It happens at every school, every day. Whether their attention wanders or they just don’t understand a particular concept or lesson, students often miss out on learning key information during class. The consequences can build quickly, as the failure to learn one concept impedes learning the next, academic progress begins to slip, and the students become anxious and frustrated.
So how can educators make sure that students stay on track with their learning at all times?
Renaldo Lawrence may very well have the answer. An Adobe Education Leader and Lynda.com Author, Renaldo is also an Advanced Skills teacher responsible for creating eLearning content for Chiswick School of London. He works in partnership with Chiswick’s teachers to digitize parts of their curriculums using Adobe Creative Cloud software. As a result, Chiswick students can easily access syllabi, lesson plans, books, multimedia lessons, teacher videos, presentation slides, and more from their home computers, tablets, and mobile phones.
“Not every student understands a lesson the first time it’s presented,” says Renaldo. “But with these materials supplementing their classroom learning, students can always go back and revisit whatever they’ve missed.”
For projects like Chiswick’s , Renaldo uses Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Audition CC to edit videos, After Effects CC to create animations, Adobe Muse CC or Dreamweaver CC to design and develop websites, and Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and Fireworks CC to create graphics.
“What I love about Adobe products is the consistency — they all look similar, so you can learn one if you’ve learned another,” he says. “And Adobe keeps adding features that make them easier to use.”
He also appreciates the integration between the products. “The roundtripping is incredible,” he says. “I can edit a video in Premiere Pro, send it into After Effects to work on the imagery, and then quickly bring it back to Premiere Pro. And I can create storyboards in Adobe Experience Design CC right on my iPad to show teachers what their learning materials will look like, save the storyboards to Creative Cloud, and then open them on my desktop later to refine them.”
Renaldo and Chiswick School are getting students involved in media-making, too. They’ve created Chelsea Digital Camp — a day of fun and learning in which students tour Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, meet some of the team’s players, play soccer, and create their own videos of the experience using the Adobe Premiere Clip mobile app.
“The students gain so many benefits from learning to create digital media,” says Renaldo. “It prepares them for careers, develops their communication skills, builds their confidence, and helps them find their unique voices.” He is now planning a similar camp to teach Chiswick’s teachers how to create their own digital learning content.
“By supplementing classroom learning with digital learning, we help our students succeed,” says Renaldo. “They no longer go home and tell their parents, ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,’ because it’s all available to them. And parents can access all of the materials, too, to support their children’s learning.”
Teacher resources from Renaldo Lawrence
It’s safe to say that video games have been a major inspiration for recent Syracuse University grad, Zachary Antell. If you managed to catch his award winning short “Player Two” on the front page of Reddit (featured on “R/Gaming”) about a month ago, this won’t surprise you. Zachary recently chatted with us about what inspired him to pursue a career in motion graphics and animation, and how Adobe Creative Cloud helps him create some truly interesting work.
What have been your major sources of inspiration when if comes to animation and film production?
In terms of films that have inspired me, I got into doing VFX when I was younger thanks to Star Wars. When it comes to my interest in animation, I attribute that to watching every single Knox Claymation by Robert Benfer, and of course following the Pixar classics like my personal favorite, The Incredibles.
Once I finally decided to take a shot at creating my own work, I found a lot of inspiration and guidance from film makers on the web, such as Andrew Kramer of Video Copilot and Nick Campbell of Greyscalegorilla. Particularly, I remember seeing someplace that Nick once said that he never was great at drawing. This is something I always remind myself of when I’m struggling a bit, that if Nick didn’t let that get in the way, I shouldn’t either.
Aside from more traditional film and animation, you mentioned that video games have been a source of inspiration, especially for your project “Player Two”. How have video games affected your creative process?
At least for me, after playing a game for the 15th time, you try to beat them or play them in the coolest way possible. When the player is given access to the camera, it’s easy to compose and block the animation in dynamic ways. Zelda, GTA, and Uncharted are especially great examples of this. Zelda in particular never features any protagonist dialogue so the emotion of the moment is completely in the player’s head. When I picked up 3D animation the idea of a free camera came naturally to me.
Because I grew up playing video games, and they had a part in growing my love for animation, I wanted to make a short about video games from the perspective of the little brother. People debate whether video games are an art form, garbage for the brain, etc. However, I think the context in which we were playing these games is definitely an important part of a child’s life, when imagination and memories are so strong. So the look I went for in “Player Two” was sort of like a hyper stylized memory, where the camera is flowing in and out between detailed moments.
What made you decide to use Adobe Creative Cloud to help bring those stylized memories to life, and what was your workflow like?
I started watching After Effects tutorials when I was 13 or 14, mostly as a hobby. I was using FxHome’s Effectslab and Visionlab at the time, which has now evolved into “Hitfilm.” In college I started doing all of my editorial in Premiere Pro and haven’t really looked back. Photoshop was something I was taught in high school, so that’s been part of my workflow ever since.
From the beginning of working on “Player Two” I knew whatever I animated had to be very economic and feasible. The workflow I followed was to roto frame by frame in Photoshop, and export video from there, giving me a little room to touch up in After Effects. Once I started principal animation, I found some scripts that would allow me to bring the majority of my Photoshop data in After Effects, which let me loop frames of animation, change colors, shading, and non-roto elements. Non roto elements were things like the posters or walls in the final shot. I could do a 3D solve of the live action footage and add in basic shapes in After Effects.
Do you have any advice for students who are starting out their film careers?
Keep putting out content, and don’t stop. Making one awesome video can blow up the internet, even if it’s a three second animated gif. I’m starting my first full-time job tomorrow, so maybe I’m not the best person to ask for career advice, but I will say I’ve managed to get myself a job in a field I love, that started as a hobby when I was nine years old. Doing what you love is possible if you work hard enough.
Filmmaker Christopher Guerrero—soon to graduate—and Maury Shessel—already on his career path—both attended The University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts (SCA). Both video pros have tried various software programs and suites to edit and post-produce projects and they agree: Adobe Creative Cloud with an emphasis on Adobe Premiere Pro CC for editing gives them everything they need to create a box-office hit. They decided to edit Chris’s graduate thesis film, Mike Garcia and The Cruz, using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and shared their thoughts about their exciting work-in-progress. Norman Hollyn, USC Endowed Chair in Editing and President of the University Film and Video Association, also weighs in on the choices available to students today.
Adobe: As graduate students from the renowned USC SCA, why did you choose Adobe Premiere Pro CC to edit Christopher’s thesis? Guerrero: My first experience editing film was at UC Santa Cruz, where I learned to edit 8-millimeter film. Like a lot of folks in the industry, I graduated to non-linear editing and learned Final Cut Pro and Avid. I became somewhat of an editing guru and digital media specialist at UC Santa Cruz. When I went to USC, I was introduced to Premiere Pro and became addicted to its ability to ingest almost any raw camera format without transcoding and its integration with other Adobe programs like After Effects and Photoshop.
Shessel: In our first conversation, when Chris inquired if I would edit his thesis, we initially decided on Premiere Pro CC due to its flexibility. We did not want to wait forever for things to be ready to edit, and we wanted to shoot on the latest high-end digital cameras, including the Sony F5 and Sony F65. Our next thought was we didn’t have the most powerful computers, so we couldn’t afford a ton of RAM to transcode and start editing. When we started really putting Premiere Pro to the test, we were pleasantly surprised. We loved that we could bring in After Effects compositions or layers from Photoshop instantly. No more checking settings or dealing with alpha channels. As the first thesis project team at USC to use Premiere Pro, we’re really trying to innovate and show what can be done with the solution.
Adobe: Professor Hollyn, is this a trend you’re starting to see with more of your students? Hollyn: At the School of Cinematic Arts, we’re always watching what’s happening with the NLEs. We want students to learn about all of the editing solutions available to them so they have more flexibility when they graduate. We’re beginning to see more interest in using Premiere Pro for projects. We’re moving toward a situation where in a couple of years the decision of which system to work with won’t be reserved just for thesis films, it will extend down further in curriculum, even to the undergraduate level.
I meet with every group before they start shooting their thesis projects. We talk about the story, their post-production schedule, and what tools they will be using. I recently met with another group whose film involves heavy visual effects and they asked specifically about using Premiere Pro because of its strong integration with After Effects. For Chris and Maury, I know they were really interested in being able to throw multiple formats on the Premiere Pro timeline without transcoding and the Dynamic Link capability between Premiere Pro and After Effects really piqued their interest. They also wanted to be the first to edit a thesis using an Adobe workflow. I like it when our students experiment with new stuff.
Adobe: What is the thesis film about, and how long is it? Guerrero: My Master’s thesis is a comedy. Not many comedies come out of USC. That’s something Maury and I have in common. Both our theses are comedic and we both love that genre. Adding to his immense talent, this was another reason I asked him to help me with my thesis.
The film is about a punk rock IT student. He’s an anarchist who steals the Chancellor’s laptop. Right now, it is 27 minutes, but Maury and I are working on cutting it down to 15 or 16 minutes. SCA’s high profile, annual student film festival, First Look, has strict guidelines about how long films can be. We’re anticipating that it’s going to be done in December 2013 or January 2014 and we hope it will premiere at the festival.
Adobe: What have you found most useful in Adobe Premiere Pro CC? Guerrero: I’ve been working with Premiere Pro since version CS5, and I love its ability to support a ton of high-end graphics and seamlessly incorporate effects from After Effects. With the graphics card on my computer, I can throw 10 or more effects at the timeline through Dynamic Link, and I don’t have to wait around to render anything. Everything is elegant and ready to go without re-linking files or grabbing a hard drive. The simplicity is stunning. To me, after years of jumping around between software applications and transcoding and exporting files, that’s pretty insane.
Adobe: What was the learning curve like for you, Maury? Shessel: I was trained on Avid, and worked on it most of my life. But with Premiere Pro, I was fluent almost instantaneously. The keystrokes were slightly different, but in two to three days, my muscle memory was going for the right keys.
Adobe: Can you describe some of the best parts of this experience? Shessel: As editors, we are always looking for the best tools. After using Premiere Pro, I can’t imagine not using it again. I tell people how great of a time I’m having with editing this thesis and how easy Premiere Pro is based on other software I’ve used.
Adobe: If you had advice to give to other students, what would it be? Guerrero: Choose Premiere Pro, and forget transcoding. I know from personal experience how grueling student deadlines are. We have 16 to 18 hours of class each week on top of all our other responsibilities. Take my advice: get from shooting to cutting ASAP.
Adobe: Professor Hollyn, what do you want students to know about the industry when they graduate? Hollyn: One of the best things we can do for our students is to try to future proof them. This doesn’t mean teaching them every editing program. We try to provide them with knowledge about not just what’s happening in 2013 but what may be happening in 2017. Of course, we can’t predict the future, but we can make sure they learn how to continue growing their skills. There will always be new technologies, distribution channels, and formats. We want students to be able to look for these changes, adapt, and even take advantage of the opportunities that these changes present.
Adobe: Maury, Christopher, what do you both foresee in the future? Guerrero: There’s an idea people have been throwing around for years, and that’s the democratization of filmmaking. There’s some truth in that. Now everyone has the tools. However, not everyone has the knowledge and creative alchemy and talent to bring all these elements—video, photos, and visual effects—together in a way that intrigues and excites audiences. Today and in the future, smaller teams will be able to create drastically higher quality productions through ingenuity and technologies. Ultimately, filmmaking is about problem solving. Adobe is providing far more tools to solve more problems, much faster. And that helps us create better, more gripping films with fewer resources.
Shessel: I think Premiere Pro is not just a tool, it’s more of an enabler of style, and I’m a worshipper of style, almost to a fault. Over the decades, distinct styles have emerged based on whether people edit on a Moviola or on film, or using non-linear editing tools. Now, with the ease of integration among Creative Cloud components, including After Effects, Illustrator, and Photoshop, I think a new style may emerge as creative barriers are knocked down. So I’m watching closely.
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