Movie Studio Platinum 13 with HitFilm gets an A

Of all the UI updates we’ve endured this year, I figured SONY Movie Studio Platinum 13 was …another one. But it was long overdue and they did a great job. You need the HitFilm 2 Express bundle to get the mask tools you’ll need for chroma key and green screen work, filters and some snazzy effects you probably didn’t expect to be this easy to achieve in this price range. Together they make a great starter package for young people and people who work with them.

Other than Jahshaka, a project I’ve seen at various times and places on the Internet promising to make a comeback since 2006, I haven’t seen any great open source video editing software. Skills are in high demand, and they should be. I recorded the screen video with CamStudio, and I did some stills with The Gimp.

Classroom technology and access to it aren’t anywhere near consistent, and there are reasons to be found on several levels. Economic ones are high on the list …even cellphones and webcams, software and lights and green screen set-ups in the $500 and slightly under range will still be out of reach for some. In some areas schools must use specific tools prescribed by others, and everywhere there’s inconsistent buy-in. YouTube viewership attests to the power and popularity of the medium, the ease with which one can now produce video with impact, and the pure fun make it an irresistible medium for educators.

By 2010, 19% of Americans had tried video calls, video chat or teleconferencing online and on cell phones. There are definitely equity issues apparent in video calling patterns, making calls on line is appealing to “upscale” users. “A third of internet users (34%) living in households earning $75,000 or above have participated in such calls or chats, compared with 18% of those earning less than $75,000. […] Urban internet users (27%) and suburban users (23%) are significantly more likely than rural users (12%) to have participated in video calls, chats, or teleconferences […] Cell-owning blacks are more likely than whites to participate in video calls, chats, or teleconferences (10% vs. 5%).” (Pew, 2010). But this says nothing about aspirations to tell stories using video.

The corporate take is that video storytelling is not quite ready for prime time. But it was the $10 transistor radio in the hands of teens in the 50s, who didn’t need audiophile fidelity as long as they could take their music with them, that disrupted the vacuum tube.

What’s been missing from video is interactivity. But now there are free mashup tools like Popcorn.js and Webmaker, HTML5 timeline tools that let you pause, mix, overlay your own ideas in text and imagery, or branch off in another direction based on a user input. And video is not something that’s easy to do alone. Can a project incorporating video in a classroom setting meet all the 4Cs, the so-called 21st Century Competencies—Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity?

With tools like MSP and HitFilm, or any of the products on this list young people aren’t likely to wait to hear the marketers at SXSW are finally catching up.

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