|Click the picture above to start the movie. Give it some time to start downloading and then click the play triangle. Clips courtesy of Adobe's Premiere tutorial. What classroom teaching ideas might be as outrageous?||The above global transitioning from a sphere to a flat map is composed in format called GIF animation (wikipedia -dymaxion animation). Scroll upwards if it becomes distracting. Does it?|
What once seems beyond reach, even outrageous,
becomes understood and do-able as others show the way.
As literacy is the capacity to understand and create what goes on a page, video and animation have become dominant new extensions of the concept of literacy. They have become the leading edge of a merger among the forms of media and text on a page. If time on task is a measure of value then the significant hours spent watching motion pictures online, at such sites as YouTube and CNN news, indicate that video is as dominant a media on the Web as television is in the general culture. What is radically different from the pre-Net era is the ease with which digital forms of motion pictures can be shot, edited, uploaded and shared globally as well as potentially integrated into compositions with the other media of the Web. The larger amounts of data involved in such communication are of such significance that they have also created an interesting social studies story related to the implications for local and international power grids and economies.
This change in literacy has been a relatively sudden transition from the Gutenberg palette of the 1400's on the left which dominated literate communication until very recently. Since 1994 and the commercialization of the Internet, improving personal computers, bandwidth speeds and the Web brought an explosion of communication built on a new concept of a page, a web page which can contain all forms of media, not just text and image. How should the changing nature of thought and composition using the digital palette on the right change education in a culture increasingly driven by digital communication and composition?
Digital convergence is the concept that as forms of communication, calculation and composition become digital they share a common standard. This standard allows them to be merged or synthesized into higher level forms and designs. The emergence of the all digital World Wide Web, with its digital standards for multimedia, has transformed and expanded what composition will mean in the 21st century. The Web is deep into the process of converting the word multimedia (many different media) into what might be called uni-media, a single digital standard for the integration of all media.
What is striking about this multimedia to unimedia transition is the wide ranging or comprehensive nature of emerging forms of communication. That is, to the ideas of multimedia and unimedia,, we can add the idea of comprehensive composition, this web-based digital integration of all the major forms of media now commonly used in our culture (see blog posting example). Comprehensive composition can integrate in one web page or several, these elements: text, still images, audio/music, video, animation, 3D and 3D animation (virtual reality), sensors (including remote control robotics and computer programming) as well as many forms of reader input or interaction, from comment boxes to games. Future new technologies may add to this list. All of these forms are already commonly found in some degree of harmony in web pages all across the Internet. Though this chapter focuses on just the "headliner acts" of cyberspace, video and animation and their understanding and composition, it is also important to note that video and animation are often an intertwined medley of text, motion, sound and still image media. Other chapters provide more detail about these other forms of 21st century digital expression.
Whereas desktop publishing is a technology that uses computer software to integrate text and still images on the same display page for paper or the Net, we might coin the word Webtop publishing and web page servers which takes us far beyond just photographs and graphics integrated with text. Cyberspace takes world culture to a new and much more powerful level of personal composition. It is my sense of things that this development is as big and as important as the jump from an oral culture to a literate culture was a few thousand years ago. As this latest jump into global distribution of comprehensive composition has only been possible since about 1994, many cultural adjustments and disruptions will continue well into the future.
Though we have already referred to some related terms for this development (multimedia, unimedia, comprehensive composition) there are other related terms in the literature for this integration of media: linking, multimodal literacy, compound documents, media literacy, transliteracy and media integration. Multimedia has been a topic heading at every grade level in the North Carolina Computer Literacy requirements for almost twenty years. Too often though, multimedia or media literacy, has been about one side of the coin of understanding, the reading, use and critique of the work of others, not about empowering students, teachers and other learners to create and compose with new media.
The lack of in-depth instruction requirements in the curriculum for new forms of composition will remain restrained and contained as long of the funding to education limits the ability to put a personal computer in every student's hands. Various school districts and even states have just begun to break-through the financing problems and move on to the professional development of teachers and the curriculum changes required by the 21st century. The earlier leaders in North Carolina were just two of the over 100 school districts in North Carolina. They moved to a 1 computer per child (1 to 1) distribution of computer technology, Mooresville in the west and Green County in the east. These school districts have had a steady stream of visitors from various school districts learning how it is being accomplished, expanded and changing educational practice. By comparison, Maine is the only state in the nation to have moved to a one to one distribution of computers to students for all schools in the state, currently including grades 7th to 12th. In short, this "social studies" development towards digital convergence, new literacy and ubiquitous computing use is still early in its transition, but the direction is clearly defined. As noted in the first chapter, in the spring of 2014, North Carolina now has almost 1/3 of its school districts with some degree of a 1:1 computer distribution in placer (Houghton, 2014).
The educational challenge is to both know how to find and integrate existing content related video into compositions and instructional practices, to be able to create it, and to know how to teach students to do the same. This requires knowing ways to find the media, obtain and/or merge, mix and edit it with other video (involving a number of copyright considerations) and to create or shoot video (for which there are no issues with copyright).
The primary challenge for current educators is to learn to use and add higher levels of value to the massive quantities of information in the world, to "refine the oil", to find curriculum materials and other ideas for better teaching, to find ways to teach students how to think and create with this data and in turn to create even more digital data. Questions and search requests on the Web lead to transmitting links to data stored in the data center. Finding video to use in instructional settings could begin with the hunt for video search engines. The site which is second in the world for searching by adults and first for children and adolescents is YouTube which happens to be a video only search site. There are still other YouTube options such as YouTube for Schools, which schools are beginning to allow through the firewall. However, working from within a school building may result in the school district firewall blocking an entire Web site such as YouTube.
However, a search for the top video sites will show many competitors, such as Ten Cool Search Engines. A general Google search by content area can be effective. Let's use mathematics as an example, as one might suspect that mathematics would be the content area with the smallest video selection. In fact, though such a comparison is impossible to compute, there is still much that can be found. Here is a general Google search in math: mathematics video. LearnNC.org is also increasingly adding video resources, so a search using video and math there can be effective. Some sites also specialize in video lectures and demonstrations for mathematics and other content areas: Khan Academy; Project Euler and MathCasts. Educational focused sites also search as clearinghouse for a wide range of educational media, including video and animation, such as Edmodo.
When video can be downloaded or copied from a Web site it can be edited (adding, rearranging or deleting) to better meet instructional needs. This is often not possible or permissable depending on any restrictions provided by the video author. When legally possible, both Windows and Macs both have free applications that can record whatever is happening on the screen, including video, which can be saved to a hard drive and then played back as needed (Quicktime which comes with Macs and Expression Encoder that can be downloaded for Windows). If downloaded, the video is often in a video format other than the one your video editor was designed to use, which requires video converters. That is, this requires converting the downloaded video file to an acceptable format. There are desktop computer applications such as Adobe Media Encoder or Web sites such as Media Converter that specialize in this problem. Macintosh computers prefer quicktime format (.mov) and Windows computers prefer either .avi or .wmv formats. The extension at the end of the file name provides the critical format information. The Measuring pH movie is an example of one that can be downloaded in the Flash video format and converted to a useable format.
The same tools needed for editing video are used to create video from scratch, from using cameras to shoot your own video. The most immediately available tools are iMovie (Mac only) and Windows Movie Maker (older version) or Windows Live Movie Maker. Explore the screen movie tutorials at our Atomic Learning web site for the versions that you have on your own computer. Plug down the Applications menu and look in alphabetical order for these two video editing applications.
Sharing a created or edited video composition means either uploading it to a Web site or playing it from a local hard drive. This video might be embedded within an existing text composition, such as the video from YouTube above, on its own separate Web page or within the form of another application such as Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.
Animation shares much of the early history of video. However, instead of images created by rapid photography (a film or video camera), the images were drawn or created by hand and then photographed into the film or video. A full length feature film was extremely tedious work taking years to finish even with a cast of experienced cartoon artists. Walt Disney and the Disney Studies led the way with this kind of work. Computer animation extended that tradition, with a range of tools to greatly reduce the tedious nature of hand drawing.
There are two basic kinds of digital animation in wide circulation on Web sites, gif animation and Flash animation. However, though Flash animation now dominates, its parent company, Adobe, is gradually abandoning the Flash format in favor of some newer but very similar format that will work better with mobile devices such as cell phones and touch tablets using the new format for Web browers, HTML5. It is unclear at this time exactly what this will be called other than animation. Adobe's new product is currently in beta development, Edge, and free for the download.
Beginning in the 1980's and early 1990's the digital designs that are now common on the Internet were being invented. The animated gif format was invented and first made available in 1989. It is a series of images in a loop that repeats over and over again at a high enough rate of speed to seem more real. Most of the animations of Web based ads use the animated gif format, that were often used as annoying attention -getters on Web pages, similar to how this cute but relatively unrelated bee animation is on the left. This format was quickly adopted by advertisers because of its attention getting value, and this format is not limited to Web pages. NCM, National Cinema Networks, provides a Web site gallery of animated gif ads (NCM sample ads, 2013) that deserves at least a quick review of some the examples. NCM is a national advertising network that distributes their animated ads to theaters all over the country and other public display formats from billboards to store displays. Educators also have the need to draw attention to certain ideas, so study and skill building with the tools of animation is certainly relevant and highly functional. This relevance goes up exponentially as school move to 1:1 computing and teachers are expected to communicate through forms of digital expression and to teach those forms.
When an animation achieves a certain higher level of aesthetic value the label cinemagraph increasingly applies. The cinemagraph represents a midpoint between a photograph and a video, and is just as likely to be created with a still camera as a video camera. A digital moving image, motion pictures, can be implemented in a number of ways. The picture on the right can go by a number of names, animated gif or cinemagraph; click the image to see this image in a larger format ("Cinemagraphs", 2013). This may require looking very closely at the blade stems of grass to see their movement.
This particular perpective and the invention and common use of the phrase cinemagraph are often credited to the merger of the ideas of a visual graphic artist, Kevin Burg, and a photographer, Jamie Beck in 2010. Their work was highlighted in a stunning New York Times story that would have not been possible of the New York Times did not have their newspaper on the Web (Flock, 2011).
Note the long gap between the invention of the animated gif format in 1989 and its significantly raised value some 21 years later with the coining of the term and imagery for cinemagraphs. It often takes significant time between the invention of a technology and its more significant cultural and economic implications. It has long been a part of our cultural history to have a tendency to over-estimate the value of a new technology in the short term and underestimate is value for the long term. It is likely that the integration of computing devices into the hands of all students in the years ahead will follow a similar development pattern.
It ia also possible to take at least two pictures from slightly differently angles and create the illusion of depth, a concept called anaglyphs. A web search of image databases of the major search engines for "anaglyphs" will provide thousands of such images. Note that it does require special glasses to properly achieve the three-dimensional popout effects of anaglyphs. The column head on the left is from an ancient Greek site in Persepolis, Iran. The photograph was taken by Abdolazim_Hasseli and provided to Wikipedia for public use.
An anaglyph is not an animation by itself, but composers can merge the idea cinemagraphs and gif animation to create 3D artwork with motion using just a few frames in the GIF format. See the heat transfer anaglyph an example of a animated gif anaglyph. To create the still frame 3D effect on Windows computers use Phereo 3D. On Mac platforms explore Jittergram.
The animation (below right) uses animation to give a visual sense of the information explosion. It shows the rapid growth in the quantity of information available since 1986, with the blue circle representing the quantity in that year. With the changes of quantity, significant qualitative changes have and are occuring as well. When media change, our relationships with each other change too.
By 1986, the beginning period of this graph, we had long ago arranged our furniture in the living room (and often dining room) around the television which led to conversation being controlled by a few for the masses enabling a certain impotence to driving change and solutions (Postman, 1985). Classrooms can resemble this format as well. The qualitative changes created this 21 year period from 1986 to 2007 have been impressive. By 2004 Facebook is founded and by 2007, the iPhone is introduced, and mobile devices and social media explode. Now the conversation is opened to individual initiative to initiate and share ideas. By 2014 it has become increasingly clear that television content is chasing the lead of data that has "gone viral" which is coming from digital mobile media, from Tweets, email and YouTube video. Individuals using the Web have changed social behavior, the free hugs movement; reducing deforestation caused by the manufacture of beauty products; life and death citizen reporting systems for crisis settings and more (Wresch, 2010). The outcome of this short period of time is that there never has there been greater opportunity for those we teach to use a wide range of composition skills to initiate change on their own and invite a larger audience to help. Animation is one of those composition tools.
Where GIF animation is created and edited as a speedy set of still images within a given frame, Flash animation is composed with every element an independently composed and edited component, that is assembled and turned into the appearance of animated video by the Flash player, an add-on common to most Web browsers. The image on the right takes advantage of the concept of Flash's ability to scale any image over whatever time period is desired by the animation. (If animation on the right is not playing, click this link to see the animation on a separate Web page. The growing circle is automatically created by the software instead of hand-creating each new size at 24 frames of browing circle per second.
Adobe's new Edge application that may become the successor to Flash edits animation in a very similar way.
Searching for GIF animation is relatively simple but not always effective; search free "Gif animation" science, for example. Quickly finding Flash animation is even more difficult though a similar search pattern using the term Flash is sometimes successful. There is no search engine devoted to just GIF or Flash animation. Some GIF examples can be found on Wikipedia's GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) page.
GIF animation can be created two many editors, two of which are Adobe's Fireworks and Flash applications. The Flash application is required for more controlled and extensive possibilities of Flash animation.
Sharing or including GIF animations is very simple, just insert as if a picture into a Web page or blog posting. Flash animation will require more training that this chapter will cover.
So, if the file or media is not on my on personal hard drive but it is being seen/heard/read on a Web page, exactly where does this online video, animation, still images, text and all the rest of the digital palette available on the Web reside? Enter in a new cultural element, a transformation of the idea of a library, the Data Center. The files or date are stored in buildings called Data Centers, a new phenomena of the 21st century. Some are quite small, a room with some networked computers and hard drives in an organization. Many Data Centers are football sized building or buildings containing everyone's memories, text and media, that they have stored somewhere on the Internet in actual physical locations they have never seen or known. Media, and in particular motion pictures, are the a major part of the reason for their emergence, along with the information explosion in general. It has been the large file sizes of video and animation in particular, helped by audio and music files, that have drivcn the explosion need for Data Centers and their rapid expansion.
Let's remember the old days and the old ways for a few moments of the history of the technology that has delivered the concept of motion pictures. In the 1890's the motion or movie was in a small wooden box, a peep show box of a few seconds that was both the player and the viewer which could sit in your lap or on a small table. Frames of images, still images with slight variations, were shown very rapidly to create the sense of watching motion. One of the early problems to solve was how many frames or pictures to show per second. Eventually as celluloid technology, a kind of plastic, was invented, images on long strips of celluloid film standardized on 24 frames per second and decades later television used 30 frames per second, measurements which are generally abbreviated as 24 fps or 30 fps.
This idea of motion pictures was so attractive that the technology was quickly invented and expanded to a projector with a long strip of pictures throwing their light on a screen on the local theater stage. It went from a small box to a packed house of people listening to a piano player or orchestra working to set a mood and cover up the noisy projector, to a projector room that contained both the heat and noise of the projector and provided both picture and sound tracks in a sound protected audience room. In the 1950's motion pictures based on film were transformed into television signals, and like film quickly moved from black and white to color in the 1960's. The "projector" or player also became a television studio and transmitter tower. The 1970's saw the rapid adoption of video game consoles and video cassette players, then the entry of DVD players in the late 1990's. The projector or player was a box and the display was a TV screen.
In the 21st century, the still images of film are rapidly being digitized into frames of data, and that data must be stored somewhere and transmitted where the viewer is sitting. Converting every image at 24 fps or 30 fps to digital data, then added together with text data and still image data is a gargantuan amount of data. The technical implications are leading to vast changes. In your lifetime, the majority of motion picture viewing and video game playing will move from television and theater screens to computer screens, which incidently often come with webcams for showing and recording video. Theaters may continue to exist, but the projection will be digital and come from a hard drive. Those computer screens may well be found in our glasses and the shared experience of an audience watching one screen may disappear too. The motion pictures and video games are increasingly not coming from the hard drive of the computer but from the Internet, and almost no one has been in the Internet's "digital projection room" or even seen one. Look long and hard at that projection room in the back of the movie theater; you might even want to sneak a photo of one (keep your flash turned off!) but it is doubtful if your grandchildren will believe you. Projection system rooms are going to disappear in your life time in the same way that the piano player disappeared from the motion picture stage in the 1930's. Increasingly, the projection room of the 21st century is now the "data center" that holds Web page content, and the screen in our pocket or larger versions that will be just a higher resolution of a TV screen stretched to some gigantic size.
The important educational implications of the data center will be discussed shortly, but for a moment let's understand what they are. At its simplest, the data center is a building that stores and transmits data and protects the data through redundant storage. The data center began as a room in the company or institution that was filled with computers and hard drives acting as servers for the company; it grew to fill tractor trailer rigs that made them mobile for special events. The data center is increasingly becoming a massive warehouse of a building that can hold multiple football fields of computers systems holding rack after rack of CPUs and drives, hundreds of thousands of them. It is worth the time to use video for what it does best, take us to some place that is hard for us to reach in person, the data center. First let's look at one of the smaller ones, a Google data center (link same as movie on the left) that is designed around the container (trailer modules) model.
Now let's look at something a bit bigger, big enough to use the electricity of over 80,000 homes or 100 MW of power. The video on the right is of Apple's super-data-center in Maiden, North Carolina, a view of a stage of its construction in 2010; Apple plans to double that and has the current land space already purchased to quadruple it. Five of these data centers at their current scale would require their own industrial scale power plant. Just a few seconds of this helicoptor viewing video tell the story of its current size. A bit of sleuthing in Google Earth shows the satellite view of the finished facility (on the left).
Other companies have followed in this same region of North Carolina, using the electrical infrastructure left in place by abandoned textile and furniture factories. Google has a data center in Lenoir, NC. Facebook is completing a data center in Forest City, NC. By searching the Web for "data centers" and YouTube OR Microsoft OR Google OR Facebook data centers, their global spread can be better understood; they are scaling up on continents all over the world.
Google uses a quick animation at the top of their Google Data Center story that reviews a center's major components. The map on the left shows a view of Google data centers from 2008; a bit of searching should yield more current maps. The rate at which the world is storing information is growing at the rate of 23% per year. By 2012 Google would need to have at least doubled their 2008 capacity with expansion at each site or more sites. Note that this map shows just the sites of one company. The real view has to be imagined by adding in the harder to find locations of the data centers of other major companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and many others. The point here is that rapid change continues in how we store and share information in any media.
Though these data centers store and transmit every kind of digital data, the other point being made here is that motion pictures (video and animation) are the most significant driver of the growth of data centers. Motion pictures require far more storage space than any other media for the simple reason that it a collection of pictures, generally with attached audio. Consequently, video (and animation which is generally done at 24 frames per second) and audio which is the second largest file type, consumes the biggest percentage of the data center's storage space. That is, one minute worth of video from a video camera is 60 seconds x 30 frames per second or 1800 pictures, and then add in the storage space requirements of the accompanying audio track. The upload of new video to the data centers is rather spectacular. Google's YouTube site alone was adding 60 hours (yes, hours) of video every minute in January of 2012, a rate that has itself increased 20% in the last 8 months (Reuters, 2012), as in May of 2011 the upload rate was 48 hours per minute of new video. The January 2012 viewing rate of 4 billion videos a day has increased even faster than the upload rate, up 25% in the same time period.
The implications of the digital convergence of video and animation with other forms expression range from new extensions to the basic features of English text composition to the transformation of the library. They serve as an even greater tool for economic and social empowerment for those of any income level, if schools and their educators will become sufficiently aware to teach about these ideas and developments. For all its gore and tragedy, the French Revolution had the advantage of being highly visible, physical and attention getting. A digital revolution and an information explosion can happen simultaneously and many are oblivious to its occurence, unable to learn and apply its relevance to their lives and the lives of the young.
Digital convergence has many implications for how we write. The Gutenberg palette shown above was originally restricted to just the use of text and a few ink and woodcut drawings, yet within such primitive printing technologies there was still a need to highlight key points. Emerging from this need to draw attention to particular points was what is now an old and well used attention getting and teaching device within text that is generally referred to as a pull quote. (A related form is labeled a "call-out", text over an image). A pull quote (1, 2) takes a set of words already in the composition and repeats them in a larger format. It repeats them to draw a reader further into the reading and to use repetition to aid memory of the idea. Two pull quotes were used earlier. One rather obvious implication of the pull-quote concept is that animation and video are often used in a similar way, to repeat and reinforce an idea under discussion in the text. However, animation and video are hardly limited to that concept. They can often express what text and literacy skill with words cannot. A simple implication here is that composers are no longer just text writers, and that composers have a rich new palette of options for highlighting key elements of their ideas.
On a different implication note, a building devoted to electronically collecting and sharing data might appear rather boring, but understanding its educational and cultural impact has life and death implications for the economic future of communities and their schools. These highly automated buildings may generate only a fraction of the jobs of the abandoned factories they replace, but through their land and electrical use they contribute significantly to the taxes of local and state economies which are critical to the funding for educational systems and jobs for teachers. This data in the data center is what thought transforms into knowledge. Today's multimedia composition is an example of processing the "oil" in the refinery, using the numerous elements that are found and put in a data center. What is really more important here is understanding Toffler's point (see related reading in the sidebar), that knowledge is the new cultural power, greater than finance and the military, which is even greater combined with this new special form of power. Software and knowledge are the new oil, our personal computing devices its refineries, and the data centers provide the major storage facilities, the fuel tanks for the future. As knowledge is the new oil, then data centers are also the equivalent of Fort Knox, the respository of the nation's and world's gold.
This in turn has interesting future implications to discuss with those that we teach for STEM topics (science, technology, engineering and math) and social studies (Washington Post, 2011). Many nations are in still transition from industrial age factories to digital age networking jobs; Nokia, a major European maker of phones is ending some 15,000 jobs in Europe and moving the work to Asia through 2011-2012 (Bloomberg Business Week, 2012, February 8). This transition has freed up a significant percentage of community brains from the mindless "we don't pay you to think" nature of factory work. Factory workers in China may be anxious to take a job paying $4,000 to $6,000 dollars a year making digital technologies, but twice as many are employed because of the App Economy and the opportunity to build jobs around the programming of those software apps. Those who are educated for the digital age are using those same "made-in-Asia factory" technologies to program apps for the newest segment of the market, the mobile computer technology market. The App Economy market was not possible until the first generation of the iPhone which was released on June 29, 2007 and the first iPad released on April 3, 2010. The App Economy came into existence with the arrival of Apple's App Store for iPhone and iPad and then the concept has expanded to other competitors including Google's Android software, Amazon Kindle and Blackberry's designs. These software programmers are making $40,000 to $60,000 a year (Forbes, 2012, February 8) inventing and enhancing apps.
The problem that remains is that the once hard working and now under-employed citizens of the United States factory era lack the education and digital tools to make use of the new oil. The digital age is desperate for minds that can think, that can question, analyze, discover problems and build solutions from the overflowing coffers of data that the new age is almost mindlessly collecting in its data centers. Our economies are desperate for minds that have the entrepreneurial skills to mine the warehouses of data for challenges and opportunities and package their solutions into new businesses.
For the adult community, what is missing is the workforce preparedness training that will take these largely under-employed minds and enable them for the digital age economy. We appear to have abandoned a large percentage of our working adults and are left to hold out hope for the education of the next generation. No doubt, it is through digitally literate teachers working with a digitally literate curriculum and digital computing devices in the hands of every student that the next generation and the new economy will continue to emerge. However, state governments' limp educational financing and preparedness of educators and their students for the new and ever so digital age does not begin to match the ferocious pace at which the digital age has emerged and continues to exponentially expand. A rising tide may lift all boats, but a tsunami erases all the boats and the docks and the warehouses. A bit of preparedness might enable a more productive advance.
Teachers are largely left to their own sense of professional development to do what they can to invent their own Personal Learning Network (PLN, Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011; Siemens, 2005; Warlick, 2012) of people, and online and other resources to prepare for the digital age. Fortunately, through learning video and animation composition, there is much individuals can learn in effectively sharing ideas and solutions with others within their PLN and the world.
Do we have citizens who know what to do with the virtual Fort Knox? Do we actively mine it for personal and social advancement? This chapter extends that advancement to introducing the creation of video and animation compositions. Each chapter extends these ideas further.