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Tuned in to teaching: art lessons on videotape.

Instructional videotapes are extremely helpful when teaching repetitive processes. Think about the numerous times a teacher must repeat a process within the framework of a day - hands-on demonstrations repeated on a daily or semester basis. These repetitive demonstrations can be very demanding in terms of setup, materials and preparation.

The production of instructional videotapes can help the teacher in many different ways. Taped lessons reduce the amount of preparation time while increasing students' accessibility to the process. A process-oriented videotape allows a student who was absent to easily catch up with everyone else. The teacher does not have to redo a demonstration and does not lose any hands-on time with the rest of the students in class. Special education students can watch videotapes as much as needed. Watching a process over and over can make the process clearer while giving the student a sense of control. Lessons can even be filmed and banked to be used by substitutes in a teacher's absence. The class doesn't lose valuable time, and substitutes appreciate it because they have a visual lesson plan as a guide for student participation.

Art teachers would do well to take advantage of the technology that is at their finger tips. With careful planning, instructional tapes can provide additional help within the classroom environment.

Behind the Scenes

Video is effective with any process-oriented media. First, you'll want to decide what process you want to turn into an instructional video. I recently completed a slab container video and have plans for a coil and combination tape on the boards. The focus of my slab video was to take the students through the step-by-step process of creating a closed container from raw clay to finished bisque.

You'll want to outline whatever process you have chosen in the form of a storyboard. Traditionally, a storyboard presents a visual rendition of an on camera scene, an outline of dialogue and an outline for action in the shot. A storyboard is a rough draft of the video before it is filmed.

After you've outlined the entire process in storyboard form, you'll need a script. A script adds more detail in relation to dialogue, action, and props. Detailed scripting is extremely important to the quality of the finished video because it will ultimately reduce wasted time in production. The script should also have the ability to be changed if necessary - its purpose is to be flexible yet direct in function. A script should clearly outline the shot, action, props and dialogue.

The Necessities

The following is a list of equipment and features you'll need to produce a high-quality instructional videotape.

Camera The video camera is the most important piece of equipment. There are many models on the market so you'll need to be aware of the features you need for your project.

The camcorder is the most convenient setup. The camera is separate from the VCR and is portable. More expensive camcorders record in stereo, have built-in microphones (split left and right channels) or can be connected to a separate microphone.

Camcorder features necessary for your video are:

* six- or eight-power zoom lens * auto focus * auto exposure * auto color balance * flying erase head

(frame-by-frame editing) * backlighting feature * fade in/fade out * voice-over capability * tripod

Lights Lighting is a very important aspect of the technical portion of video production. Correct lighting enhances detail, maintains quality and preserves color balance. Quartz lighting is the equipment of choice due to its ability to maintain accurate flesh tones and color while reducing shadow formation. You'll probably want to use 600 watt quartz lights with stands, in conjunction with umbrellas or barn door attachments. Light stands are necessary in order to increase the flexibility of lighting angles and height. Umbrellas are useful when the script calls for diffused or softened light.

Set and Setting The set is the backdrop and stage for the video. It can be plain or have some degree of visual design. The set should not be dated because your video may be used for years to come. The backgrounds you use should be neutral and not distract the viewer.

The following material will be essential in putting together your set.

* Backdrops, props, cue cards, etc. * Two VCRs to make copy tapes,

editing, voice-overs, dubbing * Titles: The ability to produce

clear, uniform title characters

will increase the visual quality of

the video. The easiest way to

produce titles on screen is

with a character generator. (see

Optional Equipment) If this is

beyond your budget, the same

results can be obtained with rub-on

letters and mat board.

Optional Equipment Some equipment would be nice to have, but isn't always in the budget. If you have the extra funds, you might consider an editing deck consisting of two monitors used for editing from a master tape. Another luxury to consider is a character generator which permits the creation of electronic overlays on screen and can be used for subtitles, titles, directions and creative burn overlays.


Taping is probably the easiest part of this project if the previous steps have been done with care. Here are some taping tips that should make your project run smoothly. * Follow the script carefully. * Write dialogue on cue cards. * Rehearse each scene before filming

so the camera person has advance

notice of what will be happening

in the scene. If rehearsed carefully,

camera movement will be smooth

and uninterrupted. * Titles, directions or credits should

remain on screen for an appropriate

amount of time so that viewers

can read and retain the information



If the previous steps are followed carefully, the only editing necessary will be in camera. The only feature needed during filming is the fade to black. Fading to black can easily stop one scene and start another while providing uniformity and quality for the complete video. If additional editing is necessary, a dual VCR set up must be established. Set-up one VCR with the master tape and the other with the edited copy. Voice-over should not be a problem if the camcorder has a dubbing feature.

At this point, your video should be in a finished state. It is ready for classroom viewing and trial in the field.

Lorraine B. Rossner is Art Department Supervisor, Shelton Public Schools, Shelton, Connecticut.
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Article Details
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Author:Rossner, Lorraine B.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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