Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Middle School Students Create Hollywood Magic

Each year, Amy Becicka and Kearce Lindner have the 6th grade students create a commercial as an extension of their reading/writing project to advertise a new, fictional athletic line created by Jackie Joyner-Kersee called JJK Fit.  In the past, students have filmed their project outside or in echo-filled room or gym that would pick up background noise, which tended to affect the audio quality.  Also, students were limited in the choice of locations around the school where they could film their commercial and still make their commercial look realistic.  

This year, they tapped into some technology that is often used in movies or weather reports to create a new location layer behind the actors called green screen.  Green screen technology may seem like Hollywood magic, but the technology behind the idea has greatly advanced and become pretty easy to use with a simple app.  

Tools Needed:
Green Background- cloth, paper, anything ✔ (Solon has a cloth green screen & stand that was purchased for the district through a Solon Education Foundation Grant in 2014)
Green Screen by DoInk App ✔
Willing students who want to go anywhere in the world and not leave the school building ✔✔✔

The set-up is pretty easy, students filmed their commercial in a quiet room (library or empty classroom), in front of a green screen and then found copyright-free images, from places like Pixabay or Grant Wood AEA online resources, to serve as a backdrop for the commercial.  This gave the students endless possibilities for the settings of their commercials.  Also, since they were filming the commercial on a “film set” in a quiet room, this improved the audio quality of the videos. 

The Green Screen by DoInk app is very user friendly for students and offers basic editing options to enhance the quality of their videos. The one limitation that students had to realize is that they only could work within the space of the green backdrop and if there were several students on the screen at once, this could be difficult. Also, middle school students can be quite tall and they would have to restructure their shot in order to get their head-to-toe shot in the frame. One of the editing options DoInk offers is a masking feature to magically "erase" anything outside of the green frame that you do not want to be shown in the main film.  

The students projects turned out great! Check them out….

This group was able to have outside backgrounds, but good quality audio.  
They showcased a trick of the eye with moving backgrounds.

This group really stepped out of the school environment and used a variety of different locations and settings to enhance their video.  

Echoing gym?  
Not a problem for this group who blended live and 
green screen videos together for their project.

Ask Amy or Kearce about their experience with green screen to learn more about how you can bring it into your classroom. Miranda Kral and myself offered extra assistance for those first few days of getting students going with the project. Feel free to contact either of us to help you get started with your green screen project.

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Technology Consultant from Grant Wood AEA.  Want to share what's going on in your classroom or collaborate me on an upcoming project?  Feel free to
email me