This video project is an exploration of two visual experiences: the image in motion and the image frozen in time. The first part of the project investigated the image in motion by collaboratively planning and shooting scenes for a video. Students were asked to film six short scenes in succession, about 5-10 seconds in length, and then give the video camera to another student, who would then shoot his or her six scenes. They were encouraged to connect visual images that lacked any apparent story or plot. High school students are often reluctant to let the flow of ideas just happen; they want their scenes to follow a rigid, narrative progression. One of the objectives of the project was to stimulate creativity and break through the custom of requiring a beginning, a middle, and an end to every story or sequence of images.

The second part of the project explored the image frozen in time, using the video footage already taken. After viewing and discussing Robert Heinecken’s videograms, students played back their unedited videos and selected one of the six scenes they had filmed. Then, using the freeze frame feature on the video player and a digital camera, students photographed three successive frames of video directly from the video monitor. These captures were downloaded to a computer and manipulated using image editing and painting software. The resulting images were grainy and distorted; many had acquired a moire effect caused by photographing the video monitor. While the images had acquired an abstractness that disguised the original action in the video, they were visually beautiful nonetheless.

Through the Moment in Time Video Project, the high school students explored aesthetic issues related to contemporary and traditional styles of documenting life. They learned to create and be aware of formal beauty by recording, selecting, and manipulating ordinary scenes using a "high tech" process.

- Students will learn how to use video cameras and utilize in-camera editing to create the video scenes.
- Students will learn how to use the video storyboard to "direct" their video scenes.
- Students will make choices about sequencing video scenes without relying on conventional narrative structures.
- Students will be able to capture and manipulate their images using Adobe Photoshop and Painter.

Students were first given the assignment to each shoot six video scenes of 5 – 10 seconds each. At this point, I had the students view video and animation samples.
I asked students to reflect on their own reactions to the pieces through journaling and then we discussed as a group how each artist approached the concept differently.


Students were divided into groups of six (based on a class of 24 students) and each student was given a storyboard numbered one through six. The storyboard was divided into six "scenes" with the first and the last scene filled in with words that determined the content of the imagery. The first and last frame can be predetermined by either the student or can be provided by the teacher. The next storyboard will also contain the first and last frame filled in, with the first frame duplicating the last frame from the first storyboard. The third storyboard will have the first frame duplicating the last frame of the second, and so on.

Mandatory frames were titled Eyes, Hands, Feet Walking, Door Opening, Door Closing, Drinking Fountain, Toilet Flushing, etc. Students had the option of filming these in any manner they chose.

Students brainstorm as a class and as a group which scenes should be videotaped to fill in the in-between frames.

Taking the class on an in-school field trip around the school helps them to extend their ideas of what would be interesting to shoot and to explore alternative solutions to videotaping the mandatory frames.

The filming of the video will go faster if the students have done sufficient planning. Students are then given Hi-8 video cameras and a brief lesson on how to use the video camera and the techniques of "in camera" editing.

After the planning stage, students were sent out in their groups to make their videos. Each student with a first storyboard shot his or her six frames and then, handed off the cameras to each student with a second storyboard. These students shot their video and then handed the cameras off to students with the third storyboards and so on.

This sequencing resembles the procedure of the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, in which the first player draws the head of the "corpse" and then folds over the paper to conceal his drawing with only a small amount showing. The next player then draws his contribution and folds the paper and passes it along to the next player and so on.

It can be fascinating to see how the scenes seguing between the same storyboard directions create radically different connections. This encourages students not only to work collaboratively, but also to collaboratively consider how meaning is generated through the juxtaposition and sequencing of images.

After the videotaping was finished, the tapes were viewed on a monitor. Students played back their videos and selected the scenes they wanted to capture.
Students took digital snapshots of the scenes, frame by frame. These images were they opened in Adobe Photoshop and Metacreations Painter. Students altered the images by adjusting contrast and color saturations, handcoloring, and applying various filters.
Each student produced a series of three images from a single scene. The frames (images) were then printed on a color laserprinter, and prepared for display. For the Gallery 400 show the images were displayed in groups of 3 using aluminum strips purchased at a hardware store and an acetate covering.

Click here to print out Process Plans for A Moment in Time Video project. (coming soon)

Click here to print out Storyboard Worksheet for A Moment in Time Video project.