By Dan O’Reilly-Rowe, 2009.
By playing with the sequence of a set of images and shooting them as an in-camera edit, participants practice basic camera and montage skills. Groups must negotiate a collective decision making process which highlights the way in which a single set of images can be used to produce multiple outcomes depending on how they are edited together.
- Practice collaborative decision-making
- Practice basic camera skills
- Explore basic scripting
- Explore edit conceptualisation
- a ratio of 2-5 participants per camera available works well
- Video cameras
- Recording media (tape, chip, drive, etc)
- Sticky Tape
- TV monitor
- a set of images, preferably A4 size or larger
- these can be random images such as those found in magazines or art books, or can be chosen to address a particular issue that the group is addressing
- there should be a sufficient number of images for each group to have at least 5 images
- Split group into as many teams as necessary to have groups of 2-5 (availability of equipment allowing).
- Provide each team with a camera kit, including a tripod (no microphones necessary), and sticky tape to mount images on a wall.
- Give basic instruction on how an in-camera edit is achieved (images are shot in the sequence for the duration that they will be screened to the audience. DO NOT REWIND TO VIEW SHOTS!)
- Spread all the images (enough for each team to have at least 4 or 5 images) out on the floor in the middle of the room.
- Instruct participants that their goal is to communicate an idea to their audience through a sequence of images. Introduce the term MONTAGE.
- Teams walk around the images and collectively discuss which images they would like to take from the spread.
- Teams take turns selecting one image from the spread at a time, until all images have been selected.
- Prior to shooting, teams should discuss various options for how their images can be sequenced. Also, teams can choose to frame only certain elements within each image, and use zooms and pans within each image if they chose to. Facilitators should circulate between teams to ensure that all participants input is being heard by their teammates.
- Once the team has reached agreement on their message to the audience and the sequence of images that will communicate it, team members take turns shooting one image at a time by posting each image on a wall with masking tape and shooting for the same duration that they want it to appear on screen. Repetition of images is allowed.
- After all groups have completed their shoot, collect cameras and screen the in-camera edits to the entire group.
Process the clips with the following questions:
- Did the audience get the message that you had intended to communicate?
- How easy/difficult was it to come to agreement with your team on what to produce?
- How did the effect of one image following another help to build meaning for the audience?
Other Things to Try
- Screen montages from contemporary culture or from early Soviet Cinema (where montage was pioneered). Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camerais one good example of an experiment in montage.
- If no video cameras are available, this activity can be done low-tech by laying out the images as a storyboard and asking participants to create a narrative based on the sequence of images.
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