Happy medium

Watching some students work on a digital video project with a film and media professional recently led me to think about the relative importance of production quality in student-produced digital media. As he gave them a quick overview of lighting, shots and interview techniques I wondered where the balance should be between creativity, content and production values.

The use of ‘good enough’ and ‘fast, cheap and out of control’ technology, as mentioned by Martin Weller here, has the benefits of ease of use and the ability to share, collaborate and experiment easily:

‘In terms of scholarship it is these cheap, fast and out-of-control technologies in particular that present both a challenge and opportunity for existing practice. They easily allow experimentation and are founded on a digital, networked, open approach.’

Easy access to mobile phone video cameras and online video editors opens up the possibilities of creating digital video, as shown in this recent BBC report . The spirit of ‘just find good ideas and tell good stories’ shares something with this from a Jan 1977 punk fanzine (though I am obviously too young to remember the original):
Image

While the main aim of the project is to get student to think about the use of image, to collaborate and to be creative then this approach seems appropriate and, although it is interesting and useful, a focus on production values could allow them to get sidetracked from their main goal. But in asking students to use a particular medium should we not have an expectation that they engage with the grammar and conventions of that medium? We expect students’ written work to follow rules of structure, grammar, punctuation and referencing, as well as standards of presentation, but we do not expect professional level graphic design. I don’t know the answer but I suspect there is a happy medium (ho ho) between content and convention in student-produced media and it will be interesting to explore where this may be.

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