LOVE wresting, the pagentry, the iconographic moments. I needed to don a mask and fight the evil empire of same-old, same-old in the classroom. I tried out EVERY line of dialogue in front of my students; my students made corrections with groans and grins the whole time.
I recruited my co-worker/friend Todd Yarnton to represent the boring lesson types that I would fight in the ring. Todd is a black belt in Aikido and I knew he could handle the moves.
We actually left quite a few moves on the cutting room floor including a DDT move from Jake the Snake (my favorite move). Todd bought a full body suit and met me in the wrestling room to practice the day before we filmed. I bought some T-shirts and wrote some teaching strategies that I thought needed to be defeated. We filmed the entire thing during: one lunch, one hour after school, and one period during 5th period with my seniors. We didn’t have a ton of time to edit and publish it on YouTube so everything was done with as few takes as possible.
I ended up borrowed this wrestling belt from my co-worker Steven Schultz because a few great props can really make a film.
And I borrowed my mask from a senior student and stopped at Fed/Ex to make enlarged copies of Tweets for the students to hold up in the video.
We used a shadow box for the side-lighting of my mask:
but that proved too strong of a light to light the faces of the “commissioner’s officers” so we used the light from an Elmo camera arm turned sideways. You can see it in the top left corner below.
The key moment of the video is the “fix the glasses” move.
That wasn’t in the original script. The students making the film wanted me to clench my fist at the end. I ended up looking like Bob Dole.
I tried the fix the glasses thing and they loved it so we put it in. Here are a few other technical notes:
Nikon D600 This is not a video camera, it’s a SLR camera with video capabilities.
The lens was a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm VR. However, a 50mm is really nice for portrait/casual photography, because it produces really nice bokeh (background blur), and is really inexpensive as well.
The shotgun mic was a Rode VideoMic. They discontinued the version we used but here’s a newer version of the Rode mic (which is pretty much the same thing). The shotgun mike is crucial, it made the sound of the belt landing on the desk really POP.
The students edited the entire thing on Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.
The video students mainly use these sites: Free Stock Music , and Free Play Music for music, but the music on this clip was coutesy of Kent Carter The songs were “Dangerous” and “West of Alamein.” Kent is a music composer worth checking out. He is a friend of Sean Ziebarth’s and we used the music with Kent’s permission.
The students also made a vignette mask in Photoshop the mask was just a solid black bar above and below the image and then they imported the mask into Adobe Premiere. This made the video look more cinematic/widescreen that it actually was. We also decided to put part of the video in black and white and part in color to make it seem like there were different times in my life, add a little slow mo and BOOM: drama.
The students also overlapped the audio of some of the students getting up and inserted dialogue over the video of the other students getting up to make the scene more lively than it was when we filmed it.
Here are my SIX pieces of advice before we get to the other videos ( I will include some personal advice and thoughts after each video below besides the thoughts of the film’s creator)
1. Make your video a story. People are engaged when their is a conflict with a possible resolution. If you can’t make your video a traditional story then at least create a memorable mood. My favorite movies, songs, and graphic novels put me in a mood, sometimes for days.
2. Make your story compelling or memorable. If people aren’t talking about your video or sharing it at the dinner table after watching then you didn’t hit the bullseye.
3. Involve your students and friends. You have blindspots, find people who will be honest with you BEFORE you finish filming and editing, heck I’d say BEFORE you even start filming- why waste your time with a half-baked idea.
4. Talk about a concept or idea rather than a tool (wow SAMR model) that way you can use the video in five or ten years.
5. PLEASE please please appear in your video. Let us see you; let us hear you. How can I tell if I want to work with you if I don’t ever get to SEE or HEAR what you are like.
VIDEO NUMBER ONE: Kevin Brookhouser
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video? : I just had watched a couple of the RSA animate videos, and I wanted to try to replicate those. Sadly, I have no drawing skills. Who cares!
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: I started with a script that I knew took me about one minute to read. Then I drew a storyboard. Those two steps save a ton of time!
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: For this video I was a one-man wolf pack.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Final Cut Pro 7, Canon t2i, Samson USB Mic
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: I completely gave up trying to time my video to match my audio, so I just recorded myself going through the drawings. Then I broke the video into clips and sped up the clips to match the audio. Always start with the audio!
DAVID’s COMMENTS: Besides the fact that all Kevin needed for props was a whiteboard and marker, what really makes this video work is he teaches us something new. Not everyone knows about Daniel Pink or about motivation. He even left us with a catchy AMPed to learn to help us remember the concept. When I coached the Academic Decathlon team some of the highest scoring speeches were those that taught the judges something new. You are a teacher, don’t be afraid to TEACH in your video. Do what you do best: teach.
VIDEO NUMBER TWO: Donnie Piercey 2013
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: I wanted to make a video that was different from the other ones out there. I also have a borderline obsession with old-timey things. Showcasing different Google Apps with a 1920s twist was quirky enough to work.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: Watched a plethora of GTA videos, El Guapo. Tried to figure out what made the quality ones stand out from the rest.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: My students stayed after school with me one day to film.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: iMovie.
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: Ha! I wish I had a blog post about my GTA video! I guess the trick to having a successful video is making one that has a certain quirkiness with a bit of Googley goodness in it. (I think that sentence makes sense) Oh, and get your students involved; ultimately, they’re the ones who matter. (You have a blog post now Donnie)
DAVID’s COMMENTS: My favorite part of Donnie’s video is the lack of audio except for a soundtrack. Getting vocals on video is one of the trickiest parts of creating a great video. If you can do it without having to set up a mic, or use a voice-over later or just eliminate the speaking entirely half your battle is WON.
VIDEO THREE: Delaine Johnson 2013:
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video? Overwhelmed and overjoyed! I took time to get a concept and make sure I could execute the concept fully.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: Outlined. Storyboarded. Requested feedback from colleagues. Rinse and repeat! Scouted the location, requested permission to film, purchased supplies. Wrote the script.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you? Directly, not for the video itself. I set up and filmed on my own. I edited the video (can’t you tell? LOL), found the music, etc. I was important to me that it was my work and that I owned the process. Personally, I had a lot of moral support: another GCT for feedback during the concept phase (the most important, because he’d been through it), and my family for allowing me to let my crazy flag fly.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Camera (Canon Vixia HFM40) and tripod. Wired lavaliere. iMovie on a Macbook Pro.
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?
It takes a lot of time to create a video that will stand out in a sea of applicants. It can’t be completed last minute if you are serious about earning a place at the next GTA. Otherwise, have fun! I enjoyed making the video – I must have eaten a whole dozen cupcakes…
DAVID’s COMMENTS: “Vegetables WITHOUT Butter?!” That line kills me every time. “Common Core State Standards… needs Butter.” Kills me again. If I taught near her I’d say “needs butter” to anything that wasn’t quite right. Besides the fact that I’m a sucker for food videos, Delaine shows the importance of humor. If you are funny, feel free to be funny. We can all use a little more humor during an application process.
VIDEO FOUR: Rae Fearing 2013:
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: How can I address the topic and make myself stand out
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: Wrote a script…er…several scripts
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: Yes, fellow GCT, Mark Hammons, offered feedback and helpful suggestions
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects (my son helped me)
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: Her blog post on her site EdTechyness is linked here AND: If you don’t get in the first time try again! Approach the video differently the second time, think big and then go bigger. (Rae was “rejected” twice before getting into GTACHI.)
DAVID’s COMMENTS: Rae creates a mood right away. I love the opening shot and the child-like wonder she experiences as she “finds” Google. She also uses the focus/out-of-focus trick very well. She does violate a rule I’ll share later, but I’m going to forgive her, I mean seriously- she’s Rae!
VIDEO FIVE: Pierre Sarazin: 2013
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: How the heck am I going to make something amazing.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: I reached out through all sorts of media. I called artsy friends, I Facebooked video editors I knew, I met with other teachers…I consulted my network.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: Everyone. The video is about the making of the video. I was faced with a problem I had no clue how to solve. I’m pretty good with computers, but I’m no videographer, artist, video editor, scriptwriter, comedian, actor, etc. However, I knew a lot of people with a variety of skills; I could bring them together, I could distill their input into something uniquely me. I’d do the grunt work; they’d feed me with ideas. This process inspired me to create the video; it was real life Connectivism at work. What do you do when you’re faced with a new problem? You Google it, you read about it, you call someone; to leverage your network. That is learning, that is authentic real-life education.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Hardware: iMac, Macbook Pro, Windows 8 Tablet to draw out the scenes, Mini DV camera, iPhone, Android phone, iPad, various point and shoot cameras and professional audio equipment I borrowed from a friend. Software: FinalCut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, CaptionTube (http://captiontube.appspot.com/), Google Translate, Audacity and ScreenFlow.
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: In the week I spent making this video, I learnt: how to use FinalCut Pro, how to manage the light in a scene, how to edit audio to filter out noise, how to use professional audio recording equipment, how to purchase rights to soundtracks, how to insert closed captions in a Youtube video, etc. I could never have done any of this without the help of countless people. I experienced real Connectivism. Initially, I was reaching out for ideas, but as I met with people I realized that this, this process of discussion, was proof of 21st century learning. I took no courses, I had no teacher, I had resources. My job was to make sense of an overflow of information, to filter out the bad suggestions and keep the good. In such, although the product is composed of input from many people, it is my own creation, inspired by everyone I spoke to. Our students live this reality, whether it be by remixing videos, songs or even video game levels.
DAVID’s COMMENTS: He fits SO MUCH in the video. Great opening shot, music, he does the black bars at the end to make the closing shot look widescreen and I LOVE the “WEAR Google Shirt” on the planning whiteboard. It’s got everything AND it’s metacognitive. I’m a sucker for a movie that’s aware of itself.
VIDEO SIX: Anna Searcy 2013:
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: I first had to think about why I wanted to go to the teacher academy and how I thought attending was going to benefit my practice and my students. I had to think about why I had been so enthusiastic about using edtech, and why I thought it was a worthwhile endeavor to learn more about innovations in education. That led me to a simple understanding: edtech had allowed me to put my students front and center in their learning, and going to GTA would help me pursue that goal further.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: I started scouring Twitter and YouTube for GCTs and GTA videos. I needed to see just how far out of my league I was. I needed to see if veteran teachers like me (Year 14!) stood a chance, or if this was only a whippersnappers’ game. Sure, the videos destroyed my confidence with their awesomeness, but I also learned several new ideas from teachers all over the world, and I was excited that just the application process was inspiring me to be a better teacher.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: My husband is an editor, writer, musician, and all-around creative person. He used his journalistic background to informally interview me and help me uncover the story I wanted to tell. Basically, I teach history, I view myself as a historian, so why not make my story a history? He also composed the soundtrack (a speeding metronome of sorts) and taught me some tips and tricks to using the video software.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: My video focused on all the technology I’ve used in my career. Luckily my school is old enough to have slide projectors, overhead projectors, VCRs and DVD players to use as artifacts. Sadly I couldn’t get my hands on an old rolling TV or laserdisc player, which were two briefly-used items in my career! For editing the video, I used Adobe Premiere and my husband used Logic for the score. I captured all of my screenshots and screencast video clips with Camtasia and SnagIt, which is awesome software that I won for free at an EdCamp!
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: I definitely recommend discussing the concept of the video with a partner- that collaboration was really, really helpful for me. I also recommend working on the application as early as possible. It’s really hard to shave down answers to fit the short essay requirements. It took A LOT of editing. My blog post about my video is here:
VIDEO SEVEN: Matt Ives 2013:
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: One minute is a ridiculously short amount of time to get any kind of message across. I was going to have to get smart. My idea was to use more than just the traditional visuals + narration to squeeze every last drop out of this One Hot Minute. Dredging up vague and beer-stained memories from my Media Studies degree, I remembered that meaning can be communicated subtly through a wide-range of purposeful inclusions. I wanted to actually communicate how we use Google tools in the classroom, sure, but I wanted the background scene, the relationships portrayed, and the humour and timing of the video to all add to the portrayal of who I am and what I believe is important in education.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: I planned out everything to the Nth degree. I had too – I was attempting a one shot video with no breaks, no cuts, no editing with 75 kids and 5 adults. I wrote a script and rehearsed it a good 20 to 30 times. I acted it out, I walked out my route. I pranced around, talking to myself like a madman. The timing had to be perfect.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: I had 75 students and 5 adults enlisted in helping me out with this. I sat the kids down on the day and ran through my plan. They were excited to be a part of it and wonderfully patient throughout the shoot. I had one teacher filming, walking backwards on a prescribed route too, which obviously was essential.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Just our school’s camcorder, a Panasonic XA10, and iMovie. Nothing too flashy.
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: No particular blog posts about it, but I guess if I was to share some tips they would be: do some moonshot thinking with your video – have an audacious idea and go for it! Don’t be afraid to buck the trend. Be yourself, be natural, add in some personality. Tell your story with more than just words and visuals. Expect to put in a decent amount of time getting it all sussed out. Share it out before you submit to get some feedback from your network.
VIDEO EIGHT Kelly Kermode 2013:
Kelly is kinda busy right now. Maybe I’ll get her to answer her questions later. She just finished running edcampHOME and is trying to meet all of her Yearbook deadlines. Did I mention she has FIVE preps?! I do want to say THIS. While we were sitting in a bar in the Hancock Buildings BLANK floor looking over Chicago at night, Kelly told us that she spent 70 hours editing her video. If you take the time to really watch it you will begin to notice things. When she outlined everything she did our entire table of GTA teachers were speechless…. for a while.
Now remember how I said that there were SIX pieces of advice I wanted to give you, but I only gave you four above? Well here comes five and six.
5. The key is an implied thesis. You don’t want to mention the GTA, DEN or ADE otherwise you won’t be able to use it later. Sean Ziebarth and I hate it when our seniors write entrance essays that mention the school or how they would make the perfect candidate. Your writing should read like a magazine article or short story, not like a school assignment. Don’t make us aware that this is a required assignment or task- entertain us, move us, teach us.
BUT THE LAST AND MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE IS THIS
The above scene is from the movie Cinema Paradiso. In the scene the film maker is watching clips of kisses. Kisses that they couldn’t watch when he was a young boy in Italy because those scenes were always censored. But the real subject is the viewer, the audience. Your awareness of the audience of your film will give your film life.
Now I tell people all the time that the audience for my blog is my brothers and friends who teach, my audience is my dad that he will be proud, my audience is my son so that he will always be able to find my voice even when I’m gone.
But there is only one real audience for everything I make… me. I am the only one who will read everything I write and see everything I create. In the end you must make the film that YOU would want to watch: again and again and again. Because:
you might not get in.
I’ve heard from quite a few people that the reason they didn’t get into the Google Teacher Academy is because their video wasn’t good enough. That’s a big fat lie. Sure it will help, but there are GREAT GTA videos from people who didn’t get in. Here are two of them below:
VIDEO NINE: Eric Demore: 2013
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: It has to involve my learners. It’s about them, of course, but also because they had the skills to help me make it.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: Wrote a script — and must have revised it 17 times. Memorized it — something most of us haven’t done since grade 12 English. I’d repeat the minute-long text: on the bus, over breakfast, to my wife.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: Again, my students were instrumental. Their help was especially valued as we were filming just as we were heading into exam period. The fact that they put a couple of hours aside to help with the project says a lot about their character.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: My cameraman and editor was a student named Arudz. He was days away from graduating — and pretty stressed out. But he came through. Admittedly I know little of the process: not his equipment; he used a handheld camcorder (do we still use this word?) and external microphone). I have no clue what he used for editing.
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: It was important for me to continue to remind my contributors why exactly we were creating this. Anytime I received feedback from my PLN on Twitter, I made just to share the compliment with them. They kept asking, “Did you get in?” By the time the results were announced, they were almost as invested in whether the GTA would accept me as I was. When my application was denied, it quickly became obvious that this was one of those ‘it’s not the destination but the journey’ type of experiences. We had a lot of fun making it.
DAVID’s COMMENTS: See this is a video I can show again and again. It has nothing to do with getting into the Google Teacher Academy and everything to do with what I love about Eric’s mind, heart and soul. I’ve gotten to know Eric over the last year almost better than some of my fellow GTA attendees. It’s because of his video and how it captured my mind immediately. Hopefully he will apply again because the GTA community would improve with Eric on board.
VIDEO TEN : Chris Durham UK 2012
What were your thoughts when you first sat down to create your video?: I wanted to create the most epic GTA application video possible.
What did you do before you actually started filming your video?: I spoke with all the GCT’s that I knew. They told me to stand out. So I tried. Since the GTA I was applying for was in the UK I went with a V for Vendetta theme which I thought crossed over well with “reforming” education.
Did anyone help you with your video? How did they help you?: Alice Keeler let me use her classroom (iMac lab), Mark Hammons made a cameo, Dave Childers was the first person to tell me about GTA. My students! They helped with some of the filming and encouraged me to apply.
What tools: software/hardware did you use for your video?: Canon T3i, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects
What else do you want to share about making your video? Is there a blog post that you created about your video? If there was some little trick you did can you share it?: I put a lot of time and energy into making it. I was disappointed when I was not selected. I liked to think that it was because I was at a school site that already had two GCT’s. Perhaps it was because I had only been teaching for 3 years at the time, perhaps I was just not as qualified as the other applicants, perhaps it was the Tebow move. Probably the Tebow thing.
PS: Chris is no longer teaching (I find that sad, but I didn’t ask for the full story) he took a job at a digital marketing firm.
DAVID’s COMMENTS: None needed.
So there you have it. SIX pieces of advice and TEN Videos to watch and think about before you make your next short film.
If you have any other advice or links to resources, blog posts, videos etc… please put them in the comments below.
Thank you for watching.
BONUS MATERIAL AND DELETED SCENES: (If you are still reading at this point you have entered into the bonus material section of this DVD. This is for hardcore fans of student and teacher films. You’ve been warned)
LASTLY but not LEASTLY The three students who worked on the film are: Tue Duong, Matt Pocta, & Andrew Staffieri. Trust me I took care of these three when we were done filming. I get mad when I see people ask students to do favors for them and they don’t take care of the students later. TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO TAKE CARE OF YOU. Please.
You can see an example of the work they do here is a one minute video that WORKS:
Tue Duong was the only 1th grader who helped me on my GTA video. This year he is still doing amazing work. His video about a local restaurant owner who helps WWII veterans is seriously professional.
Please watch all the BBN videos in full screen. They are worth the effort.
Our Baron Broadcast News students at Fountain Valley High School are amazing. Sean Ziebarth is their advisor and the work he gets out of these kids is second to none. One of my favorite videos they did was a Public Service Announcement (PSA) they did on keeping our bathrooms clean. Sometimes I just watch this because it inspires me and makes me laugh. The other day I watched it three times in a row.
One GTA video that I wanted to leave for you here in the BONUS section is one by James Eichmiller. He created the trickiest GTA I’ve seen so far. He used the “choose your own adventure” approach to create a GTA video that was actually longer than one minute. By making his video interactive you can choose three different endings. BRILLIANT. I love when I see someone effectively bending the rules. That’s MY type of a teacher. Well done James.