Sunday, September 16, 2007

Noob 2 Leet

For those follow the Learning 2.0 conference, a new Web 2.0 toy that's making the rounds is called Animoto. Basically it's a template driven video producer, you provide images and select music, then click finalize. It does this rest. The following video took me about 3 minutes from creating an account to completion. Here's a quick look.

When showing this to one of my Video Production students, he commented:

"It makes a Noob look like a Leet."

My Immigrant to Native language dictionary tells me this roughly translates to,

"A inexperienced user, (a Newbie) can quickly and easily
produce something that looks like a power user (an Elite) made it."

Some edu-bloggers like David Warlick and Wes Fyer are pretty excited about it, while others like Gary Stager lament on his blog: "Animoto lets you create meaningless PowerPoint-like slideshows without all of that pesky, editing, creativity or thinking. I won't even mention the discipline, knowledge and sense of history required of artistic expression. "

I have to agree with Gary's description, EXCEPT that it does have educational value. It raises the bar.

To recreate the effects that effortlessly appear in one of these productions in any flavor of video editor you'd like would take a substantial amount of time, but because they are so easy to create, it makes those production values into vanilla. It's like the first time you play with GarageBand. You create a song, that really sounded like a song you'd actually want to listen to in a few minutes - wow. There was magic there. Then you play it for others and they start nodding their heads and tapping feet. More magic. But soon, the more you listened to what other made, using the program, all those loop diven tracks start sounding the same. To the point where, it's cliche, and boring.

What this has done, for students is that they have to produce better stuff. Don't get me wrong, I think that GarageBand is a fantastic tool and fun way to create quick songs, but if everyone's sounds the same - it begs you to be different.

As students create content and productions like Animoto become the baseline. It makes the quality of work of those trying to stand out have to be that much better. Our expectations increase, and educationally that's not a bad thing.

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