Here's a follow-up to yesterday's post. If you are a film studies teacher searching for more good ideas for student assignments, Film Studies For Free would like to recommend a little more weblog reading about classroom applications of film criticism exercises.
Today's gem is the 10/40/70 exercise invented by Nicholas Rombes (Chair and Professor of English at the University of Detroit Mercy- also see here) at his great weblog Digital Poetics. What is the gen on 10/40/70? According to Rombes, it's
[a]n experiment in writing about film: select three different, arbitrary time codes (in this case the 10 minute, 40 minute, and 70 minute mark), freeze the frames, and use that as the guide to writing about the film. No compromise: the film must be stopped at these time codes. What if, instead of freely choosing what parts of the film to address, one let the film determine this? Constraint as a form of freedom.
Rombes has posted three such experiments of his own to date (10 / 40 / 70 (Ocean's Twelve); 10 / 40 / 70 (The Conversation); (10 / 40 / 70): The Grudge and The Terror of Determinism). The results really show the benefits of the creative constraints involved: some rich and insightful writing is generated on the three very different films.
It strikes FSFF that this would be a very rewarding exercise to set for students.
For more on the practicalities, legalities, and methodological advantages and disadvantages of using frame captures in published or public work, see the following:
- Capturing Stills From Video, a great tutorial by Jeremy Butler for Television: Critical Methods and Applications
- Shot Logger: Frame Captures and Stats (Shot Logger logs shots from DVDs and other digital video sources. It stores a frame capture of each shot and records the time code of the start of the shot in the video. It also processes that time code to determine the length of individual shots, as well as calculating several statistics for those lengths — including average shot length and standard deviation.
Shot Logger was original intended for film and television students/scholars who wish to analyze visual style in detail, and who might want to do some basic statistical analysis of editing. In the latter regard, it was inspired by CineMetrics. What Shot Logger adds to CineMetrics is the ability to attach images, frame captures, to the statistical data. Shot Logger relies on two other, open-source applications: Videolan VLC media player and Gallery. The VLC media player facilitates the capturing of frames and Gallery, a web-based photo album organizer, handles the uploading and organization of images.)
- Frame-Grab Tutorial (using VLC Media Player), also from Television: Critical Methods and Applications
- Film Educators No Longer Criminals by Kristin Thompson
- And for some deeply thoughtful and enlightening writing about the advantages and disadvantages of 'syntagmatic' and 'paradigmatic' forms of film criticism, a must read is Adrian Martin's remarkable piece Scanning Godard for Screening the Past