By Rob McBride, Adjunct Lecturer, JMSC
I’m not an educationalist and I am sure there are academic studies that say it just isn’t the way to teach, but when trying to pass on your skills one-on-one, I’ve yet to find a method that beats the ‘Look — No Hands!’ approach.
Let me explain. Teaching Final Cut Pro on a Mac can never be taught if you try to explain it in an abstract way.
You have to edit an actual project to see how the tools are applied. More accurately, the student edits while you tell him/her exactly what tool to use, what key to hit, what icon to click and so on.
“Click there” (pointing to screen with broken car antennae). “Drag and drop that” (pointing again). “Hit space bar to play. Now ‘i’ for in-point. ‘o’ for out…” and so on.
The student becomes my hands and magically, as though by osmosis, begins soaking up the skills starting at the fingers. Their brains soon follow. “Don’t ask why,” I’ll hear myself constantly telling them. “Just do it.” And in the time it would have taken me to explain a certain function, they have repeated the same action twice or three times, and already understand why.
One “power hour” of intensive one-on-one is normally enough to get most people using Final Cut Pro. By extension of the same principle, I found Tem Hansen and Dierdre Wang Morris probably picked up as much in an hour of location work on the Philippines assignment, as they would in a full day in class.
Basically, I treated the shoot as my own, and made the on-the-spot decisions about framing, shooting and sequences, thinking out loud with them as I did. And when it came to taking the shots, rigging up the microphones and doing the interviews, Tem and Dierdre became hands-on extensions of me.
“Frame a little wider. That’s it. Hold it steady — now record.
On to the next shot, “Tilt down a bit, not so much head room,” and so on.
I often wondered after the shoot how much extra time they had to spend in editing to fix the sound track to remove my constant stream of instructions caught on the camera mic. (Thought — maybe for the next trip, small ear-pieces for the students, and a small microphone for me as I give a constant stream of instructions like a director from the gallery. )
As enjoyable for me as I think it was for them, it worked and they benefited. Apart from our stories getting on air with ABC, Tem has gone on to make a film on Nancy Tong’s documentary course which I haven’t seen yet, but others are raving about, and so I’m deeply envious. And Deirdre has just landed a job in Beijing.
Yes, not bad. “OK, cut. Tape out of the camera, click the safety, and label it before you forget.”