My 60 Second Saturday – A Video Narrative

Jul 1, 2013 by

It’s no secret that I’m openly in love with the anti-MOOC that is #ds106. It’s also no secret that my wife makes amazing digital art…when she actually has time to create. Last summer she created a 60-second narrative of her day, capturing small moments with her phone’s video camera. She cut each of those moments into one-second vignettes then stitched them all back together to create a minute of video that was a heart-warming and compelling narrative. You can watch it below or follow the link here to see it on YouTube.

I should have tweeted, blogged, and Facebook’d it last summer, but I didn’t. I’m a bad husband (sorry, honey). I’m trying to make up for that now, and took last Saturday to create my own version, with my wife providing a few cameos throughout the day. There’s been a lot of buzz about the 1 Second Every Day App, mostly thanks to keynote speakers at educational technology conferences showing off the pieces they’ve created with the app. The pieces created are moving, playful, and fun….but require a lot more time and fore-thought to slowly build a narrative than I was willing to create. Sure, you could capture what’s happening in your life at the same time everyday for a year or a month. You could even try to capture at least one powerful emotion everyday, or a moment in which a human interaction has left you feeling just a little bit better about life. Personally, I would be tempted to capture at least one smile or laugh a day; from a co-worker, a friend, a family member…small moments of joy compounded over 365 days.

I didn’t want to wait that long to create a one-second narrative, nor did I want to tackle the more ardent task of creating a narrative over several days; I can see where it would be very easy to create a disjointed narrative capturing just one moment everyday if there isn’t much thought put into it. Then again, what I created may not have a strong emotional impact either, as the staccato transitions from one second to the next creates a rapid-fire movie that often requires repeated viewing to capture small subtle movements, sounds, or emotions. Your narrative is much more limited as well; who knows if you’re encounter 60 amazing laughs or smiles in a day (I hope you do), or whether any given day will be particularly note-worthy. My goal then was to give everyone a glimpse into a typical summer Saturday with my family….farmer’s market, raspberry picking, skinned knees, and all. I hope you can get a sense of my day below, or over on YouTube.

There’s so much room for broadening the definition of narrative story telling in our schools, not just from closer alignment to Common Core Standards, but as a society as well; YouTube and Vimeo have become the defacto video space for most individuals to tell their stories, with Twitter and Vine quickly becoming the standard bearer for snarky conversations and witty visual jokes. Even the animated GIF, once derided as the “this website under construction” butt of many web-based jokes, has seen a resurgence as a powerful storytelling medium. Imagine the impact a teacher could have on students and parents by redefining what the classroom newsletter could be, or how daily messages about homework or important papers could be transformed into 6 second videos? You don’t need a special service or app like Vine to do it either. A digital camera and the standard video editor that comes with just about every platform works in a pinch. Most students are already carrying the devices you would need to capture the video, so in many cases it’s just a matter of seeking permission, or moving forward in a deliberate and “safe” manner (for those teaching in districts with more conservative social media policies) and seeking forgiveness later.

Regardless of whether you agree that narrative story telling is in need of a 21st century facelift in many classrooms (and be mindful, I’m not advocating doing away with written narratives), I hope that many would agree there’s a certain power and emotion that video makes it easier to elicit from viewers.

I’ve created a ds106 assignment for the 60-Second Day in the assignment bank, but I’d love to see what other stories someone creative could tell. Perhaps a field trip, the life cycle of a frog, or an entire reading of a novel in class, each chapter distilled down to one sentence? Expand the parameters, allow 4 or 5 seconds instead of just one. Challenge students to tell the same story through video from multiple perspectives. You could even start telling your “summer story” right now, and have a one-second vignetter video narrative to show your class on the first day back this Fall.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks, Ben, this is a very cool idea. Sounds like a lot of work to edit. I haven’t seen the app yet. Thanks for creating the DS106 assignment.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Chris! It was certainly a lot of work to edit all the clips down to one second (some were several seconds long). It would work well for those teachers who want to push their students beyond just a simple “app” task.

  2. Sara

    I LOVE this idea! I wish I had read about it earlier . . . it would have been fun to do each day this summer. This may also be a great app for my AP Statistics class. The students could summarize each unit or chapter and use it as a review for the AP Exam in the spring.

    • Doing this for an AP Stats class? WOAH, that’s mind blowingly awesome! Even if the students didn’t have the app, they could easily capture a small clip from each day, then string it together at the end of the year. As an added bonus for your Stats students, you could use the timestamp data from each clip and try to determine when the students were most likely to record a short clip, which day of the week is more likely to have filming occur, or any other explorations of “time spent filming” data and its correlation with the work being down in class :)

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