For nearly a year I've been actively producing machinima for Project DIRECT. In this time I have come to view machinima as something greater than just a means to record what we are doing in Second Life for the project. Rather, I see something quite unique about the process of production in this type of video. Machinima, "the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production", offers nearly total control of an environment. As anyone in video and film production will attest to, total control is not usually an option while working in this field. One can expect a variety of unexpected issues, thus requiring a Macgyver quick fix at the drop of a hat.My revelation for using this type of controlled environment for educational digital storytelling came by connecting the process of creating machinima with the new common core language arts standards. The opportunity for students to have an environment that allows for the visual representation and role playing required in any performance combined with language art curriculum means great things for presentations of learned material.
I have been devising a plan on how to integrate this into the current discourse of the common core. As luck would have it, I'm a proud parent of an elementary school aged student. This means that I can invite my child into this idea and with a first hand account, really see what her reaction is to it. Last night we completed her second educational machinima for a school project. In this piece, she used the following steps to create it (with my help of course).
- Data gathering online.
- To do this she accessed her teacher's class website that had a list of appropriate online resources to use.
- Using any text editing software, a digital notebook acts as a means for brainstorming and content collection. By copying and pasting the content, as well as the URL, from the website to the new document, a comprehensive outline takes form. In this step, it is really important to stress the need for copyright awareness and correct attribution for the content found online.
- After opening a new document and having it side by side to the digital notebook, she created three sections: "Introduction", "Body", and "Conclusion". Using the content she collect in her digital notebook, she appropriately filled in each section of her new document using her own words. We talked about the importance of using her own words and never writing a sentence or paragraph verbatim without giving credit, as this is plagiarism.
- Camtasia is a great screen casting software that acts as both an editing tool and also recording device for what is happening on the screen and through the computer. We used this to record her voice and the 3D immersive environment. This step is the most time intensive and will require a good understanding of both the immersive world in which is being used for the machinima as well as the screen casting software and how to use it most effectively.
- At the end of the machinima story, the credits page and all the resources used were presented. Only Creative Commons licensed images and music was used for this project. Two great sources for finding these types of images and music can be found at Flickr:Creative Commons for images and Jamendo for music.